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


Saturday, April 23, 2011

 Welcome to the vinalhaven sightings report – April 22nd , 2011
With the support of MCHT, VLT, BLTs, and VNMs world wide!
“I’m the lucky one today”

Highlights: Red-eyed Vireo, Ring-necked Duck, Flickers & Sapsuckers, Hermit Thrushes, raptors featuring phil Crossman and his bald eagle carnage, salamander eggs, last basin watch, tidepools featuring amphiporus ribbon worm!!!!

Upcoming events: Tuesday morning birdwalks in May at Armbrust hill – 3rd year running. The last 2 years have been pretty productive, as Armbrust Hill’s  location on the southern end of Vinalhaven and its mixed and somewhat manicured woods (species wise that is), can be a magnet for migrating songbirds.
Tuesdays – May 10th, 17th, and 24th from 7am-9am. We’ll meet behind the medical center, please walk, carpool, ride your bike or skateboard (its still not a crime) to take pressure off the limited parking there. See ya there and we’ll check out the original Tweeters. These are MCHT & VLT co-sponsored outings.

VLT’s Warbler Walk – Saturday May 15th, 8am-11am. The return of the son of a popular outing, location will be determined that day or the day before depending on where the warblers are. We’ll meet over at Skoog to carpool.
always looking

Sightings – Quick ones –

Flickers calling everywhere. every sighting comes with a singing Golden-crowned Kinglet, Chickadee, Grackle, Cowbird, Song sparrow.

Osprey on dish nest.

(4/13) Terry Goodhue feeders - Red-eyed Vireo - An early arrival by a distant traveller, Terry had a Vireo feasting at his feeders, a taste of whats to come in the next month!

Ocean view pond - a male Ring-necked Duck paid a visit..

(4/16) – Heller field Woodcock displaying, landing in field – 4 years in a row I’ve seen this male displaying from the same spot, way out in the open. The most easily and consistently seen Woodcock I’ve known – it must be working for him. 2 osprey circling

(4/16) Crockett cove10 Surf scoter, 8 common goldeneye,

(4/19) Tip-toed Mtn.Broad-winged Hawk circling, Merlin falcon display flight (nesting nearby maybe?). Winter wren, golden-crowned kinglet, chickadee singing.

Red-backed salamander- Huber
(4/19) – Winter Harbor10 Surf Scoter, 7 Common Goldeneye, 18 Common Eider, Common Loon

(4/19) Pleasant River – Broad-winged Hawk, 4 Greater Yelowlegs, Belted
Kingfisher. (4/20) 2 Greater Yellowlegs right by the side of the road

(4/20) Huber Preserve - 2 vernal pools with 20+ Spotted Salamander eggs each. 15 Bufflehead, 20 Surf Scoter

(4/21) Basin Preserve- granite island trail - Red-backed Salamander, Sand Lance.

(4/21) - Huber Preserve - female Yellow Bellied Sapsucker hung out with me (not really with me) while i was chainsawing. Red-backed Salamander.

(4/22) North Perry Creek Preserve - Spotted Salamander Eggs, Great Horned Owls calling, Hermit Thrushes singing. Ravens making some cool calls. Winter Wren singing. lots of chainsawing.

jasmine and abby searching

Longer ones - (4/18) Lane’s Island tidepools – It was the first Sunday of vacation week, and the tide was a low one late in the afternoon (-1.1ft, 5:47 pm). That can only mean that me and 6 middle school girls would take over the tidepools, feast our eyes on the life hidden in the habitats, and see if we could find an early lobster or two. April pools aren’t necessarily as booming as the pools are in the fall, and when we go back in May the pools should just that much more hoping. The results today were great, and it was good to get our hands back in the water after the snowy season we just had. Here’s what we found…

dainty not daisy
3 Northern Sea Stars, 1 Daisy Brittle Star, 2 dainty Brittle Stars (pictured), many Scaleworms, many Rock crab, 1 Hermit Crab, 1 Sea Cucumber, 5 Green Sea Urchins, Amphipods mating everywhere (kinda pseudacris if ask me), Gunnel eels by the ton (slight exaggeration), Arctic Shanties, and many Snail Fish. 1 dorid nudibranch.

