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Monday, September 17, 2007

Birding Monhegan

Last week our Hog Island Audubon Camp cruised out to Monhegan Island on the camp's new boat the Puffin V. On the way offshore we saw lots of Northern Gannets, a Red-necked Phalarope, and some scoters, but the highlight was this Mola Mola swimming next to the boat at point blank range.

On Monhegan we saw lots of warblers and other migrants, including a Lark Sparrow--a bird usually found much farther west, but that shows up here each year as a vagrant. It was fun to see some Great Cormorants on the rocks at White Head, and we watched a school of tuna attack some baitfish--with some of the larger fish clearing the water while lunging at their prey. A few of us were lucky enough to see a Minke Whale as well. I also had a close encounter with a green snake while hiking back from White Head. Merlins were flying all over the island, and the group got very close looks at a Rusty Blackbird perched on top of a spruce tree.

On the way back to Hog Island, the best bird was a juvenile Sabine's Gull first seen on the water (and photographed by Scott Weidensaul) and then seen in flight. It has been a long, long time since I've seen one of these beauties--so a special treat. Red-necked Grebes in flight and a few Surf Scoters and White-winged Scoters rounded out the birds as we cruised back into port. A great day of birding with some great company. (photos: Scott Weidensaul)

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