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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


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report –

June 11th, 2015

With the kind support of VLT and MCHT

Happy  (belated) Birthday Erik! - this was supposed to have gone out on your birthday! 
HighlightsChuck-will’s Widow, Harbor Seals with pups, Cuckoos, Turtles, Warblers, and other stuff

RIP - Ornette Coleman - a true original. Only saw him once, with the Dead (2/23/93). my last Dead show actually, but not because of Ornette (I went to see Ornette!). He was awesome. The Dead were good that night too. Mardi Gras were always great fun. Anyway - thanks for the sounds Ornette!  

Quick shout out – to our friends in first grade at
the American International School in Cairo Egypt!
Word is it they like seeing the photos of Leif doing stuff and that’s super cool.
Thanks to Suzanne Hunt for contacting us, Leif loved the email!


Business we have much business in this one so we will break it down into two parts – one part now, one part at the end – so all you strictly business people should stick around!

Hiatusalright, so I’ve got to write some other stuff to write - some work, some personal, but all fun. We’ve been doing this here VSR thing long enough now to know that there ain’t no way I can concentrate on this “other writing” (OW) and the VSR at the same time. And so we are officially suspending all VSR activities for a bit. Probably a couple of months, but we shall see. And when we come back things will be a little different….to be continued at the bottom.



Sightings – Flower stuff – lady slippers. Huber is still the premier spot to see pink lady slippers. Many right in the parking lot. Have noticed more with just leaves than flowers, could be the winter we have had, who knows. Have already seen folks out there taking pictures. Now is the time, and yes, that was me with the bike.

Sylvia Reiss sent in this photo so a Lady Slipper by her house out City Point way. First one she has seen in her yard, good sign for the neighborhood!

Rick Morgan reported a Great Horned Owl calling from Lane’s Island (6/3). First Rick has heard from his house! Congrats on a VNM!

lady slipper
photo by Sylvia Reiss

A birder named Frank Mantlik and his wife – also a birder who probably has a name– came out for a week and sent in this report from their time. -  1 YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER and 1 CUCKOO species home yesterday, a BROWN THRASHER home 5/27, two flocks of up to 14 SURF SCOTERS daily, 1 WHITE-WINGED SCOTER 5/25, 1 SEMI PLOVER and 10 BB PLOVERS at State Beach 5/28, 1 COMMON TERN Roberts Hbr 5/29, 1 BROAD-WINGED HAWK soaring over North Haven Rd 5/27, 1 singing INDIGO BUNTING at Lane's 5/26.    


this is not a goatsucker
Great Goatsuckers, Batman! - Chuck-will’s widow and Common Nighthawk on Greens-  John Drury reports of a great foggy, June-buggy night session with a couple of great Goatsuckers! Here’s what john sent in…in his own words….


“…had great Nighthawk session on top of Green's May 29th…more than half a moon brightening the fog,  I think this bird (Common Nighthawk) was june bugging or maybe trying to avoid them for fun as they were so thick if could have caught its own weight in three passes, but it zoomed around the field a meter of two off the ground mostly, occasionally rising to treetops, against the dark trees all I could see at times was the white flash on the wing,  so close to me a few times  I could hear the wings then a chuck wills widow started calling and  the night hawk landed in the poplar above me and listened.”



So cool. Pierson, Pierson, and Vickery refer to the Chuck-will’s Widow in Maine as accidental or vagrants. The first John has heard, so congrats on a nice VNM.


The June bug outbreak was noted on Reach Road as well, and John continued with a description of the outbreak sound…


“Also a raccoon so giddy eating june bugs that it ignored me.  the june bugs were so thick, rising like a flood, the sound of chitonous wings rustling a constant low roar like a steady breeze.”


Very cool description, thanks for sharing.

harbor seal and pup
photo by Rick Morgan
Round the island - Round the island road – Black-billed Cuckoo, Reach road- Eastern Towhee and Brown Thrasher, Alder Flycatchers are around for sure. (6/13) morning bike ride - Ovenbird, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, Brown Creeper, baby Hairy Woodpeckers, Redstart, Black-throated Green, Magnolia, Yellow Warblers. Ruby-crowned Kinglet as well....Basin - Swainson's thrush.

harbor seal and pup
photo by Rick Morgan

From the ferry – Purple Sandpipers, 4 Red-throated Loon, red-breasted merganser.