Everyone’s hands were frigid by the end, but the group got down to the task at hand and never stopped searching. there was an almost business-like attitude in the pools, complete with laughs and lacking the tenseness
     and I quickly learned that they are much better at staying focused than I am. it was

amphiporus, do you adore us?
One species found was a surprise – an Amphiporus Ribbon Worm called Chevron Amphiporus (Amphiporus angulatus). I used to see a lot of Amphiporus worms in the tidepools up in Homer, AK (tidepool fans should be drooling over those pools!), but had never seen one in Maine before. The photo of the Ribbon Worm in my hand shows the worm using muscle contractions to move (look for the 3 ring-like circles around the body. While moving these seemed to slide down the length of the critter.) Of course a trail of mucous is  involved as well.. Here’s something else about them-

Zoey and her tiny lobster

They get food by “Stabbing prey with proboscis that comes out of mouth and then sucking out their tissues. Eats amphipods and hermit crabs. May have toxins in skin”. And they make great pets! No wonder the amphipods were busy making new ones (amphipods that is).

If you look closely at the picture, its proboscis appears to be coming out of the “head” – the part coming at you. I avoided having my tissues sucked out by putting the critter in a container, just at the knick of time. Anyway, it was cool.

And of course, Zoey got the prize (there was no prize) for the only lobster found that afternoon -  inspiring the quote at the top. It had been too long since I’d hung out with these students, a wonderful afternoon.

Granite island trail (4/18) – Just past the welcome sign there is a quarry famous for its “early” salamander egg masses. (“Early” is in comparison with other vernal pools that seem to have eggs a week or two later on average). Last year we saw them on the 16th of April, and this year they were spotted 2 days later. I had been out a few days before and had seen nothing as far as eggs go. The earliest the adults could have gotten into this pool was the 4th, so after about 2 weeks of acclimating and mating they are off and running and laying eggs, among other things.

Great to see, I apologize for the attempts at artsy egg shots. Do what you gotta do.

Basin Watch – last one – (4/18) No tears were shed, mainly because I’m still going to be in the Basin as much as possible, but the organized, weekly survey and gathering of baseline information on wildlife in the Basin is wrapping up after a four-year collecting spree. A ton of information has been collected, many volunteers participated over the years, and at least 3 different walks and talks evolved from the findings and more are to come for sure. It’s been another example of a very productive and successful joint venture between MCHT and VLT. Now the time will be devoted to crunching the numbers. Let the good times roll! And a big thanks to all that participated. Here’s the final numbers…..

Huber vernal pool
3 rather large Harbor Seals, 3 Osprey, 17 Red-breasted Merganser, 14 Bufflehead, 12 Common Eider, 2 Shag, 2 Common Loon, 117 Herring Gulls, 1 Black Guillemot, 30 American Crow, 1 Greater Yellowlegs, 1 Bald Eagle.

There were a couple of stories here – intense Merganser courtship and shagging continues, the first 2 shags I’ve seen in the Basin this season arrived, and the Harbor Seals looked ready to burst, or pop one out, or however you choose to describe giving birth to a pup. What tickled my fancy (so to speak) were the Osprey returning to the nest site. Last year was the first year chicks fledged from the Basin nest, and it was really fun to watch the adults circle, dive, chase and eventually even land on the nest for a spell. And the Black Guillemot that flew in while i was watching was in breeding plumage. might have been inspecting the zone for potential breeding spots. hard to tell

a boy and his eggs

on the street- Phil Crossman approached me on the street like he often does but this time it wasn't for money (doesn't he make enough from all those bottles anyway?). He said he had been sitting in his cabin behind the bank when a Bald Eagle came in, nailed a duck on his lawn, and then proceeded to rip, shred and devour the waterfowl all while phil sat and watched in the comforts of a comfy chair. He said it was a mess, and he said it with classic phil gusto.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report Blog – April 13th, 2011
Brought to you with love by MCHT and VLT
“More Salamanders Daddy!!!!!”

