The Maine Event..part one

     One of the Editors favorite birds is the Puffin. I have been wanting to photograph one for her for a long time. One of my photography instructors informed me that Maine was the closest place to go to do that. It was then that I called Captain Andy of Bold Coast Charter Company to make my reservations to book three days on the Barbara Frost. I have been waiting for "The Maine Event” since January. 

     Bold Coast Charter Company operates in Cutler Maine. Captain Andy takes visitors and photographers during the breeding season of June-August to view the Atlantic Puffin in a setting that cannot be adequately described. You just have to see it to believe it. Ten miles off the coast of Cutler at the entrance to the Bay of Fundy is  Machias Seal Island. This disputed real estate has one of the few remaining manned lighthouses on the East Coast. The Canadian Coast Guard continues to staff the lighthouse, the first of which was constructed in 1832.  Devoid of trees, it's rock outcrops and soil covered top make a perfect breeding place for several species of Alcids. Alcids are of the family Alcidae,  which are web-footed diving birds with short legs and wings that includes the murres, razorbills, and puffins.

     Alcids live at sea and only come to shore to breed and lay one egg, usually in a dug-out hole under one of the many rocks and ledges on the island. Although similar in looks to the awkward walking penguins of the southern hemisphere, Alcids differ in that they can fly. They return yearly to the same island and often the same dug out hole to breed and lay their egg. They spend the rest of the year in the open sea. The Common Murre is the deepest diver of these Alcids. They can dive to depths of 300 ft. Here in the depths of the Atlantic, they gather small fish and take them back to the burrows to feed the young, a task both parents share. During the breeding season, the Atlantic Puffin's beak and legs turns bright red and orange. This gives them a look that will melt your heart.

     I stayed at a Bed and Breakfast called “The Riverside Inn” in East Machias. Miss Cynthia is the new owner and had breakfast-to-go ready for me each day. In the afternoon when I returned, I sat on my deck overlooking the river sipping coffee and watching a pair of Bald Eagles and their two fledglings. More next week about my adventures. Get ready to smile. Blessings.

Machias Seal Island, still disputed and manned by a Canadian Lighthouse crew is home to thousands of breeding Alcids which include Murres, Razorbills, and the Atlantic Puffin. 

Machias Seal Island, still disputed and manned by a Canadian Lighthouse crew is home to thousands of breeding Alcids which include Murres, Razorbills, and the Atlantic Puffin. 

A Murre (taking flight), a Razorbill to the right and three Puffins all are diving seabirds called Alcids

The "Maine Event" was getting to see these Atlantic Puffins only a few feet away from a photo blind.

Razorbill Profile, note the beak and eye stripe and broad sharp bill. 

Similar looking to Penguins, Puffins differ in they can fly and use the wings as flippers to dive deep into the ocean to gather fish.

Puffins have a unique ability to snatch and gather a whole mouthful of fish using their tongues and serrated pads on the roof of the mouth. The Atlantic Puffins lay one egg per season and both adults share in the feeding and raising the hatchlings which are called Puffings. 

The Murre can dive to 300 feet but only returns with one fish at a time..

Just a few feet from the photo blind this chubby Puffin fills the frame

 

Make sure to get my best side Mr Doohickey

During the breeding season of May-August the bills and cheek pouches and legs of breeding adults turn bright red and orange

Stay tuned for part 2 of "The Maine Event" next week

email: selsorhd@me.com

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