One of the things I dislike about tour guiding in nature: the minute you tell people to look at something — a loon, say, or a harbor porpoise — it often dives down and disappears. Or the reverse: this afternoon out at Great Duck Island, I’d just gotten through explaining how puffins aren’t often seen in these waters, when Captain Larry came on the mike and said, “There’s one right over there.”
An Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica), the provincial bird of Newfoundland and Labrador, floating calmly on the water about 50 feet away — first time that’s happened in four years on the tour. Immediately all thoughts of lighthouses were forgotten, as everyone rushed to the port side of the boat. We watched it for a few minutes before it too disappeared, and we went on our way as well.
A few minutes later, Chad came up to the wheelhouse and reported that “One of the women down in the main cabin got all excited when she heard that we’d found a puffin, but said she thought it was a fish. Until it flew away.”