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


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Welcome to the vinalhaven sightings report –
 March 19th, 2013
“…this sightseeing blog, which is pretty good too” –
Anja and Marco’s wedding blog
Thanks Anja and Marco (can’t wait to meet ya!).
And Congratulations.
We here at the VSR hope you have a “pretty good” wedding, too. Or better….



mink tracks
check out the hesitation in the
second set of bounding tracks
And yes, phish will be at the Bangor waterfront July 3rd.  can only hope that David Cross is not far behind.


Highlights – woodcock, spring peeper, alcids – including dovekie and razorbill, otter stuffage, goshawk, gulls including Iceland and Lesser Black-backed, other stuff



stock photo
And speaking of woodcocks… Upcoming VLT/MCHT event – Woodcock Walk – April 6th, 6:30pm – meet at Skoog. --- They are here, they are fun, and it’s always a good time with them. For this event we’ll carpool to the other end of the island for a little sunset, a little woodcockage (if you know what I mean – by law we have to write that), and a little astronomy – clouds permitting. We’ll “slap some glass” (use the scope) on a few planets, a nebula, and certainly a woodcock on this night. Be there or don’t be there. Those are your choices, should be a “pretty good” time.


this is gross.
and yet we like it.
You see something, you tell us about it! Ok? …. Contact us…. Hey – send us your sightings. Can’t emphasize this enough – this blog thing is for everybody. Are you afraid to send something in cuz the VSR team might poke fun at you? Well, then you deserve to be made fun of, so get over it. No. Scratch that. This sightings report to all about what folk are seeing around the island, so if you see something, tell us about it. .  don’t be shy. We only poke fun cuz we love you. It’s OK to share. Like seriously. And speaking of sharing…

maybe because the otter goo
reminds us of overhydrated orange jelly

orange jelly rules!
Tiit trick- click on a photo, and it will magically get bigger.
Other stuff (AKA speaking of poking fun) – when you see Phil “murder of crows” Crossman next please give him a big “Shame on you” from the VSR. We (the royal we) asked him recently if he wouldn’t mind doing his “walkabout” (dude thinks he’s Australian) around the island again and take photos of all the otter latrines he comes across (there must have been gazillions) .We asked nicely, maybe even said “please”, but apparently he’s tired of walking or something. Attitude, nice role model for Finn and the unborn. (Heck, even Captain Pete is in contract talks about an ongoing ferry-sightings related update for the VSR – Peter can share). So shame on you “West Nile Crow” for not adding to the data we have on our local river otter scene. If you have no idea w hat we are talking about check out – . also should mention that the tidewater is the place to stay on Vinalhaven when you need a place to stay….  . Phil takes credit for the tides there as well.
we learned that freshly thawed orange jelly
tastes like apricots.

these nice folk are
eating orange jelly
Sightings – Skin Hill – the overwintering Carolina Wren continues to visit bird feeders in the area – for over a month now! For weeks the suet at the Delsandro’s (best suet in town) has been the main draw (from what we can tell), but the Wren has been sharing the love with Sally and undoubtedly any other feeder scene in the area. this wren is a smart one, we all know that winter is the best season Vinalhaven.

this is a tree with snow
along a creek

Greens Island – John Drury reports a fly by with a Northern Goshawk, and a Dovekie and Iceland Gull sighted near the island (not together we presume, that would be tooooooo funky).


Around the island – White-winged Crossbills have been heard daily in the woods, Pine Grosbeak less frequent…Ravens acting up….


Woodpeckers Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are “taking it up” a notch (not together, I think, hope) with aggressive behavior towards other members of the species. Sightings include a Norton’s Point male Downy Woodpecker pulling out a whole bunch of downy feathers from a female Downy Woodpecker chest (where the kind downy is found) that apparently wasn’t his choice of a mate (or he’s into that kind of stuff). This was after she had apparently “won” the rights to be with him after battling another female Downy. (6 “downy”s so far in this paragraph). Should be a whole lot of cavities excavated soon.


