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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


Sunday, November 24, 2013

state beach

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report-
November 23rd, 2013
Highlights – Bat stuff – including bat hopping video, Red-throated Loon, Carolina Wren, Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Gannets, evolution of a Sunset, Yellowlegs falls in the water, blah, blah, blah and other stuff.


this deer is dead
Alright – Silly distractions and hunting season have left this VSR feeling “a little thin”. At this time of the year we keep out of the woods as much as sanity allows. I was actually told I was “brave” the other day for going in the woods. My being “brave” well – “it could happen” (Judy Tenuta). I didn’t even come close to being shot that day. Anyway – continue to wear Orange when out and about.


Contact the . for all of your “contactual needs”, naturally speaking of course.


Tiit trick – “click it or squint it!” Click the photos to enlarge.

this 4th year eagle probable
ate some of the deer above

Congrats - On behalf of everyone who has ever read a VSR, we extent a huge “congratulations” to Colleen and Jim Conlan on being the first married team (not on the VSR staff) to have both partners send in photos for a particular VSR. I think we all knew it was going to be them.


A certificate in honor of their achievement is in the mail with the certificate for the owl band Faith Osgood and I reported. In other words, it may take a while. You still should be touched by such an honor. Here’s what they sent in…  


bat out of the belfry
photo by Jim Conlan
Sightings – What’s new with the Conlans? - Bat stuff – Not sure if this means anything, but we (the royal “we”) receive more photos and reports of bats from turbine neighbors than from anywhere else on the island. (Don’t worry; we’re confident “P-Dol” did a thorough bat study of the area).


Anyway, Jim sent in this photo of what appears to be a Northern Myotis Bat (Myotis septentrionalis) doing push-ups or something. Note the “long ears and long narrow tragus” (judgment call and not a nice one – sorry sensitive ear and tragus people) and what appears to be “pinkish/brown facial skin”.  For those wondering - “The tragus is used in echolocation to help direct sound to the ear”- Fiona Reid, Peterson Guide to Mammals of N.A. . I thought that was called “the ear”. Anyway…

help I'm a rock
Ancient Estonian proverb – “Where the tragus starts and the ear begins, there is elfin treasure to be had”

Jim also shares this video of the same bat bouncing along the ground. Or hopping. Or something. Maybe too many fermented apples? We (the royal “we” again) joke of course, these aren’t fruit bats, but seeing a bat in this state raising concerns for sure. Colleen thought he was hurt, Jim thought it might have been cold and disoriented. We are certainly not Bat-ologists or anything, but it looks like something is up with this dude. No white-nose fungus though, so it has that going for him….which is nice. He hopped over to some shrubs, hung out and relaxed and has not been seen since – alive….or dead or whatever. Anyone know a good bat interpreter? 



snail with white stuff. hand not identified
photo by Colleen Conlan
Snail StuffColleen Conlan sent in this photo of a land snail with “white stuff” on it. The photo was sent on “behalf of Island Cultivations crew” – so here’s a quick VSR shout out to the crew! Glad to know you are out there and looking! Anyway, back to the snail….


Colleen reports – “We see these little yellow snails all season long. Now all of them seem to be covered over with this white lid.” And asks “ Do snails close up shop for the winter?”.


“Boy, man. God, spraint” – A snail question! Where’s that land snail guy when you need him?

here's the ear of a saw-whet owl
a dead one -

Well, a quick “something” search turned up a Wiki (“where would we be without wiki?” – Jersey state motto) page on land snails. Here’s what we lifted from the “hibernations and estivation”


Hibernation and estivation

Some snails hibernate during the winter (typically October through April in the Northern Hemisphere). They may also estivate in the summer in drought conditions. If snails are not able to hibernate, the snail can die or its species may even go extinct like the Aldabra banded snail. To stay moist during hibernation, a snail seals its shell opening with a dry layer of mucus called an epiphragm.” – wiki

amy and leif checking out the
dead saw-whet

Wiki is so funny. First off, who the hell wrote this?

Snail Tangent Alert! – STA! - “If snails are not able to hibernate, the snail can die or its species may even go extinct like the aldabra banded snail.” This kind of implies that the Aldabra Banded snail went extinct because it wasn’t able to hibernate. That might be a stretch, word is a “change in the weather” – (less rainfall – longer, hotter summers) on the one atoll in the Indian Ocean where the snail was found resulted in its quick descent from super numerous to no more. Here’s what wiki says about the Aldabra Banded Snail –

“The Aldabra banded snail was endemic to Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean. In 1906 it was the most common snail species on the atoll.[5][6]

wolf's milk is beautiful this time of year
After 1976 however, only adult snails were found on Aldabra, and no live individuals have been found at all since 1997.[3] Researchers believe that this species became extinct during the late 1990s, after a series of unusually long, hot, and dry summers caused by climate change. These summers appear to have killed off a large number of the younger snails.”

