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


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report – Dec. 3, 2013

Thanks to MCHT and VLT for their continued support of the VSR

“Are you guys talking about those moths” – The Applied Refrigeration guy


Highlights – Hooded Warbler, Great Cormorant, Northern Shrike, Snow Buntings, Flickers, Jays still mimicking osprey,  and of course – the son of the return of the Winter Moth and expansion of the video contest!


Business - Send us your nature sightings, your nature photos, your nature reports

all are welcomed and appreciated, even the boring ones about lichens and mosses – so send what you got to at .  It helps us stay organized, and we need all the help we can get in that department!

puttin' the "BOS" back in Boston?

PSA - The photo to the left is of what the old timers call a "bag o' sh*t" (BOS). You may have seen this one or others like it at Lane' Island or along the Huber Trail. Bagged and dropped (or a very weak toss) along the trails, it's hard to see what statement is being made here. Is it a"well, I did  pick up after my dog and then just left it there" kind of thing. I know I used to do that with Leif's diapers, but I always prefered the classic "bag it and toss it into a tree" statement (We are on record as being big fans of bags of poop in trees). But those are usually done in the parking lot area, and the message there always seemed to be "why aren't there garbage cans here". Anyway, if you know who is doing this, could you kindly ask them, "why?" and then let us know. I can't wait to find out why anyone would think BOSin' is a  good thing.

a tree came down on
our road. Nun-chucks
are the new chainsaws
Editor’s note – This may seem selfish and probably sounds bad when said aloud, but if you’re sending in a report it is appreciated if you would write it in English, since that is the only language the VSR staff can read. Reports that are “half in English, half in Estonian, half in Spanish, & half in some made up code” (that’s 4 halves for those counting at home) seem kinda “half baked” (the royal “5th half”).  


our young Ninja in training sized up job in front of him.....

We apologize to all Vinalhaveners whom Estonian is your first language, and in truth we would like to accommodate all forms of communication (a VSR edition that strictly uses body language videos would be the spraint!). At this time we are pretty limited in interpretation skills and time (time is of the essence here), and thusly we are as exclusive as we can be – English language only.


and started limbing the tree
Complete sentences and spell check would also be great, but they are certainly not viewed as a requirement.  Here’s a thought on “spell check” written in the traditional “Haikuekee” form, an ancient script from the motherland (fatherland?). enjoy

“What a phony I would be

to pontificate on the beauty of,

 and therefore being an advocate of,

spell check”

Estonian Haikuekee # 4 by kirk gentalen


Seems like just a week ago … we were writing the previous VSR in upstate NY. And it was roughly a week ago. We are excited that hunting season is over (it is, isn’t it?) so we (the collective “we”) can go back out in the woods without wearing that screaming orange that scares away every bird and animal that isn’t dumb enough to be a deer. This is the end of that season wrap up, and we look forward to more time in the woods. For this edition it’s more writing then sightings, ain’t that the way it goes sometimes.


Leif wanted to spend thanksgiving with a mummy
Sightings – Winter Moth – (12/2) – Moths gathered by our kitchen window on Reach Road last night, and Linnell reports seeing a few at her window in town. Looked like it might have only been a trickle and then I went to the store this morning. “Are you guys talking about those moths?” – hell, even the applied refrigeration guy fixing the yogurt cooler at the store saw them!
"They were at the job site and then at the hotel”. (The hotel he was referring to is, of course, the Tide water Inn – “a great place to sip wine and watch some moths!”). Anyway, the applied refrigeration guy continued “At first we thought they were leaves in the wind, and then we realized they were moths! They were little brown moths; they are not poisonous are they?” Never did get a firm feel for where exactly the job site was yesterday (wasn’t the store), but somewhere close on the east side of town. And I told him we (an unspecific “we”) don’t advocate eating the moths, but that fortunately they are not poisonous (wouldn’t that s*ck!


Laura Lazzaro mentioned that her brother’s place on carver’s pond was loaded with moths last evening as well – and he doesn’t really doesn’t have many trees! The Town Hall area was pretty significantly hit last year, and with the patch of hardwoods extending from Town hall to the water it’s not surprising if this area has some big ol’ flights over the next couple of weeks.


