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The Vinalhaven Sightings Report is organized and edited by Kirk Gentalen on behalf of Vinalhaven Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Out and about on Vinalhaven, MCHT steward Kirk Gentalen reports on what he and others have seen in their travels. Contributions of stories and photos are welcome, and can be sent to


Monday, November 11, 2019

carvers harbor
Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report/Blip – November 11th 2019

Brought to you with pleasure by MCHT and VLT

Happy Veteran's Day. Thanks to all veterans for your service!
seal bay

Focus on: boat ride – gannets, black-legged kittiwake, Bonaparte’s gull, great cormorant, bufflehead, old-tail ducks, raven, bald eagles, common loons, and so much more!


PSA – You should be wearing orange when out in the woods these days – it is deer hunting time in Maine. It’s fire arm season (Nov 2-30) and muzzleloader/expanded archery extends the season until mid-December (Dec 14). Exciting times in the woods, for sure. Good idea to get in the habit of orange hats, jacket, vest, gloves, etc. just to announce your presence a little more.  Especially when close to deer habitat which is pretty much the entire island.

northern gannet narrowly missing turbines

There is no hunting statewide on Sundays and hunting is never allowed on the Lane’s Island Preserve. 


northern gannet narrowly missing Camden Hills

Thanks of course to all those who have shared and continue to share sightings – natural and beyond – because sharing is what the VSR is all about. Send your photos, stories and emails to – it’s what the cool kids are doing!


New stuff – 11/6 – 7am ferry ride.

adult northern gannet. so mature....

Now that it’s cooled down a bit (finally!) its perfect conditions for standing outside on the ferry and look at tweeters on the water and on the wing. My ride last Wednesday was eventful in many, many ways….


Northern Gannets were active, as they have been, close, far and all distances in-between.  


2nd year?
Largest seabird to be found in these parts, a couple different “flavors”/looks of this species were abound.


Full on adult Northern Gannets are white with black wing-tips with a cool tawny head.

appears to be with the dark back

Plus some second year gannets – black back with whitish


And youngsters – this year’s model of Gannets – were also around


Common Loons – starting to stack up, saw about 30 on that trip. Including this one that made no effort to get out of the way of the ferry! Neither dove, nor flew, just kind of stared, let the ferry wake crash and the water roll off its back. It was cool.

how many great cormorants can you count in this photo?

Great Cormorant – two actually were mixed in with a few Double-crested Cormorants on “Cormorant rock” (I may be the only one who calls it that) between Green Island and Leadbetter. Stood out from the DC’s by size and white at the base of their bills. The white was tricky to see as they were preening hard (Hard preening!) and busy. Not the best picture,

Bonaparte's gull. not a very good photo

Bonaparte’s Gulls – again, not the best photos, but 60 or so of these small gulls were spotted off the ferry on this ride. In the bay and in Hurricane Sound, Bonaparte’s Gulls often appear/behave more “tern-like” than “gullish”, breaking down barriers and stereotypes that these gulls have been fighting for generations. Fight the power Bonaparte’s!


black-leggwed kittiwake. not a very good photo
Black-legged Kittiwake – an even “worse” photo, but this was the only Black-legged Kittiwake I spotted mixed in with the Bonaparte’s (undoubtedly there were many more out there). Another gull that re-defines what gulls are “supposed” to be, we should be seeing many more of these classics from way up north as the season progresses….

nice user friendly raven


Common Raven – a pair of Ravens flew over the boat as we passed through the Reach. Like literally over the boat. Their feathers were pretty well worn, looking like they could use a little molt. That’s goes for most of my friends as well. Fun to see the detail of feathers as they sailed directly overhead!

bunch of buffleheads, way in there

Ducks – only the beginning, but maybe 10 Oldtail Ducks and 10 Buffleheads were spotted that ride. Buffleheads were in the Reach, and the Oldtails were out in the bay and in the Reach. More to come duck wise – tons more actually! Keep yer eyes peeled for ‘em! Or not, it’s up to you!

mountain ash berries pre-digested

Scats with a view, and views of scats
how many ash berries can you count in this scat?
sometimes you can tell that Mountain Ash berries are ripe by looking up at Mountain Ash trees.


closer look
Other times you can look at fresh Raccoon scat and pick out the berries (if you are into that). Actually, don’t pick at Raccoon scat or scat in general, at least not without a stick. For all the scat photos we post here it should be mentioned that we (the royal we) don’t touch scat ever. Pellets on the other hand, now that is a different story….
oak point latrine


Otter latrines – new one at Huber – oak point – makes you wonder why they don’t spraint there more often. It’s beautiful!

basin latrine. aka - skinny dippin' rock
not gross at all

And in the basin at a classic latrine – 12 years of observing otter spraint at this spot! How many years before 2007 was this active? Only the otters know….and they shouldn’t really since they live, what – 12 years in the wild? River otter sightings before the late 90’s were – from what I’ve been told – were rare to non-existent. So is this a second generation of otters to the island whose spraint I am taking photos of – or dare I ask if its poop from a third generation of Vinalhaven river otters? Who is asking and why is this important? Some questions just have no answers. Just because.

Tabitha & Stephen King's house

Couple of the family on a road trip to Bangor (comic books, coins, and Stephen King) and Mount Desert (Precipice trail and Bob and Sofia Delsandro!)   . Always fun to hit the road with these two!

precipice trail isn't scary enough so we
went when there was ice!
ice not seen in the photo
lots of rebar
quick way to the top of Champlain
with banana and shadow
choppin' wood
proud father and son at the King's!
photo by Amy Palmer

See you out there!