Nice one people. Sure, being able to estivate for the summer would have been good trick for these gastropods, but the snails never had to close up shop before so their lack of that certain adaptation can’t really be blamed for their demise. You could also say their lack of wings caused their extinction – if they could have flown away they would have survived! Anyway-  STA over! “Nice tangent” as they say. Or, “what are we talking about?”.

does this Merulius undercarriage make you tremble?


Anyway, so the white stuff is probably some white mucus drying up to make the “epiphragm” or protective covering that allows them to stay moist and survive the winter. Anyway, that’s it about snails for now. Thanks for sharing!


Funky Tweeters – (Bird spraint) -


Wren and suet
photo by Sally
Skin Hill – Carolina Wren – (The legendary) Skin Hill Sally got some sweet Carolina Wren shots from her feeding station (11/14). A Carolina Wren was reported the same day (or around then) from Camden (thanks for the tip “K-Lin”). Anyway, readers will remember that a Carolina Wren spent much of last winter on Skin Hill, tapping into several feeding stations fir grub. No word on whether this dude is “hangin’ on the hill” still today. Very few of us have ever seen a Carolina Wren on Vinalhaven, I certainly have not seen one….

wren looking good
photo by Sally
Cardinals at the Delsandros -  Word has it that a pair of Cardinals were observed feeding at the Delsandro feeders recently. Sofia Delsandro (age of 4 soon to be 5! – Happy Birthday Sofia!) was quoted as saying “we have to tell Kirky about this” while watching the Cardinals! I am honored even more than when people say “I thought of you when I saw some scat”! We look forward to Sofia’s observations in the future as well!

Evolution of a sunset in 9 phases– (11/19) was a nice evening for a sunset. This is the best time of the year for sunsets. Thank you pollution from Ohio!!!!!!!
phase 1 - got there a little too early
phase 2 - tuckin' behind some clouds




phase 3 - still behind clouds



phase 4 - closer

phase 5 - sunlight going up!

phase 6 - out of the way ferry!!!

phase 7 - have you set yet?

phase 8 - cool lines

phase 9 - afterburn

great cormorants on "great cormorant rock"
Ferry Rides – From the mouth of Captain Pete! – Peter Drury told us (the royal “us”) the other day that he had seen a Razorbill the day before (11/20). Coincidently, Pete mentioned this minutes after I (the royal “I”) had seen one from the ferry (11/21). No numbers or anything, but a lot of “ winter friends” that make the ferry ride a pleasure for everyone have returned. Here’s what we’ve seen on a few rides recently….Red-throated Loon, Common Loon, Oldtails, Red-necked Grebe, loads of Guillemots, Razorbill, Bonaparte’s Gulls, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Rd-breasted Mergansers, Surf Scoters, Bufflehead, Common Eiders, Bald Eagles, Iceland Gull, Northern Gannet, Great Cormorants.
crappy kittiwake photo
hi, i'm an iceland gull



surf scoters getting the heck
out of dodge - or the way!

Red-throated Loon – Greens Island - John Drury reports a Red-throated Loon fly-by (11/1) …”also had bufflehead oct 30, purpl sand nov 1, red throat loon nov 1, oldsquaw nov 1”
Always lots to see on Greens. Thanks for sharing!

Northern Gannet
photo by John Drury

Around the island – State Beach – Red-necked Grebes (high counts – 40+), Oldtails, Northern Gannet, Black Guillemots, sunsets….Pleasant River – Hooded Mergs, Bonaparte’s Gulls, Greater Yellowlegs, Bald Eagles…Carver’s Pond – Canada Geese, Hooded Mergs, Bufflehead, Bald Eagles…

a bin of loons


it all started out fine

Greater Yellowlegs knocked over by incoming tide - Pleasant River.

"what the...?"

i meant to do that

road to recovery

Bonaparte's Gulls - have been stating their presence with authority at Pleasant River, Basin Bridge and from the Ferry. These shots were from the basin bridge. Good spot to look for Bonies and Balds (eagles that is)

There is probably a lot more that is being overlooked here. That's the way it goes.
on the other hand we jumped into a leaf pile, so nothing was overlooked at all. here's a couple of videos
Anyway, we’ll see you out there!