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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


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Welcome to the vinalhaven sightings report – may 5th , 2011
happy birthday taya and aubrey!
Brought to you by vlt and mcht – thanks for the support!
"The slug is going for it!"

Highlights – Wood Duck Drama, Warblers, Orioles, Scarlet Tanager, Butterflies, Vultures, Woodpeckers, Fungus (postponed due to time restrictions), Raptors, Deer Mystery, Pond scooping, Grey Catbird…. this report also includes a lot of pictures.

cinna-bun stage of a cinnamon fern
Upcoming events:  

Starting next Tuesday!!!!!
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 mixed woods, 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 whatever 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. Not too early, not too exclusive. All levels of interest in birds are welcome.

Cole scoopin'. well, standing in between scoops.
Other things – I want to thank the Freeport Feathered Folk Festival organizers for letting me join in the fun last weekend and giving me the opportunity to take folks on a bird walk where absolutely 1 bird was pointed out (Hermit Thrush – state bird of …..?), after which the conversation degraded quickly to Oklahoma State Bird trivia. Several other avian species were close to being pointed out, the coolest probably being a Black-and-white Warbler, but focus on the fungus was maintained with dignity. It was “Fungus over Freeportand the participants were well behaved overall. At one point we set the scope up on a Birch Polypore and told stories of the ice man Otzi (umlaut over the “z” I believe) as  folks took turns scoping the fungus! Now that's a bird walk! 

Dry jelly

Commentary - It’s dryorange jellies have dried up and now look like orange bat wings. vernal pools are full of algae and no place to raise larvae. Maybe dry isn’t the right word. Vernal pools are lower, or lack water completely. it's raining as i type though. the salamanders could use a little refresher right about now...

2 Longer ones -
Mack’s Pond, Old Harbor Area. Jessica Farrelly sent in these pictures that were “taken by Trevor Farrelly with direction from Tim and Joe.” Nice shots team!

the scene

Lots to be seen here. The intact ribs tell you the coyote was not involved in this dissection.

Possibly wounded and wandering  from last winter’s hunt? A victim of the persistent deep snow this winter? Scattered fur from wind, scavengers?


My favorite though is the recently split open and melt intestines, possibly stomach contents as well. This guy had some stuff in the system, might be hollow foods like ferns (no offense ferns) like rock fern (it could happen) that apparently can fill a stomach up, but give little to no nutritionals to said deer. Anyway, endless possibilities!

These pictures are awesome. So much information in so few shots. And they were apparently taken in succession, super efficient with the memory stick. Thanks Jessica!

Ocean view drive swamp – or the swamp. Cynthia Dyer shared the story of two pairs of wood ducks she watched battle over a Wood Duck box in the swamp - from her back window no less! Apparently one female waits on the roof of the box until the other female comes out and then tussles begin - is that the right word? She has also mentioned that the males have been getting into it a little bit as well behavior she hadn't seen before after years of watching the Wood Ducks thrive out her back door. Time for another box? or time for these ducks to realize there are "o'natural" cavities is trees around the neighborhood that should suffice? what is the red squirrel factor here? We'll keep you posted as developments develop.(5/4) Folly Pond - Male wood duck

Quick ones –

Terry Goodhue saw 3 Palm Warblers early on.

not a very good picture of a mourning cloak

Butterflies - (5/1) saw my first butterfly of the season, a well-seasoned American Lady. no photos were taken, but this one appeared to have had  a rougher winter than most as sizable chunk of its hind and fore wing's trailing edges were missing.

Notable: this is the first year in forever where a Mourning Cloak wasn't the first flittering lepid that i saw.

