Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Machias Seal Island, a Magnificent Trip, Finally.

Atlantic Puffin in Flight
The day we were going out to Machias Seal Island to photograph the puffins and the other bird and animal life around, started out very foggy and we had to leave at 7 AM because of the weather forecast for possible thundershowers in the afternoon.  We arrived at Bold Coast Charter Company in Cutler, Maine, where Capt. Andy got us aboard his boat, the Barbara Frost, and we set sail in the pea soup fog for Machias Seal island.  Capt. Andy pushes boat, so we can get there as soon as we could and while we were traveling, he lectured us on the safety requirements, plus history of and information about what we would see.

Canadian Lighthouse on Machias Seal Island
When we arrived at the island, the weather was bright and sunny, Capt. Andy loaded the first group into the skiff to take us from the Barbara Frost to the landing area on the island.  However, he was not able to land and so he returned to the boat and loaded everybody aboard.  People were very disappointed.  The plan now was to go to a nearby island and photograph the seals, then return to a smooth place on the ocean, anchor and then take small groups of people in the the skiff and close, so they could photograph the puffins and razorbill auks on the water and at the shoreline.

Gray Seal getting ready to launch into the water
Gray and Harbor Seals
Northern Gannet in Glide Mode
The first group went and as they approach near the landing place, the water had calmed down enough that Capt. Andy thought we could land.  He returned to the Barbara Frost, talk to us saying if we land,  we would have to be on the island for at least three hours and would we mind.  The reason everyone was excited is that the "normal" time in the blinds range from 1/2 - 1 hour.  Everybody said let's land.  So Capt. Andy called the people at the lighthouse on the island and then he returned to the island where people were landed in three trips.

Capt. Andy taking the first group to the Island
 Once on the island, the whole group was immediately taken up to a patio area, where the rules were explained.  The main thing is, once we were in a blind, we had to stay there.  If we leave the blind, we had to immediately go back to the patio and we would have to stay there and could not go back into the blinds. The reason for this  is to keep the disturbance of the birds to a minimum.  Because we were going to be on the island for at least three hours, the plan was to change blinds at the hour and a half mark.  We were divided off into groups and off we went to be placed in our blinds.  The reactions of people who had not been ever on the island was wonderful to see once they looked at the beautiful puffins and razorbills.

Atlantic Puffin swimming

Atlantic Puffin just coming out from its burrow
Atlantic Puffin with wing flap
"Listen to me I am talking to you!"
Flock of Razorbill Auks
 At the hour and a half mark, we changed blinds and shot again with our cameras.  These magnificent birds.

Finally, we had to leave and went down to the landing area, where again we were loaded into the boat and carried back out to the Barbara Frost.  While I was waiting to leave, I was able to photograph a number of the puffins flying as they came rocketing by.  You have to see them, to realize how fast they fly.  The puffins flying make the gulls flying look like turtles.

Atlantic Puffin flying with fish in its mouth
Razorbill Auk in flight

Arriving back into the Cutler harbor.  We were able to photograph the Little River Light, which was built in 1840, along with the boats in the harbor.
Little River Light Cutler
 Once on shore, everybody was extremely hungry, so we returned to Machias, and the entire group, went and ate a very late lunch/early supper.  Everybody was so worn out that instead of going for a sunset, they want to go back to the room to rest and download and look at the pictures from that amazing trip.

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