this is one of our two favorite dogs
that look pretty much the same.
he licked my hand
Cute Story….. look at this dog. So freakin’ cute. And it’s got a twin! Both dogs found me on a snowshoe chainsawing mission at the Huber Preserve (The Hubes) and were playful and licked my hand and wagged their tails for forever (it seemed). They patiently waited as I took pictures of poria fungus, which is way less cuter than these dogs. And after about 15 minutes of hanging out, thinking that the dogs were lost and needed me to show them the way back out (silly me) one of the doggies ran off, grabbed a raccoon by its neck and violently shook it inspiring howling and crying like you have never heard (or maybe you have). The shaking reminded me of the sea lion in the Blue Planet series shaking a penguin in an effort to skin it. Needless to say it was awesome. “So that’s why we allow dogs on trails” was my first thought. Completely violent, and the craziest thing I have seen on the trails out here.  Would have been seriously disturbing to a few of the “regulars” that I know hike the Hubie trail.

somewhere on the island

Anyway, the puppies tried to lick me after the incident, but I declined the offer –“get your rabies infested saliva away from me!” or something like that. In the end they didn’t need me to lead them anywhere. They know the woods better than anyone. I hope folks visiting the Anja and Marco wedding website are reading this! Sightseeing blog!


Ferry Rides – (3/11-12) Well, I even wrote up some lists for the two morning rides I took last week (after not leaving the island in months – maybe once) but where those lists are is a mystery (I’ll try to include them next time). I’m not a big “list” fan anyway. What I can tell you is this….


(3/11) 3 Razorbills. 0 red-necked Grebes, loads of Canada Geese heading north

what up razorbill?
stock photo from seal island
(3/12) 52 Razorbills, 8 Red-necked Grebes, 1 Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Gulls setting up turfs on grassy ledges , loons and guillemots molting nicely

The Razorbills were impressive on the 12th to say the least, 2nd biggest Razorbill ride (oh what a ride!) of my short ferry ride history. 3 one day, 52 the next day. Groups of 5 razorbills flying by left and right – it was awesome. Red-necked Grebes and Canada Geese remind us that migration is happening and things are heading north – “Go north young grebe!”. Anyway, things are happening, including the lesser-black backed that flew right by the ferry “mid-trip” was a bonus. 8 Red-necked Grebes are about 8 more than I expect to see form the ferry.

Captain Peter notes that there have been many razorbills in the bay for the last month - with days of 100+ in his estimation (not sure what he counts by). Thanks for sharing captain pete!


some of the 142 spraints found at
"Elaine's den" - # 10
(3/12) walk to the ferry – First woodcock of the year for me, dazzlin’ display as I strolled down dogtown road to the first ferry. The other cool thing was a Spring Peeper peepin’ away (can you say micro-climate?) not too far off. Yep, froggy time is close by, except for the winter storm that is coming today. Other than that (and the snow storms after that) spring is here!


Carver’s pond – on a hot tip from Elaine Drury (never has given me a tip that wasn’t hot) I, we finally made a little quality time for a stroll along Carver’s backside (that doesn’t sound right).


look at how gross this is
the otters have to go over rusty spraint
to get into their den
white otter goo on a rusty thing.
i like the "goo slide"
Elaine told me about a spraintload of spraint she had found along Carver’s shores, at a grout pile that clearly had a few entrances into what she figured was a den. She had seen that about 5 years before. (Editor’s note: there is no reason to wait 5 years before sharing otter info with us (the royal “us”). If you have otter info, or stories or whatever, the VSR won’t do background checks or whatever on you, there will be no questions asked Will we make fun of you? Certainly, but that’s to be expected. Anyway) Can’t thank Elaine enough for the tip. 5 years later and it's still hot!

talk about spraintsville
some of the 160 scats around
the den opening - top lefft
the good stuff
And so we walked the shore, for about an hour, saw that Elaine’s den (#10) was still active (oh was it active!) and located 2 others. the latrines around the den openings had 27 scats and 160+ !!! that makes for 330 scats at 3 dens.


mink belly slides
mink tracks with snow fleas
All in all 3 dens and 7 latrines were located along Carver’s north shore.  Very pretty cool.

and to boot - Captain Peter spotted an otter - a single one - in the harbor from the ferry (hope i am right on that info)

first fish. and my toes
photo by carol gentalen

lego otters
photo by carol gentalen
Leify and I are in Florida at the moment, where lego otters rule snf leif caught his first phish! Looking forward to making it back for another storm! save some snow for us!