Highlights – Eastern Phoebe, Greater Yellowlegs, Amphibians featuring Salamander nights, Owl pellet, Otter Scat, Snowshoe Hare leg,  tree ears, and you know – much more..

Upcoming EventsClose to Full Moon/Woodcock walk: Saturday April 16th, 6:30 - 9pm. Meet at Skoog park/VLT office to carpool. The plan this year is to head up to the Tip-toe area of Crockett Cove for sunset (7:22pm ), followed by wonderful views of the moon, and wrapping up with one of the most consistently and clearly viewed male Woodcock on Vinalhaven. Our plan is to watch his fantastic aerial display and hope to get scope views when he is on the ground. If his plan pans out he'll be doing a little cloacal kissing on the side. This is a VLT sponsored event. – Looks like the storms on Saturday are getting pushed back a little, forecast keeps getting better.

Big Thanks! – To the folks who were able to offer help, time and trucks to our successful  Basin Clean-up last Saturday. Two trucks loads of trash, a bunch of nice people and a helpful pooch got together and made the best of it. Its amazing how much better a place can look in such a short time. Thanks again!

Sightings – Quick ones –

Carver’s Pond- (4/10)- Greater Yellowlegs

School Ground – (4/6)Eastern Phoebe. - Our “earliest” returning flycatcher can be seen flickin’ its tail on a perch near you. Several seen since this first report.

Longer ones

Salamander nights – Animal migration is one of those things that everyone loves. I mean, who doesn’t marvel at the yearly 20,000 mile trek that Arctic terns make between Seal Island breeding sessions, or “our” silly Black-throated Green warblers coming up from El Salvador, or even the humanoids that flock to Vinalhaven from lands far flung every year. Migration is more than just cool (which it certainly is) it can be fascinating to contemplate.

But what about a migration route that is measured in feet rather than miles (or millimeters for those who haven’t accepted that metrics will never hold in the US)? Any less impressive than what Arctic Terns go thru? The honest answer is, yes. “Short” migrations are impressive, but in a completely different way and are no less cool for sure. Especially when you figure that hundreds if not thousands of Vinalhaven’s finest Spotted Salamanders make their way from wintering burrows to vernal pools each spring right under our noses. And when you figure that most of these salamanders make this journey in the space of just a handful of wet, rainy nights, without being seen by anybody, you get the feeling that this is one of those yearly island amphibian  salamander migration only comparable to a peak fall out day on High Island, Texas in respect to sheer numbers of animals moving. Slight stretch? Anyway, here’s the report -

go, salamander go!
(4/4) Leif, Amy, my Mom, and I headed out for a rainy drive on this Monday night. It was to be a quick drive, round the island and back, more of a scouting mission to see if there was much amphibian movement going on. The first pass we saw maybe 3 spotted salamanders, snagged a couple for the boy to check out – “It’s slippery!” – and then did the big turn around for a second pass. With shrieks of pure joy coming from the car seat we putzed along and saw maybe another 17 of the return pass.

can't forget the bus

The observable increase in numbers on the return trip may have been an indicator that this was “the night” for movement. April 4th is over a week later than the salamander movement the last 4 years. We all know that the traditional thought on spotted salamander migration is that they all move with the first warmish (40 or over) rainy night of the season. Leif and I drove around the island a few weeks ago the first night these perfect salamander conditions were met. Everything was perfect except for the foot of snow on the ground. I saw salamanders crossing roadside snow a few years ago, but ain’t no amphibian digging thru 1/3 of a meter of snow! I would think not.