Back to the contest“yeah, but did you get any videos of them?” – try asking that question to a story teller who’s obviously disturbed by the moths. Anyway, the 1st annual Winter Moth video contest is in full gear and the rules are simple. Find some moths and take a 10 second video of them. If you don’t use the video feature on your (whatever you taking video with) them it’s not a bad idea to take a couple of videos. Pick your favorite and send it in! Any accompanying audio commentary does not have to be in English.


watched this adorable cat hunt sparrows out at state beach
i have to admit i am tempted to bite every sparrow i see.
it's the cat in me
Selfie contest – Some readers may not be savvy with video or have options of taking any (videoless), and we here at the VSR don’t want those “videoly impaired” To feel they can't be in the Winter Moth contest! Well, we at the VSR just learned what the current slang word “selfie” means and its different then what it meant when I was growing up. In modern times “selfie” refers to a picture you took of yourself (the current “selfie” only makes you go blind if you leave the flash on). A “selfie” might be taken when the photographer is next to someone or something that’s “important” or if they want to show that they’ve gotten their figure back only 3 weeks after giving birth. Or one might be taken to document some special engagement – like a winter moth flight! So get yourself a selfie or two of “you and the insect”,  pick your favorite and send them in! Everyone’s a winner in VSR contests, even those that never enter anything – so congratulations everyone! Good things come to those who do little. Or something like that…


what are you looking at?
photo by John Drury

Bird stuff - Pat Lundlom reports a male Hooded Warbler in her front yard (11/21 or so). Pat spotted the bird, noted characteristics and differences between this and other birds she, being an observer, was more familiar with. She sent in a wonderful description of the bird to the VSR, which was clearly a Hooded Warbler (old friend from my adventure valley days in Carrollton, Ohio). Pat then confirmed the ID when she went back to the bird book look up. The entire exchange took 3 emails and was full of niceties. Thanks Pat!


apparently he gives one, and its sizable
photo by John Drury
Great Cormorant – Greens Island -  (11/18) – John Drury reports a young Great Cormorant “on the rocks” out on Greens. Where’s a Great Cormorant to go during a storm? Along John’s shore of course. John got these great photos and reports that the cormorant left before any Great Horneds got it. Common loon also seen along shore. Thanks for sharing John.

Young and great
photo by John Drury

Also from John  - on the water– out on the Bay (11/17)  “saw a pomarine Skua, purple sands, lots of Black – legged Kittiwake in the bay, snow bunting, peregrine, eagle, mourning dove, tree sparrow, juncos, hermit thrush, flicker”

harlequins are the best
photo by John Drury

Brimstone Island (11/22) – “lots of Harlequins. some butterbilled coots, a beautiful male Harrier over Roberts is.” Very cool!




common loon
photo by John Drury



Jays mimicking osprey

(an Estonian anthropomorphic haikuekee) by kirk gentalen


Jays still mimicking osprey

Though none have been seen in months

Doesn’t make them seem so smart


Are they trying to scare fish or something?

Or are they making fun of osprey for sounding the way they do?

When you think of it there is a hint of sarcasm there.

As there is everywhere in nature.

Figure that our coyote laughed with every deer kill

“that’s the sound you make when I dig my teeth into your neck? Sissy ungulates.”


snow buntings
Snow Buntings and Shrikeright on schedule – Ten years ago I was told that I was “very lucky” to see Snow Buntings out at State Beach. Well, I’ve been “getting lucky (in Kentucky)” for 10 years straight as State Beach has been the most consistent spot on the island for finding Snow Buntings in my experience. Last Saturday (11/30) the streak made it to 11 falls in a row with roughly 2 dozen (24 or so – not 2 baker’s dozen – “when I say dozen you know what I mean, boy!”) Snow Buntings on the rocks and causeway road at State Beach, as well as along the beach/rocks at the “far end of the road” where it peters out (apologies to anyone named peter). We love Snow Buntings and we love seeing them on Vinalhaven, and we still consider ourselves lucky to see them, cuz they are so cool.
snow bunting


Northern Shrike – (11/30) Lane’s Island – with the snow buntings under my belt (not literally, that would be weird) we headed to Lane’s in hopes of seeing a Shrike. Over the years Lane’s has been the most consistent spot for Northern Shrike on the island (well, on that island, but you get our drift…) and sure enough this youngster Northern Shrike was found quickly (2 minutes into “our” stroll) and was found to be hunting sparrows and goldfinch around lane’s.
on the hunt - northern shrike


Once again, Shrikes are lovingly referred to as “butcher birds”, as they often with impale victims (birds, insects, little kids) onto thorns or barbed wire as they mark their territories. Whatever happened to the simple, wholesome, traditional family-valued urination for territorial marking? I guess that’s left to species that can smell…


Around the island – Goldfinch, Chickadees, Cardinals, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Blue Jays, murders of crows are pretty numerous these days….Lane’s -Northern Flickers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Song Sparrow, Crow and Raven…. State Beach – Snow Buntings, Hairy Woodpeckers, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, sparrow hunting cat, Old Tails, Red-breasted Mergs, Bufflehead, Common Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Eider, Gannets and Kittiwakes.. the reach – Canada Geese, Red-breasted Mergs, Bufflehead, black Guillemot, Bald Eagle.

two of the main participants in the birth "5 years ago to the day!"

And today was Leif’s 5th birthday. Celebrated ninja style.
See you out there! It's safe to come out now!