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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


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report – May 19th, 2018

Brought to you, in part, by the combined support and efforts of Vinalhaven Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust


Highlights – Warblers, salamander eggs, eagle eating seals, seal with pup, perspectives afterschool, dead squirrel, saw-whet owl and pellet, Nests!

spotted salamander egg mass
the sun reflection makes it look like its in millk

Business: Upcoming event – This Friday! May 25th – 8am at Skoog! VLT’s Warbler Walk with local bird dude (and legend) John Drury! The timing is right, the birds have been flowing through and the warblers are ready to be observed! Join John for two hours of pure “warbler bliss” (it is a thing) as he takes you on the ultimate spring expedition – to warbler world!

where the trails are lined with violets

Contact is the place to send photos, stories, attitudes, and email address to join in the fun of nature sharing. It’s a good time, trust me….


blurry, but cool saw whet owl pellet from carrying place

lady slippers are rather young
at this point. Huber in a week or two should
bepeaking! go take a peek!


Tiit Trick – click on the photos to make them jumbo-like!

what doesn't taste good on slime mold?
spotted salamander eggs

Raymond pretending to eat some eggs

Sightings -

Kid Stuff – Perspectives after school – May 8 and 9. So the weather was warm (a little too warm for some coffee drinkers) and the kids were psyched for some pond scooping and egg finding last week. With the warmth the green frog tadpoles were active and for the first time ever every kid caught something in the ponds – even the kids who weren’t trying hard!

sweet handoff

The spotted salamander egg masses put on their show and the afternoons were full of laughter and playful banter. To make things even better – special guest leaders – Jim and Colleen Conlan came for the Wednesday session. Super good fun!



Definitely want to take a moment and thank all the cool folks at Perspectives, PIE, the Vinalhaven School, MCHT, VLT, my mom, our cat, and anything else that even remotely was connected to these fun sessions. Looking forward to next year!


cozy osprey
photo by George Kendrick

Cozy Osprey – they’re back! Osprey are back and active around island. Keep your eyes and ears open! Here’s a shot Cay Kendrick sent in – photo credit goes to George – of a pair on lane’s nesting by Boy Scout Point. The pair have used the nest for years – we look forward to hearing more about how the nest use develops this year!


Cay also report a Brown Thrasher from her yard – first one she has seen there. Also Kingfishers have increased activity over in the Indian Creek area. Thanks for the report!

we like the purple sandpiper puffballs
Ferry Rides – (5/8) while checking out the harbor seals for any obvious sign of any impending birthing sessions I laughed hardily out loud when I spotted this eagle that was apparently eating a seal that had (maybe) washed up on ledges. Maybe it’s a fish, hard to judge from the quick 6 second view I got or from the photos. I always enjoy celebrating an animal (in my head) and but then it’s even better to see it being eaten by another. Way to be part of the food chain!


mum and pup


(5/16) -  50 + Purple Sandpiper – how long will these guys stick around? Miles to go before they sleep…or breed! Little balls of feathers on rocks always puts a smile on this bald observers facehead.


the little head is the baby
(5/17)Harbor Seal with pup. After a day of scanning and searching from the ferry and around the Basin, finally spotted a brand spankin’ new pup following its mom around the ledges outside of Lairey’s Narrows. Multiple pups around now no doubt. Keep your eyes open for little heads following big heads (seal heads that is) and for the “magical T” formation on ledges of pups nursing their moms.


Basin – (5/16) Dogtown access - The only good squirrel…. trailside in the Basin Preserve. On the way to Mack’s Pond. He’s still there to ward off any wayward squirrels – go check it out!!

macks pond
macks pond with egg masses

dead squirrel

Black-throated Green, Black and white, yellow rumped warblers, northern parula. Red crossbills! Hairy woodpecker nest, spotted salamander eggs. Geese nesting in the pond.

shrapnel from a hairy woodpecker nest


I have been enjoying tracking woodpeckers the last few months, with individuals pecking close to the base of trees or even on exposed roots to access “yummy” grubs and the such. While walking towards the platform I was looking down – for safety – and spotted a scene of intense wood chippin’ (or peckin’) chips all over the place. I looked up to find myself under a birch with sizable birch polypores.

right under the top mushroom is the cavity

and a fresh cavity opening right under the top polypore. check out where the bark is rubbed by the woodpecker tail when it would lean back from the opening. so cool

note the mark where the woodpecker's
tail rubbed when the adults would have
held on and leaned back.


(5/17) - Wharf Quarry Road/Williams trail system/Basin Preserve – A saw-whet owl was beepin’ its little heart out just past the wetlands, just past the MCHT parking area. It must have been able to see the parking area from its perch, as it would stop beepin after I took like 5 somewhat quiet steps down the road. As soon as I returned to my vehicle – and the ever-brewing coffee scene there – it would start beepin’ again. This happened about 5 times before I decided I had to move on with my day. And the coffee was ready.



that's the mark on the right side of the trail
(Another) Otter trailside latrine attraction. A local otter decided recently – within the last week – to mark along the Williams trail close to where the trail crosses a seasonal creek. This is classic otter behavior – at least for the basin – as all human trails that cross even the smallest of creeks (along the eastern shore of the basin) now have had an otter mark trailside. They may not mark it every year, or even every ten years, but a message has been left for users, and this one has been happily received even if it’s a message of spraint. Whether these messages are left for dogs, humans, other otters, or all of the above is up for debate, but what is clear is that this otter was announcing its presence with authority. Nothing says “authority” more than a brown out, mound and spraint right next to the trail!

otters marking trails again!

Who’s singing around islandBrown Creeper, Hermit Thrush, golden crowned and runby crowned kinglets, blue headed vireo, American redstart, common yellowthroat, yellow, magnolia, black throated green, yellow rumped, black and white, magnolia, chestnut sided warblers, overnbird, northern parula, white throated and song sparrows. American goldfinch

sweet spraint from another latrine

I hardly ever see scarlet tanagers. I saw this one though


Off island, but might be around islandscarlet tanager in the yard reminded me that red is a nice color.


I like the orangey crest of an ovenbird

Ovenbird spotted from a recent birdy bike ride.

broad winged hawk


Good broad winged hawk action – attempted talon clasping and a cameo above the ovenbird



Beaver lodge



Robins nest I found with Leif last week.


Leif having fun on the new swing at st George school.

 See you around and out there!!!!!!!


turtle named turd