Anyway, in my experience here, the movement can be over a few nights. The first night is somewhat of a trickle, the second night is a flood. Ad then another flood and trickle as to give it a trickle-flood-flood-trickle pattern, what professional salamander trackers call a “palindrome flow”. This would lead one to think the next night would even be better.

Satisfied with life we went home.

(4/5) This day was so stormy that even the math team got stuck on the mainland, and thusly 2/3s of my night drivin, salamander searchin’ crew was stranded and stunned. That left me and 10th grader Francis Warren to drive around on what could be the peak hour of this spring’s movement.

We started out after play practice (his), and went round the island first. Nice night for a drive, but the combination of traffic, afternoon winds and the rain concluding mid-afternoon left the road moist, but not nearly as wet as the night before. The salamanders were scattered and not so stacked as they were the previous night, but we did see maybe 7 on our first run round the island.

We stopped at the last roadside wetlands round the island, just before the pleasant river fields. On this particular night we neither saw nor heard a spotted salamander at this spot of legendary significance , but we checked out some worms and some stick-salamanders (sticks that look like salamanders), closely related to whale-rocks) before I spotted this little guy crossing the road.

It appeared to be a Red-backed Salamander, a commonly found species of the forests out here (turn over a log every once in a while, why don’t cha?). It was a little on the small side, but what the hey, we love ‘em all regardless of size, shape, or color. In fact, this Red-backed didn’t even have any red on its back, (and we still wouldn’t have made fun of it). Not uncommon for Red-backs to be a little lacking in the red-backed department, so no deep concerns there.

However, this guy’s pearl white belly lightly sprinkled with black dots was different than any other salamander belly I’d noticed before. The picture of the salamander walking between francis’ is captures the distinct belly as well as clearly defined difference in the coloration of belly and tail. These traits make this a Four-toed Salamander, a somewhat silent partner in migration with the Spotteds.  We did not think to count the toes, but I am assured that this individual had four on the back feet, where apparently other salamanders have 5 on the back foot. Anyway, I’ve looked in the Natural Resource Inventories and have nothing about them on the island. Possibly a new Salamander species for the island. when your amphibian numbers are increasing does that mean vinalhaven's acid rain is clearing up? are the turbines blowing the acid rain away? how has global warming played into the vernal pool scenario faced by amphibians island and state wide!?

From what I’ve read, this was most likely a pregnant female looking to make a nest for her eggs in the sphagnum across the road. A female will lay 20 - 50 eggs in a nest usually located 2-6 inches above water . Location is key, as the larvae need to be able to fall out of the nest into water. The nest is in a small opening in the moss that the female makes, or a natural opening under a root or in the moss.There are probably a lot of nests all on the island, but the are extremely hard to find (or so they say, we'll give it a whorl over the next month.

Anyway, the female will guard her eggs for most of the "incubation" stage within the eggs (38-60 days) but usually bail on the nest before hatching occurs. Makes me wonder how many nests I've stepped on.

the favorite thing i read about four-toeds has to do with the tail. as many know, many salamanders lose their tails as an adaption to distract predators from getting any essential internal or external organs. the tail bounces around for several minutes and whatever mink or cougar plays with that as the cold-blooded cruiser blazes a trail to safety away from this scene. This adaptation is apparently  a favorite for the Four-toeds , as they quickly replace their  to use/lose again. When threatened Four-toed salamanders are known to push up against hard objects to forcibly dislodge its tail. Super cool! 

anyway, always good to learn about the island and glad Francis was there to join in the search.

While we're on the amphibian topic...
the new VSRB -Request Line is open-  New Feature for the report blog, just toss a topic you’d like to know more about our way and we’ll see what we can come up with. (this is not a contest like stump the naturalist. We aren't looking for hard ones)

In order to make me feel like an AM light jazz DJ I'm asking for all requests to be submitted to in the form of love letters. Not necessarily to me (it will be tempting I'm sure), but as a rule no reply will be given if said request is not wordeded as a love letter. Requests that we’d like to answer will be re-worded into the form of love letters by me. One first name and one set of initials will be used at times to assure privacy and anonymity.  Here we go…

“Dear VSRB,

            I was walking with my beautiful wife last night and the spring peepers were going like crazy. We held hands and fell in love again and again with each peep. There were a lot of peeps.

