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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, July 16, 2014

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report

July 16th, 2014

MCHT and VLT co-sponsored

“I haven’t seen any blue Monarchs lately”

“love the unknown”


Minke Whale
photo by John Drury

Highlights – Whale and tropicbird, Dragons and a damsel, Broad-winged and a mink (not together), pond and patch (milkweed that is) watching, birds and butterflies, slimes and fungus, and hey – even a plant.   


great spangled fritillary

Send your sightings from around the island – to .


Tiit trick - click or flick on the photos and they get huge!


Rose Pagonia
photo by Beth Guilford
Upcoming eventsThursday morning birdwalks continue this month –

Tomorrow! - July 17th – 7am at Skoog
Then…………. July 24th at 8am.
Then…………. July 31st at 7am.   Got it? Good – see you there!


bleeding tooth - great name!

“Fungus thru Binoculars - slide show and walk August 4th/5th.

Slide show, stories, commentary and jokes will be Monday August 4th – 7pm at Town Hall

Fungus walk, exploration and jokes – Tuesday August 5th 9:30am – Skoog Park. 

It t’will be fun!


red-billed tropicbird
photo by John Drury
Check it out! - “In our hearts, we all figured John would get all techie and go blog someday….”. Getting the word out about cool nature stuff is what “it” is all about, and when “it” (the other “it”) comes to nature blogs we (the royal “we) think “the more the merrier”! And with that we, (the royal “we”) are excited to post a link to John Drury’s new “Boatrides from Vinalhaven Aboard the Skua” blog,  - 


manx shearwater
photo by John Drury

John has been posting photos from his Skua outings around the islands and out to Seal since June and it’s an impressive collection already! So go check it out, and keep checking it out for new stuff posted (close to) daily! Here’s a taste of some recent shots John has taken from Skua lately! Thanks for sharing John

pair of otters! in the reach
photo by John Drury
ivory black-backed gull
photo by John Drury

black-throated green female with food
Sightings - Birds – sure – why not! Bird song chorus has thinned a bit since the late June/early July blast. Is it round 2 (or is it 3?) for songbirds “doing multiples”? Multiple broods of young that is. Still heard singing around the island over the last week – Parula, Black and white, Magnolia, Yellow, Yellowthroats, Black-throated Greens, Yellow-rumpeds, Ovenbird, Redstarts, Swainson’s and Hermit thrushes. Song sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Catbirds, Goldfinch, Purple finch, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Winter Wren, and Brown Creeper as well  
redstart on nest
photo by Patience Chamberlin


Here’s a redstart “at the nest” sent in by Patience Chamberlin on Reach Road. Our yard Robins are back on their third nest – the second one got “blue jayed” . Nest #3 has 3 eggs. Pictures to come.


Folly Pond – we stopped by Folly pond on the July 10th bird walk and saw a pair of Wood Ducks – female and male in eclipse plumage. And a bald eagle. 5 baby wood ducks were seen that morning and again that evening. Folly pond is a good pond for pond watching.

1. BW hunting

Broad-winged Hawks4 sightings reported in the past few weeks - just past the dump- round the island junction with Poor Farm road, twice Broad-wingeds have been spotted there – another one by Todd’s Garage and then this one just past Folly Pond.  Hunting from the wires, this guy scored a vole “roadside”.

2. BW hops off wire

3. talons out

4. roadside cafe

5. take off with vole

6. over the road
hope the other vehicle saw it

Shorebirds return? – or is this just where they turn around….-

warning – judgments and generalizations are contained in the following section.


