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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


Friday, May 27, 2016

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report -
May 26th, 2016


Thanks to the generous support of MCHT and VLT


“It’s an f*****g shag“– guy on the ferry talking about cormorants. With attitude



we're born again, there's new grass on the field

Highlights – Ancient Murrelet, Red-billed Tropicbird, Blue-gray gnatchcatchers, Warblers (lots o’ them), Seals with pups, Harlequin Ducks, Giant Water Bug, Shadbush (Wine), Baltimore Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, things I find in the woods, bike rides, all kinds of stuff…


Business contact us – photos and sightings request! –


Tiit trick – click on the photos to make them jumbo sized.


I found this on Armbrust Hill
Can you guess what it is?
Winter Moth updateMerry Boone reports “silks and winter moth larvae” all around town. Look for dangling tiny caterpillars, or just look for “swiss cheese” like holes in your leaves to see if you are infested. Word on the street is that samples of caterpillars will be taken soon(ish) is see if the parasitic flies released a few years back are starting to “take”. Once again it can take about 10 years for the flies to take hold, so we are in the “wait and see” stage. As opposed to the “run and see “stage, also known as the “black peter” stage. That stage was not pretty for Jerry. Let’s hope the next stage is not pretty for winter moth. I am tired of them.

can you see the burn? its in the middle of the peninsula

Huber Fire – Big thanks out to the hard working volunteer fire crew of the Vinalhaven Fire Department on putting out a burn in the “oak point” peninsula at Huber preserve. Ellen and Michael Chandler (thanks to you two too!) reported smoldering and smoky moss at Huber and within minutes 16 fire fighters were deployed to (full) bucket brigade the issue.

burnin' hot! hot! hot!

these brown outs are not done by otters
Deemed to have been started by lightning, the juniper and bayberry out at the point burned hot and fast, good enough to brown (and kill) some trees but fortunately was found “past its prime”.  MCHT thanks all those involved in the dowsing of the fire, be safe and alert out there!  

heading for the bubble rocks
photo by Colleen Conlan

Kid stuff - its been a fun couple of weeks hanging out with kids at tip-toe, polly cove, and the pond scooping in the quarries by the school. big thanks goes out to VLT, PIE, MCHT and the Vinalhaven School for arranging and supporting such fun days!

a highlight find was this massive "giant water bug"
AKA - "toe biter" & "electric light bug"
apparently they are attracted to lights.
doesn't seem that unusual for an insect

one thing we found in the quarries by the school was the killer to the right - a giant water bug looking very much like "Lethocerus americanus", which apparently gets to 2.5 inches. this one may have been even bigger. I don't think I have ever seen one bigger than half the size of this guy. I am a guy so my perspective on inches may be skewed, but I would have said 3.5-4 inches!

gotta keep 'em separated
we (the royal "we") plopped this bad guy in the main container and he (the royal "he") immediately killed a backswimmer. probably for being annoying (they are annoying!).  

When the GWB started "eyeing" the tadpole Alice took decisive action and kept the predator at bay while the tadpole swam around in circles, never seeming to be able to get away. eventually we let them go, but it was fun to see Alice protect the tadpole. hats off for a good show! good to have you there Alice!

that cute little guy mixed in with the razorbills is an
ancient murrelet
photo by Keenan Yakola
Sightings – on the water - Ancient Murrelet  – John Drury spotted this beauty hanging out with a bunch of razorbills (bad influences) off Seal Island last week. 1st Maine record (as far as we can tell) this little guy is a north pacific local in breeding and then common along the California coast at least thru Monterey bay in the winter.


