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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


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

this anglerfish flew over the reach one sunset

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report –
January 15th, 2014
VLT & MCHT supported. Thanks as always!

Highlights – Snow Buntings, Northern Goshawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Kittiwakes, Razorbill, Horned Larks and Grebes, Ducks featuring Barrow’s Goldeneye, Scoters, and Oldtails. Otter stuff too!

plesiosaur in the same sunset
they are real reptiles, as opposed
to dinosaurs. or something like that.
Contact – it may take us a few days to respond, but we do love to hear from you! Send your sightings, comments, concerns to the official VSR email –

Tiit trick - if this plesiosaur to the right isn't big enough for you, just click on the photo. Similar to adding water, clicking on any photo makes them bigger. Not sure how to get them small again

what the? pat lundholm caught a squirrel
in her squirrel proof feeder. apparently it showed no signs
of panicing or fear, just kept on eating.
Better Off Mummified (BOM)

skin hill snow bunting
photo by skin hill sally
Sightings Snow Bunting on the hill! The legend of Skin Hill Sally continues! (1/2) During one of those fancy, new fangled “named” winter storms – might have been during “Pliny the elder” – as saw her first Snow Bunting and she didn’t have to leave her yard! (1/2) Snow Buntings (and other wintry songbirds) looked to refuel and for refuge on our island paradise.  

snow bunting
photo by Skin Hill Sally


As mentioned, this was not only the first Snow Bunting Sally has seen at her feeders, but the first Snow Bunting she has ever seen (VNM!). Congrats to you Skin Hill Sally at a fine VNM, finest kind in fact!


these are snowshoe hare tracks.

Otters – after the last VSR was posted Ali “most likely to see an otter from her window” McCarthy wrote to report sightings of many sets of tracks and trails thru the snow on the ice that is Carver’s Pond.  A “spot of historical importance -  otterly speaking of course” or “SOHI-OSOC”, the timing of Ali’s reports coincide with the


nice otter belly slide
photo by John drury
came out to pee?
photo by John Drury
Big guy – John Drury sent in these photos of otter slides out on Greens. Looked to be from a single, somewhat large individual, the slide and marking area are the Drury’s local “SOHI-OSOC”, with many years with consecutive otter sign. Might this be the same individual tracked at Lane’s and heading into Old harbor pond in the last VSR? Speculation as such begs us to remind ourselves and readers that we don’t know spraint about the otters out here. We think there are a lot.



hoofin' it
photo by Kerry Hardy
Ferry Rides – The Reach – Kerry Hardy, VLT steward, got a shot of a White-tailed Deer slow tailing it across the Reach, “heading south out of Vinalhaven” presumably heading to Greens. Nice moment! Agile swimmers for sure, thanks for sharing!



oldtails often wait for the ferry to get really close
before taking off
Captain Pete reports seeing a Goshawk crossing the Narrows from Leadbetter to Laireys. Goshawks have been seen on this crossing historically, and rarely. Good spot Pete! Now look where you’re driving!


largely comprised of kittiwakes
and Ring billeds.
took like forever to get past
(1/8) 7am Ferry to Rockland – lots of ducks – Common Eider, Hooded Merganser (pair), Black Duck, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Merganser, Oldtail ducks (many), Surf Scoter, Common Loon (20+), 30+ Black Guillemot, 70+ Razorbill, 200+ Kittiwakes, 200+ Ring-billeds. Story here – large feeding somewhat loose group of 100s of gulls, mostly Ring-billeds and Kittiwakes. Many razorbills included and sprinkled throughout the crossing. Took several minutes to pass feeding group.  Been a good winter for Ring-billeds…..John Drury also reports 100 Kittiwake, and several Razorbill from a ferry crossing. No date/time available.

we appreciate the way kittiwakes look.
black tips, solid yellow bill, and the dark line thing across the neck

4 kittiwakes and a ring-billed.
gulls make winter ferry rides even funner


add first it was a warlrus
then it became utterly fantastic

Basin – (1/12) Granite Island Trail – 20 Bufflehead, 5 Common Goldeneye, 15 Black Duck, 9, Surf Scoter, 2 Horned Grebe, 1 Common Loon, 2 Oldtails, 10 Ring-billed Gulls. 1 Harbor Seal - 

Story here – 2 horned grebes in the basin, by the deep spot. Have only seen one Horned Grebe in the basin before – maybe 6 years ago or so. Good year for Horned Grebe – also seen off Calderwood neck.


Basin– (1/13) – Platform trail – 6 Oldtails, 10+ Common Goldeneye, 1 Barrow Goldeneye, 3 Red-breasted Merg, 10 Bufflehead, 4 Black Duck, 10 Ring-billed Gulls, 10 Black-capped Chickadees, 3 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 2 Hairy Woodpecker, 3 Golden-crowned Kinglet, 1 Blue Jay, Murder of crows. Mammals – Red squirrel (100 too many!), 3 Harbor Seal also - “SOHI-OSOC” (spot of historic importance – otterly speaking of course) – where the fresh water meets the salt! ……Story here – first Barrow’s Goldeneye of the season. State threatened or something like that. Year 1-5 over winter in the Basin. Cool otter scat at historic site.


Common vs. Barrows in the Basin. Barrow's has a large, crescent moon face tattoo, and white spots on the back separated from the wings by a black line.

sometime during the freeze we found this woolly bear cruisin'.


State Beach – (1/5) Rough-legged Hawk, 8 Purple Sandpipers, 6 Snow Buntings, 6 Horned Larks, Eiders, Oldtails, Red-breasted Mergs, Bufflehead, Common Loons, Great Cormorants….(1/12) Rough-legged Hawk, 2 Common Goldeneye, 7 Red-breasted Mergs, 8 Black Ducks, White-winged Scoter, Eiders, Bufflehead, 10+ Ring-billed Gull – story here – rough-legged still visible on Sheep Island (with scope). Snow Buntings and Horned Larks came in hungry after storm, good to see White-winged Scoter.  

off shore breezes in california are often warm.
this breeze at State Beach was not warm

Greens – immature Great Cormorant seen roosting on John Drury’s pier. Classic.

lane's island beach glaciers

prickers on ice


redirectional by some tiny hopping bird


there are deer
and there are beds on lane's
Lane’s Island – (1/4) Shrike and Buttbutts…Myrtle Warblers, Flickers...John Drury reports seeing deer

mink dragged its claws on a bound

...good tracks, with mink and tiny songbird.
tasty treats are treasures found in the snow
the gateway to bliss, easy prey



voles are low on the food chain
they are why predators are here

this mink hesitated while crossing a trail,
maybe listened up a bit,
didn't turn to look either way
just kept going

and we have been enjoying the new years

the snow has been tasty, first a polar vortex and now a heat wave.