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


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report
May 1st, 2014

Brought to you by VLT and MCHT

“Could I have seen a Carolina Wren at a feeder on the pond?”


check out this big guy
Highlights – brown thrasher, pine and palm warblers, salamanders and eggs, savannah sparrow, white-winged crossbill, wood duck, floating green sludge, fungus, slime mold, mourning cloaks, and all kinds of cool stuff.


with my trusty assistant by my side,
a spotted salamander is introduced to the Pre-K class
photo by Sue Dempster 
Kid stuff – A few weeks back we (the royal “we”) “snagged” our yearly allotment of 4 spotted salamanders from the wild. They (the salamanders) were innocently crossing round-the-island road en route to vernal pools and hot salamander action to be had within such safe waters. Their reward for being eager, for being the first to cross the road in a long night of road crossing, was to be plucked by a bunch of yahoos with dead battery headlamps and the tiniest little lights. Like the ones on key chains. Man. Thank goodness cars have headlights.


the kids had options to touch, hold or just check
the manders out. Brielle opted to hold
photo by Sue Dempster

Anyway, we appreciate these four and over the next few weeks they will make the rounds with the hope that every kid (who wants to) gets to handle one of them. Dozens of fingers have appreciated them already, with many more to come! These are patient salamanders. Here are some shots from the pre-k visit – thanks to Sue and the pre-K crew - Wanda and Meg for having us. Good times! We'll be back with eggs soon!

fiddleheads pokin'
plenty of sign of spring around
like my first tick!
Salamander loaning business – putting “non” in non-profit. If you want to borrow a pair of salamanders for a night or more just contact us here at . They make really boring pets, but are easy to take care of at the same time, but are not good alarm amphibians – watch salamanders. But hey, why not?

fox rocks spotted salamander eggs - some are milky, these are in focus

brown thrasher
photo by Karen Oakes

Sightings – cool songbirds – Carolina Wren on skin hill and the town hall area. More than likely the same individual that spent a chunk of the winter at Sally’s feeding station up on the hill. It’s a dude apparently as it was singing its “little cloaca off” up by the Town Hall (4/29 and many other days). The dude was also spotted at another feeder close by and this sighting was reported to me in the checkout line at the store. (My personal favorite place to be told sightings, by far). Cool to hear – “tea kettle, tea kettle, tea kettle”. Takes me back to Georgia. And so does the next one…


Karen’s yard – (4/20) Karen Oakes sent in a few shots of some recent visitors to her yard. Brown Thrasher is the Georgia state bird, one that’s around the island (Vinalhaven, not Georgia), but never too many of them. Good to hear!

I bet its flicking it's tail
photo by Karen Oakes

Also…Eastern Phoebe – another nice Karen Oakes shot- these early flycatchers have been seen around the island the last few weeks, lane’s, Norton’s point, Poole’s hill, and probably other places. We like phoebes cuz they don’t mind going to the ground to get some grub. A flycatcher that doesn’t have to wait for bugs to fly! Groundcatcher.

Karen also reports Fox sparrow and Wood ducks. Thanks for sharing Karen!

(4/18) first of the year Great Blue Heron on Old Harbor Pond
photo by Jim Clayter
"we were fond of the flowers
that mimic meat"

Lists – Basin – (4/18) Singing – winter wren, black-capped chickadee, brown creeper, golden-crowned kinglet, red-breasted nuthatch, purple finch…..loads of red-breasted merganser in the lobster pound.

some of the merganser crammed into the ol' lobster pound.

not all make it for sure
photo by John Drury

what says spring more than
hairy black cups?
Huber – (4/18) Hermit Thrush, Dark-eyed junco, goldfinch…225 Surf Scoter, 29 Bufflehead, 6 Common Eider, 6 Common Goldeneye – lots of scoters here – nice staging area on migration north – zero scoters a few weeks ago, hundreds these days. Fungus – Hairy Black Cup, Orange Jelly, Tree Ear


From the water – Cap’t Pete reports loads of surf scoters from the ferry – showin’ up on the radar no less! Lots of loons as well. Plus this green sludge. Lots of it from the ferry!

or this green grossness

Lane’s – (4/18) American kestrel, Palm Warbler, Song Sparrow, Purple Finch… (4/29) Eastern Phoebe, Northern Harrier

right on schedule - palmer warbler.
well, 2 of them are on schedule.
the female kestrel spent much
time on this perch. there is a
beautiful snowy owl pellet below
that rock

kestrels tear, leaving lovely treats and treasures along trails

fur speaks of kestrel
the scat kinda goes
against the
"lift the tail" stereotype
but that's another story

31 Reach Road – (4/19) Pine Warbler

come on, we even have butterflies! mourning cloak
or at least butterfly
Bike Ride – (4/25) – 31 Reach road - Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Winter Wren, White-crowned Sparrow….Folly Pond – Wood duck, osprey, bufflehead, mallard duck, black duck, goldfinch, blue jay, belted kingfisher bathing…Armburst Hill – Mourning Cloak butterfly, Goldfinch, Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned kinglet, bufflehead, osprey, raven, shag, chickadee…Lane’s – spring peepers, purple finch, flicker, osprey, yellow-rumped warbler…..along the road – Eastern Phoebe, red-winged blackbird, brown creeper, robin, turkey vulture…

spring cleaning

In summary - Sweet bike ride – highlight – watching the belted kingfisher bathe in folly pond. Only seen this once before (I think), kingfishers bathe by slamming into the water over and over again, back and forth in somewhat of a straight line, splashing and shaking. Plus there was just about everybody (birdwise) seen on the ride. Now it’s really cold again.


spring moult
Fox Rocks (with Leif) – (4/27) Spotted salamander eggs!, 2 bald eagles, osprey, 6 vultures, skunk cabbage, TINY TICK – - note on the salamander eggs - we found about a dozen sets of eggs where the main creek runs thru the birches. Some sets were attached to fallen branches in the main channel of the small creek, the deeper spots that are bound to last if the main creek goes dry. We also found a whole bunch that were loose but at least partially hidden under leaves. Those were interesting; I have not seen “unattached” spotted salamander eggs before. We’ll return in a few weeks to see what the moisture status for those egg sacs is/are.

lots of eggs at fox rocks

some were loose

"living free and in the wild"

leif is good and gentle on the release
wolf's milk that survived the winter.
so to speak.

Long Cove (4/28) – White-winged Crossbill, Brown Creeper, Loons, Wolf’s milk slime, Orange Jelly.


Norton’s Point loop (4/30) – Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Flicker, Phoebe, Goldfinch, Palm, Song and Savannah Sparrow. Otter camera.


favorite latrine from the ferry
lairey's right at the narrows,

"a winter's worth of spraint,
worth its weight is ain't"
Otters – Jamus Drury reports spotting an otter along the shores of Talbot Island – from the ferry! Good show!....Norton’s Point (4/30) had the camera out at the otter latrine in the “worst ever” section of Norton’s Point. Got shots of the big one (4/20). Looks like he might have been visible form the last ferry – 5:35pm – as it came thru the reach and around the corner towards the harbor.

and a few more shots from that spot

 alrighty - it's may, its cold, and its raining - time to get outside!
see you on the creature trail
hope that isn't copyrighted