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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


Thursday, May 22, 2014

when was the last time
you were as stoked as Addy?
photo by Susan Raven

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report

May 22nd, 2014
With a little help from VLT & MCHT

“I win!” – Linnell Mather


this is what the baby salamanders look like now 
Highlightsall kinds of songbirds – featuring scarlet tanager, indigo bunting, rose-breasted grosbeak, Baltimore oriole, Warblers galore, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-billed Tropicbird, Snakes, Owlets, Slime molds, Fungus. Harbor Seal pups! Other things….


caught in the cold. never moved
And so yes, another VSR in May 2014 – it may seem excessive but there is too much life going on this time of the year. And this VSR is insane – way too many pictures, too many stories and way too much going on.  I miss winter when the learning and sightings come at a reasonable pace.

die juniper, die
photo by Tim Swan

And with that said – why don’t you send in some sightings or photos or whatever to the VSR! is the place to send things if you want the things to be looked at.


this is not the question
Updates, events, burns, flies and shameless plugs and placentia…


But first a question – is there a market for baby seal piñatas?

ruby-throated Hummingbird
photo by Sally
Special Tropicbird update – a report of a Dicksissel sighting on Seal is in, but there is little to no chance of you seeing that one if you go out there. Everybody’s favorite local Red-billed Tropicbird on the other hand has reportedly returned (for like the 10th year now) and if it behaves anything like it has in the past it will be putting on shows all summer. So why not contact local bird legend John Drury, captain of the “Skua”, for a trip out to Seal – which is loaded with Puffins, Razorbill, Terns and many other “things not a tropicbird”. Maybe you’ll even get to see an island or two! Reserve your trip today – 596 - 1841!


Eleanor loved that spring peeper
Here’s a link to John’s sea bird cruise page on the Vinalhaven Chamber of Commerce webpage – full of nice shots and cool sightings -


Upcoming Event – And speaking of Captain John (as opposed to Doctor John) – VLT’s famous annual Warbler Walk is coming up and John will be leading the troops in search of everybody’s favorite family of songbirds – Parulidae (eat it Olive Warbler!). the walk will be from 8am -10amm, Sunday June 1st (like next Sunday!) – meet at VLT’s Skoog Park for carpooling. See you there!


For more info and a schedule of hikes around the island check out VLT’s “Going’s on” page - . Right on.


Joe and Charlene were all smiles
"rolling the flies" down the sands!
Recent eventsWinter Moth Action update - “Fly…be free” – Mork. (5/21) The entire island (represented by 19 folks or so) teamed up with Maine State Forest Entomologist Charlene Donahue and Massachusetts “Flies-r-us” guy Joe Elkinton to witness the release of the long awaited parasitoid tachinid fly Cyzenis albicans. How does this affect your weekend? Simply stated, these are the flies that make winter moth issues disappear. Yes, the flies are here! So turn off your bug zappers!


And they are knocked up! About 1500 (VSR guess) “prego” female flies were released along the Sands where they will lay eggs in Winter Moth infected trees. Here’s what Todd “who the hell is Todd Murray?” Murray has to say about the parasitic fly…


getting ready for release
This fly is a smart one. It is able to smell areas damaged by winter moth and deposits an egg along the chewed margins of the leaves and buds. This egg is then accidentally eaten by the winter moth as it chews on the leaf. The fly maggot waits in the salivary glands until the caterpillar turns into a pupa when it then consumes the winter moth.” - Todd Murray

the flies were a little chilly
 and needed a little help getting going

So cool – Smartfly! And so cool that the VLT sponsored  “Vital Signs Club” members – who both banded and monitored infected trees - helped release the flies. So cool to have so many folk who helped out with the Winter Moth group present at the release as well. We here at the VSR are proud to have participated in spreading the word on Winter Moth and for helping in any way (most likely our own way) in getting the flies out to our island. It still will be a few to ten years before the flies become established and we see results – but we needed to get the flies first. And we got ‘em!  


I love the smell of burnt juniper in the morning
photo by Tim Swan
Burn baby Burn – (5/16) - MCHT teamed up with the Maine State Forest service recently to have another prescribed burn on Calderwood Island. With one of the stated objectives being “burn the damn juniper”, a portion of the central section of the island was lit up like a torch.


that's me making sure no fire snuck up
on us from behind
photo by Tim Swan
Some will remember that another prescribed burn took place on Calderwood a few years back in the hopes of replacing the old-growth juniper with a more socially acceptable flora – like violets, grass or raspberry. 3 years later and the original burn was deemed successful enough to warrant a “return of the drip-torchers” type sequel. Another great day! Looks pretty shocking now, but give it some time….  


epic trifecta
photo by Linnell Mather
Sightings -  Feeder stations – or where to begin – maybe with the award winning shot form Linnell Mather – the epic trifecta of color – Bunting, Grosbeak, and Oriole. All in one!