(5/2) Fox Rocks - 2nd butterfly of the year is Mourning Cloak. Allowed me to take this crappy picture. currently i am not physically capable of getting a good Mourning Cloak picture, lord only knows I've had my opportunities

Male Myrtle’s and adult male Yellow Warbler in shrub in yard.
Bike Rides - (4/24)- around the island – Many Myrtle Warbler’s, American Robin, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Belted Kingfisher, Merlin, Great Blue Heron, Red-breasted Mergansers (heavy displaying), Golden-croened Kinglets, Chickadees, Winter Wren, Brown Creeper

(5/1) 3 Palm Warblers, 1 Black-throated Green Warbler, many myrtles, female Kestrel hunting from the wires at pleasant river fields. 1 Northern Parula,  

Home – (4/27)

Lane’s – (4/27) – Yellow warbler (female), 6 Savannah Sparrows, Swamp Sparrow, Myrtle’s Warbler…(4/28) female Northern Parula
(4/28) Basin - Patience Chamberlin saw a Baltimore Oriole, both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets,  
Carrying Place(4/28) – My 40th Birthday! And 2 Orchard Orioles, both an adult male and female, popped up from below a berm, coming up to eye level pretty close. That was the first adult male I’ve seen in Maine – vnmm.
male myrtle's - fox rocks parking
also known as "butter-butts"

Skin Hill – 3 Grey Catbirds seen lurking in the shrubs.

Scarlet Tanagers reported at Robert's Cemetery and somewhere else recently.

female myrtle's - fox rocks parking
also known as "butter-pits"

(5/2) Fox Rocks parking lot – (1)Black-throated Green & many Myrtle warblers were flycatching over the cess/vernal/kiddie pool. Actually made for good digiscoping – full framed scanning myrlte’s. All genders!  6 Turkey Vulture and 1 Red-tailed Hawk also seen.

(5/3) Isle Au Haut Mtn. - with Jamus Drury, while scouting out for a high school field trip next week we saw three birds total (he may have seen more, i saw three)- a Sharpie, a Broad-winged and a Black Vulture.

Most of you will remember that a few winters back a Black Vulture was seen over Greens Island by Willie Drury. That bird was spotted a day or so after a Black Vulture left the turkey farm in Warren after spending much of the previous winter there. Black Vultures are not commonly seen in Maine but i think are seen on at least a yearly basis these days (i think). Field Guides as recently the 5th edition of Natty Geo's birds of North America have Black Vultures breeding as far north as Rhode Island, Peterson's Guide to Hawks published in 1987 shows Black Vultures breeding as far north as Pennsylvania. Anyway, both books note the range expansion to the Northeast of Black Vultures. Welcome to the neighborhood

It's flight pattern tipped us off - rapid and stiff - compared to a Turkey Vulture's flight., The dark secondaries and white base to its primaries finalized it. note short tail. First one I've seen in Maine VNMM. and all we had to do was to lug ourselves up the 180 or so feet to the peak and let the birdies come to us!
Chase found all the clams

Longer One(5/3) Quarries behind the school“The Mt. Fritata ponds”- Had the pleasure of assisting three 6th graders on their middle school science project on insects – I’m hoping to impress the teacher. Anyway, day one of our comparative pond scoops set a fast pace as the very first scoop by Chase Wadleigh pulled up a Predacious Diving Beetle – albeit a dead one (from the smell this one had been dead for a bit). 40+ Green Frog tadpoles, 2 Red-backed Newt adults, 80+ Spotted Salamander egg cases, 30+ Mayfly nymphs (plus many in flight that attracted numerous Herring Gull above!).Phantom Midge and about 20 tiny freshwater clams….. These guys are pros!

predacious diving beetle - remained dead thru out.
three waiting to pounce, two not sure of the scene.
one yawning
Salamanders visit daycare....if screams of pure bliss leave you sad, and if being sad is really what makes you happy, then you wouldn't have wanted to miss it when 4 Spotted Salamanders paid a visit to the Island Village Day Care. everyone had a zoo animal plate with water on it so they could keep their hands wet while touching the salamanders. the plates were not tall enough to entrap the salamanders though and with every move and escape attempt shrieks of joy were to be heard.
Salamander takes one for the team.
 My favorite thing is that they were so patient and followed any and all directions great, but they could barely control themselves when they could finally touch one. The flow of the scene was a continual loop between brave and screaming.

three fingers from three directions experienced salamanders like never before. and gave the salamander an experience its never had as well. there will be impact, there will be impact.

This is the crue that Leif runs with, and Lydia in pigtails came running up to greet me the next day asking - What did you bring today Kirk?.

And leify is all about exploring and flying kites and making funny faces when we touch slugs. there will be impact.

and that my friends, is a slug going for it. and a slug on a thumb.