Scott Weidensaul, the bard of contemporary nature writing, is the one to blame. Now we HAVE to visit Maine every year.
He's the one, after all, who recommended us to be a part of the teaching staff for the "Joy of Birding" course at the Hog Island Audubon Camp. Seth Benz, director of the Hog Island camp, must be under Scott's spell because, sho'nuff, he invited us.
"A week of bird watching on an island off the coast of Maine?
Hmmm... let us thinkOK! WE'LL DO IT!"
And we had such a wonderful time that I'm sure we'll want to go back in years to come. If they'll have us, that is.
Flattered, we were, to be walking in the footsteps of great naturalists of yesterday and today: Allan and Helen Cruickshank, Roger Tory Peterson, and Rachel Carson taught, studied, or spent time on Hog Island. Stephen Kress launched Project Puffin from Hog Island. Today you might take the Ornithology course from Scott Weidensaul and Kenn Kaufman, or one of the dozens of other Hog Island instructors.
I'd heard about Hog Island for years. Roger Peterson wrote and spoke about the place as having been one of his early formative career experiences. And the folks who go there, whether as youngsters or as adults, seem to be captivated by the place. This brings them back, often year after year. A few of our fellow staffers had come to Hog Island as youth campers decades before!
The setting is right out of a Wyeth painting. Or maybe Winslow Homer. The ragged rocky coast of Maine, spruce clad with surging tides offers a stop-and-sigh vista no matter where your eyes fall. Islands dot the horizon and harbor seals, common eiders, and black guillemots swim amidst the bright buoys marking the lobster pots.
Cabins on Hog Island are much as they were back in the good old days--rustic and funky. But after a day of sea air, hiking the island's meandering trails, and birding, plus heaps of good food, few campers have trouble sleeping. I know I didn't.
I'll share a few images from our first two days at Hog Island. In my next post, I'll tell you about our boat trip to see the Atlantic puffin colony on Eastern Egg Rock.