by Rob Tiller
I took these pictures of Atlantic puffins week before last at Machias Seal Island off the northern coast of Maine. Puffins nest there for a few weeks every year, and spend the rest of their lives at sea. It’s not easy to get to the island to see them: permits are required, and there are not a lot of permits. Even with a permit, the seas are often too rough to get there safely. One of our two planned trips to the island was cancelled on account of weather. But for our second trip, the skies cleared up and the seas calmed down, and we got to see the famous birds.
With the puffins on Machias were a lot of nesting razorbills and murres. Both are gorgeous, though of course not as photogenic as the puffins — who is? It was a real thrill to spend time with all these amazing birds.
The puffins are fast fliers and skilled fishermen. And they’re incredibly cute! We stood in small wooden blinds to photograph them. At times the birds were so close that I couldn’t get them in focus with my big zoom lens.
Our group was organized by the Georgia Nature Photographers Association, which I joined to participate in this trip. I enjoyed meeting the Georgians, who were all very nice and very experienced in nature photography. With Bill and Ken, I explored some of the area parks, and started to fall in love with the Maine. There were lovely harbors, big forests, and many wildflowers. The weather was mostly cool and rainy.