Lighthouses, Eagles and a Seal , Oh My!

As we headed out of the harbor into the Bay of Fundy we passed the first lighthouse.

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The 2nd one would be on Machias Seal Island.  Both Canada and the United States claim sovereignty. The Canadian Coast Guard continues to staff a lighthouse on the island.

Machias Seal Island

The whole Island is considered a bird sanctuary so boardwalks have been constructed for the humans to walk on to avoid stepping on nests or baby birds.

On the way out of the harbor we  spotted a pair of bald eagles.

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It gives me a thrill to see so many of these magnificent birds. It was hard to get a picture  as the Barbara Frost was starting to pitch a bit as she picked up speed.

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We didn’t see any whales.

It was about an hour trip and it felt like it. It was cold even when we huddled near the cabin. Hard to believe that it was 90 + in Boston!

Our first indication that we were nearing the island was a raft of small black and white birds.

A raft of Razorbills

They are called Razorbills and also nest on the island with the Puffins. Right after the razorbills came in sight a puffin flew across our stern. These bird make me think of bumblebees. They have such round little bodies and stubby wings. Its hard to believe they can fly at all!

Bumblebee of the Bird World

Right after that we spotted the lighthouse.

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We were surprised to see some gannets mixed in with the razorbills on the rocks but the biggest surprise of our approach was the stranded seal!

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I mentioned the huge tides in a previous post. Well apparently this guy hauled out at high tide and forgot to leave when the tide receded.

Standed

Now we watched in fascination and horror as he slowly (and painfully) worked his way down the rocks. He landed face first more than once. I mean, that’s got to hurt!

Still Going

Determination

Almost there

He was almost to the bottom when we got the go ahead to land from the coast guard and had to miss his big splash. It was time for us to start part 2 of our big Puffin Adventure.

 

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Its Puffin Day!

Saturday arrived with more clouds and threatening rain. We were up really early. Breakfast was 5:15 am! We had to go to Dunkin Donuts because Helen’s Restaurant wasn’t open that early. That’s when I found out that we didn’t even know if we would be going out. The leaders were manning their cell phones with the captain while the rest of us got our breakfast sandwiches and coffee.

To the relief of all we were given the green light and headed off to Cutler where the Barbara Frost was moored and waiting for us.

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The Barbara Frost is a bare bones, hard working charter boat. It’s no frills all the way. Bench seats line the sides and stern. The only heat is in the little cabin where the captain and mate were steering the boat. (Notice I did not call this a ship)

boatYou may be asking yourself “heat? Its July why do they need heat?” Well That thought crossed our minds too but a winter parka wouldn’t have been out of line. It was March in July. Cold and blustery!

On board the Barbara Frost

On board the Barbara Frost

This was the Bay of Fundy, known for 50 ft. tides, tidal bore rafting and whales! It was exciting just to be on one of the 7 Wonders of North America.

Getting to the Barbara Frost was also an experience. They loaded us into a tender, a little boat, to ferry us out to the “mother ship” (That was the Barbara Frost) but there was no ladder. You got your butt onto the gunwale and then swung your feet over and into the Barbara Frost.  Then you got out of the way so the next person could get in. Captain Andy, owner of the Barbara Frost and Bold Coast Tours was right there to help everyone.

Bold Coast Charters is the only US based company to be authorized on Machias Seal Island. The only other tour company  is based in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Machias Seal Island

As we headed into the bay I realized this was not the same island I visited from Bar Harbor. That one was located in Frenchman’s Bay.

 

 

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Campobello Island

No matter how picturesque Quoddy Head State Park was we couldn’t linger too long. The afternoon was booked with a trip Campobello Island

We headed back to Lubec where we presented our passports for entry into Canada. We crossed the bridge from Lubec to the Island immediately stopping at the visitor center for maps and information.

Lubec Bridge

 

Lubec

 

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The main attraction is Roosevelt Campobello International Park. This was FDR’s childhood summer home. (a 34 room “cottage”) It was where , as adult, he was diagnosed with polio. The island played a huge part in Roosevelt’s life and I would not even have known about this if not for going on this trip.

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The grounds are beautiful, clean and well maintained. There is a video that tells the story of Roosevelt’s life on the island and it’s significance in history.

The park is a joint venture between Canada and the US representing our close ties  and friendship.

Dinner was at Helen’s Restaurant at 6:30 so it was soon time to head back.

Tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow we look for Puffins!

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Quoddy Head State Park

A short drive from Lubec and we arrived at Quoddy Head State Park.

