Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah...

Here I am at, Camp Hog Island (okay, okay, I know it doesn't rhyme!).

This is Di, posting a blog about our first couple days at Hog Island Audubon Bird Camp, in Maine. That's right - our "vacation" is a Joy of Birding camp - and I do mean camp. Let me take  moment to describe what it's like to stay here.

 Hog Island hosts is an Auduon-operated place that runs various kinds of adult and kid camps throughout the summer, all with nature conservation in mind.  The island is about 300-acres, about 1/4 mile from shore. We arrived on Sunday and were greeted by the Snowgoose III, the camp's boat that is used to transport "campers" from the mainland to the island, and also for boat excursions.

Our transport to the island
That's Hog Island - not very far offshore
The main entrance - very patriotic
Campers are housed in various buildings on the property. We are staying in a boarding house, of sorts. Our building is called the Port Hole and it has 14 rooms (there are two or three other rooming houses). Our rooms are on the second floor, at the end of the hallway. Linda is next door and Lori and Tara are across the hall (Connie stayed home, as she's still sick and didn't want to chance it on this trip. Too bad - wish she were here with us.).  There's a bathroom on each floor. Ours has three sinks, three toilets and two showers. Never having stayed in a dorm or gone to summer camp, it is interesting to brush my teeth next to strangers.

The Port Hole building
The "bigger" dorm room

Linda's room
There are about 60 people here at camp, including some instructors and camp volunteers. Mostly women, which I find unusual since we see mostly men birding down in Cape May. These folks are here from all over the country, and many of them are here by themselves. There's one room where six solo women are lumped into the same, open room - six beds. Guess they'll all getting to know each other quickly, and finding how who snores. The other campers are all getting quite a kick out of our "gang" from Philly. The food is very good. We all eat in the dining room at tables of eight seats. Linda knows one woman here from when she went searching for rails in DE. She and another younger woman from Missouri usually eat with our group. All tables include one of the instructors and we're supposed to rotate tables at each meal to get to know them all and pick their brains.

They split us up into two groups for our outings - the terns and guillemots, and the parulas and loons. We're with the terns.Yesterday, in the sunniest and nicest weather,  the parulas and loons went out on a boat trip to Egg Island to see puffins. Our group went to the mainland, all piled into five vans, and drove to a few different spots looking for birds. We went on a nice hike at our second stop and we got to see great looks at bobolinks (here's the bird part of the blog). Here's a photo of our group at Great Salt Bay Farm, where we saw bobolinks, RWBB's and heard a Sora whinny-ing.

The Terns and Guillemots on the mainland
Female and Male Bobolinks - very cool looking
There isn't much free time here at camp. They run programs in the Fish House (meeting room building) after dinner each night. Last night we learned about the Mt. Washington weather observatory,  and hawk identification. By 8:00, we could barely keep our eyes open. Because we're so far east up here, the sun is up before 5:00 AM, which means no sleeping in.

It poured rain here all day today and the wind was blowing a gale (are we in the Villas?)! More about our rainy day tomorrow. But for now, here's a photo of Ignacious, the resident porcupine. We've seen him three times so far - once up in the apple tree and twice more in the flower beds, chomping on the plants. We are keeping our distance, for fear of having to remove quills from various body parts.

Ignacious (and Di's fat ass)
Time for a post-garden visit to the rest room for Ignacious!
Here's hoping for better weather tomorrow so we can get to see the puffins and razorbills.
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