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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, November 10, 2017

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report –

November 9th, 2017


Brought to you in part by the support of MCHT and VLT


Thanks MCHT and VLT!


Highlights – Snow buntings, Ducks!, Purple Sandpipers, Mushrooms, Winterberry, Gulls including Bonaparte’s and Black-legged Kittiwake, warblers including Hooded

handsome orange clothing model
hunter pence would be proud

Business – PSA – get in touch with your inner orange and bring it out! Let it shine! Put on some orange and lower the chances of being shot by like a whole lot of %s. Seriously, do yourself a favor, hunters expect you to be wearing orange. Meet them half way.


the royal fern...its fern drying season
Contact us! – send in your sightings and share. is the place to share! so send in your photos, your stories, your stretches of imagination and we will post them!


Tiit trick – click on photos to make them jumbo sized!

dried hay scented fern

Sightings -  Greens island(11/4) – male hooded warbler, ruby crowned kinglets, hermit thrushes, robins…snow buntings on alligator ledge. .. thanks to John Drury for the report.


Ferry Ride – (11/3) 8:45 to Vinalhaven –

16 Common Loons, 50 Common Eiders, 25 Black Guillemot, 5 Old tailed ducks, 2 Red necked Grebe, 5 Northern Gannet, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Bonaparte Gull, 2 Purple Sandpiper, Bald Eagle.


common loon
The story here…this was a great ride, the one we’ve all been waiting  for, for so long. Purple Sandpiper, Northern Gannet and Bonaparte’s gull made a nice tri-fecta on this outing. But seeing the old-tails (formerly known as “young-squaw” in certain, small circles) got the juices flowing for winter! A friend of mine asked about what to look for in November and all I could say was DUCKS! And looking out for hunters as to not get shot. Anyway….welcome back to ducky and seabird ferry rides!

oldtailed ducks - stock photo

Ferry Ride – (11/4) 7am to Vinalhaven-

33 Oldtailed Ducks, 17 Common Loon, 42 Black Guillemots, 5 crows (heading to the mainland) 25 Bonaparte’s Gulls, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black backed Gull, 6 Bald Eagles, 15 Red-breasted Merganser, Black Scoter, Common Eider (lots), Double-crested  Cormorants (lots including lines of 50+ migrating).


The story here…for me is how much can show up overnight. Now granted, I may have missed some oldtails on the 3rd, but I doubt I missed 28. Inclimate weather can inspire migration – be it before, after, or during such an event – and with weather settling down a little compared to prior days the increase in Oldtails, and Bonaparte’s makes you (yes, you) wonder what part of the weather system did these newbies ride in on?



I have an image of waterfowl and seabird migration being a big dance party, with the party goers surfing into your town – by your lighthouse, into your bay or harbor even – riding on the edges and the dregs of a system. Undulating “V”s (“it was undulating  so fast” – Yellowstone National Park handout. Thanks BAJ!) and lines of fast flapping, body heavy waterfowl. Some loving it, some just trying to maintain, just trying to keep the pace, keep the rhythm and not screw the whole thing up(anthropomorhisize much?). I wonder if there are individuals ducks who just do not like to migrate (yeah spraint head, keep on anthropomorhisizing). At times and on days, these undulations  move along by the “duck loads” as they (the royal “they”) say.


Is this migration connected with shortening daylight lengths? access to food changing? How much does the onset of inclimate weather inspire Zugunruhe, or migratory restlessness? If at all?

stinkhorn - in the Walmart parking lot
prime habitat for stinky things

Good word to know - Wikipedia – Zugunruhe is a German compound word consisting of Zug (move, migration)  and Unruhe (anxiety, restlessness). In ethology it describes anxious behavior in migratory animals, especially in birds during the normal migratory period.


Were these oldtails chomping at the bit to migrate before the most recent inclimate weather started to set in? Probably. Did this restlessness – ZUGUNRUHE! – increase when air pressure changed? I bet it did. Just thinking out loud here. Whatever the case - welcome back!

apparently the buck does not stop there
Ferry Ride (11/7) – 7am to Vinalhaven

67 Oldtailed ducks, 21 Bufflehead, 36 Common Eider, 46 Black Guillemot, 8 Surf Scoter, 22 Common Loon, 9 Bonaparte’s Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, 20 crows heading to the mainland, Bald Eagle, 2 Harbor Porpoise, 41 Harbor Seals, White-tailed Deer swimming,


The story here… if that weren’t enough – look at that old tail number just 3 days later – with 49 in Rockland Harbor alone! Pretty sweet….Kittiwake flyby was a nice greeting, more to come for sure!...a three mammal ferry ride is not that common….seeing the buck swimming was very cool (crappy photo included) …never seen a murder of crows over the bay, (19) in one group heading to the mainland. It’s that time of the year as well I guess. It should be mentioned that it was so clear and sunny that the above list was essentially tallied from only ½ a boat view. Anyway, I’m not going to go down that road now, you can breathe a sigh of relief!

false chanterelles are everywhere these days.
they are orange for safety.

Huber Preserve – (11/3) – wolfs milk slime, brick tops, turkey tail, orange jelly, false chanterelles, orange delicious milky, honey mushrooms, common scaber stalk, violet toothed polypore. Chickadees, Golden crowned Kinglet, 45 Bufflehead, 10 Black Guillemot. Pileated Woodpecker. Chuck Gadzik.


close up of what remains of Roger
the fungus behind the mushroom

The story here…goes to show what a little rain (and wind) and then some warmth can do in November. More mushrooms than expected – which in an effort to remain transparent I will admit were low (the expectations that is or was). Lots of false chanterelles! …always great to run into Chuck Gadzik who reported crossing paths with a Pileated Woodpecker on the lollipop loop at Huber. Nice to hear.