Quoddy head

Once again everyone was excited about the birds. I was out of step as I was excited about the landscapes. This is truly spectacular Maine Coast country, a real example of “Down East”.

Maine Coast

Right off the parking area was a trail that followed along the cliff tops before jogging into a peat marsh.

A Walk In The Woods

The birders were stopping along the trail to listen to bird calls and look for birds. I was busy trying to capture the essence of the place.

The Birders

The peat marsh was open space with a boardwalk. There were lots of little signs along the boardwalk describing the plants and flowers.  There were lots of pitcher plants but that was bout the extent of my flora knowledge.

Pitcher Plant

Still it was pretty in a stark kind of way. The sky was still overcast so the light was soft, no shadows.

Peat Marsh

After our hike we rendezvoused back at the parking area for a picnic lunch.

Quoddy head Light

We wrapped up with a brief visit to the light house. Quoddy Head is the eastern-most point in the US, the first place the rising sun can be seen on US soil.

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Lubec Sand Flats

Day 2 of the great Audubon adventure and the first full day of birding.

Breakfast was at 6 am. Better than 3:30 but still not my normal wake up time.

We all piled in the 2 vans for the short drive to the Lubec Sand Flats. The weather was overcast and threatening to rain. It made me glad I’d decided to buy some rain gear at Bass Pro Shops for this trip.

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It was low tide when we arrived and the clam diggers were already at work. They drive right out to the water’s edge. A Bald Eagle perched on a rock . The clammers drove right past the big bird but it didn’t seem to phase him. Maybe this is a routine?

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No one from our group seemed excited about the eagle except me. I love bald eagles. What had my fellow team members excited were all the little birds. Right off we saw swallows. The guides identified tree swallows, cliff swallows and barn swallows.

This is just one shot of the trees where the birds were flying around. I count 6 birds. Do you?  I’m beginning to see this birding thing can be quite challenging. Not quite like sitting in the backyard and counting blue jays.

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After taking our time watching the swallows we walked across the sand flat to a swale. There was a little puddle and lots of bushes. We spent quite a bit of time there watching little sparrows and other little birds flit about. The birders had spotting scopes so when one would sit long enough we’d all take turns getting a look.

Shortly before we left to pile back in the vans someone spotted a black duck. Can you see it? That was my view.

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The enlargement below is the actual duck.

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Next Stop, Quoddy Head State park.

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New Posts are Coming!

Sorry I’ve been so lazy. The busier it gets at work the less time I want to spend on the computer during my “off hours”. Not only that but I’m finding that instead of rush , rush, rush to do things and find things to write about, there is something to be said for enjoying the slow lane.

It’s amazing how tired I get this time of year. The mental work is as exhausting as running a mile! Last Saturday I had all these big plans and instead slept all day! Oops!

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Well enough said. I’m feeling  more energized today so I’m going to work on catching up on some posts for you. You still need to see the Puffins!

 

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3:30 am is sooo early!

Thursday morning it was time to rock and roll. Get out of bed, get moving. It was time to head to Marshfield MA where I would meet up with the Audubon Society for a tour of Maine’s Peatlands culminating in the PUFFINS of Machias Seal Island!

By  5 AM we were loaded into the Audubon van and headed to Ipswich River Sanctuary where we hooked up with another van. Altogether there were two leaders, Scott and Sue and 12 participants.

For the most part these are hard core Birders so I was about to be introduced to a whole new way of looking at birds. We were still on the road at lunchtime so when a Subway came up we pulled in and made the clerk’s day. The poor girl was faced with 14 hungry travelers and she was working all alone.

After lunch we all piled back into the vans and soon we were entering blueberry country. Our Birding stop was the Blueberry Barrens.

Blueberry bush

The birders were looking for Upland Sandpiper, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow to name just a few species.

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We traveled on another long dirt road. It made me think of the time Sandy and I got twisted around on an Indian Reservation. We called it the “Longest dirt road  in the world”. This one was a close 2nd.

Maine Dirt Road

The scenery was beautiful. The day had turned cool  and damp and eventually it started to rain.

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We stopped to check out a marsh with a beaver dam. The birders used powerful spotting scopes and saw all kinds of birds.

Beaver lodge

We finally arrived at our home away from home at about 5 pm. For the next 4 days we’d be staying at the Machias River Inn.Machias River Inn

Dinner was at 6:30 at Helen’s Restaurant and then we wrapped up our day. We’d be up bright and early the next day. Breakfast was at 6 am!

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