Hog Island Adventure Part 3-Abundant Alcids

Today was the big day. It was June 26th and we had planned to visit Eastern Egg Rock Island for our morning bird trip to go see the highlight of the whole camp: Atlantic Puffins! Atlantic Puffins look kind of like miniature penguins but they can fly and their beaks are much different. The Seabird Restoration Program started by Steve Kress began with the rescue of these amazing birds. This island is perhaps the farthest south the Atlantic Puffins breed and workers are living on the island making sure everything is ship shape for the puffins. Atlantic Puffins were not the only highlight of the trip because they are part of a group of birds called the alcids. The three species of alcid we saw were the Atlantic Puffin, Razorbills, and the least numerous of the group worldwide, the Black Guillemot. Black Guillemots may be the least numerous overall of the group, but they are quite common around Hog Island itself. Razorbills are a special treat because they do not breed on Eastern Egg Rock Island so you are not certain to see one there. Lucky enough, there was one lone individual among the plethora of puffins! I got 5 lifers on the trip including Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Arctic Terns, Roseate Terns and Wilson’s Storm-Petrels. Arctic Terns, Roseate Terns and Common Terns swarmed the island as well, with the Common Tern (as its name suggests) being the most numerous of the three species. Each of these species has something special about them. Common Terns are the most widespread of all terns in North America, some Roseate Terns sport a hint of rosy pink on their breasts that can be seen in the right light and from the right distance (hence the name), and Arctic Terns take the longest migration route out of any species of bird worldwide! Some Arctic Terns fly 25,000 miles round trip! Storm-Petrels and other tubenoses in general have an exceptional sense of smell that they use to beat the other seabirds to food at sea. Later in the day, we took a hike around Hog Island and while I did not get any lifers, we still heard some of my favorite singers: Winter Wren and Swainson’s and Hermit Thrushes. Winter Wrens have the most complicated birdsong in North America, lasting up to 5-6 seconds and consisting of 16 notes/second for eastern wrens and 36 notes/second for western wrens. Winter Wrens also can sing 10 times more powerfully according to its size than a rooster can crow. That song was pretty cool, but definitely the best part of the trip was seeing a male Blackburnian Warbler on a tree branch out in the open only about 30 feet away. I love seeing that splendid shade of orange! We saw all sorts of mosses, lichens, insects, salamanders, butterflies, shells, mollusks, fungi and plants on the hike as well including Leaf Hopper, Skunk Cabbage, Tinder Fungus, Common Wood Sorrel, Gold Thread, Slime Mold, Worm and Haircap Moss and Reindeer Lichen. We ended the day with a night time super surprise: a porcupine was found in the compost bin behind one of the buildings! I was one of the first to see him so I still saw him while he was on the ground and then watched him climb a tree. He was massive!!! I would not want to get into a fight with one of those! Here are the lists for the day:
Eastern Egg Rock Island:
Laughing Gull 50
Double-crested Cormorant 75
Great Blue Heron 3
Black Guillemot 30
Herring Gull 50
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel 15
Common Eider 20
Common Tern 100
Atlantic Puffin 75
Arctic Tern 20
Roseate Tern 10
Razorbill 1

Hog Island Hike:
Laughing Gull 2
Blue Jay 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
Dark-eyed Junco 4
American Crow 2
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Common Eider 2
Northern Flicker 1
Osprey 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2
Swainson’s Thrush 1
Hermit Thrush 1
White-throated Sparrow 1
Common Loon 1
Blackburnian Warbler 1
Winter Wren 2

Red Spruce Trees
Meadow Vole
Haircap Moss
Slime Mold
Common Wood Sorrel
Tinder Fungus
Skunk Cabbage
Pitcher Plant Flower
Pitcher Plant