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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, October 18, 2013

Welcome to the skeleton Vinalhaven sightings report
 October 18th, 2013

MCHT, VLT and skeletons

“Everybody hates snakes” – skeleton guy from Ninjago


Highlights – Raptors, Ducks, Owls, Sparrows, Fungus, Captain Pete’s report!, snake massacre, more

handsome moth
photo by Sylvia Reiss


yellow-rumped warbler
photo by Sally


Acknowledgement – excuses for  this “tame vsr” range from computer issues to good distractions and baseball playoffs. They are all valid.


Contact us with sightings –

in action

Tiit trick – click on photos and they’ll fill your world, or at least your monitor.


Reminder – Around here Fall means hunting (among other things). I don’t know dates or anything, but I do know that it’s a beautiful time of the year to wear orange.

Awesome pupa infestation
photo by Niall Conlan

Sightings -

Infested pupa - So Niall Conlan sent in this great shot of a pupa. The orange, blue and yellow dots are remnant knobs from the larval state of a Cecropia Moth. This moth recently started "going thru the changes" (metamorphically speaking of course). At some point another critter laid their eggs in the pupa and apparently now the eggs have hatched and the larval are munching on the pupa.


Yellow-rumped Warblers are everywhere. Lots of Golden-crowned Kinglets, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Chickadees are noted.

juvenile white-crowned sparrow
photo by Sally
Birdies- The hawk watch that never ends…(9/28) Tip Toe Mtn - 26 broad winged hawk, 3 osprey , 8 turkey vulture, 2 kestrel, 2 sharp-shin, 1 red-tailed hawk, 3 eagle, 1 merlin, 1 gos hawk, 1 coopers hawk, 25 Mywa, 2 palmer warbler, 2 phoebe, 1 mallard, 1 surf scoter. John Drury up at Tip-toe while we were at Lane’s seeing 4 sharpie, 1 merlin, and 3 bald eagles. As anticipated, the hawk scene up at Tip-toe was way more (like way more) active than the hawkwatch at the southern end of the island. That particular day and in those conditions.

peregrine on the hunt on Seal Island
photo by John Drury

comb jellies
photo by John Drury
On the water - Pete's log - This week 10/8 - 10/14

Shags and Gulls. Winter plumage Guillemonts, White winged Scoters and Surf Scoters. A couple of Gannets.
Also Ospreys twice.
Bonnaparts Gulls, Black Ducks and on Sunday Common Mergansers.

Beautiful weather too. "We're gonna pay for this"
pipefish caught off greens
photo by John drury
there you have it - we are gonna pay for this......Thanks Captain Pete!

Pipefish caught out on greens. Comb jellies photographed as well. Peregrines at Seal Island!

nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow
Sparrows – Around here “fall” means “sparrows” (among other things) and some of our favorite haunts for sparrow searches are State Beach, Lane’s Beach (far end), and most roadsides (in the fall sparrows are often the birds bailing from the sides of the road you are barreling down). Sally’s yard also appears to be a spot for sparrows to visit as she sent in this great picture of a young, first fall White-crowned Sparrow on a rock (10/5). That was the same day I (the royal “I”) had a huge 6 sparrow day! 6 doesn’t sound like much, but that’s huge in my experience out here. Song, Savannah, White-crowned, White-throated, Swamp and Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows. Some years sparrows line the roads and flutter fly as one drives by. Not the case this year so far in my experience, a fair amount of sparrows being seen nonetheless.  We like sparrows.


Ducks – Around here “fall” means “ducks” (among other things) and we are starting to see waterfowl trickling in and trickling thru (story of my life). Gets you a little excited for the late fall and winter “sea duck” scene.


Folly Pond – (10/3) 15+ Wood Ducks (10+ Drakes), 10 Mallard, 4 Black Ducks, and a Bald Eagle (not a duck, but more of a duck-eater)Wood Ducks, Mallards and Black Ducks have been consistent at Folly Pond since….


