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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


Friday, May 3, 2013

this is the only mention of ferns
or fiddleheads in this report.
so sad.

Welcome to the vinalhaven sightings report –
May 1st(ish), 2013
MCHT & VLT sponsored
Powered by you, the people…..
and iceberg lettuce


Highlights – Woodcock egg,  fish crow, dead owl, raptors featuring merlins, a couple of warblers, chickadees excavating, vernal pools, otter trails, tidepools, vital signs….



snakes are shortchanged in this report as well
Contact us – if you must! To help us get organized please send photos and sightings to . also, if you know someone who you think would love (and we are not talking like here, it has to be love) to receive notice when new VSR posts are made then send those emails to that same email in blue just above these words. Makes the perfect gift – because its free! Some would say it’s a bit overpriced actually.


way too much energy is spent on these guys.
we know already! they are eggs.
Inside joke note – recently I was approached by a long-time reader of the VSR about a phrase we use often here at the VSR – “the royal “we””.  They wanted to know if this was an inside joke between me and my loved ones. Well, first off – we never joke here – and when I say “we” I mean the royal “we”. Secondly, when I mentioned the movie “the big lebowski” it triggered no memory points or anything. I guess the bottom line is that if you have not seen the Big Lebowski you should probably stop reading this nonsense here and watch it. There I said it – for the first time ever I am advocating going inside to watch something. It’s the Big Lebowski. Do we have to say more? Once you see it you will understand two more bumper stickers in town – “calmer than you are” and “the bums will always lose”. Calmer than you are is a good one.


Grackles are abound in numbers.
and they are beautiful
photo by Karen Oakes
PSA – “Share your buds!” - if spring isn’t spring for you unless you get your rocks off by looking at tiny buds developing and popping out (insert medicinal joke here) than you are a leaf popper – as opposed to a leaf peeper which is in the fall and wayyyyyy less exclusive and wayyy too easy to be. For leaf poppers there are many “share your buds” campaigns as folk document the opening of leaves up and down (mostly up) north America. Anyway – if you check out your trees and would like to share what you find (and we hope you do) go to the “Leaf out” website.  

and post what you see. It’s good to share. And its even better when it sunny and you share.


Kid Stuff – Hanging with the Vital Signs crew –

documenting a salamander find
photo of a photo of a pair
of red-backed salamanders
“This speech is my recital, I think it’s very vital/
to rock a rhyme, that’s right on time/
it’s tricky is the title (here we go!)” 


…. Anyway, the Vital Signs club at the school was kind enough to invite Leif and I to go tidepooling at Lane’s (4/30) , so we invited them to go check out vernal pools with us (5/2) – it was all Leif’s idea (this kid is gunna make me social yet). Anyway, the tidepooling was fun – 2 baby lobsters (right in the tidepools – go figure!), a huge clam worm, lots of Hermit Crabs, scaleworms, 2 blood stars, northern stars, and 1 brittle star was found. I think they were supposed to look for an invasive algae. Algae was certainly found.


some of the 188 egg clumps we found that afternoon
Vernal Poolin’ – so Leif and I took the crew to our favorite vernal pool that is not right by the turbines – Perry Creek’s legendary pool “ The Motherload”. You may remember that this natural vernal pool broke records last year by having 104 clumps of Spotted Salamander eggs – obliterating the previously document high (45 clumps) for natural pools. Well, apparently the Spotted Salamanders are still benefiting from whatever got them juiced last year as an incredible 188 egg masses were found (all spotted salamanders) with the Vital Kids!. Awesome to say the least – by far the most masses in a natural vernal pool (as opposed to the little quarries) I have found on Vinalhaven.
first eggs of the year are always special


So anyway, there are tons of egg masses out there these days – and if you love them (not like, love) do them a favor and don’t drink any water for 6 more weeks. Not sure how that would help them but it certainly should hurt them. The VSR does not advocate drinking water at all – there are better ways to get hydrated. Coffee & beer for instance. That’s all I can think of at the moment. Dehydration is completely psychological. I am a doctor of nothing.

leif trying to figure out how to get over to Jordan

Vernal pools in the Tip-toe area (or whatever you people call it – you know who you are and you know where I am talking about – or not) are looking good this year as well – 14 sites so far. Pam Johnson found some eggs out Calderwood Neck way.


look at all those clumps jordan is counting!
ahhh, to be able to count so high

Leif and I have visited some of our favorite spots – Turbines and Granite Island – where some eggs were confiscated. There will be impact. Anyway, things are looking good so far with the egg masses. Now if we could just get some rain…… I think we are already in the sightings, but here ‘s some more…
don't pay attention to the
kid behind the eggs


woodcock egg
photo and hand by Jim Conlan
Sightings - Woodcock egg - Jim and Colleen Conlan came across a roadkill Woodcock just by Rounbd Pond and then discovered this freshly laid egg just off the road close by. Incredible find, and a reminder that some of these critters have adaptations that are great in the wild - like sitting down completely still until the last split second - don't work so well on the roads. Careful of the woodcock out there folks! and remember the old Jersey saying entitled "when a woodcock sits in the road ahead of you" ...
"if it sits, go around the little s**t"
can't get any more to the point than that.
Warblers – Karen Oakes sent word from her yard of many Palm Warblers recently. Penelope Lord saw a bunch of Palm Warblers on Seal Bay Road (and Ruby-crowned Kinglets), Pam Johnson saw a Magnolia and some Palm Warblers in her yard in town! A few parulas armbrust hill (4/30)… Yellow-rumpeds are everywhere….

local merlin
photo by Karen Oakes

And so back to Karen Oakes – who had a funny story about photographing a Fox Sparrow in her yard (4/18 or so) only to have it removed (escorted if you will) out of her yard and off of her property by a sparrow eating avian predator. Karen said it happened so fast, no photos were taken to document – would have been incredible luck and incredible timing!


Not too long after Karen sent in this photo of a Merlin falcon perched in her yard. Merlins certainly eat songbirds (and shorebirds, and dragonflies and lots of things) and her photo jarred our memory as to the recently fledged Merlin youngsters we spotted on a elderbird outing last year – not to far from Karen’s property.

white-throated sparrows are singing these days
photo by Sally

And so it’s probably worth mentioning that its Merlins galore again! Merlin pairs are moving into a town near you – could songbird and other prey bird species levels at all be elevated with winter moth caterpillars appearing in numbers. Just thinking out loud, speculator going fully blast. Merlin pairs at Pumpkin Ridge, Reach Road, City Point, School yard, State Beach areas and more. Lots and lots

chickadee with a bill
full of cavity shavings

Singing – loads of Yellow-rumpeds Rumbleds,  Dark-eyed Junco, Brown Creepers, Golden-crowned Kinglet, handful of Parulas, Goldfinch, Purple Finch, Winter Wren, White-throated & Song Sparrow, American Robin, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hermit Thrush, Eastern Phoebe, Chickadee, Northern Cardinals,


Great Blue
photo by Sally 
Around the island- Snakes are coming out. Saw my first road kill snake – Ring-necked.


Sally has sent in some nice shots (as always) – Great Blue Heron, White-throated Sparrow and this osprey…

osprey by Sally


Osprey are around – radio tower, Huber, sands, all over the island.


turkey vulture - photo by Elizabeth Bunker
Vultures – town, Fox rocks, School yard, and these sent in from Elizabeth Bunker, almost to the thorofare on north haven road, scared up while eating something. Buts its ok North Haven, they don’t like to cross water.


Editor’s note – The Bunker sisters – Hillary and Elizabeth- are the first sister team to both send in photos to the VSR. Your family must be so proud.


Sharpie – in town, Kestrels abound…..

Ferry Logs – Captain Pete, Ferry Log #2 – (4/9- 4/15)

common eiders are very nice looking
 4/13 A male Northern Harrier in the area of Old Harbor mid-afternoon

4/14 Laughing Gull in Hurricane sound. Also 20 – 25 Razor Bill’s (daily total)

4/15 A Raccoon on Lawreys Island mid – afternoon, also an Osprey in that area.

not ready for love
 Captain Pete,  Ferry log # 3 (4/29) - Herring gulls, Greater Black Back Gulls, Guillemonts hardly any in winter plumage, Shags, sometimes a flock of 100 or so flying together.
More groups of Eiders. 20 - 30 in a bunch.
Laughing Gulls several individuals. Also one Ring Billed Gull.
We saw Eagles almost every day. Even the day that a Bald Eagle and 3 Black Backs were sharing the same ledge to roost on.
Lots of Loons. A Female Marsh Hawk in the area of Old Harbor.
Purple Sandpipers. Flock of 150 or so.
13 Brant in the water near Green Island (west of Lawreys)
Flocks of Surf Scoters, 2 White Wing Scoters and 2 Black Scoters.
The Yellow legs and some flocks of the same.

My favorite this week is the Canada Geese on Green Island. All week there were four or five up in the grass where the Black Backs used to nest. Before the Eagles drove them out.
Lots of Seals, spruce trees and seaweed, sometimes not so much seaweed.
Turkey Vultures over Rockland Harbor and Ospreys.


this is VLT steward Kerry Hardy bringing home treasures
from the other side of the Basin

Big thanks to Capatain Pete and everyone who’s been seeing and sharing – somewhat like peeping and spouting. Or Something like that. Regardless - Keep ‘em coming! That’s why the VSR is here. For you and your observations and photos and stuff.



Fish crow – Fish Crows look like the good ol’ red, white and blue American Crows, but instead of using a lot of sounds they seem a little stuck on saying “Uh, uh” over and over and over again. They are regulars of the further south (nice fragment, huh?) but have been noted in the rockland regularly over the years by friend of the VSR and all around good guy Don Reimer, who sometimes sends me (the royal “me”) photos of otters or slime molds. Here’s what Don says about them – which is better than from me if for no other reason than I don’t have to write as much –



not fish crow eggs

Anyway – these were my birthday birds as Leif and I bagged them (and then tagged them) from the car line at the rockland ferry terminal (4/28). Now I know what you are thinking – Rockalnd ferry terminal is not Vinalhaven and should not be included in the report. Well, take it easy purists! Anything that could be seen from the ferry counts baby! And these clearly could be seen (heard? I don’t think so) from the ferry. Anyway, take it or leave it. The VSR will take it! You can do with it what you want….


Fish crows in maine. Its not quite fish tacos in Pescadero, but it’s a distasnt second – so thank you for reading!

and so it goes

Owls – heard a great horned up perry creek way – then found these feathers (pretty dead)

another one bites the dust
These things happen. And old poop or last years young that didn’t get it? We are somewhat out of touch with the great horned scene at perry creek. We’ll see if we learn more. I learned from this that great horned body feathers are beautiful. What appeared to be Lomng-eared owl pellets were found at the big hemlock on the trail.


Saw-whet owls heard by angie and jack olson’s. I think.


And so much more that has been left out – fungus and flowers and insects and all. Incredible stretch of days.


And then there was leif. He’s been on fire lately. Favorite song today is “peaches” from the Presidents of the United States of America. He likes the ninjas in the video towards the end.


with tape

We’ll see you out there! Not if you see us first?


Take care!