SO … Finally, the chapter you have all been waiting for. We’ve had Whales and Owls and scenic views and 30,000 Sandpipers but now, at last, we have PUFFINS. Very much the target species for quite a few of the group.
You asked, and we deliver.
This last day of the tour was a very early start … dawn was still breaking as the boat left the harbour (just feast your eyes on the picture above). An hour and a half of bobbing and bouncing on the waves – there’s a video of that, hold on to your lunch – and we were there. Machias Seal Island … disputed territory between the US and Canada, for which reason this is the last remaining manned lighthouse in the Maritimes. Manned by Canadians, that is.
Short digression … Our Canadian captain decided the swell was too great to safely land on the island. We were OK with this as it meant we got into the small chaloupe we had towed behind us and were able to get very close to the Puffins on the water. Closer than we would have been had we actually landed. The second time the little tender went forth was about the time an American boat from a harbour in Maine arrived … they were going to land come hell or high water and so”the marines’ landing craft” cut directly across our tender and scattered the Puffins. OK, the birds returned, but really … pretty high-handed most of us thought. Draw your own inferences about national character.
But back to the birds. Hundreds of Puffins were on the island, in the air and afloat on the water all around. Didn’t seem worried at all by our presence and the whirring of camera shutters. Ecstasy abounded. Almost better, there were also Arctic Terns and our captain got us some soul-satisfying looks at them also. Oh, and the sun shone and it was simply a glorious day to be out there.
Here’s a video of bobbing birds … taken from a bobbing and unstable small boat.
Then it was on to nearby North Island that was covered with heaven knows how many assorted seals. A Bald Eagle on the top was being hassled by an angry Gull and a small group of Ruddy Turnstones (lifer !!) arrived to put the “seal” on a perfect morning.
On the return voyage several of us saw what seemed to be a discarded plastic back in the water. little muttering ensued and then we looked again … Holy Moley, it was a Mola … otherwise known as a Sunfish. These are huge fish that weigh tons. All head an no tail that live in warmer waters around the globe and dine off jellyfish. The first was seen in the Bay of Fundy only as recently as 2011 and their very occasional reappearance is associated, it is thought, with climate change. Probably warmer waters attract the jellyfish and the Sunfish follow. I have a photo (q.v.) but Janice from our group took a video which Quest posted on their site this morning – so pop over to this link and have a look: http://worldwidequest.com/?page=lets_travel&id=203
Back on land it lunch again followed by a tour of cliff tops and finally a closing meal of Grand Manan lobsters at the hotel.
My, this was a good week. Where to next?
As this is the closing chapter of the trip account I must take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made encouraging comments about the (carefully selected) photographs that I have shared. There will be a separate post from Jean in a few days of flowers we/she “digitally collected” during the week – but otherwise this is the end.
Should you wish to see future posts from the Greenbirder please click this “Subscribe” link (see also the menu at the top right of the page). Only one email from me a week at the most, on a Sunday at noon with a short download link you can investigate or ignore. You can unsubscribe at any time
Below the Hi-Res download links that follow, there is the usual closing gallery of pictures. It was great getting to know everyone on the tour … maybe we will meet again in some other birdy part of the country/world.
(Click to enlarge)
Earlier, I had promised to make available a small number of print quality photographs for anyone that wanted to have a copy. The download links are below – these are all at high resolution and will make really big prints should you so wish. Click a link to open the picture in your browser and then click the small, downward point arrow top right to initiate the download to your computer. Then save the file.
If there are any other pictures amongst those I have posted in the past few days that you would like a print of, just drop me a line and I will send you a link … you could right-click and copy directly from the website, but the web versions are not high enough resolution for quality printing.