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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


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Welcome to the Quickie Vinalhaven Sightings Report (QVSR)– May 16th, 2012
MCHT,VLT – we thank you
Phat Tuesday addition
“I was in my garden, so of course I had my camera”

ruby bliss
photo by sally
Highlights : oriole, hummingbird, butterflies, warblers including Bay-breasted and Blackpoll, songbird battle, and baby harbor seals, fresh coyote tracks….more than enough videos

Business - Upcoming eventsDon’t forget! - VLT walk and talk - this Saturday - May 19th - Native American names of common plants and critters walk with VLT steward Kerry Hardy. The trip will take place at North Perry Creek. 9:30am meeting time at Skoog Park for carpooling. Should be a good one.

One more Tuesday morning bird walk coming up next  week May 22nd  at Armbrust Hill 7am-9am. Read below about the wonderful time Deb Pixley and I had this week. Also – want to personally thank the (several) people who requested these Tuesday walks and haven’t come to a single one yet! We wouldn’t have done them without your insistence and so I probably wouldn’t have found myself at Armbrust Hill to see my 3rd Bay-breasted Warbler on Vinalhaven (not including seal). So feel free not to come again next week! The birds are great with or without you! (forgive the sarcasm here – remember I am from Jersey – at least I didn’t go to Rutgers! Got out as soon as I could).
photo by sally

Looking to send in a sighting or two? - then look no further! Here’s how you can contact us with all your sightings/photos/questions/ and comments - write to us at The cracker-jack and crispy VSR team checks this email at least 4 times a month and so surely will get back to you as soon as possible about your sighting. think of it - your name could be mentioned in the report and then when someone (most likely you) googles your name the VSR will show up! you will be an instant celebrity with yourself. or with your bad self. either way we welcome every and all sightings and questions and most comments. don't be shy.
The reason for the quickie – this QVSR is posted as a timely notice on what has been reported on Vinalhaven super recently usually followed by a rainy day – like yesterday and today. No one needs a reminder to get outside after any winter, but with it being May there is so much going and with some decent weather in the forecast you get the feeling things might be pretty big over the next four days or so. Either (or whatever) way there is a lot to see these days and the VLT and MCHT preserves and the Town Parks are  great to take in some of the action no matter how closely or distantly you look at things. Hell, your back yard and garden are great  places to observe as well (not that I’ve been in your backyard as far as you know!). Here’s a little bit of what Tuesday was like this week – forecast called for rain, we got one of the sunnier days we’ve had for a bit….
nice oriole
photo by sally

Skin Hill – up on the hill Sally had another day of it Tuesday in her garden -  and she was willing to share these photos to prove it! Baltimore Orioles are a “in town favorite” seldom if ever seen in the woods out here (I’ve never seen ‘em), or on properties north of booths quarry (or is it lawson’s?, I don’t swim and am from jersey, those names blend….). Anyway, she got this photo of an Oriole snaggin’ Druplets (or whatever they are called) in her backyard!

Want to see an oriole? get yourself some oranges and pop ‘em on a nail, a fence, an antennae of a  neighbor’s car maybe! And see what you get for visitors. You may be lucky enough to have a beautiful oriole to pause for a bit on their way to wherever, and you . As far as is known to me, Orioles do not breed out here, and it’s really just a few week window (alright, we’ll give til the end of May!) to see them.  But hey - No oranges? No problem! Sit by an apple tree in blossom and they are bound to swing by if they are in the area. For the record though – Sally has now had Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, and Baltimore Oriole visit her feeder station this May! And gotten picture of them all! Hard to imagine a more colorful bunch – add a Scarlet Tanager and it will be an overload of colorful bliss! We here at the QVSR thank Sally for sharing her pictures.
nice catbird
photo by sally

And the Hummingbird photos are priceless. Nice catbird too. Tuesday was very kind to Sally, was it good for you?

Armbrust hill – Tuesday morning bird walk10 Warbler morning- I pulled up on my bike and the place was buzzin’! here’s the list – Blackpoll, Bay-breasted, Yellow, Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, Black and White, Nashville, & Black-throated Green Warblers, Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Chickadees, American Goldfinch, Purple Finch, Hairy Woodpecker, and Northern Cardinal…

The real story here was the number of warblers. Many parula, black throated green, magnolia and black and whites were seen, great views of each. The blackpoll takes me back to Cape Cod where birders cursed the Blackpoll – for them it meant the end of migration. Silly birders, migration never ends…But the Bay-breasted, now that was a treat, one not seen every year, and usually just one if found. And a badly lit video of a Yellowthroat….

And a pair of Chickadees excavating a cool cavity that has at least three openings – possibly a 4th – back door man…..

Huber Ovenbird and Black-throated Blue warbler rounded our day to 12 warbler species. The real story here though was the gang of songbirds mobbing a Sharp-shinned Hawk by the trailside vernal pool. The mobbing didn’t last long, but long enough, and a side fight broke out between neighboring (assumption) Golden-crowned Kinglets. This battle went on for well over 10 minutes, with this short video (digi-scoped and sloppy) being an sample of what they were up to.

Reminds me of the time I went to a Knick vs. 76ers game in high school and a fight broke out on the court. Instantaneously 3 other fights broke out in the stands (gotta love that MSG!). If I was to anthropomorphosize a little I would say these guys teamed up with against the Sharpie but ended with “No, F. You!” back and forth with heavy New York accents. I would never anthropomorphosize though. Or spell it right.

Plus then a group of White-winged Crossbills came in and showed off their cone/seed ways. Always a good time at Huber…

And then the Basin! – Sooooo, right on schedule. 5 Harbor Seal pups were born sometime Monday night/Tuesday morning in the Basin. The shoreline access on the Granite Island Trail offers a great view of the pupping ledges. I’ve been making quick recon excursions this week and none were seen till today. Bring binoculars, or even better a scope, and scan the ledges to see the youngsters with their moms. More to be born, there were several hefty females that looked ready to burst….here’s a quick video….

And with the sun yesterday, the butterflies were raging. I may have jokingly said “if I see one more red admiral….” not really seriously, but more as a statement on how many butterflies were around. Well, “no more flutter by” as Linnell put it. This red admiral meal was photographed by Linnell Mather at her house.  I feel better about how many Red Admirals are out there knowing they are food for spiders!

red admiral spider dinner
photo by linnell mather
.…and of course there were fresh coyote tracks in the basin this week.

So get out there and we’ll see you there…out there….