Brought to you by

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


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2/14/11 - lane's

Highlights - Red-breasted Mergansers, Mourning Dove poop, Winter Crane Fly

Acknowledgement - we already know that the video is of poor quality. Also athropomorphic references to valentine's day are sprinkled thru the report.

Valentine's Day was a warm one. A day full of melting ice, warm breezes, and windows comfortably rolled down. A day to get in the wagon and roll thru the neghborhood. I heard my first Chickadee of the season sing today and three folks mentioned woodcocks to me.

The duck world has fully embraced that things are heating up. Ducks have been courting and hooking up since december, but it seems like today the hormones took it up a notch.

The ducks in the video are Red-breasted Mergansers in the harbor as viewed from the entrance to the nature conservancy driveway on Lane's. Anyway,the ones with the white on the sides are the males and plain ones, which in real life are a dull red (judgements), are the females.

In our scene, we find one male intently guarding his prized posession - a wonderful female - from a couple of other males that are hot to trot and are looking for any access, even for a fleeting fling, to the fair maiden. The three engage in some male juxtaposing classic with neck extensions and forward leaning, accompanied by some vocalization that we can not hear on the tape.

Take a look.   

I watched the scene for several minutes, and it seemed like the male was continually trying to get on top of the female. An effort to show possession - a "king of the hill" scenerio to a certain extent - its in the video at about 16 seconds on.

The red-breasted merganser courtship ritual that occurs immediately before any cloacal kissing is a wonderful water dance of close swimming, mostly in tight circles with the female holding her neck at a submissive angle for many minutes, even ten maybe. We see this dance every year in the Basin and this was clearly not the case.

fascinating note - there are 2 unaccompanied females in the back of the scene that aren't getting any valentines from the boys in hot pursuit. makes you wonder whats up with the one getting the attention, and whats up with the two in the back?

Mourning Dove roost and poop - taking a stab at finding LEO pellets on top of or suspended in ice, i came across a zone of circular poops (zcp) under a group of spruce saplings near the parking lot.

Mourning dove poops found under saplings
 cool little circular clues into dove survival in the winter. we tip our hats to any and all birds that winter on vinalhaven!

I found no pellets, and really didn't expect any, morehouse's. The warm, sunny day backed with shelter from the houes inspired winter crane flies (Trichocera species) to take to the air.

there were probably a few dozens zipping around over the snow. this one landed nicely for me.

Now, they may look like true crane flies, but winter crane flies are actually their own family (Winter crane flies - family Trichoceridae) in Diptera, the order of flies! Here's what we've got on 'em:

"They are active from fall through apring andmay be abundant in open, sunlit areas. Some species are found in caves, mines and other dark places."
National Wildlife Federation - Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America.