Friday, August 3, 2018

Puffin Cruise to Eastern Egg Rock

Carla and Sallie get ready to board the boat.
Whoo Hoo! I finally checked off an activity from my Summer Adventure List. 
Neighbor Carla, my friend Sallie (from Montana), and I boarded Cap'n Fish's Audubon Puffin Cruise out of Boothbay Harbor!

We did the Puffin Cruise.
The boat was gorgeous and could accommodate quite a few people.
We stowed our bags under the seat and settled down for a top notch tour.
If the weather turned nasty, there was a nicely air-conditioned lounge area.
Thanks for taking our photo, Carla!
Sallie, Laurie, Carla
We were able to get a spot on the bow of the boat, which gave us an awesome view!
Boothbay Harbor northeast to Eastern Egg Rock.
Here is the route we took to get out to Eastern Egg Rock.
Our view from the bow of the boat!
As we motored through Boothbay Harbor, we saw lots of gorgeous boats.
Burnt Island Light
We also passed by three lighthouse. This is the Burnt Island Light which is the second oldest surviving lighthouse in Maine. It was built in 1821.
Ram Island Light was built in 1883.
Then, we saw Ram Island Light. It marks the eastern entrance to Boothbay Harbor, and the west side of the mouth of the Damariscotta River. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a good photo of the third lighthouse, Pemaquid Point Light.
Soon we were out on the open ocean riding some nice swells.
There were smiles all around as we navigated the deep blue water of the ocean.
Hold on tight, Sallie! The swells were small but the boat did roll a bit making for unsteady footing. I took a lot of photos from a seated position!
Eastern Egg Rock, on the left, in the distance.
What's that I spy in the distance? Could it be a puffin palace?
Eastern Egg Rock
Eastern Egg Rock, here we come!
Everyone crowded the railing to spy the birds
We saw puffins and other pelagic birds as we closed in on the island.

Atlantic Puffins    
My best photo of the day was taken with pure luck as the boat rose up and down over the swells.
A raft of puffins, where one has two fish in her mouth.
There were rafts of puffins floating together.

Two fish in a puffin's bill to be fed to a hungry chick
One of the adult birds had two fish in her mouth as she still has a chick on the island. Puffins lay just one egg each breeding season.
Puffin just beginning to run on the water before flight.
There were puffins in flight, this way and that. Puffins seem to run on water in a effort to take flight.
Puffin picking up speed before lift-off.
It takes a lot of effort to get that 10 inch body airborne.
Lift-off is achieved after lots of running on the water. Wings up, feet spread apart.
Finally, there is lift-off!
Wings can beat 400 times per minute with a forward speed of 48 - 55 mph.
Note the splayed tail feather to assist in lift!
Flying to the island 
Flying to the island to hang out with buddies!
Puffins hang out on the island until the chicks fledge.
Puffins congregate on islands that have lots of rocks that create natural barriers to predators.
A numbered burrow.
The burrows are numbered. The chicks are safe as some burrows might be 8 feet long into the hillside. 
This "robot" was designed by elementary students to help ward off the gulls.
Chicks stay in the burrows until they are ready to fledge. This occurs because of the varied predators of puffin chicks. Predators like Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls abound on the islands. As you can see, this robot is not successful in warding off the predators.
Common Tern and Double-crested Cormorants (I think;-)
There are other birds who call the island home. Here you see what I believe are double-crested cormorants on the rocks and what I believe is a common tern in the air.
Cormorants on Eastern Egg Rock
I enjoyed watching the cormorants hang out to dry their wings between dives into the ocean to catch fish.
Black Guillemot in flight with an unknown piece of "food", probably plastic???
We also saw Black Guillemots diving and flying around the island.
After two circuits of the island, we headed back to Boothbay Harbor. The entire boat ride was 2.5 hours. It was such a pleasant and beautiful day on the water.

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