In the spring of 2005, a Red-billed Tropicbird, a stunning white bird with a bright red bill and a long streaming tail was seen in the cold waters off the Maine coast. Thousands of miles off-course . . . this bird normally prowls the seas off the Lesser Antilles. It was seen off and on that summer, a male bird looking for a mate.
Incredibly it appeared again the following spring, settling on the rocky, remote island of Matinicus Rock. The next two summers it returned to its Matinicus home . . . before moving Seal Island in 2008. “Troppi” has returned to Seal Island, 20 miles off the Maine coast each summer since then . . . thrilling birders who manage to get their binoculars on him.
Doing a Maine Big Year, I had to “get Troppi”, so I organized a group of birders and we hired a lobsterman to take us from Vinalhaven Island (accessible by Maine State Ferry from Rockland) to Seal Island (another 10 miles out).
Combining the Ferry and the Lobsterboat . . . it took us two and a half hours to get to home of “Troppi”, which is also the home of thousands of nesting terns (Common and Arctic) and dozens of Atlantic Puffins and Razorbills . . . and unfortunately one mean looking Peregrine Falcon.
The Peregrine, a ferocious hunter and the fastest animal on the planet, was sitting within a few feet of the Tropicbird’s den (a slit underneath a boulder).
So we never saw “Troppi” but had a wonderful time getting up close and personal with Puffins and Razorbills. I’m not sure the Peregrine was the reason the Tropicbird never showed up for us . . . but I’m sure he didn’t help.
I have another trip planned out to Seal Island planned in July and am working on some other ideas.
I need to get “Troppi”!!!