            So can you write a little bit about Peepers for my love.


Well, peepers are where its at right now, especially if you find yourself outside. here's a taste from poor farm road i recorded the other day:

So. peepers. here we go - quick info.....

Tommy Tyning (we heart TT) describes the males' spring chorus as "deafening" and notes "for all their abundance and strong voices peepers are still, to many people, the unseen harbingers of spring".

The "peep" you associate with these frogs is the advertisement call done by males sitting on territories. its all about mating. They are small - males 3/4 inch, females 1.5 inches nose to tip of tail. Their skin has a range of colors between light tan to dark brown, and they can change their color within that range within 15 minutes.
peeperette from last fall. totally pseudacris!

Quandary - Older field guides have peepers as Hyla crucifer, crucifer inspired by the x on the back of most individuals. It's true that Peepers do have suction cups on the finger tips, telltale tree frog (genus Hyla).  This is what i have always understood to be true.

The new peterson  guide to Reptiles/amphibians Connant/Collins has the peeps in the Chorus Frog genus Pseudacris (as in ...that's so pseudacris!". Pseudacris crucifer. It is noted that much of the peeper behavior is more chorus frog like, big groups calling together..the name says it for itself. They are referred to as "small treefrogs". but here is my favorite quote in Connant/collins -

"Professional herpetologists, based on laboratory techniques, recently transferred the Spring Peeper from the genus Hyla to Pseudacris".

One would think some sort of genetic comparison/testing must be what they are talking about. But if DNA research leads to some sort of clarification in genetic relationships then authors will often use the words mention "DNA" (not a word, i know. or is it.) or "genetics" or "the protein of life" or something like that. "Laboratory techniques"? "Professional herpetologists"? can we please be a little more vague?

Back to peepers - yes, they do spend the winter above ground, in leaf litter, under logs, below tree roots, or other materials. yes they routinely freeze, with ice crystals and all inside their bodies. Somehow glucose is used as an antifreeze to prevent dehydration and damage to cells during the freezing process.
this picture has nothing to do with  frogs

Beyond the peep - the peep commonly heard this time of year is from males on territories like mentioned above, but there is another vocalization. more of a trill, that can be heard mixed in with the peeps. This is an aggressive call, made towards a male that has entered another males' territory. You do not want to be that male getting yelled at!

There are also males that don't defend territories at all , silent satellite ones that stay low near calling males hoping to intercept females hopping their way. Apparently successful at times, some satellites also wait until the territorial male is busy (if you know what i mean) and then sneaks in and calls as if the territory was his.

There you have it lovebirds, a little word on peepers. thanks for asking!

Singing around the island - Lots of Brown Creepers, Song Sparrow, American robin, Juncos, Cardinal, Grackles, Cowbirds, Blackbirds, Red-breasted Nuthatch. Grackle males chasing females in town.

Perry Creek - (4/6) Spraying some red rectangles that can be the difference between people getting back to their cars or getting lost forever in the 300 acre preserve with over a mile of shoreline! only one tree to spray and what do i find at the base! Another gift from the owls! A snowshoe hare leg! What good luck! no other sign seen or heard.

Basin Watch - (4/9)  - 11 Harbor Seals, 17 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Old tails, 7 Common Goldeneye, 3 Bufflehead, 3 Common Loon, and 64 Herring Gull.

Plenty of displaying and courting. decreasing numbers of ducks.
Crescent otter poop
4/10 - Anniversary Kayak -  10 years! and i still fall deeper in love with Amy every time i hear a peeper peep! And what a great paddle to boot. Palmer and i scooted up the Reach and over to the Whites to check up on the Otter Scene on Bald/ Spectacle.

