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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, September 1, 2012

The videos in this VSR don't appear to be working.
they will be included in the next one as well. sorry.
Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report –
 August 31st, 2012
Thanks to the mcht, the vlt and the powers that be.
Not really.
This one goes out to dad

Highlights – mixed species flocks - including Yellow-breasted Chat, shorebirds, insects – including day moths (butterflies)  – including Common Buckeye, dolphins, cory’s shearwaters, and leach’s storm petrels –  25 miles beyond Matinicus Rock. Red-necked Grebe, other stuff

Bald Eagle
photo by Pete Jaques

We are thankful -  to Pete jaques for bringing his scope on many of the bird walks this summer – 2 scope walks are twice as good as one scope walks. Don’t even get me going on the 4 scope bird walk we had! epic.

And to Janet gohres for filling in for the bird walk while I was away and really for being such a pleasure on the bird walks this summer.  

Quick reminders – you can go on birdwalks, or any kind of walks, on days other than Wednesdays, and you certainly don’t need to go with me, or anyone else. We at the VSR highly recommend people spending time by themselves outside. Observing or not observing. go outside. hell, take a nature nap. we are all for that!
Also, the Tiit thing -   don't forget that you can click on any photos in this VSR (and all VSR past) to see the image huge. or at least as huge as your monitor is big. 

Contests and competitions -VSR Sap photo contest – here we go. The first (and currently only ever) VSR photo contest is here. Seems like a good time for one. So send in your favorite photo of sap- on a tree, a dog, some pants, leg hair. Whatever. There is no limit - photographers and lovers of Sap can continue to enter photos until we tell them to stop sending. It’s true, we are asking for it, but its only once (so far).  As a prize you get the satisfaction of knowing you are the only VSR Sap photo contest winner – ever (so far). Wait- did we have a photo contest a few years back? Whatever. Send in your sappy photos, they will be appreciated.

So send pictures of sap and other things to the official VSR sightings email at don't forget to be put on the official VSR list at the same time!
 It’s not exclusive and don’t have to like us to get on it. Also a good place to send sightings, photos, and correspondence you might want to share. Helps with organization, not one of our strong points here at the VSR…. Get on the list!! receive a friendly reminder whenever the VSR is posted – usually early and mid month. Contact Kirk at  

wouldn't it be cool if the coyote ate only cats?
the answer is "yes, it would be cool"
there certainly are plenty of cats on island
PSA - Basin Impact – We love the basin. There are feral cats in the basin. here’s a picture of one on the granite island shore, coming out of the Basin marsh. Just in time for shorebird migration!

Here’s a link to an article about how you are fooling yourself if you say your cat doesn’t kill stuff in the woods.

Next is a video of seals going into the water when kayakers are approaching off-screen….


motorized boats inspire sleep
for harbor seals in the basin
And finally, little to no impact - a photo of lobstermen having no observable impact of a resting seal in the basin, even though they are hauling pretty close, and got even closer. We love the basin.

white-sided dolphin
photo by john drury

Sightings - …a three hour tour…. – John Drury went 25 miles beyond Matinicus rock recently,  well “offshore for research of and education and conservation“ and sent these epic photos to prove it. First off, an Atlantic white-sided dolphin in mid jump, a spectacular moment captured in a photo. We’re not sure how he timed that photo. Or how many were around. But an epic moment for sure.

cory's shearwater
photo by john drury
Next – Cory’s Shearwater.  Nice yellow bill. Tubenose, breeds in the eastern north Atlantic, Mediterranean.  Anyway, john saw about a dozen that day.

cory's in flight
photo by john drury
leach's storm petrel
photo by john drury
Leach’s Storm Petrel – nocturnal at breeding islands, john saw about a dozen or so (again) on this outing.

