Friday, July 15, 2011

Fourth Day- Machias Seal Island

So today was our first visit to Machias Seal Island, a 10 acre island 9.5 nautical miles off the coast of Cutler, Maine. The weather and seas could not have been better. It has one of the largest colonies of Atlantic puffins, plus numerous other birds, as in common murres and razorbills. They are Auks in the family Alcidae, as are most of the birds on the island. These type birds only come ashore to breed and nest. The rest of the time they are out at sea, in the north Atlantic. Also, as the name suggests many seals. Cutler is about 18 miles north of Machias, which is where we were staying. The island is disputed territory between the Canadians and the US. We went to the island via Bold Coast Charters,, where Capt. Andrew Patterson has a 40 foot boat which takes up to about 15 or 16 people over and around Machias Seal Island. It takes about 50 minutes to get there and if the weather and seas cooperate, you can go ashore. You are tendered from the main boat to the island, because there is no dock or such. Then, Canadian officials take you to an area where they explain about the island, how to act while you are there and how the blinds work. The blinds are wooden structures about 3 feet by 6 feet with windows to look out of and/or shoot from. We had about 90 minutes in the blinds. Once you are in them you cannot come out then go back, and the time can vary depending on how many people are there to take their turn in the blinds and/or if the weather starts turning bad the Captn will call you back to the boat. The puffins are everywhere, as in in your face. You can even hear them landing on top of the blind. The first image below shows you the lighthouse and landing area on the island. The second and third images are of Atlantic puffins, and the fourth is of a razorbill. 80% of the time I used my 70-300VR lens and the rest of the time my 500mm. The blinds are quite small and if you have 3 other people with you it can be VERY tight. Tripods would definitely take up too much space! I just leaned my 500 on the bottom of the window. We have another trip planned there tomorrow morning.

All images are copyrighted by Nancy Elwood and Naturesportal

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