Summer’s gone

Can it be that the Hog Island 2014 season is over and the 2015 sessions are already 40% full! That we’ve already had our first big snow! So much has happened.

Friends and More

We welcomed visits from old friends David Klinger and Victor Gabay and from new friends at National Audubon’s headquarters in New York – Susan Lunden,

David and Nina
David and Nina

Gary Langham, Mary Beth Henson, and Teresa Hall. Artists in residence at the Bingham Cottages, Rebecca Gilman, playwright, and Tom Schaefer, author, brought the promise of exciting projects to come in 2015: a new play about Mabel Loomis Todd and a new book about Hog Island.

Three successfully fledged and banded Ospreys thrilled campers at Raptor Rapture, as did the new resident Merlin pair and their three fledglings. The sight of the Small Reach Regatta, with its 47 traditional wooden boats and owners, charmed everyone during their week-long stay.  The Schooner Roseway and crew arrived to volunteer and accomplished a lot.  National Audubon held its first-ever Diversity Summit at the camp. The premiere of a spoof by Julie Seifert on Cinderella –  Guillerella -was performed at International Guillemot Day.

Oh, Those Numbers

We love numbers and the 2014 season makes us smile. A record 26 FOHIs opened the camp.

Pete, Jim, Pat, Kathy - the SWAT team
Pete, Jim, Pat, Kathy – the SWAT team

But before that a FOHI swat team of 4 arrived to work with Eric to make extra rooms and install new showers and toilets – Pete Snyder, Kathy Dodge, and Pat and Jim Sanborn. Volunteer slots for most sessions were full. Registration was at 90% capacity, up from 2013. The new Raptor Rapture program sold out and brought new raptor instructors: experts Rob Bierregaard and Yoshi Leshem (from Israel), who said they now understood what draws us to the island year after year – they, too, caught the Hog Island fever.

And What About Those Volunteers

They never disappoint. Ruth Woodall was our star volunteer, whipping us all into shape, and donating over 7 weeks. Ruth, you are an inspiration to us all.

Ruth arranging flowers
Ruth arranging flowers

Many were returning for the second, third, or fourth time – and are becoming “seasoned.”  Some shared their talents by giving a workshop – Jean McKay, Nina Stoyan-Rosenzweig, and Carolyn Zaino. Stephanie Herrick regraded many of the trails to the cabins by herself. Julie Seifert entered the Hog Island library books into LibraryThing, a social media site for book lovers!

One of our volunteers, Nancy Dickinson, became the star “Turnover Tornado.” She turned up every end-of-session day to help us make beds and clean for the next session. Thank you, Nancy. Joe Beaudette was everywhere helping then singing and playing guitar in the evening. Peggy and Betsy Cadbury came for FOHI opening week and then returned for the closing week; volunteers enjoyed their stories of their many years living at the camp with their father Bart Cadbury. Volunteers, Your Rock!

Watch out for our annual newsletter after the holidays. In it, we’ll list every one of our treasured volunteers. Also check out our Facebook page for more volunteer news. Volunteers are already signing up for 2015, so don’t hesitate sign up now for one or more weeks.

Our Campers

Last but not least are the wonderful campers who arrive often hesitant and end up smiling, laughing, and learning

Robert, Betsy, Peggy, Gaye, and Helen wave so long
Robert, Betsy, Peggy, Gaye, and Helen wave so long

far more than they expected and making new friends.  Somewhat cut off from the frantic pace of the mainland, they turned their eyes and mind toward nature and rediscovered a peace within themselves. Nature is the common bond. One camper expressed

“I never knew there could be so many nice people in one place.”

 And, Finally

Steve Kress and his team have exciting new sessions for 2015, including seven-time Grammy Award winner Paul Winter, together with Pete Dunne. Registration is at 40% so far, so check out the new sessions – you won’t be disappointed.

And . . .

Nightjar and its crew and captain set sail for southern climes – we wish them fair winds and following seas.

Exultation is the going
Of an inland soul to sea, —
Past the houses, past the headlands,
Into deep eternity!

Bred as we, among the mountains,
Can the sailor understand
The divine intoxication
Of the first league out from land?

Emily Dickinson

News from Hog Island

We have three bits of exciting news, not including the fact that all the snow has melted and the birds are arriving in droves!