Basin – Platform Trail – (11/3) - 4 Bald Eagles, Emetic Russula, False Chanterelles, Dead Rat?


stalked woolly polypore

Basin – Wharf Quarry Road/Williams access – (11/4) – juvenile Hermit Thrush and Robins eating winterberry, Blue Jays (what a year for them, huh?), Red Crossbill, Black-capped chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, False Chanterelle, Woolly Stalked Polypore, Ravens.



orange jelly
The story here….winterberries. here and so many other places, as the leaves have been blown around by the crazy storm systems that have come through in the last month and the recent chilly weather as of late – winterberry shrubs covered in red berries become pronounced, noticeable and attractive to humans as well as birds. But the birds are the ones eating them, and juvenile Hermit Thrushes have a softness quality to their being that is enhanced when they quietly, and gently pull winterberries from their perches on twigs….we love that….Red Crossbill are somewhat regular if you hang out long enough on the ledgey view spot above the lobster pound on the Wharf Quarry Road access to the Basin Preserve. And when I say long enough I mean it might take days, but probably not much more than that. Was an exciting, but not surprising path crossing….numerous brown creepers make me (the royal “me”) happy.


Carrying place (11/4) – 6 Surf Scoter, 9 Black Guillemot, 2 Common Loon, Golden-crowned Kinglet
late season honeys

Folly Pond – (11/4) 3 Bald Eagles – all 3 year olds (white belly 2) – 2 Greater Yellowlegs, 5 Hooded merganser, 4 black duck


Pleasant River – (11/4) – 4 Greater Yellowlegs



Old Harbor Pond/Macks Pond – (11/7) – lots of Goldfinch, Dead deer, Grey catbird (eating winterberry), Golden-crowned Kinglet, Black capped chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker, Robin, irregular earth tongue, false chanterelles, emetic russula


Carver’s pond – (10/26) – 15 hooded merganser… (11/7) 21 Bufflehead

what remains of the dead deer from last spring on lane's island

Lane’s Island – (11/7) 7 butterbutts - yellow rumped warblers (flycatching over the beach), flicker, barberry!




macking on free tacos - those taste the best

Other stuff -

in case you were wondering what my kayak looked
like after the storm last week
Best twenty-four hours of my life? Not sure if it was the best twenty four hour stretch in my existence, but man was it a rush….started on Halloween when we (the family “we”) won the local “Halloween house contest” which was thought to be just a “for the personal satisfaction” kind of thing, To Leif’s happiness it ended up netting us 25 bucks! And not to be snotty, but it was a minimal effort on our part – didn’t even take a picture our effort was so last minute. I didn’t realize money was to be involved – imagine what we can do with that kind of inspiration! Anyway, it was the trick or treaters who voted and they were all cute and that kind of thing.


rat in the woods? too gooey to take home
yes, I have cleanliness standards when it comes to bringing
home dead things
The next day was November 1st of course, and so Leif and I took our yearly trek to Taco Bell to get our free “steal a taco” taco. You see, if someone steals a base in the world series taco bell gives everybody a free taco.  Last year it was Francisco lindor from the Cleveland  Indians , and this year it was guy named “Maybin” from the Houston Astros who was the hero and stole a base.


Another glorious winter berry shot
Anyway, you just have to go to a taco bell between 2-6pm on some preselected day. That day happened to be the day after Halloween. So Leif and I schlepped to Taco Bell for our freebies and then did our part for the national economy and purchased a few other food items to go along with our freebies. I took a look at the receipt later to learn that the young woman behind the counter had given me the 10% senior discount. I saved $1.41. She never asked me my age – which I was told later is standard as not to come across as rude. A customer may ask for the senior discount, but for embarrassment sake they give it anyone who meets their standards as to what a senior looks like. I looked it up when I got home and in the world of taco bell a senior is anyone over 65. Currently I am 46. I feel like I cheated the system like buying beer when I was 15 (it was for my friends, seriously). Anyway – it’s a little victory, sticking it to the man! Whatever the case we (the family “we”) were $26.41 and 2 tacos ahead of the game at that point. It was a good 24 hour vortex while it lasted.



In telling  my mom this story I gave her a wonderful opening to make comments like “well, if you shaved your beard…..” .   I kind of asked for it.

no matter how poorly...


Not necessarily the best use of my time…but my new project at Hannaford’s when I have like 5 extra minutes to burn is to document any and all “limited edition” food items that I come across. If you come across any limited edition food items where you live, please photo and send to the VSR. They will be posted – no questions asked. I didn’t even know they still made Twinkies. Pumpkin spice though? Bet it tastes like spraint.


This is by far the scariest section of any VSR. feel like you ate today....

....I hope that you can say.....


...that you didn't eat....

...any of these crappy foods. (judgement)

And we end with a Halloween poem by Leif


Pumpkins at night


“As the moon rises

And the pumpkins glitter and sparkle…like a star.

And the stars lay an eerie glow on the scene.


And eight hours later

Someone will pick pumpkins…Carve a face on a pumpkin

For a happy Halloween”.

see you out there!!!!!