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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


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Slides and Basin Watch

Highlights - otter and mink slides, snowshoeing, basin watches.

Acknowledgment - we are still learning how this blog stuff works, organization with the photos was abandoned and complete trust was given to the computer since it was making its own decisions about where to put the photos anyway. a little tuning will undoubtedly make a difference.

Tracking - Otter activity - Greens Island - (2/5) Otter sign at two spots - one of historical belly slide significance and the second a crossing of 2 otters across the isthmus of deep cove. (photos by john drury)

Belly slide with kicks

Crossing from Deep Cove

Otter activity in the Basin has been fun as well. Long Pond (2/11) Stevie and i found a recent otter trail that backtracked to a hole in the snow. The opening apparently leads to wherever this otter rode out the last storm. This is not the same den that was active last winter in the area.
Here's stevie scoping out the hole in the snow, should be noted that the trail left the den and there was no sign that the otter returned to this spot.

We ended up tracking the otter onto the tidal ice and the belly slides continued and the tracking continued to be great.

Bounding and sliding on the ice
Tidal ice in the Basin

Bill Brown Trails - just past the first set of bridging crossed paths with a mink that took a sweet belly slide for about 15 ft down a small hillside. I went up and inspected the approach to the slide and the mink never lost stride in its bounding trail, just landed on his belly and went for it. "I dig inertia". The curve in the slide was an added touch i thought, complete with snow kicked up along the slide edge.  


It is not uncommon to find mink doing some short belly slides as well as some tunneling short distances through the snow. I ended up tracking the mink along the shore line.


And the snowshoeing has been great, warm days are on us this week.

Basin snowshoe walk

Thanks to those who came to the snowshoe walk last week, lots of fun. there has been a lot of sign of human use on the trails this winter - snowshoes, cross country skiing or folks just walking. Fun to see.


Snowshoes, binos, coffee, and the basin

   Basin Watches

2/11/11 – 24 Red-breasted Mergansers, 17 Common Goldeneye, 2 Barrow’s Goldeneye, 29 Bufflehead, 2 Old-tails, 2 Surf Scoter, 6 Black Ducks, 9 herring gulls.

The story today was the high numbers of mergansers, goldeneye, bufflehead. highest i've seen all year.

2/14/11- 10 Surf Scoter, 3 Old-tailed Ducks, Bald eagle macking on something (see video) 2 Barrow’s Goldeneyes, 14 Bufflehead, 53 Herring Gull, 2 Common Loon, 8 Common Goldeneye, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 5 Harbor Seal.

Story of the day was the high count on Surf Scoter, previous high of 3. Should be noted that during the winter there is often a robust number of scoters just outside the basin in the red sea. Low duck numbers might be connected to the eagle sitting along the shoreline ripping some carcass to shreds. 

And Leify of course

see ya out there