Trip to Hog Island

Hog Island Audubon Camp

Hog Island Audubon Camp

We’ve just returned from a few days at Hog Island Audubon Camp in Bremen, Maine, directed by Dr. Steve Kress of Puffin fame.  The session we took was the Art of Birding which included (for me) drawing with Julie Zickefoose, writing with Scott Weidensaul and (for my husband) photography with David Brown.  There were also sessions on book binding and song writing which we didn’t have time to try.  A great pleasure of the camp session was the group of about fifteen teenagers whose youthful enthusiasm for the natural world spread a joyful sense of hope for the future over my stay.  If only more kids could put aside their computer devices and see where the real action is!

Young and old(er) campers discover the treasures of the intertidal zone.

Young and old(er) campers discover the treasures of the intertidal zone.

We birded or investigated the shoreline in the mornings, had “classes” in the afternoons and an informative program every night.  A highlight for me was a sketching session where we sketched birds from Hope Douglas’ “Wind Over Wings”, an outreach program where birds that can no longer survive in the wild are used to educate people about birds and conservation.  This program has recently relocated from Connecticut to Maine.  We miss Hope in Connecticut but I was happy to see her still carrying on her important work.  We spent one morning out in Muscongus Bay, traveling out to Eastern Egg Rock to see the Puffins (for more on EER, see my post from last summer)

Hope Douglas with Skywalker, a Golden Eagle whose wing has been amputated because he was shot intentionally.

Hope Douglas with Skywalker, a Golden Eagle whose wing has been amputated because he was shot intentionally.  It took Hope more than two years to condition him to captivity.  See the bond between them.

Time away from phones, Wi-Fi and the computer?  Heaven.  Here’s a short essay I wrote in the writing workshop about my experience on Tuesday morning:


                                     Hog Island Music at Dawn

Drowsing between sleep and wakefulness, [if I get up now and wash my hair, it will be dry by breakfast] I heard the ring of three sweet notes.  Song Sparrow, I thought, and checked my alarm clock- 4:10 a.m.  I heard no more from Mr. Sparrow until 4:24 when he tried again, his full song this time, the three sweet whistles followed by a jumbled cascades of notes.  This time he was answered by a Phoebe, whose raspy FEE-BEE came from right under my window.  The Phoebe was answered from somewhere deep in the woods behind my room in the Porthole building.  A Northern Parula chimed in with his ascending buzz and soon the air was filled with so much birdsong that I could no longer identify the individual songsters.

I like to think the birds are greeting their neighbors:  “Did you sleep well my friend?” but science has shown us a darker meaning.  They are thought to be challenging their neighbors:  “I’m defending my territory!  Keep off!” These are confrontational songs, retracing and confirming the boundaries of each little patch of Hog Island.

By 4:55 all the skirmishes were settled and the dawn chorus was over.

I got up and washed my hair.

Hermit Thrush Nest

Hermit Thrush Nest


3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Mary said,

    What a great time this must have been! Thank you for sharing it with us!!


  2. 2

    Denise Hughes said,

    Your time at ‘camp’ sounds wonderful. It’s not often one can share nature with big and little kids at the same time.

    Your short story made me smile…If I’m up about 4 a.m. for a bathroom visit, I’ve been taking a shower so my hair will be dry by the time the alarm goes off. After the shower, I head back to bed for another hour or so of sleep. I thought I was the only one who had such thoughts.


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