On the evening of July 12, we held our first Sunset Puffin Cruise of the year and it was amazing!
We gathered in New Harbor to take the Hardy Boat out to Eastern Egg Rock. In the harbor we enjoyed some common waterfowl dabbling around the shore, recently fledged Barn Swallows making for a fun identification with their short tails, and an ever-so charismatic Osprey flew by looking for fish to catch.
En route to the island, Captain Al gave us a history lesson of the area and the work Project Puffin has done to restore Atlantic Puffins on the coast of Maine. As we neared the island we saw an abundance of Common Terns and Laughing Gulls and a Common Loon in breeding plumage.
We quickly spotted large rafts of puffins as we approached Eastern Egg Rock. These football-sized clown-faced alcids will often congregate in groups near the shore before they return to their burrows for the evening. We often see more puffins during our evening trips than day-time trips, when the birds may be out away from the island foraging.
Our other major target for this trip were Roseate Terns. This endangered species does occur in many places around the world but in very small numbers at all of those sites so it very special to have them nesting on a few our Maine’s coastal islands. And they showed off nicely! Within minutes of arriving a pair of birds made frequent passes along the side of the boat, chasing each other around and giving us great views of their frosty backs and long tails.
The icing on the cake came as we motored over to Franklin Island National Wildlife Refuge where Harbor Seals were hauling out on a nearby ledge. The Franklin Island Lighthouse was built in 1806, making it the third oldest lighthouse in Maine and our charter is the only trip Hardy Boat will make to go see it. While watching the seals near the lighthouse we were treated to an amazing moon-rise as ‘Super Moon 2014’ peaked over Allen Island.
A Maine native, Doug grew up in Hollis and graduated from the University of Maine in 2011. Throughout college Doug worked at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center and was hired as Maine Audubon’s staff naturalist in the summer of 2013, a long time “dream job.” In his free time, Doug volunteers as one of Maine’s eBird reviewers, is the owner and moderator of the ‘Maine-birds’ listserv and serves as York County Audubon board member and Secretary of the Maine Bird Records Committee.