Puffins in Maine
After a three hour drive from Millinocket we arrived at Pemaquid Point, home of Pemaquid Point Light (best known for being featured on the Maine quarter). What’s a Maine road trip without seeing at least one lighthouse? We didn’t spend any time touring the lighthouse (or learning anything about it for that matter); instead, we just admired it from outside the confines of a fence that keeps out people like us who refuse to pay $2 for a lighthouse tour. We took some time to explore Pemaquid Point, and, like all of Coastal Maine, it was beautiful.
The real reason for stopping at Pemaquid Point was that we had been informed that this was one of the few locations in Maine where we could go on a puffin watch. Obviously we couldn’t not go on a puffin watch so we booked a tour through Hardy Boat Cruises in New Harbor (a few miles north of Pemaquid Point). The boat left New Harbor in the evening and headed for Eastern Egg Rock, where puffins were reintroduced in the 70’s. Hardy Boat Cruises begins running their puffin watched on May 20 – and they run throughout the summer until the puffins have all migrated in late August. Since it was late-August already, we were cutting it a bit close.
As the boat left the harbor, a voice over the loudspeaker announced that the majority of the puffins had already migrated out to sea and the odds of seeing even a single puffin was slim…devastating news. They assured us that we would have our tickets refunded if we struck out on puffin sightings and that we would probably see some seals or other waterfowl. The disappointment of a potential puffin-less puffin watch was quickly erased when we pulled up to Egg Rock and spotted a bald eagle.
The eagle alone was worth the price of the tickets but it wasn’t long before the naturalist on board started shouting that he saw a puffin swimming in the water just off egg rock.
Every few minutes the naturalist announced that more puffins were being spotted and that he couldn’t believe how many we were seeing this late in the season. He was completely flabbergasted and we were legitimately concerned that his head would explode with puffin-induced excitement. Although we were viewing them from a distance, observing the puffins swimming and flying around was an impressive sight. They are beautiful birds. One thing that came as a surprise to us was just how small they were. We have always though of puffins as “mini-penguins“, but never realized just how tiny they really were.
*Full disclosure: we only saw eleven puffins, but that was eleven more than we were expecting so we’ll take that any day of the week.
And thus ended our Maine road trip.
See previous stops along the way: