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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, June 13, 2017

no offense

Welcome to the vinalhaven sightings report – June 11th, 2017

VLT and MCHT sponsored
lots of pictures in this one...



saw this one in the middle of reach road!
wouldn't get out of the way!
survival instincts my butt!

Highlights – ancient murrelet, salamander eggs with kids, goshawk, warblers!, seals with pups, birds with nestlings, and a bunch more!

some days the basin trails look like this

Business – contact us! Send us your sightings, photos, love, and email addresses and get ready to share! is the place to send those things mentioned above


 Big Thanks - to all that shared photos and reports in this VSR. And to all those reading - that's you!!!!!! Yeah you!

Instagram – hey – if you are looking for more photos we (the royal “we” (as in me)) are on instagram now. You’ll get to see all the same photos (that I took) as well as others that don’t make the cut and fortunately without all those words and captions.


I am still not totally familiar with how instagram works, but the user name that I am using is baldfulmar. Hope that was helpful.

pond scooping is fun

Kid stuff – Perspectives afterschool program was kind enough to invite me to take the kids pond scooping (twist my arm!) and we had a great two days scooping our nets and checking out dragonfly nymphs and spotted salamander eggs.


Lydia was fond of the salamander eggs

It was a great two afternoons! Thanks to MCHT, P.I.E., VLT and the Vinalhaven School for their support of programs like Perspectives.

and Brandon was good at catching water striders.
not the easiest dudes to catch

ancient murrelet
photo by John Drury

Sightings  on the water…with John Drury and the crew of Skua.


John was kind enough to send in another photo of the ancient murrelet out by Matinicus Rock. Second year in a row with an ancient murrelet in the Gulf  of Maine, a typical range map for these alcids is limited to the north pacific. Good times with a wandering (not lost – and for the record I am not a big fan of that saying) bird number 1.


red-billed tropicbird
photo by John Drury
And everyone’s other favorite wandering bird – red-billed tropicbird – was photographed recently by John. Make sure you contact him at  to reserve your boat trip today!


harlequin ducks
photo by John Drury

John also sent in some other photos…and here they are…..


Check out john’s blog  - – for recent sightings and photos!!!


scarlet tanager
photo by John Drury

clam worm found by Elin
apparently it broke in half when moved
photo by Elin Elisofen
Elin Elisofen sent in this picture of a clam worm (Nereis virens) that she found I believe in Crockett Cove. Nereis virens is a long one, growing up to 3 ft or so.

Here's what Meinkoth had to say about them in the "Audubon guide to North American seashore creatures" (one of the Audubon guides that gets VSR approved!)

"Maine to Virginia, entire Pacific Coast.
The clam worm is a swift and voracious predator, feeding on other worms and invertebrates, carrion, and certain algae. it has a keen sense of smell and in captivity can readily locate bits of fresh clam meat. "

thanks Norman A. Mienkoth, professor at Swarthmore College. and thanks Elin for sending in the photo and from getting us thinking about clam worms!

green frog surprise
photo by Jim Conlan
Crawlspace critter! - Jim Conlan was fitting himself into the smallest of indoor spaces (that only Jim can fit into!) when he came across this green frog.  Being the conscientious guy Jim is, he figured that wasn't the frogs native habitat and entered the big little dude into a relocation program (he put him outside!).

final stages of the relocation program

But not before snapping a couple of photos to document the crossing of paths!

indigo bunting at the feeder!
photo by Gillian Creelman

Round the mountain road (I think so!)– Gillian Creelman was kind enough to send in this photo of an indigo bunting visiting her feeders recently. John Drury reported one on Armbrust Hill from the recent warbler walk, and I saw one on a visit I report below. Same one or multiple? Either way they are always easy on the eyes.

indigo bunting at armbrust hill - twas singing away!

Armburst hill – (5/24) – had a nice half hour by the pond. And got a couple of distance photos of colorful birds….Rose breasted Grosbeak, indigo bunting, redstart, goldfinch, black throated green, yellow rumped warbler, catbird, blackpoll warbler, northern parula, yellow warbler, common yellowthroat.

NICU - rose breasted grosbeak

Nice half hour…



(5/28) – Patience and Tom Chamberlin sent in this report from a morning spent on armburst hill by the playground area. Classic warbler magnet the oaks are there.


Magnolia warbler, Am. Redstarts, N.  Parulas, C. Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Blackpoll warbler,  Tennessee warbler, Blackburnian warbler, Black and White Warbler,Ruby throated hummer, Red Eyed Vireo, Alder flycatcher, 3 E. Kingbirds hawking around playground together from slide and jungle gym.



Basin(5/23 & 6/8) - ferns, merlin displaying, magnolia warbler, northern parula - lots of photos from the basin

spraint and skunk

more ferns - love that fresh green

two weeks before....

