Machias Seal Island and Downeast Maine

June 13 - 15, 2015


Barbara Guay and I co-led this trip to Maine in mid-June, 2015. Of course, the highlight of all of the trips to this location is getting onto the seabird breeding colony on Machias Seal Island, but we had lots of other great stuff. Our trip report, bird and mammal and plant lists are available as pdf download

After leaving Joppa Flats early in the morning on the 13th, we drove up to Newmarket, NH, to look for the Mississippi Kites that have been nesting there for the past few years. We were not disappointed.

This male was watching out in the vicinity of the

nesting female.

We drove and drove and drove until we reached Downeast Maine - boreal forests, the Bold Coast, seabirds, and lupine in bloom. It's a magical place.

Alder Flycatchers everywhere

Black-and-white Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Nashville Warbler

Northern Parula


Dark-eyed Junco

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Spatulate Sundew in the wonderful Arctic Bog at Quoddy Head State Park

a rare White Lady Slipper

stone turtle (someone with time on their hands was here)

West Quoddy Head Light (Grand Mannan in the background)

Of course, the highlight of this trip is always the visit to Machias Seal Island (New Brunswick or Maine, depending on which country you believe)

heading out from Cutler Harbor,

past the Bald Eagle keeping watch

and to Machias Seal Island (lighthouse staffed year-round by Canada)

The Arctic Tern colony on the island seems to be making a come-back,

with nesting birds

and some sub-adults around.

Everyone loves

Atlantic Puffins, especially from the blinds on the island

where they are up-close and personal. Of course, there are also

also Common Murres and Razorbills nesting on the island,


Common Murre

"Bridled" Common Murre in flight

Hanging around

I can remember when we had to search hard to find a Common Murre. They seem to be making a statement.

And the Razorbills are simply fabulous, standing around,

in flight, or

squabbling at sea.

There have been a couple of Northern Gannets hanging around the island this year. I wonder what would happen if they started breeding on this island.

Oh, and the only reliable passerine on the island is

ta-da! - Savannah Sparrow (breeder).

Eventually, we had to leave the island and head back to the mainland,

but we stopped by North Rock to check out

the seals. Here's mom and this year's pup giving us a cautious look.

We had a few field botanists on this trip (not me by any stretch) and ended up with a nice plant list (for a bird trip). Here are a few more pix:

Blue-eyed Grass

Crown Vetch

Horsetail marsh

Orange Hawkweed 

Ah, and the inevitable group photos

most of the group outside the Eastland Motel in Lubec (photo by Subash Pereira)

They call it the Bold Coast! (photo by Subash Pereira)


Subash and VG at Quoddy Head.

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