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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


Monday, December 26, 2016

now "skinny" Santa can start stretching
and getting ready to pick up trash!

Welcome to the Vinalhaven sightings report – December 26th, 2016

Brought to you with the support of VLT and MCHT

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Winter Wishes, Buddha Bashes, Zen Zones….

Highlights – Seal Island trips, Red-necked Grebes, Northern Shrike, Common Murre, Old tailed Ducks, pellets and poop – featuring long-eared owl, Loons, some words on winter moth…

this ice formed on the inside of our basement
window during the polar vortex
Business contact us! We are always looking for wildlife sightings and photos to post – tell us what you are seeing and we’ll help you share and maybe even become a legend in your own neighborhood! Email –

Tiit trick – click on the photos to enlarge….. Try it out with this polar vortex photo gallery

Winter moth response We asked and we received! – No, not the complete Frank Zappa catalog for Christmas! We asked for Winter Moth sightings and got a couple! Thanks for sharing info about (one of)  the least liked critter from away!

Folly Pond

Armbrust Hill - On December 13th Kathy Warren shared…..”There have been bunches of them at my house. Gigi & Karols place. Not right now but a couple weeks ago they were down at the foot of the lawn on Atlantic Ave and up around my parking space and  first floor windows. Ick !”

Ick is right, and from Kathy’s details the flight in her neighborhood took place roughly at the same time as Linnell’s reports. Thank you Kathy!

frozen fluffernutter

Clam shell Alley  Jennifer Clement sent in a report of some winter moth activity. “I did indeed see winter moths here on Clam Shell Alley. I didn’t document the day, alas. One night, I left the front light on and, coming home, had to battle my way through a blizzard of them to get in the door. Just one birch out front, the subject of all that action. Another night, days later, I saw many on the kitchen window toward the stand of trees in back of my house. About the same as last year around here, I’d say. No parasitic fly success yet.”

Good call Jennifer on the state of the parasitic flies! Thanks for sharing!

common murre
photo by John Drury
Historic Sightings – not sure how these fell through the cracks – well I am sure actually – I missed an email! Which I have only stumbled upon today! My apologizes…… Enjoy the history…..

Add caption
(11/1) Seal Island – John Drury headed to Seal and sent in this report – 2 Bald Eagles, 300 Double crested Cormorants, 10 old tails (first of season), 10 black scoter, Atlantic puffin. On island – 15 snow buntings, song, savannah, and white-crowned sparrow. Hermit thrush, chickadee, 12 goldfinch, 50 purple sandpipers, 2 green winged teal, 1 great cormorant and 130 grey seal.
Broad winged Hawk

Greens island – 11/18 Northern Shrike.

There you have it – a little history lesson! Thank you for your patience!

Sightings – Seal Island – report from John Drury – 3 Common Murre, 3 Razorbill, 10 black-legged kittiwakes, 25 Northern Gannets, 12 old tails, 25 black ducks, 2 bald eagle, 1 peregrine falcon, 20 great cormorants, 8 song sparrows, 20 snow buntings, American pipits, 400 purple sandpipers and plenty of loons, guillemots, 10 red-breasted mergansers….

can you find the great cormorant in the picture?
The story here…is about how cool December trips to Seal can be. The purpose of the trip (if I am correct) was to set up the Seal Camera. That was the excuse I guess, but seeing all that good stuff is like the bonus. Thanks for sharing John! Keep ‘em coming!

bald eagle on leadbetter
Ferry Crossing (12/13) 7am to Vinalhaven – mixed with the “Animals on ledges” photo gallery…..18 Common Loon, 94 old tail ducks, 68 black guillemots, 21 Common Eider, 9 black ducks, 4 surf scoter, 1 black-legged kittiwake, 8 Bonaparte’s gull, 18 buffleheads, 1 great cormorant, 2 red-breasted merganser, purple sandpiper, 15 crows, harbor seals….

The story here….is obviously the 94 old tailed ducks! Over 80 of them were in Rockland Harbor! Working hard for the Kittiwake, Great Cormorant, and purple sandpiper was both fun and rewarding. Lots of crows heading to the mainland was interesting as well.

can you find the purple sandpiper in the photo?

(12/21) Long cove – 15 bufflehead, 3 Bonaparte’s gulls, 4 ravens, and loons singing!

can you find the seals in this photo?

red-necked grebes from state beach - about 20

(12/21) State Beach – 7Red-breasted Merganser, 8 common eiders, 5 common loon, 10 black guillemot, 57 red-necked grebe, 2 old tail ducks, 6 common goldeneye,

The story here…. Were the Red-necked grebes, which I totally love (don’t tell Amy!), and the goldeneye which I have not seen much of on the mainland so far. Give it time!

this river is pleasant
Another part of the story was getting to state beach for the first time in two months and having my eyes water up a bit because I love it there so much (don’t tell Amy!). Feels good to be there in the winter!

(12/21) Pleasant river – 2 hooded mergansers, 3 black ducks, 1 mallard

The story here…was the hooded mergansers which are always fun to see. Pleasant River is a pleasant place to observe – especially when the ice pushes critters towards the boondoggle bridge.

crow pellet - full of bayberries

(12/21 Carver’s Pond – 12 buffleheads, 7 hood mergansers, 1 common loon

(12/21) Lane’s Island – 3 common eiders, 2 black guillemots, 3 chickadees, long-eared owl pellet, crow pellet - and now for the … Pellet photo gallery

long-eared owl pellet
The story here…was finding a really cool long-eared owl pellet. I hardly ever find “Two skull pellets”, and to find two prey species in one – vole and shrew – just makes my heart skip a beat (don’t tell Amy!). plus, the Chickadees were the only songbirds I saw that day other than crows and ravens, and I have a love/hate thing going with them.

vole skull and bones

shrew skull

and as if that wasn't enough... tracks ...

snowshoe hare and deer tracks

not sure what this guy is, but
he was out on the snow
vole subnivial layer trail

and then there was this raccoon that got hit

I wonder if it made a popping noise when it got hit!

snow angels and getting ready for the Christmas show at school

and some leif

we are so ready for more snow !

hey - happy and safe new years - love to all and hope to see you out there in 2017!