Birder's Eye View

Friday, June 13, 2008

CMBS | Part 6

"Not all is doom and gloom. We are beginning to understand the natural world and are gaining a reverence for life - all life." - Roger Tory Peterson

June 28-29, 2007: The final days

On our last full day of camp, we took a field trip to Medomak (pronounced med-AW-mik) Village with renowned birder Scott Weidensaul, whom I have mentioned before in this blog. Unfortunately, none of my pictures from that trip came out well, but the experience was unforgettable.

Mr. Weidensaul was full of amazing stories and boundless knowledge. He told us everything from how the lobstermen harvested their catch, to how J.J. Audubon began studying birds.

On this hike, we saw Cedar Waxwings, Purple Finches, a juvenile Bald Eagle, Chestnut-sided Warblers, and many other species. Although I wished the morning would never end, the afternoon would soon prove to be equally enlightening.

After lunch, we boarded one of Hog Island's boats (this one was a bit cushier than the Puffin V) and cruised out to Wreck Island, a Great Blue Heron rookery.

Once we were gathered on the rocky shore, we were instructed not to speak above a whisper. Theoretically, this island was so well protected that the herons had never even heard the sound of a human voice. We were not to disturb them, or leave a mark in any way, shape or form.

As we hiked up into the dense jungle-like interior of the island, I could have sworn I was stepping into "Jurrasic Park." The heavy sound of wings beat overhead, and, as we hiked silently into a clearing, I realized that every tree was filled with enormous herons and nests.

Every plant, tree, and rock was covered in chalky-white guano. The stench was powerful.

One of the experts who had come along brought his sound equipment, which consisted of a small sattelite-dish type thing, and headphones. We took turns putting on the headphones, and the forest sounds were amplified.

Baby herons peeked out from gargantuan nests above our heads, and adult birds landed clumsily in the thick canopy, hardly seeming to notice us. It was such a profound experience to be walking on one of the few truly wild, nearly-untouched pieces of wilderness on earth.

After an outdoor picnic and last-day-of-camp celebration, we tallied up our bird lists (109 species!) and enjoyed our last night on Hog Island.

To my surprise, coming home actually gave me a culture shock. I had seen hints of myself becoming a birder throughout the week, when I was thrust back into my old environment, I suddenly felt so out of place.

Not one to be easily deterred though, I am proud to say that I have kept up birding, if not as successfully as in Maine but certainly still having as much fun.


You'll be glad to know that this is my second-to-the-last post about CMBS camp, and I will bore you with only one more post in a couple days... CMBS: Lessons Learned

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  • Rookeries are soo cool! The one at High Island TX was always fun to watch. We have a Heron Rookery at Devil's lake SP here in WI and the nests area roughly 30 feet up at the tops of the pine trees.

    By Blogger Parus, At June 14, 2008 at 6:28 PM  

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