(personal) first slime of the year goes to....
Coral Slime 

not sure if these will make it
but if you look closely you can see the gills
on the immature spotted salamanders

lots of marasmius dotting the forest floor these days

fboy - first bolete of year (for me)
its a scaber stalk! congratulation

Basin paddle – (5/24) Northern Goshawk, new osprey nest, cormorant pooping, (4x)seals with pups, otter den….


poking my nose near an otter den (straight ahead! 
...the paddle started with a beautiful adult northern goshawk flying east to west across the basin just as I began. The crows were so loud mobbing the goshawk, you could tell the goshawk was hanging along the granite island trail for my entire paddle.


then I saw this cormorant pooping (photo at the top)


….then I visited this otter den


then I saw these osprey


and their nest


and then I saw this pair of mother and pup on a ledge


she took note of me at first....

...and then fell asleep

No animals were harassed on this paddle. PSA – remember to keep a distance from wildlife when in a kayak to minimize impact. Thank you!!


this guy on the other hand followed me around for most
of my paddle....

and kept harassing me with flipper slaps!
scared the spraint out of me at times!

Flowers – yep, some are out there and those that are nice looking…


Pink Lady Slippers – every preserve has some along the trails, but that first stretch of Huber is loaded with them!

yes, we like orchids
just a song of rhodora (Rhododendron canadense)
hard to believe this is a member of the heath family

blueberries...not ripe yet

and here's another popular heath -

maybe its just timing, but there seems/seemed to be a lot of blueberry flowers the last few weeks.

they are not as tasty at this stage...

this is a dead shrew

Dead shrews - Anyone else finding dead shrews around these days?

I've been finding their bones in pellets (see the last VSR for more info and photos of pellets).

this shrew is also dead

with the red teeth and all in the skull and jaws found in the pellets, as far as the Peterson guide
"Mammals of North America" (Reid, Fiona)
they are from Northern Short-tailed Shrews (Blarina brevicauda). 

here's more from Reid, "Has poisonous saliva that can paralyze or kill insects or subdue prey as large as mice. Sometimes stores paralyzed prey alive for later consumption". Super rad... 

woodcock story - and so I was heading out to get a jump on the trails at about 6am and this woodcock is blocking the road. after it didn't drive off I decided it wanted to be photographed and after a few shots I saw the second woodcock in the road. I know - great! now there are two woodcocks in the way!

mother and offspring, or siblings recently leaving the care of their mother - either way they wouldn't scat until they were ready. survival instincts seemed pretty low as far as woodcocks go.

off island - chipping sparrow nest - on a bike ride with Leif we saw a bird fly out of a shrub by the school.

the nest was in the shrub next to my front tire

we had found a chipping sparrow nest in the same shrub last year, and so did a little, 5 minute search before we found this cool nest with three youngsters looking big and about ready to head out.

this one was found dead a few hundred
feet away from the nest on fledging day

two days later they were out apparently, as Amy and Leif found this youngster about 100 meters (roughly 300 ft for normal people) from the nest. bad timing to leave apparently. impressive how close to the school, and how active the spot is every afternoon.

here's the hairy woodpecker at the nest

hairy woodpecker nests - have found three while on bike rides on the mainland, sure they are happening on Vinalhaven at the same time. listen for the constant beggin call of the babies in the nest.

and here she goes to inspect the cavity
and then she went for it

and then she checked the view from the opening!
bobolink belting it out

I was only able to observe this nest in Port Clyde once, but it afforded me some good shots I think. I love baby woodpecker time! 

bobolink in flight - my bike ride to rockland is fortunate enough to pass by (at least) two male Bobolink territories, and early June is singing, displaying, and chasing any other bird away (regardless of species) time of the year for male Boblinks.
love the flutter flight with singing.
I think that would be hard to do - sing, flutter fly,
and look for some other bird to chase off at the same time

I have been appreciating them this spring especially. we'd (the royal "we'd") see them every year (or so) on Vinalhaven in migration, but watching the flutter flight and behavior is super fun.

coming in for a landing

cool pattern of white and black on back and wings

nelson's are an attractive sparrow (judgment)

nelson's sharp tailed sparrow at westkeag marsh. we at the VSR do not recommend riding your bike on Buttermilk  lane from South Thomaston to the westkeag parking lot unless you like very tense rides. or I should say, I rode that stretch the other day and it was a tense experience.

anyway - fun to see and hear a nelson's on a bike ride - time to look and listen at the Basin Bridge and at State Beach.!

one pitch is what I call him
like Vlad G. of the expos and angels
anything near the plate it going to get hit
Leif has become a baseball hitting legend, and a puzzle master as well.

see you out there!