My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Foggy Pelagic Trip

June 4, 2016

I had a pelagic trip on my bucket list, so signed up for one at the Acadia Bird Festival. The weatherman had suggested that we would start with fog, but it would clear. I got up at 4:20 to get ready and then drove for about forty minutes to get to the pier in Bar Harbor. I was standing in line by 5:45 and we started boarding around six. After talks from the captain and the birding leaders, we got underway in a moderate fog.

I was probably about half way down the ultimate line - we could buy breakfast and coffee at the window just to the right

Loading up - I ended up at the very top 

A look at the harbor while waiting to start our trip

One of the leaders describing our trip

I usually stay outside, no matter what, when birding from a boat so I decided to go to the top deck. We went around the harbor a few minutes before taking off towards Grand Manan Island. Birds were few and far between and were mostly disappearing into the fog. We did several passes in front of Grand ManN and saw lots of puffins and razorbills as well as a couple of phoebes and a magnolia warbler. Our guide told us that fog makes migrating passerines  look for land wherever they can find it. He also talked about a time birds crashed to land and were landing on people. One person stuck her arms out and had fifty-two birds land on her. 

My brightest picture of the Grand Manan Lighthouse

Puffins were seen several times, albeit very dimly

Razorbills looking like penguins

A swimming razorbill

It was nice to see a double crested cormorant in breeding plumage- he was just lifting off

We also learned that Global Warming is causing Maine water temperatures to rise faster than the average. Fisheries are already changing and the phyto and zooplankton are starting to grow about two weeks earlier, causing fish to start growing earlier. This is resulting in puffins catching fish that are too large for their young to swallow so they starve in a place where there is plenty of food. And the fish that require really cold water are disappearing and other fish are spreading into Maine from the South. 

Later, when I visited the Nature Center at Acadia NP, I saw two menus for a local popular seafood restaurant. One was their current menu and the other was for an expected menu fifty years hence. Lobster had completely disappeared as had haddock and other northern fishes. But several new species of fish had taken their place. 

We passed lots of rocky shores and birds flying into the fog

While we were at Grand Manan we talked via a radio link to a lady that is doing research there and who writes the blog, Summer with the Seabirds. This was her second summer to do research there and she listed the number of nests for each species that nests on the island. Nesting season is just starting up so read the blog to find out how successful this year turns out to be.

This was pretty much our view of birds at the best light

We went on to Petit Manan and saw double cormorants, murres, common loons, common terns, lots of black guillemots. This island has a huge colony of terns, including common, roseate and arctic terns. But the fog, rather than lifting, got thicker and darker and I was no longer able to even see a little ghostly movement when the leaders called a bird. So I went into the lower cabin and read my much more engaging mystery in warmth.

 Black guillemots
Black guillemots in flight

A common eider pair

But I do have two free tickets to this same boat, which will mostly be taking people out to do whale watching, and I may get better looks at some of these seabirds. My friend, Terri, tried to buy me a ticket from a speaker at the Down East Bird Festival,  who works as a interpreter on this boat. Instead, he gave her two tickets after she told him I was working as a volunteer at Moosehorn.   

A few of the seals we saw

A very dim view of cormorants

Wildlife has to share with people

Almost back to Bar Harbor

I had lots of other adventures during the mostly cloudy weekend.  I have several more stories to share with you. And I had a great couple of visits with a friend I met while living at Outer Banks, NC. She is up here to volunteer at Acadia National Park for the summer.

I'm linking up with Wild Bird Wednesday.  Click the link to see lots more blogs. I was pretty amazed at the yellow-billed spoonbill.