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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, June 5, 2014


Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report

June 5th, 2014


Brought to you by VLT and MCHT


“Ugliest birds I’ve ever seen” – Sally


Highlights – Tropicbird, Shorebirds, Butterflies, Warblers, Bobolink, Baby stuff – geese, robins, owls, seals, rabbit, crossbills,


Business – contact us at . We are here (or there really) for you. And your sightings. You’re welcome.
lady slippers are out!
Huber, fox rocks,
Armbrust hill and more

Tiit trick - click on photos to make 'em big. bigger is better or so the big person told me 

photo by Sally
Sightings – around the island – Turkey Vultures on Armbrust Hill – Skin Hill Sally visited another of Vinalhaven’s “finest hills” and snapped a few shots of these Turkey Vultures, including the shot of one that crossed the safety bar up on the cliff!

crossing the line
photo by Sally

Not so sure if Vultures so close to the medical center is such a good omen, but maybe the playground smelled badly or something (Vultures can smell!)


great time to be checking out the
hay scented fern fields
is there ever a great time to drink a
"bud lite lime mang-o-rita"?
warning - it does contain alcohol


ruby-corwned kinglet with ruby crown showing
photo by John Drury
What’s plentiful – heard in several locations – Good year for Pee-wees and Blackburnian Warblers…and Alder Flycatcher, Black-throated Greens, Magnolias, Yellow, Black and White, & Yellow-rumped Warblers. Ovenbird, Yellowthroat, Redstarts, Parulas. Waxwings, Hermit Thrush, Juncos, Catbirds. Ruby-crowned Kinglets still around as well. Classics – Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Brown Creeper.

If you learn one call......Here's a male Black-throated Green Warbler singing - they are everywhere

red-bellied woodpecker
photo by Kate Bennard

Calderwood NeckKate Bennard sent in a few shots she took from her feeder station. Red-bellied Woodpecker is the only one we’ve heard of on island this year (doesn’t mean there weren’t dozens of them around). And two male ruby-throated hummingbirds acting civil-like while sharing a feeder is a moment to capture. Thanks for sharing

ruby throated staring contest
photo by Kate Bennard

Blackburnian Warbler
photo by Karen Oakes

Chestnut Street and Poole’s Hill areaKaren Oakes sent in this awesome shot of a Blackburnian Warbler she took on Chestnut Street. Karen noted that she had a few new warblers for her this spring – Blackpoll and Wilson’s – and two VNMs are better than none, while “none” is fine as well. Thanks Karen and congrats!

ain't no place i'd rather be

tennesee warbler hop
Speaking of warblers – loads of them still around, not going to “list them to death” but of note was a pair of dueling Tennessee Warblers (6/1) over State Beach way. The official “Vermivora of the VSR” (eat your heart out Nashvilles!)

Canada warbler
photo by John drury

Red-billed Tropicbird
photo by John drury

Greens – John Drury reports - blue birds, bobolinks, Canada warbler, black-throated blue, blackburnian, black poll, wilsons. Thanks for sending in the photos John!...also on greens – Jamus Drury reports spooking an Otter in the cove out there. Apparently the otter bolted and bailed the cove so fast it took to “porpoising” or jumping fully out of the water (eat your heart out “breaching”) as it sped at lightning speed, or at whatever speed lightning would go at when traveling thru water. Anyway, several others got to witness this spectacle as well.

"lady phalarope pico fino"
photo by John Derury

On the water – on the Skua! (book your trip to Seal and other assorted islands by calling Captain John Drury at 596-1841) – From the boat (the Skua) or on the island (Seal)  - (5/21 on Seal) Lark Sparrow, white-winged dove(5/26)Harlequin Duck at Brimstone…..(6/3) Red-necked Phalarope, Red-billed Tropicbird, Razorbill, dunlin, Kittewake, Parasitic Jaeger Skua, and Great cormorants.

harlequin duck
photo by John Drury


lark sparrow on seal island
photo by John Drury

photo by John Drury

great cormorants
photo by John Drury


Shorebirds – State Beach – Black-bellied plovers and red knot. Both species are arctic breeders – still heading for the tundra – so get a move on dudes! Red knot is a VNM for me on Vinalhaven.

can you see the red knot mixed in with the plovers?