Attention All Mainers

FOHI has partnered with Mid-Coast Audubon chapter to have a benefit screening of the movie “A Birder’s Guide to Everything.” U.S.A Today said thatNot since Rob Reiner’s “Stand By Me’ has such a compelling rite-of-passage film emerged.” So, if you live in Maine or are coming to Maine, join us.  The film will show on Wednesday, April 16 at 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theater on Maine Street in Damariscotta, ME.  Mid-Coast’s own Don Reimer will be on hand to answer questions before and after the show.

“A Birder’s Guide to Everything” Photo: Courtesy of Labrador Duck Productions, LLC

Have Rachel and Steve Returned?

On April 8, 2014  at 3:36 p.m. EST, a male and female osprey landed in the Hog Island nest? Are they Rachel and Steve returning home or is it last year’s interloper female returning with a suitor or Steve. Stay tuned while we confirm the identities of the pair! To keep tabs on them, visit and see if you can tell if they are Steve and Rachel.

Is this Rachel and Steve?

Hog Island Sessions and Volunteer Spaces Are on Track

Sessions for the 2014 season are 75% full. A few spaces are still left in most of the sessions, especially those fabulous Monhegan trips in September.  Many of you have missed Pete Dunne. Well, he will be back for Joy of Birding in June, so now’s the time to register. We have a lot of stimulating additions to the sessions. Even if you’ve attended them before, you’ll find something new and exciting. We’re always improving and adapting.

Ah, the Joy of Birding! Photo courtesy of John Reis

Volunteers spaces are also open for most sessions, so sign up or learn more about what is expected of a volunteer. They rock!

P.S. We mailed our annual appeal letter on April 1. If you’ve already sent a donation, please disregard our appeal – we thought you’d enjoy the update. Stay tuned for more news as we work out the winter kinks. See you soon on the island.


An Exciting Summer Ahead

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. If this John Steinbeck quote is true, then summer at the Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine will be especially sweet. Not only do we have our tried and true programs for 2014 but we also have the new Raptor Rapture session July 13-18 and are repeating the Arts of Birding in June 22-27; it was a big hit last year. Registration for camp sessions is brisk so explore the sessions at and sign up with friends or family.

Campers enjoy sketching, photographing, recording, and painting live birds at Arts of Birding, 2013
Campers enjoy sketching, photographing, recording, and painting live birds at Arts of Birding, 2013

Learn about some of the exciting instructors that will  be on hand to enrich your experience; Rob Bieregaard and Pete Dunne are just an example. You won’t want to miss this season.

We thought things couldn’t get any better

For FOHI, we thought things couldn’t get any better. Because of a generous anonymous gift last year that was matched by FOHIs,  we will able to make improvements to the Fish House for the 2014 season and also purchase some items that will make camp life a little more comfortable. For this season, we’ll have a new audio/visual system and additional ventilation in the Fish House; more is in the works.  FOHI’s News – 2013 wraps up our activities as well as our financial position and has some fun photos – check it out.

FOHIs keep busy in the winter

Jean MacKay whose stunning artwork graces the cover of FOHI’s  News – 2013 will be coming back in 2014 not as a volunteer but as an instructor at Arts of Birding. Only Jean could make a thing of beauty out of our Hobart Sanitizer Machine!

Jean's Hobart art

Some of you may have had long chats with Tom Schaefer – a FOHI volunteer and board member. So you know that Hog Island has a special place in Tom’s heart. He’s been working on a book, Nature’s People,  about the island and will be here in July as a “writer in residence” working on the “Camp Mavooshen” chapter of his book. Check out his blog site and his progress.

Of course, you all remember Scott Weidensaul, FOHI board member. Scott had the envious task of banding as many Snowy Owls as he could as part of Project SNOW Storm. The nonprofit has gathered volumes of data and photos about the 2013 Snowy Owl irruption, which will add to our knowledge of this species. Take a moment to explore the site. Scott will be at the camp for several sessions throughout the season.


What would summer be without a stint at the Hog Island Audubon Camp? Our volunteer slots are filling up quickly and our team is growing with many coming back as a group – “a vacation with friends while you give back to something you love” is the sentiment of many FOHI volunteers. Educator’s Week is already full but we still need volunteers for the other sessions. We also have the Turnover Tornado option that gives you an overnight stay on the island for helping us with the session turnover day. If you can’t come to the island, perhaps you could be an osprey-cam volunteer.  Become part of the fabulous FOHI volunteer team; sign-up soon. We’re waiting to see you again!