Hooded Mergansers are back! Seen at Pleasant River and Carver’s Pond (10+ on 10/14)…


flicker eating mountain ash berries
Seal Bay/Huber – (10/8) 23 Surf Scoter, lots of Black Guillemot, Bonaparte’s Gulls…and there continues to be all three in numbers. Soon Old-tailed Ducks, Goldeneye, Bufflehead, and Merganser to join! Fall/Winter is when Seal Bay is at its (non-human) liveliest.

there were a lot of
robins in the basin
Other birds – Robins and Flickers. Basin (10/16) – While touching up some bridging the other day a large amount of activity was noted in the Mountain Ash long the Platform trail (you know that Mountain Ash). Estimates go with 60 Robins, 5 Flickers, and a handful of Cedar Waxwings between the Ash and the Winterberry. Seemed like a lot. Probably not many berries left now.

found this mink den out on Pond Island.
Owls – Great Horned – By this time I would assume it’s known that we (the collective vinalhaven “we”) have a lot of owls out here (they apparently like to cross water), many migrating thru, some overwintering and a bunch are breeders.


found some dodder out
Great Horneds may be dispersing as reports are coming in from Calderwood Neck, Hog Swamp, Greens Island, The Basin, Carver’s Pond and the Pumpkin Ridge area. Yes, there are at least 7 Great Horned Owl nests on Vinalhaven (& surrounding islands not including North Haven)…..VSR devotees may remember that October is international Coastal New England Saw-whet Owl Month. Gagillions of these magnificently small owls are making their way from north of here to south of here. Remember when the owl banders caught 26 different juvenile owls at Huber a few Octobers back? Or the Saw-whets that showed up in town, by the fire department, or the ones sent to Avian Haven last year….how do you think they did?...Anyway, and so it is such, and as it be such shall it be unto you….Willie Drury reports hearing Saw-whet(s) out on Greens last week. Now is the time! That < beep> in the night could be telling you something…here’s some of our favorite owls over the years on Vinalhaven…

this snake was seen 1 mile away from the closest
road. it was deemed safe
Snake Massacre 2013!!!! continues thru mid-October, new roadkill snakes being spotted daily on bikes rides, many corpses disappearing within 24hrs. We are happy for the island’s scavengers (non-human flavors) like the raccoons, crows and shrews who are undoubtedly enjoying the roadside feasts. And while many of us (humans) are uneasy with snakes (some even have a serious aversion to them) I think we can all agree that we don’t mind them eating mice and voles. (we do like mice less than snakes). But they are snakes and they give us the heebee-geebees so seeing their roadkill isn’t all that bad, doesn’t make it as sad as let’s say a turtle (unless you are a turtle hater).


instead of pictures of dead snakes we have included
this photo of Leif's Guinea Pig- Brudder

What can be said about this whole massacre? Seems like snakes are doing good this year other than getting run over on the roads. It was not uncommon to have bike rides this fall with multiple living, dead or dying snakes spotted. One ride tallied 10 roadkill snakes (ran out of fingers). There seems to be way more roadkill snakes than in the last 10 falls past. Or at least there seems to be, should have been clicking off road kill all these years.


Maybe it’s just timing, we (the royal “we”) have been seeing more live snakes in the woods as well (one or two a day or so) which leads us to skeptically conclude that this has been a “good” year for snakes (as opposed to butterflies, for which this year pretty much “sucks”).  That was a lot of words to say very little. Inefficient.

there has been a nice burst
of rosy russula lately

Fungus – Around here “fall” means “fungus” (among other things) and this fall is like all the rest “in those regards”, except a little different. Sure, we are finding all the Honey Mushrooms of our dreams, multiple patches on each trail. But recent moisture has resulted in a flush rush of Russulas (10/16 Basin Platform trail). Along with the Russulas has been a nice run of co-family members the Milkies (Lactarius or is it “the lactarii”). Anyway, it’s truly “Whatever gets you milking!!!” as milky fans, or “Lacto-heads”, say.


irregular earth tongues
are this color

Irregular Earth Tongues are plenty at Huber and along the Basin Trails.


(not a cort) 
Corts (Cortinaceae, Cortinarius (I think)) are up, but not as extensive as years past. Look for the rust colored (isn’t it cool that “rusts” are fungus and they get to have a color named after them!) spore prints showing up on “moss and other beings of that other kingdom that mostly makes their own food!”…



Fungus of the month, if not more - the Shaggy Mane. We had a photo or two in the last VSR that Stevie and Linnell sent in. I ended up finding a patch along the road on Granite Island. I returned two days later to complete the “pre and post liquification” pictures. The cap liquefies and the ink is loaded with spores.

camera 1

Thinking more about these fungus makes me wonder why this isn’t the Maine state mushroom? Shaggy Mane? It’s a no brainer…..


camera 2
good times

 Time to post. Hope you have a nice weekend!!!!!!