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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


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.