We can’t wait to share the wonders of Hog Island with you! Please join us in Maine next spring for Hog Island: Puffins & Stuff!
Hog Island is a magical place. It has been the home of the Hog Island Audubon Camp since the 1930s and during this time, thousands of students, teachers, conservationists, birders, and naturalists have spent time on the island learning about the natural history of coastal Maine. Project Puffin, the groundbreaking endangered species recovery program that saved the Atlantic puffin from extinction in North America, was started by Audubon and Dr. Steve Kress on Hog Island in 1973 and still makes its home there today.
The magic and charm of Hog Island comes in many forms—from the rugged, rocky coast lined with weather-beaten pines, to the bays dotted with the brightly painted buoys of lobster pots, and the picturesque, New England style of the houses and cottages that host Hog Island campers. The birdlife is impressive too: rafts of common eiders with young, soaring bald eagles and ospreys, black guillemots diving below the waves of Muscongus Bay, common loons calling in the morning mist. A boat trip out to one of the many islands farther offshore puts you in close proximity to Atlantic puffins, roseate and Arctic terns, great cormorants, and sometimes storm-petrels, razorbills, and great shearwaters.
I was honored to serve as a Hog Island Audubon Camp instructor on numerous occasions over the past dozen years, so I can attest to the island’s allure. And it’s that allure — plus the magic of the camp itself — that placed Hog Island at the top of the list for a future Reader Rendezvous.
Sunday, May 28 (Arrival Day!)
Our Hog Island week starts on Sunday afternoon, after 2:00 PM, with the arrival of you and your fellow attendees at the boat dock below the Audubon Center in Bremen, Maine. You and your luggage will be ferried over to Hog Island, just across the inlet, where you’ll be greeted by members of our Rendezvous staff, the Hog Island staff, and volunteers from the Friends of Hog Island. After a brief orientation, you’ll be taken to your room to settle in. At 5:00 PM we’ll gather in the Fish House for introductions, more information on the week ahead, and the basics of island life. After some light refreshments, we’ll adjourn to dinner at 6:15 with an evening program to follow at 7:30 back in the Fish House. This evening will feature a special presentation by Dr. Steve Kress: “Hog Island History and Project Puffin.”
Monday, May 29
Early birds will gather for a dawn bird walk on the island. The rest of the RR group will reconvene at 7:15 for breakfast. After breakfast, attendees will divide into four groups (Eiders, Parulas, Guillemots, and Terns) to take part, two groups at a time, in either workshops or the traditional Shakedown Cruise aboard the Snow Goose, which circumnavigates Hog Island and gives campers a great introduction to local birds, wildlife, island topography, and points of historical or natural interest. After a short break and lunch, the groups will swap places for the workshops and shakedown cruise. A late afternoon break will be followed by a social hour, dinner, then the evening program and activities.
Tuesday, May 30 and Wednesday, May 31
These two days will feature full-day trips, one via passenger vans to some birding hotspots on the mainland and one via the Snow Goose out to Egg Rock and Harbor Island. The Eiders and Terns will leave for the inland hotspots at 8:30 AM and the Guillemots and Parulas will depart for Egg Rock on the Snow Goose at 8:45 AM. We’ll eat lunch in the field on both days and return to Hog Island after 4 PM for dinner and the evening program.
Thursday, June 1
This is our last full day on Hog Island and we’ll fill it with engaging workshops, seminars, and presentations. Among the subjects/topics/activities will be: field sketching or painting with the artists-in-residence, birding by ear, bird ID basics, songwriting, and an island/geology hike. You’ll also have plenty of free time to relax, explore the island, or just do a little easy birding on your own. At 5:30 we’ll gather for a Maine tradition: a lobster bake featuring clam chowder, boiled potatoes, corn on the cob, and puffin pastries for dessert!
We’ll end the day with a final checklist tally, check-out and departure info, and a final farewell from the Rendezvous and Hog Island staffs.
Friday, June 2
After breakfast at 6:45, we’ll begin ferrying campers back to the mainland at 7:30 and you can depart on your migration back home or on to your next adventure.
About the Hog Island Reader Rendezvous
This six-day Hog Island adventure has been specially designed for our Reader Rendezvous attendees. The terrain, accommodations, and weather conditions are quite different on rustic, remote Hog Island. In fact, the Hog Island motto is “Embrace the weather!” For this reason we recommend that you read the Frequently Asked Questions page of the Hog Island website, which should address any concerns or questions you may have.
This is early in the spring season for Maine, so spring migrants will still be streaming through while summer residents may be just arriving. The weather is likely to be variable, but probably will include some cold and wet periods. Wet/cold-weather gear is highly recommended as are sturdy, supportive waterproof footwear. Please note that a moderate amount of walking is required when on Hog Island. Some of the lodging is more distant from the central building than others and is not handicap accessible. If walking is a challenge for you, please notify us when you register. Additional details will be forthcoming once you register.
Registration and Lodging
The basic registration fee for the Hog Island: Puffins & Stuff Reader Rendezvous is $1,699 per person, and is all-inclusive, covering programming fees, van and boat transportation during the week, all field trips, all meals, and basic lodging. Basic lodging is “camp style” — private rooms with shared bathrooms. All lodging on Hog Island is comfortably rustic, and if you are traveling with a spouse, partner, or friend, you may request to share with them and we will do our best to accommodate you. Private rooms with private bathrooms are available for additional lodging fees ranging from $50 to $150 per day, per person. These private rooms are available on a first-come, first-served basis by calling Emily Jones, BWD Events Coordinator, at 740-373-5285, extension 313, between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. eastern time, Monday through Friday.
It is recommended that you register for the Rendezvous first, then call Emily to secure your lodging. Please note: Space is limited to 55 campers total.
See you there!
As always, if you have any questions, please contact us at 740-373-5285.
—Bill Thompson, III
Editor, Bird Watcher’s Digest