Posts Tagged: Machias Seal Island

Pair of Northern Gannets in flight

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Pair of Northern Gannets in flight (sandra calderbank/

A pair of Northern Gannets caught my attention as they were flying over the ocean near Machias Seal Island, which is 12 miles away from Grand Manan, New Brunswick. Colonies of these large and graceful seabirds breed on steep slopes or rocky cliffs of oceanic islands. They spend their remaining time on the sea. Northern Gannets are lifelong monogamous mates. I captured this image in mid June during breeding season, so I assume this pair is a couple.   




“Sea Parrot”

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They nickname the Atlantic Puffin the “Sea Parrot” because of its large colorful bill during the breeding season. These colorful birds have a fascinating life. The “Sea Parrot” nests on isolated islands in large colonies. On these isolated islands the male and female together, dig a burrow up to 7 feet long with their bill, and clawed feet. The Atlantic Puffin pair are monogamous and often return to the same burrow year after year. Some pairs have been together for twenty years or more!

Most of North America’s Puffins breed at Witless Bay, Newfoundland. I photographed this “Sea Parrot” landing on the rocks on Machias Seal Island. Machias Seal Island is between Cutler, Maine and Grand Manan, New Brunswick. Machias Seal Island is a small seabird sanctuary, managed by the Canadian Wildlife Service. The Atlantic Puffin spends about four months on their chosen breeding island where they are very social and gregarious. Atlantic Puffins spend the other eight months of the year during the winter, at sea and usually alone!

Northern Gannet

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Northern Gannet in flight, flying low over North Atlantic Ocean (sandra calderbank)

This is the largest seabird in the North Atlantic with a 38 inch wingspan. I have visited Machias Seal Island for Puffin photography several times but have only seen these birds once. Like the Puffin, they are seabirds so are not frequently seen on shore except to breed. Their summer range is off the Coast of the Canadian Maritimes so I feel fortunate to have photographed this beautiful bird from Machias Seal Island. I had no idea what it was, just that it was big, beautiful and I had never seen one before!!!