Trail thru the cat tails straight to the den.
Back door - not main entrance.
Readers may remember that we reported an active Otter den last fall under the biggest Spruce in the old quarry there.The scene was very active with 100s of scats and a wonderful slide in to quarry waters from the east. Well, we saw the scat, all of it looked frozen and thawed, nothing too fresh at all. So at this point it would be called a summer den. The scat was still beautiful, and the trails thru the cat tails were more obvious at this time, which was cool to see. We'll be re-visiting this site throughout the spring for fresh sign. 

We did find a single Saw-whet Owl pellet on the island, didn't appear to have been frozen.

saw-whet owl pellet
Old-tailed ducks, 2 Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers, and a nice group of Purple Sandpipers that tolerated us paddling by. Sand dollars under boat at little white.

Palmer and the purples


Lost and found - and in conclusion - I've had a nice stretch of retrieving articles i had left in the woods recently, several items i didn't even realize i had left in the woods at all. A hat from 2 years before, 2 coffee mugs and these gloves , only 2 weeks later, but still surprised.

so if you find anything in the woods, please check with me to see if its mine. 'preciate it!

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report - April 3rd, 2011

Brought to you by the kind folks at VLT and MCHT

Highlights: Turkey Vulture, Merlin, Great Blue Heron, Ducks & Exoducks, Seal Bay, Eagle on nests, Woodcocks everywhere, Killdeer, Operculum poop, clouds

Upcoming Events: Basin Marsh Clean-up - April 9th, 10am to Noon. You bring some gloves and we'll bring some bags and we'll all team up to make the Basin a little more nicer. Meet at Skoog to carpool. We've already gotten one truck offer, we won't say who's truck, but at this point i'd just like to point out what a pleasant place the Tidewater Inn is to stay at when you are visiting or have family visiting or just want to stay in a hotel/motel. Anyway, if we could get another truck that might be cool, but also might be unneccessarryy. Whatever, come and clean up some garbage, and feel better about yourself. VLT event!

Will we get this good of a look on April 16th?
Close to Full Moon/Woodcock walk: Saturday April 16th, 6:30 - 9pm. Meet at Skoog park/VLT office to carpool. The plan this year is to head up to the Tip-toe area of Crockett Cove for sunset (7:22pm ), followed by wonderful views of the moon, and wrapping up with one of the most consistently and clearly viewed male Woodcock on Vinalhaven. Our plan is to watch his fantastic aerial display and hope to get scope views when he is on the ground. If his plan pans out he'll be doing a little cloacal kissing on the side. This is a VLT sponsored event.
Sightings:  Quick ones - Killdeer (2) - calling & flying way up high over my house (4/3).

Great Blue Heron - (3/31) flying over Sand Cove towards Carvers Pond. 

Turkey Vulture - (3/30) flying over Carver's Pond

Merlin (3/31) - Heard on Greens Isl.

you lookin at me?
 Longer Ones -  American Woodcock - I'm adding this for no other reason than i finally got some good woodcock photos in my backyard this afternoon (4/3). While talking with my mom i noticed a fluffy ball in a puddle under some shrubs. It was moving and so did i to get some close ups of this beauty. check out those feathers! Check out those eyes? This bird is certainly full of *PEENT*.

With that said, many people are talking about their neighborhood woodcocks. Whatsmore,  i have the pleasure to report that Lane's Island is loaded with woodcock once again! Readers with good memories and not a lot to think about will remember the absence of woodcock last year, possibly attributed to a Great Horned Owl moving into the neighborhood. whatever the reason its great to have them back at lane's, 6 males displaying (3/30) all heard and seen from the graveyard picnic tables (cuz where else are you going to have a picnic on lane's?). Anyway, find yourself outside on a nice night and stay out past the sunset, and almost to the end of the "afterburn" sunset and perk your ears up for the "peent"s in your neighborhood. Neighborhood has been mentioned 3 times in this paragraph - make that 4.
Why do we love seal bay?

