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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


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report – November 29th, 2017

Brought to you though the kindness of VLT and MCHT

“You seem so cheery” – text received yesterday


Highlights – ducks, sea watching, trip to Calderwood, feeder pigeon, sea birds, fisher off island, otter on island, white-winged crossbill, harlequin duck,


Plus -lots of plugs and links away from the VSR in this one. You’re welcome everybody.



Business – contact us – we dare you! . You might catch us in good mood.


Tiit trick – click on the photos to “jumbosize” them. “Jumbosized” is now an accepted part of the metric system and will be used across the USA by this time next year.


Other blogs – “Sightings from Skua” - don’t forget to check out John Drury’s blog focusing (somewhat) largely on the pelagic world around Vinalhaven -


Other writings -Here’s a link or two to the st George dragon, where we have a little nature column – thanks to the kind people over at the dragon for posting these!


“Berries we like” - - somehow the title got changed, might have been me! – supposed to be “berries we like”. And we like them because birds like them. Transitive property of equality



the other holes were too small
photo by Gabe Peter Harp


patiently waiting its turn?
photo by Gabe Peter Harp

Gabe Peter Harp was kind enough to send in a few shots he took of a pigeon feeling very comfortable at his family's feeding station. thanks for sending!


winter razorbill off the breakwater

Sightingsferry rides – (11/12) 7am to Vinalhaven – 80 Common Loon, 100 Old tailed Ducks, 67 Black Guillemots, 60 Common Eider, 36 Surf Scoter, 15 Bufflehead, 14 Red-breasted Merganser, 8 Bonaparte’s Gulls, 4 Razorbill, Bald Eagle, 3 Harbor Porpoise, 6 Harbor Seal


Bonaparte's gull have a noticeable white leading edge
to their wing

(11/27) – 7am to Vinalhaven – 35 Common Loon, 75 Old tailed Duck, 66 Black Guillemots, 53 Surf Scoter, 99 Bonaparte’s Gulls, 2 Black-legged Kittiwakes, 2 Northern Gannet, 3 Great Cormorants, 4 Bufflehead, 2 Horned Grebe, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Razorbill, Bald Eagle, lots of Common Eider.


purple sandpiper on the rockland breakwater


The story here was the two fabulous ferry rides. Always great to see Bonaparte Gull numbers increase (from 6 to 99), and razorbills and Kittiwakes hopefully will continue to be present in Western Penobscot bay and seen with regularity. Both were satisfying trips.



Trip to Calderwood – (11/12) - Had a great trip aboard the Skua with Captain John Drury, heading out around the eastern shore of Vinalhaven to Calderwood and through Seal Bay and Winter Harbor.  Here’s a taste of what we saw…. 2 Harlequin Ducks, 22 Great Cormorants, 70+ Surf Scoter, 2  Bonaparte’s Gull, 9 Black-legged Kittiwake, 3 Red-throated Loon, 110 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Black scoter, 100+ old tailed duck.



red-necked grebe

Raccoon, dead and alive on Calderwood. 

and some raccoon poop...

Lots of harbor seal in Seal Bay.

old tails in flight



(11/28) up tip toe way – while monitoring an easement up that-a-way I had literally the time of life, and I never felt this way before (total exaggeration and not true at all). Anyway – plenty of otter sign along the cove shoreline led to….


…spots with plenty of recent beaver chews and a tiny little dam that raised a pond by a foot or so. Impressive…


spraint by anonymous

…which led to a dock with otter spraint on it – not covering it, but a substantial amount for sure. After about 5 minutes of photographing and chatting on the dock a burst of energy shot out from beneath the dock! A wave was created and rolled through the thin ice, causing it to undulate (“the ground is undulating so much!”) – Which was cool enough on its own…?

otters away.

…which led to an otter popping up through the ice and snorting at us! We ended up leaving the otter as we were standing on it home I guess! Epic…


…which led to more otter latrines and then a cameo by an American Woodcock. Very cool time up in the cove.


Folly Pond


11/28 – around the island – White-winged Crossbill (Folly Pond), Golden-crowned Kinglet, Robin, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, American Woodcock. Carver’s Pond – 11 Hooded Merganser, 24 Bufflehead….


Off island – Art parkin’ it – Georges River Land Trust stewards a sweet, recently opened art park in Cushing - Langlais Sculpture Preserve - just across the river from St George. Leif and I took a trip recently to check out some of the larger than life works of Bernard Langlais. It was super cool and Leif loved learning about Richard Nixon. He had to sometime.
ever wonder what that female human
in that famous Wyeth painting looked like?
photo below

Check out the George’s River web page on the preserve….and the video on the restoration project to get it up to snuff…..




this is what the human female looked like.
exactly how I would have guessed

I am not sure I understand art. throb?

Cazenovia – over Thanksgiving break we got to check out another art park, this one in upstate New York. The Stone Quarry Art Park - - is a cool place to check out…here are a few shots from the day…..beautiful setting!




out of state – Hamlet of Nelson - Heading to upstate new York got a little more fun starting last February as readers with memories will remember – we tracked a Fisher that was living close to my in-laws (hello Sandy and Jeff!), ended up finding its den an everything. Well, thanksgiving was “the return of the son-in-law with a trail camera this time!”

and even though the den showed no sign of use, and there was very little snow to be found, two logs crossed the very small creek behind the Palmer house happen to have a dusting of snow. And in that dusting of snow happened to be tracks from a fisher when it was crossing that log. Figured that was as good of a place as any for the camera….


….and ended up with some fisher butt shots as it crossed the tree toward the opposite side! Luckily it turned around – was she turned to salt? – and gave a sparkly eyed look that was captured on the camera. Good day


thank goodness this is limited edition
fun holiday shapes though


Grossest project/photos ever in the sightings report (but that is not saying much, really) - we continue with our newish project – limited edition food documentation. Take a look at these nasties…..

this sounds gross

a closer look reveals a contest.
I will guess - without even trying them -
that they taste like crap 


and we are getting limited editions sent in from across the country

gross - photo by Big Al Jones

photo by Big Al Jones

this one sounds alright

this one seems dumb

this seems like a gross version of something that
was probably pretty gross to begin with

tailgate tested? I think only the packaging
is different than the normal edition

Special editions are also being accepted. It’s a thin line between special and limited.


And as if it that weren’t enough, we are expanding the segment to “disturbing” foods as well. Document them and send them in – right from the store!

had to add this, foods we wish were limited edition
photo by Big al Jones
donut shop cereal is finally here!

And of course more Leif –

having fun on the rockland breakwater…good times..


See you out there!