Also ocean sunfish, and a shark.  Sounds like a cool trip, thanks for sharing John.



northern gannet
photo by Kerry Hardy

The 7am ferry ride was pretty full of Gannets (8/22) – I counted 20 or so on my way to Rockland. Here’s a shot Kerry Hardy got on the 7am heading to Vinalhaven. Nice one, thanks Kerry
Keep your eyes open for these big ol’ sea birds from the ferry thru the fall. More to come!


red-breasted nuthatches -

photo by Sally
A quick word on mixed species flocks (MSF) - They are hot, happening and only should get betterer as September goes.  And you never know what's going to turn up in a nice flock - Patience Chamberlin crossed paths with a Yellow-breasted Chat across the Dyer's Island Road in a small flock (8/24). Chats are big ol' warblers (biggest in the states!), not seen much out here (i think its the 3rd reported in the last 8 years). Good spot Patience!

other popular members of the MSF - Yellow-rumpeds, Parula, Black-throated Green, Black and whites, Redstarts, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown creepers, chickadees, hummingbirds, catbirds. Many young birds still - Black-throated Green Warbler and Yellow-rumped youngsters seem to be around in numbers - round 2? i guess.

black swallowtail
photo by sally
Day moths (Butterflies)Sally’s yard.  What a year for day moths (butterflies) and what a year to have a day moth (butterfly) bush or two. Sounds like sally almost had to open up a can of whoop-ass on some neighborhoods yunguns looking to catch some “day-moths”. Wonderful Black Swallowtail shot Sally sent in from her yard.


Monarchs are filling the air, and mourning cloaks are abound – these must be the ones that overwinter and we see again in April and earlier.


ain't nothing common about this buckeye
An old friend is always a treat to see, and the Common Buckeye day moth is one we’ve seen many times in previous lives. Maine Audubon’s Mike Windsor and his wonderful family were out for a visit and Mike mentioned the buckeye had been seen in Maine recently. It was less than 24 hrs. when I came across this dude on a walk to the basin. the Maine Butterfly Survey calls them “rare, strays” into the state, but they are yearly seen, usually 1-4 a year. The exception was the year of the Buckeye (2011) where over 100 individuals were seen in southern Maine (Gobeil & Gobeil, 2012). I don’t know much about the butterfly scene, but what I do appreciate is the timing on Mike’s mentioning the buckeye, I may not have paid so close attention!

Polyphemus moth, sunflower, and gil's finger
photo by Erin Creelman

Caterpillars (quickly, few words - i am in exile and have no caterpillar book) - what a great time to be a larvae!

 Erin Creelman sent in this picture of a Polyphemus moth.  beautiful shot, even Gil's finger.

why did the caterpillar cross the road? videos - tussock moth

some other caterpillar (sorry, i am resourceless at the moment) -
and fluffy one with 3 spikes on it

my first vinalhaven katydid

Insects – and while we’re at it – Katydids – well, I’m in Florida as I write, resources back home, so species and info are not at hand. But I can mention that I hadn’t seen a Katydid on Vinalhaven before seeing this one at the Williams preserve.


levi, katydid, and the lane's island bridge

And then I saw the second Katydid I’ve seen on Vinalhaven with the mighty Levi (Mike and Jess’ oldest boy) on Lane’s Island bridge.

tidepool springtails

Tidepool Springtails – We love springtails. From Snow Fleas to the bands of sprunged-tails species that roam the leaf litter and detritus (DUFF!) in “our” woods, springtails are common in the forest through the non snowy months. But there’s only one species of Springtail that matches up with the Snow Flea and gets the same “what the hell are you doing here?” stamp of approval and that’s the “tidepool insect”, or Anurida maritima. Here’s what “Life between the tides” has to say about them and insects in the tidepools…

this kid loves to play with Anurida maritima
and to check out Dogwinkle eggs
“While sometimes present, insects are generally not common in the sea, and they are usually omitted from most field guides. However, one species of springtail, Anurida maritima, can be quite abundant. A. maritima belong to a group of wingless insects, the Collembola, and look like adults when they hatch. These insects are most often seen as large, floating aggregations of small, blue specks on the surface of protected tide pools in the more saltwater part of New England estuaries. A matima has an exoskeleton, designed to make it “unwettable”, which is why it floats so easily.” – Watling, Fegley, Moring (2003)

here's a video of some tidepool springtails doing what they do best...