With birds, post breeding migration with birds has a completely different “feel” (judgment) compared to the spring rush, with birds “not being so horny” as the speculated difference. The spring (pre-breeding) migration is a mad rush inspired by hormones, swellin’ organs (cloaca’s swell) and dreams of cloacal kissings (wonder if birds ever dream that). The “fall” (post breeding) migration is more like a stroll with a cigarette, “the swelling is gone but schlepping goes on”. They (the birds) don’t look so sharp (some look downright disheveled (mid-molt)– as if we should judge). They get to where they are going, but there will be no singing the songs of bliss and promises along the way. No. It’s about survival in the fall. Wow, this whole paragraph was a pleasure to write.


least sandpiper
Anyway, so shorebirds are starting to show up. On the July 10th birdwalk we saw a spotted sandpiper (somewhat local breeder possibly), we heard a greater yellowlegs, and saw this hot little Least Sandpiper at State beach. The spotted sandpiper very well could have arrived from close by, but the Least in breeding plumage came from Labrador or Hudson Bay area – maybe. What we do know is that more shorebirds will be arriving! State beach is a great place to check ‘em out. Anyway.

Spear-marked Black
nice name!

Spear-marked Black Moth (Rheumaptera hastata) – this moth has been everywhere this summer. It is a hard common name to say quickly, but “hastate” is a cool species name. and they are everywhere. That’s all we got.


Pond watchingDragonflies have been drawing us (the royal “us”) to ponds around the island. What we have found is that sitting by a pond’s edge and following the activity above and below the water is extremely calming. “The VSR hereby officially advocates Pond Watching” – now its official. Here are some highlights….   

this dude still has a tail
red-spotted newts love to eat dragonfly eggs

chalk fronted corporals love to land on human stuff

rose pagonias

rose pagonias are thick in some ponds

Note on damselflies – Odonata is the order of insects that includes Dragonflies and Damselflies.

eastern forktail - damselfly

Hardcore Odonata fans are known as “Odonuts” or “Odonatanuts” or as “Odonataidiots” by jealous “Lepidoptanuts”. (we could go on forever with this).  


spread wing

And so, “odonuts” probably will be offended by this, but Damselflies, by definition are not nearly as cool as Dragonflies (I mean, come on – Dragon vs. Damsel? No brainer). But even with that said, we can’t help but be impressed with the Damsels around the ponds. There are loads of blue ones (not blue monarchs) and the eastern forktail is an old friend from Cape Cod (circa 1998) for me.
this eyed brown was hanging by
Mack's Pond

Anyway, damsels in the genus Lestes are known as spreadwings because they don’t close their wings like other damsels do at rest. Hurray for creative names! Anyway, we got this here photo of a spreadwing and were ready to hit the guides for some spreadwing learning when we learned this from Nikula and Sones (also Cape cod acquaintences from circa 1997) in “Beginners Guide to Dragonflies” – of which of course damsels are not dragonflies at all.


love mack's pond
“Although recognition of spreadwings as a group is fairly easy….separation of the 16 species of Lestes species in North America is difficult and often not possible in the field. Males can sometimes be distinguished by a combination of size and dorsal coloration, but in many cases examination of the distinctive abdominal appendages is necessary. Females are particularly challenging, often difficult to identify even in the hand, and most are best identified simply as “spread-wing species””

another moth feeding the pitcher plants at mack's pond

Needless to say I did not find a match for this spread-wing in the field guide. Love the unknown!


milkweed galore

Patch watchingButterflies have been drawing us (the royal “us”) to milkweed and dogbane patches around the island. What we have found is that standing along a patch’s edge and following the activity is extremely calming. “The VSR hereby officially advocates Patch Watching” – now its official. Here are some highlights….   
housed in these chambers is the
sweet nectar of the gods.
or something like that


look who showed up at Calderwood Island!
this Monarch butterfly patrolled the milkweed patch all day
I saw two this week - that equals my total from last year

How does this Great Spangled still fly?
that's more like it

white admiral

red admiral underside - racy

red admiral butt

red admiral open

beat up northern crescent

skippers are fast and furious. or at least fast

another skipper snaggin' nectar

after taking a pretty good header falling out of a tree
leif opted for some safety gear while bouldering
we don't eat amanitas, we put them
on our finger.
tony hawk would approve of this picture

fungus - due to time constraints we're going to have to do a separate fungus VSR is a few days or more. too much going on! Until then, here's some leif action....
getting high (off the ground) with nanni

getting cozy with nanni

and some nanni time as well! hope your summer is going great. we'll see you out there!