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Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Homer, Alaska

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Seals and Whales and Puffins...Oh My!

Our days off last week were some of the best we've seen since our arrival in Bar Harbor. By that I mean there was actually some sun in the sky, and rains weren't supposed to start until late afternoon :-). Monday was supposed to have thunderstorms in the afternoon, so we chose that day to do our weekly shopping, laundry and a short excursion close to home. Lamoine State Park is just over the bridge on the mainland, with a few caches in the area, so we took some lunch over that way for a picnic and some easy caching. Whereas it was pretty nice out, it had gotten pretty warm and humid, so strenuous hiking was not going to happen.
We found a cache here at this pretty spot, a tidal creek called Mud Creek.

This momma osprey was not happy about us being here though!

We made it to the top of Cadillac Mountain when there was no fog! Miracles will never cease :-). Pretty view of Bar Harbor and the Porcupine Islands in the distance.

Tuesday was the best day, with sunshine all day long and hot temperatures. There was room on the Islander, which is the boat doing the Puffins, Seabirds and Lighthouses tours for Acadia Nature Cruises, so we booked the afternoon trip. I'm finally going to see puffins!

The boat left the dock from the Atlantic Hotel, near where the old Seacat ferry terminal. Sadly, this ferry service to Yarmouth Novia Scotia has been discontinued. We passed by Bar Island, which is accessible from Bar Harbor during low tide. The sandbar is uncovered at low tide, so you have a couple of hours to walk over, explore, and come back. Of course if you linger too long, you'll have twelve hours to explore before the next low tide :-).

Heading out of Frenchman's Bay

A great example of the craggy coastline. Notice here how the treeline comes right to the edge

St. Mark's Lighthouse, also known as Winter Harbor Lighthouse. Winter Harbor is a town on the Schoodic Peninsula, to the north of Mount Desert Island. Another section of Acadia National Park is on Schoodic Peninsula. Winter Harbor is named for the fact that due to unique characteristics the harbor never freezes, so fishermen can still go in and out of this harbor all year long.

We passed the point of Schoodic Peninsula, and notice here that the treeline is much further back. This point of land juts out the furthest into the Atlantic Ocean, taking the brunt of the waves and the wind, causing the vegetation to be much further back from the shoreline. At this point, the natural air conditioning started to kick in, and I was glad I had on jeans and brought my sweatshirt. We also had a sighting of a minke whale, but it was way to fast going down into a dive for me to get a picture. It is a bit early in the season for the whales.

We approached the puffin roosting area about 40 minutes later, here on Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge.

Getting closer...

First view of puffins!

Puffins are only on land from April to August, while they are breeding and raising their young. The rest of the year they are out at sea in the North Atlantic. Razorbills also roost on the rocky ledges with the puffins.

Common eider ducks also nest here, and we saw a female with several chicks.

Hundreds of common and roseate terns call Petit Manan home as well.

Puffins are often called "clowns of the sea" because of their bright colored beak, rotund profile and their "helicopter-like" flapping as they fly. I just think they're cute! 

It was hard to get a good picture of them on land as the boat doesn't get that close, and it was a'rockin'!
Puffins were once over-hunted for food and feathers, and came extremely close to disappearing from the Maine coast altogether. By 1901 only one mating pair was left on Mantinicus Island. Conservation efforts and re-introduction projects have brought the population back. Climate change is heralding a new challenge for these cuties, though. Herring, their main food source, has been in short supply, and the parents have been bringing back an alternative fish called butterfish. Unfortunately, many times the butterfish are too big for the chicks to eat. Researchers have found deceased chicks, surrounded by large butterfish. Very sad.

It was time to bid adieu to our cute little feathered friends and head back to Bar Harbor. As you can see, the fog was starting to descend, making an eerie landscape for us to head towards.

Before heading back into the harbor, though, we had a drive-by of Egg Island lighthouse. Maybe we could see some seals!

Oh yeah, there's a few!

And some more!

and even more! They remind me of Chelsea when she's flopped in the grass in the sun :-). Fat and happy.

A bald eagle is sitting in the distance, looking for fish I imagine.

Good-bye, Egg Island!


  1. Great pictures! Really makes us want to head back there:)

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    1. Very pretty pictures! Hope to make it there one day.

  3. That looked like a great tour! Nice pictures!

  4. What a great day!!! Love all your photos, but I agree the Puffins are CUTE;o))

  5. Sign us up! I need to figure out which boat tour would be the best for us. Wonder if we can get group rates.

  6. Simply beautiful pictures. Can't wait to get there. Those puffins are just darling. I sure hope I can see some of them. I've seen loons twice now but they are so fast to dip under the water I can't get a decent picture. Your pictures today are terrific. Thanks!

  7. What a wonderful day! Puffins, seals, and a whale sighting...what's not to love?!

  8. Great pictures- I really want to see Puffins :)

  9. Apparently there are Puffins here in Oregon, though no sightings as of yet! Nice pictures and a glorious day!