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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


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report – Feb 3, 2015

With the kind support of VLT and MCHT

Post 1 of 2



life and death at the feeding station
photo by Sally Conway
Highlights – snow. Black-backed woodpecker, Saw-whet owl, Sapsucker, Redpolls, Green-winged Teal, Purple Sandpipers, tracking… and otters of course!


Psa – let it be noted that most of this VSR was edited and arranged while listening to “Primus and the chocolate factory”, so I apologize in advance….


In memoriam – a “VSR tip of the hat” goes out to the life of Chandler Blackington (2/14/26-1/14/15).  Chandler was a sweet man (and longtime friend of the VSR) who’s support of emergency services, island photography and work with his “View from Vinalhaven” will be (and already is) missed. Personally, I will miss crossing paths on the road with him, knowing that his camera was occupying his passenger seat – at the ready to capture the beauty of Vinalhaven as only Chandler could see.

Grandson Isles told me “he had a great life” and there’s little more you can ask for than that. Our thoughts go out to family, friends, and loved ones. We hope “the view from vinalhaven” legacy will continue in some form.


purple sandpiper
photo by John Drury

Contact us – hey – send in your nature photos and sightings to

It’s an excellent place to share what you have been seeing. It’s good to share – so please share, that’s what this whole thing is about.

Thanks – That said - thanks to those who have sent in photos and sightings this round – so much we had to break it in two – and that’s great.


sapsucker camouflage
photo by Jim Clayter

Tiit trick – click on photos to make them larger than life! As long as “life” size is/was smaller than your computer screen. Anyway – clicking makes them bigger – go clicks!

while we're at it...happy birthday goes out to Tiit (2/5) would have been 75. Think about you everyday...

Upcoming events – Great Maine Outdoor Weekend Snowshoe – Well, in case you didn’t notice – we’ve got lots of snow on island these days just waiting to be stepped on by snowshoes - (it is the dream of every snowflake to be “snowshoed” – trust us).

And with this in mind VLT and MCHT are teaming up for a group snowshoe at Fox Rocks– Sat Feb 14 (how romantic) 9am. We’ll meet at Skoog Park (VLT office parking area) to carpool. We’re going to “do the loop” which has been measured from anywhere between 2-3 miles, which in snowshoe distances will feel like a bunch of kilometers or something (the VSR staff is not good with metrics or systems). Will be more on the "strenuous" side of outings.

There will be plenty of beautiful views and tracks to see. Snowshoes are highly recommended, but not essential – have cramp-ons handy (if no snowshoes) for icy patches. The outing will be approx. 3 hours, so snack and water bottle (with water!) would be good to bring. Camera and layers are ideas too. It’s going to be “too much fun!” or something like that….

sharpie scratchin'
photo by Sally Conway


Highlights Skin Hill Sally Conway sent in some great photos from recent activity at her feeders. In the storm (2/2) Sally spotted (and identified) this Sharp-shinned Hawk mackin’ on a local pigeon.  I showed this series to Leif and he was quick to point out that “well, pigeons don’t have many creature powers”. As if this was bound to happen to a pigeon, they are food. Thanks kratt brothers!
sharpie mackin'
photo by Sally Conway


Also from Sally……Pine siskins, redpolls, and cardinals… Tree sparrows as well...White-breasted Nuthatch, Junco, Chickadees,


siskins invading the lighthouse
photo by Sally Conway

Black-backed Woodpecker – Poor Farm Road – Terry Goodhue reports multiple sightings of a female Black-backed Woodpecker from the Poor Farm Road area. Drew Noyes observed the woodpecker shortly before Terry spotted it in his yard. Seen between storms (so many storms to choose from!), the woodpecker has not been seen for a handful of days now.

redpoll action
photo by Sally Conway


cardinals with an elephant
photo by Sally Conway

sapsucker chillin'
photo by Jim Clayter
At the feeders - Clayter Report-   Pumpkin Ridge

in Jim's words-

It's been fun to track the (Yellow-bellied Sapsucker) first arrived Jan 3.

He tends to not feed at the suet when the days are warmer,

Hanging out in the maple tree searching for grubs.

When it warmed up for two days, he disappeared, and I thought him gone,

But he reappeared yesterday. (Colder)  Fairly tame.

 Sapsucker is still around, yes. Here this AM in fact, nibbling on suet. (2/2)

photo by Jim Clayter

Pine Siskins showed up Jan. 22, still in good numbers (2/2).

Seem to prefer the niger seed

Redpolls still coming, but (sadly) not in great numbers.


Check out this great video Jim took at his window feeder after a batch of seed was posted. Siskins over run the feeder


Thanks for the great report and awesome photos and video Jim.

old-tail high-tailing it outta here
photo by John Drury

Redpolls and Pine Siskins also reported by John Drury, Terry Goodhue, Jim Clayter, Kirk Gentalen.


A stunned saw-whet owl was found by Roxanne Tolman up Calderwood Neck way. Roxanne was able to get some great photos of the bird if you have not seen her facebook posting.

merganser "on the rocks"
photo by John Drury

John Drury reports a Green winged Teal - (1/27) under the harbor wharf behind the Fisherman’s Friend (good place to get things) – (1/28) Hooded Merganser by ferry terminal


John also sent in some duck shots…



eye issue
photo by John Drury
Thanks john – a few more pictures from John’s January trip to Seal Island with the camera crew – seal camera that is. Word is that the seal camera has been “experiencing technical difficulties”.

baby on ice
photo by john Drury

So it goes… great Grey Seal and Purple Sandpiper shots from the day. Eagle tracking in the snow. Eagles love those young seals, especially when they are dead. "Dead seals are easier to catch than Great Cormorant babies" - old Estonian saying.


purples in flight
photo by John Drury

fortunately the murdered left this glove
eagle tracks - photo by John Drury
looks compfy
photo by John Drury

John also sent in these great otter trails and slide shots from Greens after a mid-January storm (1/16). These shots from areas where John has been tracking them for years.


Jan 26th otter slide action
photo by John Drury

And fresh after another storm (1/26). Happens to be a day when a big otter was also tracked “Across the reach” (like literally) at two latrine and marking stations on Norton’s Point. Circumstantial, but if its the same otter there would now be over 26 links between Vinalhaven and Greens Islands. More photos from Norton’s Point in the next VSR….

otter track - Norton's point 1/26

Speaking of storms, they have been great for snowshoeing – and in my stormy loop outings (during the storms) from the porch the only bird I have been seeing is an American Robin. And not one of those dark ones from up north – no sir, this one is light (as a feather). So the harbinger of spring is here, can you taste the spring in the air?


That’s for another VSR…in a couple of days or so…part 2 coming up!



…and so here are a few of Leif enjoying the snow. hope you are too!