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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, April 16, 2014

Welcome to the vinalhaven sightings report

April 16th, 2014


MCHT and VLT approved, or at least supported


“loving me some birds” – skin hill sally



Highlights American wigeon, snow, salamanders, peepers, fox sparrow, killdeer, woodcocks, pellets, crossbills, creepers, winter wren, ruby-crowned kinglets, phoebe, wormin’, osprey, pellets, laughing gull, great egret, great blue heron, great!

Business – contact us - hey , if you want to send in photos and sightings of stuff you have seen around vinalhaven and stuff – – is the place to send these. They are greatly appreciated!


Tiit Trick – hey, click on the photos and they fill up your screen! Try it! I dare you!


Reality – I am not feeling all that groovy and want to get this thing out before too long. Might not be the most dynamic of the VSRs, more photos than writing – which might not be a bad thing. Cheers!


first red-winged of the season
photo by Jim Clayter
SightingsRound the island – (4/16) Snow!!!!!!!, (4/15) Salamander drive (more below)…Jim Clayter reports the first Red-winged Blackbird at his feeder (3/31) Lots of Ruby-crowned Kinglets around the last few days. Loads of Flickers and Song Sparrows as well….Long Cove (4/7-8) – 2 more long-eared owl pellets, 5 White-winged crossbills circling ofter, brown creeper and winter wren singing!.....Penobscot Island – (4/12) Jonathan Labaree reports an eagle on the nest, sitting tight!...Lane’s – more Shrike and Long-eared Pellets, Flickers, lots of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Eastern Phoebe, others….Calderwood Island – (4/9) Horned Grebe, Bald eagle, Sharpie with a song-sparrow...Boondoggle - Greater Yellowlegs

"poop and pebble"
photo by Jonathan Labaree

The coves are lined with gulls, doin’ their wormin’ thing!


Spring Peepers – or about freakin’ time! - This was my first spring in Maine where I hadn’t heard peepers before April 1st. I think it was April 6th or something. Crazy. Anyway, Linnell Mather – who is awesome with numbers and data – has 11 years of data from her zone near carvers and first heard them (4/11) – which is on the later side of when she first hears them, but not too late. Anyway, they seem to be making up for their “tardiness” by singing their little amphidiaphrams out! Good to hear; now they are under snow


Linnell - Same date as 2011, towards the end of the usual range of 4/1-4/11 (based
on 11 years of observation from this location.)


Fox Sparrow
photo by Sally
Skin Hill Sally – in the yard - Skin Hill (4/1)Fox Sparrow. A new one for Sally’s super productive feeding station up on the hill and not a common sight anywhere on the island at all. Jim Clayter saw some at his station a day later or so (Pond Street), but I can only remember seeing one in ten years out here, and that was 10 years ago on Lane’s Island. Maybe when we lived at Bob and Alicia’s we saw some. Anyway – a big and different sparrow – the Fox sparrow (Passerella iliaca) is now considered (somewhat at least) to be 4 separate species with the Redd Foxx Sparrow (Passerella fred sanfordii) being the species routinely seen in Maine in migration and that breeds from Newfoundland to Alaska, and maybe as far south as northern Maine. Nice shot and nice VNM!


male American wigeon
photo by sally
Sally by the water - ventured out with her camera to carver’s and the thorofare and picked up these nice duck shots – including an American Wigeon in carver’s! Yes, yet another bird with white noggin’ feathers in a pseudo attempt to achieve what we in the business call “baldness”. This male bad boy is first I have heard of for Vinalhaven (wigeon wise) and John Drury (keeper of the list) has not heard of one being seen out here before. So HATS off to you Sally on a personal VNM and an island wide VNM! Very cool!

American wigeon
photo by Sally

Thorofare – Sally got these great shots of Surf Scoter and Oldtail ducks. Surf Scoters lined up and looking tough. Nice shots Sally! Thanks for sharing…

surf scoters in formation
photo by Sally
photo by Sally

great egret
photo by Jim Clayter
and speaking of Jim Clayter - here's what Jim sent in from yesterday! Good ol' Great Egret from Old Harbor Pond. Jim sees more egrets and herons than anyone, I think.

Killdeer – Jim Clayter sent this shot in – taken from his truck out in front of his place – of a Killdeer. Amy Palmer has been seeing some catching a lee from the wind by the school.

photo by Jim Clayter
woodcock in the yard
seatbelt for my arm

greens island woodcock
photo by john drury
Woodcocks galore!Reach Road – I spotted a woodcock in yard puddle I had seen one in 3 years ago. I snuck over and couldn’t find it. Then I saw it and while positioning myself for the shot 3 other woodcocks took off from all around me. It was awesome – here’s the photo that came out of it….Greens – John Drury sent in this woodcock shot from his end of greens….and of course a thanks to the folks who came to lane’s for the show on the 5th – whole bunch of great scope views that night of a really close woodcock, even a fly by that had a few of us duckin’ for our lives. Now I know what worms go thru. Anyway – they are still showing off – get out to lane’s and stay til dark! Peent!
line o' snails
photo by Jonathan Labaree


drippy mergansers
photo by John Drury
From the ferry and on greens with Capt’n Pete -
On 2 April I saw a Great Blue Heron on Greens Island, I also saw a Woodcock just at sunset the same day.
Calderwood was lovely that day

Today, 11 April I saw 30 Surf Scooters, 1 Osprey in Rockland, a bald fulmar (that would be me) and the usual collection of Guillemots, Gulls and gales.  Actually the other novelty was a Laughing Gull.
That is it for now.

thanks peter!
the only photo that came out from the drive
a leech by the side of the road

Runnin' with the manders - a note on the spotted salamander night. 3rd time was the charm for me and leify and amy and Emily cohen as we drove round the island road last night (4/15) for our salamander drive! we spotted about 25 in two passes, collected 4 to show the chittlins'. it seems pretty late, 3 weeks later than the somewhat standard march 20-25th which is "typical" for their runnin' over a limited amount of time (9 years of runnin' with the manders i think i am up to!) 
 anyway, be looking for egg masses soon!

their feet tickle when they walk over your hand

and that's going to be it from here as well. i got the crumblees in my tummy. that's all you need to know! here's some other photos -
honeycomb kid
eat the orange jelly
find the orange jelly
sunsets are popular at our house
long-eared owl pellet
another baldy wannabe
gulls lining up to go wormin'
and yes, the boy is getting big!
loons dangle their feet while flying