Machias Seal Island
Saturday, June 30th: Some watching and listening at the hotel added two more heard birds: Common Raven and Bobolink. A little after 7 we headed off to Cutler. Ann was driving, as she did yesterday. It took about half an hour to get there, and we quickly located the meeting place for our boat trip with Bold Coast Charters. To find it, all we had to do was follow the people with binoculars. We paid the rest of our tour fee, and then waited for the boat.
Cutler is a small town and doesn't have a public dock. The tidal range here at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy is about 14 feet, so some sort of floating dock would be needed. What Cutler does have is a long boat ramp, and the tender for the Barbara Frost came over and collected us. It took two short trips to get everyone on board. Then we headed off for Machias Seal Island.
|Passenger Pickup||Return: Tide's Out|
|Foggy Harbor||Little River Light|
We weren't far out of Cutler Bay before we saw our first Razorbill fly by. A bit later, the first Atlantic Puffins appeared. We would see lots more of both at the island. A couple of us saw a Great Shearwater and Ann spotted a Northern Gannet before we got to Machias Seal Island. It was too rough to land when we arrived, so we took up a position with a good view of the auks. Puffins were the vast majority of the auks present, with a decent number of Razorbills. I and some others had seen a couple of Common Murres when we arrived, but we didn't see any more until later. It took so long before we saw more murres, that I was beginning to wonder if I was mistaken about the first ones. However, after reviewing the photos, I found I was not mistaken. Many of the auks we saw were circling counter-clockwise above those in the water, with some going over the boat. Gradually, they were heading out to sea to feed.
|Puffin and Razorbill||Atlantic Puffins|
We circled around both Machias Seal Island and Gull Island, noting Harbor Seals and Gray Seals. A Bald Eagle was spotted about this time. It made several runs on a family of Common Eiders, but did not catch any of the chicks. A couple of us heard a tern calling, and then I spotted an Arctic Tern overhead. We went out in the skiff in two groups to get closer to the seabirds, and Captain Andy made a close inspection of the landing area. The verdict was that it was a bit too risky to try landing due to large waves that were sometimes crashing on the shore. The Canadian boat had also arrived and they didn't land either.
|Eider and Puffin||Razorbills|
|Puffin Blind||Machias Seal Island Light|
|Murres and Razorbills|
|Harbor or Common Seals||Getting Close to the Puffins|
Eventually we headed back to Cutler. Some, including Ann, saw a small group of Wilson's Storm-Petrel's on the way back. We also saw a Black Guillemot in Cutler Bay. We returned to the shore via tender, but this time we had much farther to go on the ramp. It had been near high tide when we left, and was now near low tide.
The captain/owner was both knowledgeable and entertaining, and both Ann and I recommend this trip. We were a bit disappointed to not land, but you can't do anything about the weather, and we got great looks at the birds anyway.
Ann and I headed back to the hotel where we made sandwiches for lunch and finally got checked in. After lunch we drove back toward Cutler to the trailhead for the Cutler Coast Trail (aka Bold Coast Trail). Ann spotted a Ruffed Grouse family on the roadside (a mother and 4 chicks), and a Wild Turkey appeared a little farther down the road. That made up for the one I missed yesterday.
It was already well after 3 o'clock, so we did not do the entire 5.8 mile loop. We probably covered about 5 miles, going straight out to the coast, walking a mile or so on the coastal clifftops, then turning around and retracing our steps. With birding time and stops for scenic views, this took over 4 hours. We heard Nashville Warblers, and saw Blue-headed Vireo and Red-breasted Nuthatch. Ann saw a Dark-eyed Junco which I missed. We finally saw Black-throated Green Warbler and Hermit Thrush. Based on the calls it was making, the Hermit Thrush seemed to be a youngster. Just before returning to the car we found a male American Redstart. We also encountered several Red Squirrels
The first part of the hike goes through a nice forest with a mixture of forest types, some mixed, some coniferous, some downright boreal with sphagnum moss on the ground. When you get to the coast, it runs through the forest along a clifftop, with spectacular views of the rocky coast.
|The Bold Coast||Rocky Shore||Rocky Beach|
We found 36 species today. Our current total for the trip is 75 species of bird, and 5 species of mammal.
Eastland Motel, Lubec