Bon Portage Island
After six months of being relatively confined, I figured a trip to Bon Portage Island was in order to get my mental health on the right track and to get my feet moving again.
I have to say that I think I hyped it up in my head which lead to some disappointment at the overall lack of birds that were seen this past weekend.
However, I made some new friends and had a great social time, saw 3 new life birds and got some good pics…so overall, not a bad weekend.
I arrived on Friday evening to catch the boat over to the island with the rest of those that had signed up…to my surprise, the boat wasn’t much bigger than our speedboat! It’s good that the distance from shore to Island is only about 3 kms and a 15 min ride but it took three trips to deposit us all safely.
Once we got on the island and said farewell to the skipper, we set up camp and had a group dinner. There was no lack of food and conversation around the table so that was nice.
The biggest draw to BPI is the Leach’s Storm Petrels. Over 50000 pair of them nest on the island and I have never seen anything so cool. The birds go to sea to hunt during the daylight hours, but at night, they return to the island to roost. The cool about them is that they burrow underground. If you stand out in the dark when they are coming in from the day’s activities, they fly and swoop overheard and make such a great chuckling noise…once in the ground, we could often hear them “purr”. Their sense of direction in the dark is less than stellar, so sometimes they will hit you and land at your feet….we were able to shine our lights on some of them as they were trying to get to their burrows…they are so cute! No pics…that was near impossible.
After a restless sleep on Fri night, I woke to the sounds of birds chirping and so was excited to get up and go see what there was to see. The first day was spent as a group walking around the island. We walked for 7 hrs that day and the highlight was seeing a pair of Great Horned Owls…the male was the only one that was accommodating for a photo shoot.
Most of the island is rocky shore and so the walking was rough going…you really need tough boots out there. The rocky parts of the island are mainly a Gull nesting colony, so there was no shortage of picture ops of Greater Black Backed Gulls either flying around screeching at us or nesting. Their eggs are cool but they had just started to lay so no chicks which would have been even cooler.
There was no way around walking right through where they were trying to nest, so in order not to get hit by a gull trying to warn us off, most walked with sticks held over their heads…it’s a wonder no one got pooped on!
The biggest shock was the amount of flotsam and jetsam that has washed up on the shores of the island…it’s disgusting and shameful that our Governmental departments can’t work together to get it cleaned up. There are lobster traps everywhere, and those that have been going there for years say that they are death traps for the birds…they have rescued numerous eiders etc from them after getting stuck. This little gosling was the latest victim. This picture is just after the rescue. We tried to get him to his parents who had taken to the open water but he just kept following us. Eventually a gull got him which sat very heavy on a lot of our hearts.
However, some gulls have taken advantage of the lobster traps and repurposed them as nest condos.
I certainly hope that someone can figure out a way to keep the island clean because the views outside of that are beautiful.
Once we finished our shore walk, we went back to the camp through a path that took us inland where we saw the usual warblers and sparrows. The lack of birds on the island was disappointing so we were there either late or early. Another few weeks might have made a difference in what was seen for sure.
Yellow Rumped Warbler
Black Throated Green Warbler
Other than some Redstarts, lots of Winter Wrens that wouldn’t come out for a good picture, a Catbird that didn’t show himself to me the whole weekend there wasn’t much else that could be seen…oh, except the Boreal Chickadees that I finally got to see!
The next day turned out to be pretty dreary and nothing new presented itself. Most of the day was spent walking around the camp area and hoping for some good pics or reading my book by the fire in the cabin.
Monday wasn’t any better and the boat ride back was a tad nerve wracking in the sense that we were only using one 20 hp motor that was bogging down, the surf was high and my camera got wet….I hope it dries out today. I’m bummed to think that it is broken from the last leg of the trip when I was so careful all weekend!
Would I go again? Time will tell. I have my own retreat here at home, so that part of it didn’t appeal to me so much.
That’s it for today
soldiermomma signing off