Seals - Lots of baby Harbor Seals around these days, pups with moms - here's some shots that Rick Morgan got, undoubtedly from his kayak!

photo by Erin Creelman

Erin Creelman was kind enough to send in these photos of a painted turtle making its way from the woods to round pound.
almost there
photo by Erin Creelman

this is what the ferry looked like when it
went past me on Lairey's

otter stuff - no report would be complete without a word or two about our local otters. And this week when I had to (was forced to, twist my arm) to kayak out to the whites I knew it was otter time. last year I was growled at by an otter on Spectacle and was excited to get back, find some sign, and not get growled at again. But first I had to stop on Lairey's...

the hole is in the stump

After years of threatening (no one in particular) to land on Lairey's and inspect the area where we've tracked an otter from the ferry for 5 or 6 years now. Well, I finally had the 15 minutes it took to  check it out and so I checked it out.
you can really see how torn up the ground was here
den is under stump on the right

juniper damage caused by otter running
to my delight the obvious den entrance was right where it should be - under a stump. the area outside the stump was torn up and marked with multiple spraints, some super fresh and odiferous. There was a sweet run along the rocks to the east of the entrance, maybe 40 feet or so of a run that had been used so often the juniper was dying. An otter that kills juniper is a friend of mine.  the run led to a separate well used marking area, which is typical of runs near dens. Super cool, and super fun to find a new den, or at least confirm a suspicion.

From the amount of fresh sign my guess is that one otter lived there, and from all the sign I would say he or she (my guess is he) has lived there for a long time (like 6 years? maybe more?). so cool to check it out on land after years of seeing sign from the ferry.
otter trail thru the marsh on Spectacle

Spectacle - classic otter scene. from the sign along the three access trails to the den looks like there are multiple otters living here, once again. hefty amounts of spraint dropped off at significant locations, trails matted down with use and the slides show sign of sliding! always a blast to visit the otter scene here and yes, I was growled at by zero otters this year. Mission accomplished!
Loads of butterflies these days....that's all I have to say about that...

view from above an otter slide
Back to business and with otter pictures still…and so when we do return with the VSR - estimate return date August or so - things are going to be a little different. You see, Leif, Amy and I are relocating to St. George, over there on the mainland not too far away. this may seem abrupt, but trust me it isn't. and Thank you up front for all for your words of  congratulations and good wishes (does this mean I have to join mid-coast Audubon? Check is in the mail Don!).

At least for the short term I will continue to come out to Vinalhaven on a regular basis, but my observing out here will certainly be in a more limited fashion. We will continue with the VSR and see what it morphs into and how it goes, not sure how things will roll. So ready for change? well here we go...

if anyone is interested in taking over the VSR - in your own style of course - please let me know. if you'd like to nominate someone to take over, that is fine too. credibility and dedication are the only requirements needed.


Something separate - We don’t do this often – in fact never - but in light of the information shared above we are calling out, asking for really, for folks to send in a favorite memory or sighting or something you learned from the VSR over the years. Something that “tickled your fancy” so to speak. First thing that comes to mind.  I will collect those, as I have collected some of the nice things people have said over the years. Send something in - It’s the least you can do!


Not that anyone's asking - but here’s one of my favorite memories –
carrion beetles like fresh otter spraint
in the “favorite serious complaint” category –


“The VSR is a textbook on how to kill endangered species” – anonymous.


There is no “anonymous” on Vinalhaven, but this person was genuinely concerned that folks were going to read the VSR, find out where the endangered animals are on island, and then go kill them. Valid complaint? Not really, but a better one than “you made me sound like an idiot” which I’ve gotten twice by people who made themselves sound like idiots.


Anyway- and not to focus on complaints – whatever you feel like sharing with us at the VSR will be accepted.  

And with that and leif fishing we bid you a good month or two, we'll see you out there and we'll be in touch....