And from Wikipedia (got to be true!) – “A. maritima is a significant scavenger of the upper intertidal zone, feeding on dead animals, chiefly crustaceans (including barnacles) and molluscs.[3]

having fun by the water
Aggregation is an important aspect of collembolan biology, and A. maritima has been shown to produce an aggregating pheromone.[6] Like many intertidal animals, A. maritima moves in rhythm with the tidal cycle, and has an endogenous circatidal rhythm with a period of 12.4 hours,[6] using visual cues to orientate themselves during their movements”. What the heck?

And…”The entire body is covered with white hydrophobic hairs which allow the animal to stay above the surface of the water on which it spends much of its life. Unlike other springtails, A. maritima cannot leap, since its furcula is vestigial.”

That reminds me of a joke -  what’s more disappointing than an endogenous circatidal rhythm with a period of 12.4 hours (being at the mercy of the tides)? Answer - having vestigial furcula of course!


The furcula is an appendage that helps springtails jump, and apparently these guys have teeny, tiny ones, not of much use. Nothing to be ashamed of. Anyway, that’s all I’ve got and am going to have on these ones. Here’s a video of some springtails in a pool near our place on the reach. So much fun to see.


checking out the turnstones
Migration – Janet mentioned a line of 100+ Double-crested Cormorants on the birdwalk last week. Many lines and “V”s of Shags have been seen heading out. I would  imagine not many will miss them. Lots o' Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Kingfisher, Bald Eagles to be seen around as well.


Shorebirds – Whimbrels – Beth Gilford wrote (8/24) about an extra long session she had with a whimbrel out at pocus point. Whimbrels are a funky looking shorebird, with the good ol’ decurved bill for probing and feasting. There closest breeding grounds are up by the Hudson Bay, and their post breeding migration is noted along the Maine Coast.

Basin Whimbrel - stock photo from 2007?

Whimbrel was also seen in the basin (8/27) and on Greens (John Drury) recently.


Ruddy Turnstone – well, I don’t see them that often out here, but on the Elderbird walk at State Beach (8/17)  we saw 8 Ruddy turnstones 12Black-bellied Plover, 4 Least Sandpiper, 7 Osprey, Red-necked Grebe

canada geese are not much different
than canadian bacon

Canada Geese are turning up in numbers – a booming 47 in the basin (8/22). Many over Carver’s Pond, terrorizing local dogs that lose control with every goose and gander that passes overhead.  if only canada geese ate cats.


Fungus -  what can you say about the best beings on earth? "when you have found fungus, you have found bliss". here's a little photo gallery for now, much more to come in the next month plus.
fading scarlet waxy cap
there is nothing finer than a waxy cap
destroying angel
breaks all the "rules", the killer of the northeast
"white mushrooms are good" - wrong
"slugs eat fungus edible to people" - wrong

don't be so bitter! - bitter bolete
check out those pores!
it pours spores thru those pores.
amanita mush-hump
my hair used to look like that
phoiliotas are sexy
doesn't matter who you are, you know its true
Amanita rhopalopus
known for it's "basal bulb" and warts on top
that describes some of my friends in college
dye-maker's polypore
this will make your hair yellow
if you have hair
this kid loves yellow patches
"is the yellow patches still there?"
lots more than what you see here of course.
"the woods are lovely,
dark and deep,
but i have promises to keep
and miles before i sleep"
robert frost? or charles bronson in "telefon"?
actually donald plesance said it in the movie.
classic movie i would watch with my dad.
Slime molds - Tapioca and many headed. true bliss
many headed slime
this dude changed to brown the next day

tapioca slime
good enough to eat
psa - don't eat the slime!

fishing with the boys in estonia
In memorium-  Tiit Gentalen 
2/5/40  (Tallinn, Estonia) –
8/31/12 (Tampa, FLA)
Miss you so much already, dad!
Thanks for everything

super heroes with dad
photo by Melissa Gentalen

sunset fishing in estonia

possibly the first time Tiit was on a swing
first time in 40 years for sure
probably longer
some big ol' bass

bye dad, we love you