On Friday, June 7th, we ran our annual “Seabirds of Matinicus Rock” trip out of New Harbor. Aboard the Hardy III, Captained by Al Crocetti of Hardy Boat, we take a full day ride out of Muscongus Bay, cruising 25 miles to one of the largest seabird colonies in the Gulf of Maine, at Matinicus Rock. This trip offers one of the most impressive shows of alcids (Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, Common Murres, and Black Guillemots) that can be had out of a Maine harbor, includes a long stretch of open water for early pelagic species, and visits nesting colonies close and far from shore allowing for good comparisons of Common, Arctic, and Roseate terns.
After leaving New Harbor, we motored around Eastern Egg Rock, the home of the world’s first restored seabird colony (where Steve Kress first reintroduced puffins in 1973). Here we saw good numbers of Atlantic Puffins and Black Guillemots but a nice surprise was finding a pair of Razorbills on the island. This species has not become established nesting on Eastern Egg Rock but using methods of social attraction, Project Puffin has been encouraging this species to come back, using the same techniques that worked with puffins.
Water temperatures remain quite cold in the Gulf of Maine, only 47ºF during our trip. This limited our chances for some of the pelagic species we hope to see like Wilson’s Storm-petrels or Great Shearwaters, which are austral migrants (they breed in the southern hemisphere during our winters, then come to the north Atlantic during our summer) and prefer warmer waters.
We did encounter a pair of Manx Shearwaters flying around together just offshore of Matinicus Rock as we arrived. This species has bred on Matinicus but during past trips have been much more shy and never preformed as well as this pair did.
We motored around the island a couple times to take inventory of all the birds we could see. Numbers fluctuate during our trips each year (many factors limit our detection) but this was one of the highest counts we’ve had for most of our target species, highlighted by 500+ Razorbills, mostly loafing in the water off the north side of the rock. Picking through the terns for side-by-side comparisons of Arctic and Common is another fun challenge here.
Many thanks to Al Crocetti and the crew from Hardy Boat for their excellent service and phenomenal work educating the public and providing opportunities to see these seabirds. Also to Jan Pierson for sharing his expertise as a guide and narrator for this trip!
Join us for a Sunset Puffin Cruise this summer, on July 13th and July 26th, or if you are interested in harder to find pelagic like shearwaters, jaegers, and skuas, you can’t miss our Bar Harbor Pelagic on September 14th.
We keep segmented eBird checklists during these trips to make sure birds are reported in the proper locations. You can click the “view” link next to each checklist to see species seen during each segment. The “share” link is for anyone who was on the trip to add the list to their own eBird account.
New Harbor, Bristol – View – Share
Segment I – View – Share
Eastern Egg Rock – View – Share
Segment II – View – Share
Segment III – View – Share
Segment IV – View – Share
Segment V – View – Share
Matinicus Rock – View – Share
Eastern Egg Rock – View – Share