Seal Bay - A kayak trip (3/30) turned out to be most fortuitous as far as wildlife went. Ducks were numerous : 100+ Oldtails, 100+ Buffleheads, 40 Surf Scoter, infinity plus 1 Common Eiders, 50 + Common Goldeneye - all seen from the kayak.

Penobscot Island eagle nest. Adult sitting tight on eggs? Hatchlings?
The Bald Eagle nest on Penobscot Island was occupied by a low, hunkering adult who was keeping either eggs, or more likely a hatchling or two warm. As you can see in the picture above the nest is an impressive collection of sticks high up in a nook on a Eastern White Pine. We will be monitoring that nest's success/progress (who are we to judge) throughout the spring.

trying to get their attention.
While the bald eagle was sitting tight, just on the other side of Big Smith Island, Harbor Seals were getting a little ancy or frisky or competitive or just plain old loud. The location was a favorite seal ledge where several seals were waiting for the tide to go and were jockeying for position on the ledges. In the photos you will see a rather large Harbor Seal (pregnant female anyone?) dominating the scene highest up on the rocks. There was a much smaller seal (non-pregnant female or young male anyone?) who seemed to take exception to the big ol' seal being on top.

intense circling

There were many leaps like the one pictured above that resulted in some big splashes. every now and then the seal in the water would circle around the ledge, splashing and swimming just at the surface leaving white water in its wake. This went on for about 15 mintues before the big one bolted from the top ledge after the agitator and the likes of them were never identified again

thats my paddle, my kayak, my arm, my camera,
and my head and beard shadows.

It was a beautiful, sunny day, with water clear enough you could see my beard shadow on the bottom!and in conclusion let me remind you that only people who don't care about your happiness tell you not to kayak in the winter. Fact.
2 Basin Watches - (3/31) 4 Barrow's Goldeneye, 7 Common Goldeneye, 12 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Oldtails, 1 Surf Scoter, 2 Black Duck, 2 Bufflehead, 2 Bald Eagles, 15 Harbor Seal, 3 Common Loon, 66 Herring Gull

(4/3) 3 Common Loon, 7 Common Goldeneye, 2 Barrow's Goldeneye, 9 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Oldtails, 4 Black Duck, 7 Common Eider, 213 Herring Gull, 7 Harbor Seal, 2 Black Guillemot.

The story in the Basin is the same one that will be told around the island over the next few weeks. Duck exodus. Paired up and ready to kiss a little closer to breeding zones, the duck numbers are starting to get low. Except for Seal Bay, possibly a staging ground for species as they make their way north. Anyway, its been fun to have them around - thank a merganser while you have the chance!

 Raccoon poop takes on many forms. From crab exoskeletons, to mussel shell bits & apple chunks, you can always find out way more about raccoons than you'd ever want to know just by checking out what comes out.  Take for instance the operculum poop i found on Big Smith Island in Seal Bay. The raccoon's behind that is behind this impressive poop has done his part to put a dent in the local non-native perriwinkle snail population. Folks who have played nicely with snails will recognize the operculum as that handy trap door to the snails use to avoid predators, minimalize imjury when chucked or while rolling, and to keep in moisture until the next high tide. Folks who haven't played nicely know the operculum as that fun thing to rip off a snail. so it goes.      Anyway, this raccoon had a particular fine feast of snails as the operculum poop proves!
Editor note - we never, ever touch raccoon poop. i know you are tempted to, but stick to mink and otter poop for touching. use a stick with raccoon feces, there might be some parasites in there that would love to tap into your brain for a bit. just a warning.

state beach clouds
and so i have to apologize for the arrangement of these last few pictures. sometimes the blog and i are on the same team, and sometimes teammates don't agree on where pictures should be placed. so it goes,                


last ice - from the basin

And there you have it. short and sweet. recent snow - well - no coyote trail did i find to follow. but thats alright. we've moved on now. salamander week? oh yeah!

leify waving to an airplane with mom