Today’s photos come from evolutionist Jody Hey from Temple University. His narrative and captions are indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them.
The coast of Maine offers a lot of beautiful scenery and some great wildlife watching. My visits there are usually in mid-summer, which if you are inland is not the best time of year for watching birds. However, the seaside has lots of visible action year round. On or near the coast, many of the birds are large, and the sightlines have few obstructions, so getting passable photographs can be relatively easy. Below are some pictures taken at Marshall Point, the location of a much photographed lighthouse near Port Clyde, and the island of Monhegan, home to a small community of lobstering folk and artists, and just a 12 mile ferry ride from Port Clyde.
Marshall Pt is a public park and makes a popular and idyllic picnic spot when the weather is good. This photo shows the Marshall Pt lighthouse at high tide. Many will recognize it, as it was famously the eastern terminus for one of Forest Gump’s cross-country runs.
One day I had just finished my picnic lunch and was walking on the beach facing the harbor of Port Clyde, and saw this Great Black-backed gull (Larus marinus) enjoying its own lunch, an Atlantic rock crab (Cancer irroratus).
The tidal range is quite large in coastal Maine, especially further north and east, so the things to see vary widely throughout the day. Here is a Least sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) exploring the barnacles at low tide.
Marshall point is separated from ocean waters only by a few islands, unlike much of the jagged cost of Maine most of which is some distance from the open ocean. This means that Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima) can be seen there year round. In the summer their markings are fairly dull, but in the winter and spring, they are spectacular.
The ferry ride from Port Clyde to Monhegan offers some great opportunities to see marine mammals, including a couple varieties of seals and Harbor Porpoises (Phocoena phocoena):
Monhegan island itself is less than 5 square miles in area, however the majority of it is owned and maintained as wild land by a private non-profit land trust. Visitors are free to explore the beautiful woods and rocky cliffs that dominate the eastern side of the island, as well as eat and shop in the little village. The cliffs also offer great viewing of a variety of coastal and ocean-going birdlife.
Northern Gannets can often be seen from the cliffs (as well as from the ferry). Here is a somewhat blurry adult, and a more in-focus juvenile:
This Double-crested Cormorant (Nannopterum auritus) obligingly flew directly below me at the same time as the waves were crashing:
The cliffs are also a popular nesting site for Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus):
These Cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) were also at the Monhegan clifftops one day, though the coastal location was fortuitous as they are a widespread and common species:
And closely things out for Monhegan, I go this lucky shot of a Common Raven (Corvus corax) one day, deep in the spruce woods:
Lastly, a lagniappe (as Jerry would say). Not far from Monhegan and Marshall Point is Eastern Egg Rock, home to the world’s first restored colony of Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica). The story of that restoration is fascinating, and now it is apparently safe for the birds to be seen by tourists during the breeding season (from a boat, that is). I took the boat tour one day a couple years ago, just before the end of the season when there were only a few puffins to be seen, but at least I got a picture: