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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, August 9, 2013

look at this awesomely trippy tidepool shot
photo by Banner Moffat

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report– August 8th, 2013
MCHT & VLT helping to bring
“the pork to the people”
Photos for a rainy day –
part 1 of a 2 part series

photo by Banner Moffat

Highlights – Baby Cardinals, Tropicbird, Otters, crazy caterpillar, Pickerel Frog, other things

We'll begin with a montage of Banner Moffat photos as we cover this editor’s note….


beaver chew - folly pond
photo by Banner Moffat
Editor’s note – (stating the obvious) - The point of the VSR is to provide an outlet where folk can share their nature photos and wildlife observations twith (not a misspelling) others. Just look at the great photos in this VSR post (and in all the previous posts) and you can see why we at the VSR feel pretty good about how this outlet is being utilized.


What folks may not know is the dream of the VSR staff to have a post without any of the VSR staff contributing to the report.  What could be better than a post (or two, or 100) that only had photos that were sent in? A beuatiful dream i know! Well, today this dream is becoming a reality! And reality is a funny place.

many headed-slime - the yellow stuff
photo by Banner Moffat
 We thank everyone for sending in and sharing photos and nature sightings over the years. There is so much to see out here on our island paradise, and while a rainy day like today gets everyone excited for fungus to pop out, it’s also a day to appreciate some of the beauty that we are continually spoiled with..….while we eagerly anticipate the next round of fungus.


So keep on sending sightings and photos , as well as addresses for those who’d like to be told when new posts are posted. See ya out there!  


pickerel frog
photo by sylvia reiss
Also, don’t forget to click on the photos (Tiit trick).  

 Sightings – Pickerel Frog – Sylvia Reiss out at the City Point area sent in this great photo of a Pickerel Frog from her garden. One time I was told that Pickerel Frogs are the “frogs you see all over the island”, but for some reason I see way more Spring Peepers than Pickerels. Anyway and regardless, what a nice shot and a nice visitor to the neighborhood. Thanks Sylvia!


Otters - Ali McCarthy reports seeing her first otters of the season, back on their classic ledge (in clear view from a window in her house) in Carver’s Pond. I believe she said there were two together and that one appeared smaller than the other. That has been confirmed in my mind, but not with Ali. Anyway, looking forward to more Carver’s/Old Harbor Pond otter stories this season and into the winter!...Rick Morgan reports seeing an otter by the Privilege in Winter Harbor. We all agree it is a privilege to see otters anywhere…..


great egret and friend
photo by Jim Clayter
Old Harbor PondJim Clayter sent in these Great Egret photos from behind his house. Jim reports he last saw a Great Egret from his house in 2002. Way to keep track!

His cove on the pond is very “heron friendly” as he has sent in photos of Little Blue, Green and others over the years…. The chart i have for Maine birds shows Great Egret as being “uncommon” for the state with fewer than 10 records of them breeding in Maine (before 1996). Granted the chart I have is from 1996, but it still gives a feel for the uncommonness of Great Egrets in the state. Certainly rare out here! Good work and thanks Jim!


photo by Jim Clayter

Poor Farm Road – our man on the road reports a Red-eyed Vireo nest with eggs laid on July 10th (or so). The young hatched right on schedule, but unfortunately were greeted immediately with a rainy day or two and the nest failed soon after. Northern Flickers (Yellowhammers – state bird of Alabama) were successful in the same area, with young heard to be begging from a big-tooth aspen that has been used by Flickers in the past.


skin hill baby cardinal
photo by Sally

Skin Hill Sally – folks who have Cardinals in their yards tend to like them – never heard anyone say “damn cardinals - always adding red to nice green shrubs!” or anything like that. And nothing makes a yardowner (or yardrenter) happier than seeing a baby cardinal hopping around, getting some grub. Well, maybe getting a picture or two is the cherry on the tip of the cardinal’s crest.



protective father!
photo by Sally
Anyway, Sally reports the proud daddy was around to make sure everything went well and the mouth got filled. Good father award. Thanks for sharing Sally.


And now for some more Banner Moffat shots – largely I assume from the Crockett Cove area…


beautiful male parula
photo by Banner Moffat
On the water….Horace Hunt spotted a Puffin in flight by Saddleback Light (7/12). Puffin sightings are certainly not limited to Seal Island, anytime time on the water keep your eyes open. If you don’t want to see puffins then it’s recommended you keep your eyes closed.


Peter Drury has sent in a report from the Captain’s Log (sounds official) on the ferry – July 16th-22nd -  

stunned from and interaction with a window
photo by Banner Moffat


7/19 Bonaparte Gull in breeding plumage, Rockland Harbor. Same day 9 Canada geese on Green Island all afternoon. 2 Adult 7 Juvenile ?

7/20 Gannets! Several adults and many young. 15 to 20 birds. In the bay and near inner bay ledges. Didn't see them any other day…Also a Juvenile Bonaparte Gull.

We saw lots of Porpoises. One in the Reach by the spindle on Strawberry Island.


Carrion Beetle - often found in poop!
photo by Banner Moffat

Few notes on Peter’s thang (his report that is) – The Canada Geese on Green Island are rumored to maybe/probably be the family group from the Basin (see earlier VSR from the summer). Bob Delsandro backs Pete on the “plenty of Harbor Porpoise” statment.


very excited tropicbird
photo by John Drury
From the Skua – a couple of shots sent in from recent Skua trips to Seal and other islands led by Captain John Drury.

First the Tropicbird….We all know the history here, first appearing in the Gulf of Maine in the summer of 2005, our “local” Tropicbird has returned to the gulf each summer since and for the last 7 or 8 of those years it has called Seal Island (part of Vinalhaven) its home. Seal is home to the point that the bird has set up a lair that it uses each year (same spot). People have come from some distances to see this bird and when it’s there it doesn’t disappoint.


Unless this bird somehow nests in the winter in Bermuda or the Bahamas (closest breeding colonies) and then returns to Maine each summer, it’s been figured that this guy’s genes probably are not being passed on any time soon. Arguably not the worst thing (or surprising at all) as he’s set up turf on an island 1000s of miles (or at least a lot of miles) from any other of its kind. Earlier in his career the bird was observed courting Arctic Terns – “close enough” as they say – unsuccessfully as would be expected – terns are just not into that.


sucker! she's not that into you!
photo by john drury
Knowing this you are probably wondering – what if I was to take a fake one (a decoy if you will) and chuck it into the water near Seal Island? Would this Tropicbird even look at it? Captain John found himself in this exact situation, decoy in hand and the decoy maker on the boat. It was destiny that John would (most definitely) be the first (and currently) only guy to ever toss a fake Tropicbird into the Gulf of Maine and actually have a live one come close to check it out. Exciting moments captured…


pucker up!
photo by John Drury
Well, this guy not only took the bait, but he mounted the bait and apparently still’s got the “fire down below” (Bob Seeger – sorry Cathy). We can’t confirm hetero- or homo- sexuality (not that sexual orientation matters) as both sexes look alike but we can confirm that the bird was “horny” (scientific term). After 10 summers of “containing” himself he pounced on the opportunity to have his (probable) first cloacal kiss ever (not sure what kind of dreams Tropicbirds have).


she just kind of floated there
photo by John drury

Whether or not the bird was disappointed by non-responsive actions of the fake one - (she didn’t kiss back at all!) – is hard to tell. Word is though that the bird recognizes John’s boat even more so now, and (seems to) be coming closer to the boat since the decoy session. Looking for that lady with the really hard tail feather? This dude’s got some serious issues.



photo by John Drury
Little Roberts – (7/19) Great Cormorant nests – the VSR often has notesfrom  Great Cormorant nest counts made in June , but we often don’t get reports of their status later in the season. Maybe because most nests fail. Here’s a shot of the last of the Little Roberts nests, which was abandoned by the next day.

Note the eagle about to fly over them. They (them eagles) are the reason for the drop in Great Cormorant nest success.



gone the next day
photo by John Drury
This leaves about two islands (if I am not mistaken) that still have active Great Cormorant nests along the entire coast of Maine – Seal Island and Brimstone Island (the one on the other side of Marshall). Won’t take too many more years like this before there are no more Great Cormorant nests at all around here.

What that means for your weekend after this…


freaky looking critter
photo by Erin Creelman

Caterpillar’s out of the bag - Erin Creelman has sent in a shot of a crazy caterpillar with 4 spikes coming out of it. Efforts to find its identification – SO WE CAN LABEL IT! – have been unfocussed and scatterbrain-like. But it’s so cool looking - even if we CAN’T EVER LABEL IT! … Erin notes more Polyphemus Moths in her area as well.


Lugworm coiled fecal pellet
photo by Banner Moffat

And we end with more Banner Moffat shots, including a few from one of the bird walks where people are dry and smiling. As opposed to this morning’s walk where folks were smiling and soaked.

photo by Banner Moffat
bunch of shags
photo by Banner Moffat

they'll be another VSR shortly. Thanks for coming 'round.

photo by Banner Moffat