Butterflies – American Lady, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Spring Azure, Eastern Comma


basin geese

Babies – Basin – 2 pairs of Canada Geese were sporting young while swimming around the basin. One couple had 3 youngsters and the second pair had 6 geeselets and thought they were twice as good as the first couple. Apparently not even breeding Canada Geese like breeding Canada Geese as the posture capture in this photo is not likely an invitation for the other family to “Come over and mingle”. Love ‘em or hate ‘em – there is no in-between with geese. Or maybe there is….

photo by Banner Moffet

Baby Rabbit – Banner Moffett was kind enough to send in this photo of a young rabbit out Crockett Cove way (5/31). Pretty cute…..


Here are a couple of rabbits that have been living in my yard for a while. There is even a third, “lots of lags around these days” as we used to say. Actually, there does seem to be a lot of bunnies running amok these days….


body-less bunny

And there is one less bunny out there…..apparently the rest of the rabbit was eaten by the young Great Horned owlets, or maybe just one of them. I did manage to snap a shot of one of the youngsters – getting big and technically can fly. It’s not so graceful to watch, and they have landings that make you cringe, but the babies are growing up fast.

getting big
red crossbills

Baby Crossbills – we’ve (the royal “we’ve”) been reporting both red and white-winged crossbill sightings from the long cove/middle mountain region for much of the winter. Usually the birds have been singles or pairs, and the experience with them has been mostly in “fly-by formation” - passing birds that get mentioned in passing in the VSR. Well, yesterday morning (6/4) a group of 20 Red Crossbills spent a hefty amount of time feasting and buzzin’ around middle mountain spruce trees topped thick with cones. The best part was they didn’t care about me or hearing the “Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brain’s” I was feasting on with my ears (listening to).

They worked with “crossbill magic” to open up cones and snag seeds from within.


Got some video to document it the crossbills in action. Here’s a solo Red Crossbill, watching guard or something and then he takes off and I give thanks…


Now here’s an interesting one – a youngster whose bill is not crossed yet. Apparently it takes some time to fully cross – my googlin’ on this topic has been a failure to this point. Whatever. makes me wonder how frustrating it might be to instinctively want to act like a crossbill while not having crossed bills. I'm sure they get over it.


Now here’s the youngster goofing around until an adult Red Crossbill comes by and you can see the youngster do a beggin display with wing-flutter – classic baby bird style.


And here’s the top of a spruce tree buzzin’ with Crossbill activity – 4 or  5 total can be seen in the video.


Did the crossbills breed here this spring? It appears so, at least the Red Crossbills look like they did. Not sure if Crossbill families would cross water – like from Isle Au Haute or something – with young still begging.

mom with pup, and anothey pup sniffin'

Baby Seals – still thinking about piñatas….anyway – Winter Harbor, Seal Bay, the Basin, and the from the ferry – we got baby harbor seals! Not everyone loves these guys either, but if you are passing by ledges do a scan for perpendicular pairs of seals – the smaller one is probably nursing! First seen around the 20th, the young are about ½ way to being on their own – that’s right after 4 weeks with mom its shark bait time. Good luck guys!


Baby Robins – so we’ve had robins in our yard all spring and the other day Leif and I decided to find their nest. It took about 5 minutes to locate their fine abode, nice structure and even nicer that it’s eye level for normal heighted people (fact, not judgment). Anyway, so there were 4 eggs to begin with and we checked on it once a day – as long as it was nice out – as to not scare the parents off when it’s cold or rainy.


One day we came outside to find egg shell in our walkway – pretty much an invitation to check out the nest and sure enough over the course of the day 3 youngster broke their way into the world.

day 2


The next day we went back out and found that the 4th egg still hadn’t hatched, at which time we hatched a plan to deal with the egg since as it seemed likely not to hatch. Needless to say it ended in grossness – I will spare you the details, ask about it and I may tell you the story. There will be many a funny face while telling the tale.


Anyway, it’s raining so we haven’t checked for a few days, at last look 3 of them we’re kind of lying around on each other. Lazy. Grow up!

day 4


Baby Ravens – are loud and in the woods everywhere.

and plenty of time exploring with leif.

great time to be out we'll be seeing you out there!