An Audubon website said this:


ancient murrelet with eiders
photo by Keenan Yakola

Some remain all year off southern Alaska, others move south to waters off California in winter. Disperses widely at sea after breeding. Of North American auks, this one is most likely to appear far inland. Records exist for many states and provinces east to Quebec and New York, south to Nevada and New Mexico. A few such records occur virtually every year, most in October or November.


so in other where near Maine!
lady slipper at Huber (5/17)

Anyway, another great John Drury sighting from out at Seal island. Do yourself a favor and sign up for a trip with John today! The summer is filling up fast and the red-billed tropicbird is back! Never know what might turn up when you are onboard the Skua. Here’s John’s blog and contact -  




More from John – Little Roberts - 5 great cormorant nests & Harlequin Ducks,

leif found this spider nest at polly cove

From Greens - John also reports Blue-grey gnatcatcher among many warblers…. Nashville's, Yellow. Wilson's Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Yellow-rumped warblers , Parula, redstarts.


Baltimore oriole
photo by Colleen Conlan
Patience Chamberlin also reports Blue-grey Gnatcatcher from the Basin. As well as Rose-breasted Grosbeak and many species of warblers


And speaking of Baltimore Orioles….good spring for them apparently, reports coming in from all over the island and even I saw and heard a pair. Colleen Conlan sent in this shot of a bright male “roosting on pipe” as the say.



Baltimore oriole - same one
photo by Colleen Conlan
 On the island – Armbrust Hill (5/18) – Chestnut sided, Black-throated Green, Yellow, Nashville’s, Black and White Warblers, Parula, Overnbird, Yellowthroat, Baltimore Orioles, Cedar Waxwings


Round the island bike ride (5/18) Yellow-rumped, Magnolia Warblers, American Redstart, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Alder Flycatcher, Hermit Thrushes, Broad-winged Hawk, Flicker, Hairy Woodpecker, Catbird.


the basin is nice

several blackburnian warblers singing up at Polly Cove (5/26)

On the ferry – (5/16) - many phat seals on ledges but no seal pups observed on the 7am....

(5/18) 4:30 ferry - 5 mother/pup nursing pairs observed....

(5/23) 7am - 10 mother/pup combos...(5/23) Razorbill


from the platform, seal pup being born below
In the basin – I took this picture from the observation platform where I was observing (5/18) while having a snack. what I did observe were two mother/pup harbor seal pairs laying on ledges exposed with the lowering of the tides (pardon my poetic waxing). there was a third adult harbor seal moaning and making quick, active dives back and forth close to the closest of the ledges exposed with the lowering of the tides. I could hear her moans as I approached the platform, and watched as she made several quick dives (with moans at the surface).

cabbage before ferns in the basin

I sat down and she made a few more passes and then took a long dive - or at least longer than she had before. When she came up she was not alone. A little head was following her in the water. fFeshly born? Seems like it and water births are so "in" these days. Twas the second time I have seen that in the basin. I waved to the seal and welcomed it as the two headed off towards ledges exposed with the lowering tide.  

still hasn't found what its looking for
otter explores Huber Preserve

At the Huber –  while checking up on the fire scene I found some otter spraint in the trail at "the rock bridge" with the water on your left when heading to Seal Bay. Anyway and blah, blah, blah - I have never seen spraint there or sign of otters at all on Huber even though they have a significant presence in Seal Bay and Winter Harbor.

My guess would be a new member or visitor to the area following wetlands and freshwater looking for a path to somewhere. A pond, a cove, a lake , a den. some place to eat, sleep or mate. I would think this otter would've been disappointed with what it found.


if you guessed it was "skull in scat" you are correct!
looks like a local cat ate
Bike rides to the ferry – have to say I have really been appreciating the 2 morning bike rides to catch the 8:45 to vinalhaven I have done recently.


(5/10) bobolink, turkey, pileated woodpecker, black-throated green, yellow rumped, black and white, yellow warblers, overnbirds.


(5/17) Yellow, yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, chestnut-sided (impressive numbers), Black and white warblers, ovenbirds, yellowthroat, redstart, parula, blue headed vireo, Brown Creeper.

shadbush, service berry. whatever you call it
its pretty pretty.

and the hits keep coming

poop in a bag! on the ground!

good to see old friends and seaweed hair gel at polly cove

big hugs and love to aunt linda gentalen!
hope you are feeling better!

see you out there!