Wish List

Last but not least is our Wish List: We’d be thrilled to receive a 16-ft skiff to replace our workboat scow and a 15-passenger van. E-mail for more information.

Remember, whether you come to Hog Island as a camper or a volunteer, you are helping sustain the island’s future.

As Emily dickinson said, “Hope is the thing with wings” – thank you for giving wings to Friends of Hog Island and the Audubon Camp at Hog Island.


Hog Island is Definitely the Place to Be

So many good things have happened at the Hog Island Audubon Camp in 2013 and it’s not over yet.

Front and center, of course, is the romantic drama of Steve and Rachel and their two chicks Mabel and Tory, watched by over a million and half viewers.

I'm ready to fledge
I’m ready to fledge

Who would have imagined so much suspense – our very own soap opera. See what’s happening at

Underneath the site of the soap opera is where all the great things are happening. But where to start: campers, donors, volunteers, instructors, staff. You cannot have one without the other. Each is an integral part of the camp’s continued success.

Campers always smiling and learning

Sessions have averaged 94 percent capacity, with a number of returning campers. Dawn and Glenda were at camp when Steve Kress had just started his project with the puffins. To have a place in people’s hearts for so long is surely something to be treasured.

The Corvids (teens) eager to start camp.
The Corvids (teens) eager to start camp.

Scott Weidensaul directed a new session, The Arts of Birding, which had everyone raving about it.

Then, there were the two sessions with the Corvids (teen) campers – our future. To see their enthusiasm and wonder reassures us that in their hands the future is safe.

We have four more sessions coming up; check them out at

Donors are full of surprises

To say that FOHI donors are full of surprises is an understatement. Thanks to their generosity,

We all love the new picnic tables.
We all love the new picnic tables.

the camp has 10 new picnic tables, a new walk-in fridge, a chest freezer, new dining room chairs, another new specimen cabinet, a completely revamped Bosun’s Locker, new power tools, new Water-Hog mats, new Adirondack chairs, new vacuum cleaners, new trail signs, desk fans for many of the rooms, a 7-passenger van, and various other items. In addition, FOHI was able to fulfill its annual pledge to the camp of $50,000 in June at Field Ornithology.

But the best is yet to come. An anonymous donor has promised $10,000 to FOHI by the end of the year for Fish House improvements, if we can match that amount. To date, we have $2,200 in matching funds. The funds will be used for a new overhead audio/visual system, lighting and fans, and possibly an exhibit of the past, present, and future of the camp.

Volunteers make it happen

Our volunteer team grows, with many repeaters. Their capacity to work and smile – even during the brutally hot weather is awe-inspiring.

Volunteers Eric and Stephanie can't wait to get to work!
Volunteers Eric and Stephanie can’t wait to get to work!

They work hard and play hard. With their generous gift of time and talent, we are able to achieve so much. Like campers they come back repeatedly. Catherine was a camper when Steve was only thinking about relocating puffins.Her time at camp radically changed her course of study. Today she is a university science professor and returned to camp as a volunteer with her spouse, Jim. So far this year, FOHIs have contributed more than 3,800 hours to the camp. They come from all over the country – near and far.

We still have spaces for two special events in August and three sessions in September and the FOHI workweek. Don’t wait to sign-up.

Instructors and staff – indomitable

Enough cannot be said about the instructors and staff. Instructors also come from near and far – some long-time faithfuls; others eager to be part of the Hog Island tradition. They are experts in their field.

Staff, volunteers and instructors as guillemots!
Staff, volunteers and instructors get in the Guillemot spirit!

They work long hours, are patient, good-humored and adept at changing schedules and workshops to accommodate inclement weather.

They happily share their knowledge with those willing to soak it up. They even get into the spirit of camp celebrations, such as Guillemot Appreciation Day.

Then there are the camp staff who are there for every session; they keep the camp infrastructure running and keep campers fed. There is no such a thing as a short day on Hog Island – all days are gloriously long and full until you collapse in bed, your mind reeling from the day’s field trips and workshops or from work making sure that every camper is  having a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

As you see, whether you’re a camper learning , a donor giving, a volunteer giving, an instructor teaching, or a staff member working- you are part of the camp’s brilliant future. Hog Island is definitely the place to be.