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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, October 1, 2015

Welcome to the Vinalhaven sightings report – October 1st, 2015

Brought to you with the undying support of VLT and MCHT

“a passel of woodies” – Bill Sheehan.

How many woodies in a passel? The answer (in this particular case) is somewhere in this report.


We start with a video of “wind lapped” cattails at state beach.


Highlights – raptors, warblers, owls, couple of walks. Not much meat, fresh start


“Anyway” and “whatever” into the future – so the hiatus is over and we shall see what form this “report” takes as it morphs into “VSR phase 5” (or maybe is it 6?). this is just more of a starters whistle than a full on report I guess. It was a lovely hiatus and thanks for asking by the way.


“Regardless” and “as always”, the more people sharing their sightings the more successful the VSR will be. So continue to send sightings, questions, photos (appropriate photos only please) about nature things to Get in the habit! Let’s get this VSR thing back up and kicking butt again!



Coltricia is the only genus of polypores that are
mycorrhizal. Thank you Shiny-Cinnamon Polypore
Sightings - Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends…go outside, go outside.

 (You know we are rusty and not on our game when we start off with a “spraintily-modified” emerson lake and palmer reference- that was for UBAJ) But here we go….

Raptors – good days for raptor migration – fox rocks, tip-toe, and some days just about anywhere…


a bunch of us were present for a 6 liverwort hike with
"Mr. Liverwort" himself - Javier Penalosa.
a highlight of the summer
Middle Mountain - Rick Morgan reports watching a Northern Harrier hunting out at Middle Mountain while doing some trail work on the preserve. Thanks to Rick, Kerry Hardy, VLT and their volunteers for opening up that trail again this year!


(9/21) John Drury reports - Peregrine, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Merlin, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel at brimstone

Greens Island – Cooper’s Hawk…Yellow-rumped Warblers


hanging in the basin

Great Horned Owl – Rick Morgan and Kay Hendrick both report hearing a Great Horned Owl out on Lane’s several (or a few) evenings in August/September. Very cool on the owls.


State Beach – red-necked grebes have been back for a while

young tree swallow - swallow on the wire!
Bird walks – thanks to those who either attended a bird walk or intended to attend a bird walk (or whatever) for a really successful summer of weekly outings. Some of the highlights – the 3 whimbrels, this (somewhat confusing) young Tree Swallow and the other Tree and Barn Swallows we saw on one bird walk (only swallows on any of the 5 years of bird walks), the teacher named Jane, some great Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow looks, and I don’t know – tons of great looks at some cool birds. We ended with a nice green heron session in the Lane’s cesspool. Where all walk sessions should end. 
rose pogonia

Retrospect – great summer for wilson’s storm petrels and red-necked phalaropes. Cedar Waxwings as well. not going to dive too deep in the hiatus time, it was a true hiatus.


It was dry, plants were around, fungus too, but it was dry. Here are a few plant photos just to prove we looked at plants this summer! Fungus photos next report.

pine sap


Differences – regardless of whether we like to celebrate differences or not, it is going to be tough to continue the VSR without some references to observations we (the royal “we”) have made and will make in the St. George region. It will also be tricky to not point out differences between here and there, and there will be plenty we are in such close proximity. Some things will be pretty much the same. Probably won’t mention many of those, but maybe we will. Anyway – “new section 

tenants harbor

Noted Difference #1 – this is the harbor in Tenants Harbor where we live. Funny that I have this picture since I hardly ever see this harbor –I can go days, weeks without seeing the harbor here in tenants harbor as the main roads and my early hang out spots don’t take me by there much. So far at least. Will undoubtedly see it more in the winter after the ducks arrive!

sunrise in the marsh

Anyway – here is what I am seeing way more often than the harbor. This is a place called “the marsh” (creative name) and its within walking distance of our place (but really – all places are within walking distance if you have enough time).
Here’s a video of 2 of the local otters snorting at me from “the marsh”.


You see I was standing on their latrine, one I had just found, when these two otters popped up and started snorting. Possibly they were planning on coming to land to “lay a spraint” down on their latrine and I was in the way. All about timing. I have revisited the latrine many times since and have seen nothing (and like it!). The microphone on my little cybershot picked up none of the snorting, but with a little imagination you may see their nostrils flare at times.
we got an "F"! alphabetic otter spraint


The marsh has inspired this writing….


“I think I know

where I am going to go first

when this place freezes over.


It’s that rock out there, in the lower section

The one that appears to have otter spraint on the top.

Yeah, that’s the one, you can see it from the school trail.


Unless there is some distraction on the way – and there are always distractions –

That’s where I am going to go first

When this place freezes over.”
here's a video of a beaver slappin' her tail in the marsh...
this is Don Reimer and that is the
otter latrine and otter run he
found in the westkeag
don was nice enough to give us a dead
otter he found. the gift that keeps on giving.


Anyway, this place has the best of both worlds. Otters and owls. Both great horned and barred in the neighborhood, 3 barred owl pellets found so far. And 4 otter latrines (including the one on the rock), as well as 2 beaver dens and dams (see the tail slapping video), a “passel of woodies” or 52 wood ducks leaving the marsh a few evenings past.


Noted Difference # 2 - Road kill – sorry, the mainland has much more interesting road kill than all the dead green snakes on round the island road. We’re talking porcupine, skunk (spraintloads), ccoyote, fox, and the regulars. Nothing like road kill to teach you about the larger animals in the area. we appreciate the information.

leif, nanni, marshall point
and the Jonah crab.

Noted Difference #3 – the entire VSR crew advocates folks riding the 7am ferry to rockland to look for wildlife, especially as fall turns into winter. One (dreadful – judgment) difference is the lighting while riding the 7am (or 845am) FROM rockland. Everything is back lit and glarey, calling it “Sprainty” might be a little too gentle and kind (and we’d never want to be like that).


Maybe “we” have been spoiled by wonderfully westward direction the 7am from vinalhaven has followed all these years. So now it is time to adapt and do a little cloud dance – “overcast days never turned me on” but it looks like those will be the better light mornings. Better for observation. The troubles I deal with.


Shout out to Yogi Berra who has passed recently at age 90. I hear he was a great player, but around the VSR newsroom he is known for more for the mantra “you can observe just by watching”. One of our favorites, right up there with Chili Palmer’s “ I’m only going to say what I have to, if that”.


torches and 6 year-olds-  not the best idea

Big “Thank you” for the letters, the kind wishes and good food folks shared with us (the royal “us”) as we packed up our stuff and then unpacked it in Tenants Harbor. 11 years is a good long stretch, and we (the royal “we”) have gone thru some major changes and learned a ton during our run on Vinalhaven. We have felt a lot of love over the last few months – actually last 11 years. Glad we can continue to learn on Vinalhaven.

 and we close with a gross video of maggots on a deal carcass. enjoy!

See you out there!