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Atlantic Puffin on Eastern Egg Rock

On January 1, Ingrid and I began checking a website . . . waiting anxiously for Machias Seal Island reservations.  An island in dispute between Canada and the State of Maine, Machias Seal Island is one the few locations in Maine where one can observe Atlantic Puffins . . . and the only place where one can land on the island and walk among the boroughs (with reservations).

To our delight we were able to make reservations for late June . . . only to have the trip cancelled due to a nasty storm.

Thus last Saturday we took a Maine Audubon trip around nearby Eastern Egg Rock  . . .  the home of the famous Puffin Project to get our Atlantic Puffin fix for 2018.

Thus began our roughest pelagic trip ever.

As we waiting for the boat to leave New Harbor a Laughing Gull kept us company.

Once out of the harbor the surf kicked up and we were tossed from side to side of the boat.  Over the next half hour we saw first of the year Great Shearwater, a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel and an Arctic Tern.  But no chance of taking a photo . . . we could barely keep from falling overboard . . . much less aim and focus a camera.

The Puffins were right where we expected them . . . but in larger numbers than ever before.  The effort to recolonize Eastern Egg Rock with Puffins began in 1981 and the number of nesting pairs has been slowly increasing ever since . . . reaching 150 in 2016, 172 in 2017 and close to 200 this year.

Sadly photographs of the Puffins and rest of the birds on the island was very difficult as the passengers of the sightseeing birds were tossed about as we desperately tried to orient our binoculars and cameras.