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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, September 3, 2014

Welcome to the Vinalhaven sightings report – September 3rd, 2014

Big thanks to VLT and MCHT

Record breaking edition...and sunsets


Highlights – otters stuff, Marbled Godwit, Nighthawk, Gannet, Kingbird, Dead snakes, caterpillars

 Upcoming Event – Bird Walk this Saturday, September 6th, 8am – meet at Lane’s Island parking area. In climate weather can* lead to a “bonanza of birds” showing up on Vinalhaven. Saturday should* be no different, so we’ll start at lane’s and then see where the morning takes us.  (*) denotes key words used in the sentences. Should be a great morning regardless!


green snakes get that beautiful blue hue after
they have been flat for a while.
there are at least 2 slugs in this photo!
Updates - Road kill update – maybe it’s just me (never), but there’s a ton of dead snakes on the roads these days. Seen 24 in the last week or so (dead snakes that is), and even 9 in one day last weekpersonal record!!!!!!

 Anyway, snakes give a lot of people the “heebee-geebee”s so it might be hard for some folks to give even the smallest of spraints about squishing them on the road. But if you don’t care enough about the snakes to drive with “snake awareness” (not sure what that is) then at least slow down for “those that scavenge on road kill” – especially slug! The roads are flat and smooth and fun and fast these days. With lots of snakes on them and lots of slugs eating ‘em. Anyway


Personal Monarch update – up to 15, with many others mentioning seeing Monarchs as well. So it’s a good time to be looking for monarchs. We love ‘em! Viceroy today in yard.


Contact us – don’t forget to report your Monarch sightings and all other things Vinalhaven nature like to the VSR – You never know – we might even believe you!


Tiit trick – click on the photos to enlarge. Just. That. Simple.


Sightings – Otter stuff – City point - Anna Poe and Josh Eckels report seeing a pair of otters along the shore out past the “A” frame with a bunch of their Spanish friends (friends of Anna and Josh that is). The otters were diving in the “surf”, spy-hopping to check out the group (at least the Spaniards) and squeaking under the rocks below. Anyway, sounds like an awesome sight, with really good views of the faces as the otters where bobbing and looking up at “Anna, Josh and the Spaniards”.


latrine on the rocks
Penelope Lord reported finding otter spraint at City point a few years back and it ends up it was in maybe 30 feet from where Anna and Josh and the Spaniards had their session with otters. A well used run and latrine, with scent marking were found with Penelope’s directions. With a great otter sighting, new latrine and run (new for me), and possibly a den – what was all that squeakin’ under the rocks? – keep your eyes peeled when in the city point area!    

nice otter run and rub spots and well used.

Brown-hooded Owlet
Photo by Beth Guilford
Caterpillars – Beth Guilford sent in this shot of a brown-hooded owlet caterpillar (Cucullia convexipennis). Nice shot! Thanks for sharing…On the road again – it’s caterpillar road crossin’ time – Rusty-marked Tussock Moth caterpillar and what looks like a Tiger Moth caterpillar (possibly the Agreeable Tiger Moth) among others crossin’ the road…to get to the other side.
rusty-marked tussock moth caterpillar
Agreeable (?) Tiger Moth Caterpillar
dodder flower

One cool plant - Dodder is out - look for the orange tendrils as it sucks the life out of whatever plant it parasitizes....or something like that...
not without my Dodder - seeds

sometimes the basin looks like this
Bird stuff – “June in September” – Northern Parula and Black and white Warbler, Brown Creeper continue to sing in the yard! Yellowthroats singing as well.
sometimes Folly Pond looks like this


Folly Pond-
Wood Ducks
Often seen – Loads of waxwings around….Great Blue Herons and Belted Kingfishers now showing at a shoreline near you!...Broad-winged Hawks on most bike rides these days –even seen at the school, near Todd’s Garage (again!), and up Crockett River way…

Sometimes State Beach looks like this

Shorebirds – VSR received its first phone call from State Beach (didn’t even know there was a payphone there!). Patience Chamberlin was kind enough (and had enough cell coverage) to give us a heads up about a Marbled Godwit on the mud flats off Breakers Road (or Boulevard). Wherever it was, it was the first Marbled Godwit Patience, Tom, myself or Leif have seen on Vinalhaven. Quadruple-VVNM- possibly a record, we’ll treat it like one regardless!


Here’s a little about Marbled Godwits- quotes from O’brien, Crossley, and Karlson’s  “the shorebird guide” (thank you BAJ)

sometimes state beach looks like this
..breeds in three isolated areas in North America – majority in the “northern Great Plains from Alberta and sw Ontario south to Montana and South Dakota. Small isolated populations breed along coast of sw James Bay in Canada and on Alaska Peninsula. … Breeds in sparsely vegetated grasslands, interspersed with wetland complexes. During migration and winter prefers sandy beaches, coastal mudflats with adjoining meadows…walks deliberately while probing substrate for food...sometimes feeds in shallow water, burying bill to the hilt in mud and submerging head underwater.”

 here's a video of the godwit....


leif "slappin' some glass" on the
Marbled Godwit
Pierson, Pierson and Vickery (Birder’s Guide to Maine) list Marbled Godwits as a “rare” bird for Maine from late July to November. “Rare” in this book is defined as 1 to 4 Godwits expected to be present in the state each year. Super cool! Thanks for the heads up Patience and Tom!


State beach lists – (8/25) Eastern Kingbird, Spotted Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, 5 Ruddy Turnstone, 11 Black-bellied Plover…(8/26) 6 Lesser Yellowlegs, Great Yellowlegs, 6 Black-bellied Plovers, 4 Least Sandpipers, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, 2 Spotted Sandpiper, Bald Eagle, Red-necked Grebe…(8/28) Least Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Parula, Guillemot, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Turkey Vulture…(8/29) Red-necked Grebe, Common Loon, Bald Eagle, Northern Gannet…(9/1) Marbled Godwit, 18 Black-bellied Plover, 9 Semi-palmated Plover, 9 Least Sandpiper, 3 Lesser Yellowlegs, 2 Spotted Sandpiper, 4 Common Loon…


(8/31) and of course a Common Nighthawk seen over the ballground…..


That’s where we are at…could use some rain for mushrooms…not asking for much….