Machias Seal Island is a one hour boat ride from Cutler, Maine. About 20 of us took the Barbara Frost with Captain Andrew Patterson, most with cameras with huge lens in anticipation of close-up shots of puffins and other birds. It was not a sure thing that we would be able to land on the island – the rain and sea for the past three days did not allow it.
When we arrived, the sea was still too rough to chance it. Captain Andy was very clear that our safety came first. So, he took us around for another hour, near another island where we spotted seals and several different bird types. And at that point, he decided we would be able to land. Yay!
The Barbara Frost and a pair of eider ducks
It took several trips back and forth to get all of us transferred, but there we were, at last, on the island! First, though, we were given firm instructions on how to walk up to the center. The terns lay their eggs on the grass. The terns are protecting their eggs. We need to walk on the grass. (Do you see where this is going?) We were given short sticks to hold above our heads and told “Do not stop. Do not swat at the birds. Do not go off the path. Just keep walking.” If you’ve seen Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, you’ll have an idea of what we went through! We all looked the same going to use the outhouse:
After all that, we took turns using the blinds and were able to get lots of photos, mainly puffins, but also so many others. It was great! Here are some of my sketches from my photos. Stay tuned for the puffin ones!
Tern (top) & Northern Gannet
Hello! More than one person has asked me if this trip was “worth” it. Not sure how you could put a price on seeing elephants in their home, and not in a zoo. If the leopard in the nearby tree doesn’t make your heart skip a beat when he stands up to check out your vehicle, then I have to wonder if you are even alive. Or how about seeing exotic birds that aren’t caged? Hippos in the river next to your lodge?
Yes, it was more than I normally pay for a vacation, but hello, it’s AFRICA, and who knows if I’ll ever get back? (Although, I’m definitely hoping for a return visit!)
One thing I can say about this trip is that I came home truly inspired. The experience seems to have opened up some creative faucet, and I hope it doesn’t turn off for a while!
Here are a few of my recent works:
Top left: Yellow- billed stork. Top right: Helmeted guineafowl. (With one of their feathers!) Middle left: Kingfisher (grey-headed?) Middle right: Hippo. Bottom: Little Bee-eater
These are all ink and watercolor on Arches 7×10 cold pressed paper
The privet hedge out front never got trimmed last year, so, the other day, I decided to attack it. I was making great progress until I spotted something inside it.
A well constructed robin’s nest with four beautiful eggs nestled in it. That was the end of trimming that hedge, even if it IS lop-sided now! I was lucky enough to catch a decent photo with my phone, and made sure to do a sketch to remember it by.
The hedge will still be here next year, needing trimming again!
These adorable banditos (cedar waxwings) were crushing the berries on my serviceberry tree! I had a perfect view and got a few closeup photos. This allowed me to sketch these quick berry-loving birds.