(5/13) Jim Clayter sent in a photo of the first Indigo Bunting he has ever seen at his feeders (VNM). The bunting spent the better part of two days visiting Jim’s station – “Shy and skittish” is how Jim described the little blue dude. Doesn’t look too skittish in this one!

indigo bunting
photo by Jim Clayter

scarlet tanager
photo by Sally

Baltimore oriole
photo by Sally
Skin Hill Sally has had a flurry of a good time as of late, as she always seems to be having fun with the birds. The Scarlet Tanager was the first she’s seen (VNM), and her yard has been lit up with Baltimore Orioles, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Indigo Bunting, and the continuing Carolina Wren.

sally's Carolina wren - and it is her's
photo by Sally

Kate Bennard at the Friend has a memory stick or two loaded with bird photos she’s taken recently, and today I was fortunate enough to get a peak at some of them – the photos not the memory sticks. Out at her Calderwood Neck feeding station she had shots of Red-bellied Woodpecker, Chipping Sparrow, Blue Jays, Purple Finch and Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Oh yeah, and some of her dog hanging with the birds and staring down squirrels.  


Thanks everyone for sending in your photos and reports, that’s what the VSR is here for…
here's a springtail video....enjoy!


big mouth wood thrush
Around the island – Dyer’s Island – (5/11) Carol Thompson reports both Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting at her feeders….Town Hall – Carolina Wren continues to singing in the woods around the parking lot...State Beach – (5/20)34 Black-bellied Plover, 1 Ruddy Turnstone, 1 Dowitcher, Spotted Sandpiper, Savannah Sparrow… School –(5/21) – Wood Thrush singing its heart out. First one I’ve heard out on Vinalhaven, or seen for that matter. Catch this video! Side note – the Wood thrush is “Jim Doyle’s bird” way back from my Nature’s Classroom days – and it’s the state bird of the District of Columbia! They may not have representation – but they have a cool state bird! And they are not even a state!


black-throated blue warbler
Common Loons – have been heard calling from Carver’s Harbor, the Reach and Long Cove. Now that that’s been said, will someone please go shut them up!  Migrating loons is a common sight these days when looking up. Well, somewhat common – how about often?

female black and white warbler

Sea ducks – From the ferry – (5/12) 9 old tails in Old Harbor, 6 old tails in Rockland Harbor…Thorofare (5/16) 5 Surf Scoter….Huber/Seal Bay (5/18) – 132 Surf Scoter & Common Eiders cloacal kissing!… (5/21) Basin – 2 Red-breasted Mergansers…


Blackburnian Warbler
Lists – Armbrust Hill – (5/12) Black-throated Blue (several), Black-throated Green, Black and White, & Yellow-rumped Warblers, Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat, White-crowned Sparrow, Least Flycatcher….(5/17) –Black and White, Black-throated Green, & Yellow rumped Warblers, Northern Parula, American Redstart, Least Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Carolina Wren…(5/20) – Magnolia, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Yellow-rumped, Black and White, Black-throated Green, and Chestnut-sided Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Parula, Ovenbird, Cedar Waxwings….(5/21) Blackburnian, Black-throated Green, Black and White warblers, Northern Parula, Swamp Sparrow (my favorite sparrow)


cedar waxwing
Huber – (5/18) – Yellow-rumped, Nashville’s and Black-throated Green Warblers, Ovenbirds, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrush,  Ironclad beetles, Winter Wren,

 Pocus Point – (5/18) ‘twas sat upon by a lovely flock of warblers out there – Canada, Black nad White, Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, Blackburnian, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Yellowthroat, Ovenbird, Redstart, and Black-throated Green. ‘Twas awesome!


common yellowthroat
Basin/Wharf Quarry road – (5/21) – Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Yellwo-rumped, Magnolia, Parula, Ovenbird and Redstart. Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, White-winged Crossbill, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, Junco, 2 Seal Pups! White-throated Sparrow as well. – most importantly – First slime of the year (fresh) – Coral Slime! Get out your clickers – its slime time!

may 14th


may 19th
Owlets – apparently that is how you are supposed to spell that word. Anyway, to my delight the Great Horned Owlets were still in the nest as of (5/19), which is “late” compared to my other single year of data. Look how big they’ve gotten – or at least how their wing feathers have come in!

proud parent

scope eyes
photo by amy Palmer
Kid Stuff – Speaking of owlets and Vital signs – as a treat for the Vital Signs kids I took them and a couple of my favorite 5 year olds to “the motherload” Vernal pool up at Perry creek and then over to see the little owlly ones. We all had scope eye by the end of the trip!

the motherload
162 sets of eggs total

vernal pooling builds muscles
looking for treasure
photo by Susan Raven

Armbrust Hill – Kids and ponds = fun. Had a great time with the ARC “perspectives” afterschool program – what a blast! The kids were great – salamander eggs and we even caught a Spring Peeper for all to see. Tons of Dragonfly nymphs, and I learned that if you call them “dragonfly babies” kids *sigh* and like them a lot more.
Thanks for the good times “perspectives” and thanks to Susan Raven for all the work she put into the program!

and a hike to Huber resulted in...
orange jelly eatin..

a visit to roger, the red-belted conk

lickin' water off
lily of the valleys
good times, rising from the ashes
photo by tim swan