Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report
April 26th, 2018
Underwritten by the (the royal “the”) Vinalhaven Land Trust and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Highlights – Blue Grosbeak, Woodcocks, Raptors, Turkey Vultures, Palm Warblers, Vernal Pools, Songbird singing!, mushrooms
Business: contact us – send us your sightings and nature photos and stuff – firstname.lastname@example.org. Do the right thing and share! And if you have already shared, then share and share again!
Tiit trick – click on photos to make them jumbo sized. Use this power wisely.
|leif - in the studio|
On the radio – like the great Donna Summer song, Leif and I have a music show on the local Rockland station – 93.3 WRFR – on Sunday nights 7-8pm. We call the show “Built for Comfort” and our mission statement clearly states that we provide groovy, pain-free music for people to tap their toes to, dance around with, and at times bang their noggin’s along to/with. It’s a public service we are happy to provide. Listen in if you get the chance and the website lets you listen! We are having a ball grooving in the studio.
photo by Jake Tuminski
Sightings – (4/24) Claire Jackson was kind enough to send in these shots that her mom – the woman formerly known as Jake Jackson– took at her feeders last weekend. This is a Blue Grosbeak, he’s a male and he’s a handsome one at that (judgement). Brightly colored blue birds of this size seen at feeders around Vinalhaven are “usually” Indigo Buntings – indigo buntings are seen every year on island and are known local breeders – which we don’t judge either way. The bird that Jake captured on “film” differs from an indigo bunting by the honkin’, seed crackin’ bill – which requires a close view (like the one Jake got) to see– and by the reddish markings on the wings – which can be seen from a distance. Indigo Bunting wings are jet/pure/completely black.
|blue grosbeak II!|
photo by Jake Tuminski
You may be thinking – Blue Grosbeak, huh? I haven’t heard many reports of those, have I? Both are good questions and both are correct, if questions can be correct. Let’s start with the later – this is officially the first Blue Grosbeak reported to the VSR in our 9 years (or so) history. One April I found evidence – wings and body feathers - from two dead blue grosbeaks killed and eaten on Calderwood Island. This interpretation was based on the piles of blue feathers sprinkled with 2 blue wings with reddish feathers – just like in the picture! Other than that I personally have only seen one Blue Grosbeak in my life – Cape May New Jersey August 1999. In thinking about this wonderful sighting I am realizing that I have seen more dead Blue Grosbeaks than live ones!
|seal - oh, are you still here?|
eagle - oh, are you not dead yet?
The bird charts in the back of the “a birder’s guide to Maine” by Pierson, Pierson and Vickery report that Blue Grosbeak are considered “Rare” for Maine. It’s during migration - mid-April through May and then again in post-breeding migration for most of September and into October – when the grosbeaks peak at their “Rare” status – which is understood to mean (by this particular book’s standards) “1-4 typically present in the state at that time of the year”. The species also has a special “C” next to its chart, meaning that they are found in migration typically within 10 miles of the coast. You can’t get 10 miles away from the coast on Vinalhaven! Awesome bird, awesome photos, awesome sharing – way to go Jackson/Tuminki’s!
|Leif with some water logged Tree Ear|
mushrooms that were submerged in
our favorite local vernal pool
Who’s singing – Song and White-throated Sparrow, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrush, Brown Creeper, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Eastern Phoebe, Common Grackles, Blue Jays (acting weird too!) , Northern Cardinal, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, Purple Finch, Goldfinch, Tree and Barn swallows
Who’s seen not singing – Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Osprey, Bald Eagles, Northern Harrier, Broad winged Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Greater Yellowlegs
|how many pups will be seen from the ferry?|
in the basin? in seal bay? a bunch!
Harbor Seals – three weeks or so before pups start popping! Wonderful time of the year to be pupped, or so I am told.
Who’s displaying – American Woodcocks – Here’s a fun video of a woodcock walking. Jamus Drury caught a video of this guy strolling.
Heller field – with some time on my hands and already being pretty much up in the area I visited the Tip-toe Mtn zone for a sunset session and swung by Heller field for crepuscularity. This particular field, and one spot within the field in particular, has a history of providing a platform for a male American Woodcock to display its little heart. About 4 years ago the “usual” male failed to show after 5 or 6 years of a consistent presence (can’t be sure it was the same woodcock, but we will go with it). Anyway, it was reasoned that that particular woodcock had passed into woodcock heaven (or whatever). Sure enough, a male woodcock came out to use the venue, just like old times…
Are woodcock creatures of habit? I would say so - if a second Woodcock has taken over the display area and is using the exact same spot to perform – I mean the exact same spot. Something magical about that field. Check a field near you – got a few more weeks before the performing stops! Woodcock watching is a family friendly activity!
|palmer warbler - doesn't mind to get on the ground|
Warblers – seen a group of yellow birds flicking their tails? Palm (or Palmer) Warblers have been around in numbers for the last week or more. Bright yellow on the body, with a reddish cap, and lots of white on the tail underside are things to note when seeing, but a warbler silhouette flicking its tail at this time of the year is almost always a Palm Warbler, with 100%
|eye line, streaks, and lots of white on that|
Yellow-rumped warbler singing. Return of the butterbutts!
Turkey Vultures – three vultures spent time around the Harbor and up the Reach (not literally) – got this photo from the comforts of my truck on the ferry. Nice welcome to the island, in at least one culture vultures are a sign of luck and a signal for a time for prospering. Not sure where that culture is located.
|pool looked a little low on the 24th|
Huber – (4/24) – checking on the trail and the trailside vernal pool, it was clear from a distance that water levels were low. This has been the case with Vernal Pools I have visited on the mainland as well. “Only” two spotted salamander egg masses where found in the pool that day. In years past egg masses may have been as numerous at 8 or 10. There have also been a lower number of egg masses in vernal pools hen compared to last year on the mainland that as well.
|can eggs look tasty in a way other than digesting them?|
While many factors most likely factor (please allow myself to introduce…myself) in to just how many masses are laid, water levels at breeding time is certainly one of those factors. I just used the word “factor” three times in one sentence!
Granted - it is pouring as this VSR is being typed so egg masses – water levels in this pool are going to be much higher as a result, and if the weather follows predictions the pool should stay relatively high (water wise) for a while. That is good and wonderful for the masses already laid (there we go again). Makes you (the royal “you”) wonder if the pool had higher water levels a week ago might have resulted in more masses. Makes me wonder.
Further down the trail - where water is present on the left side and flows under the trail and off to the right 0 (zero) egg masses above the trail could be seen. Several below the trail, after the water flow
Anyway – the masses were freshly placed, we will keep visiting and posting – let us know what’s the scene at your favorite vernal pool!
|there is no denying the skunk cabbage|
Also at Huber – Skunk Cabbage – everyone’s favorite plant is back at it, growing and ready to dominate wetlands around the island. Flowers have been out for a bit, and the big leaves are just getting going. They are wonderful to photograph at all stages!
|brown cup (of some flavor)|
Huber shrooms – some of the earliest fungus to bloom are “cups” Brown cup and black hairy cups are find to search for in mossy patches along the trail. Just before Roger’s tree is a good spot. But look close – these dudes are tiny! More mushrooms to come!
|black hairy cups|
|osprey are around. can't argue with that either|
On the mainland
Photo gallery – vernal pools and more
|Leif and eggs|
|spotted salamander eggs|
|spotted salamander egg masses|
|wood frog eggs|
|wood frog egg mass|
|leif found this grey tree frog in the woods. chilled for a few days|
|Leif is a great kid. Fun to travel with.|
More vernal pool, egg mass and Azores pictures posted on instagram – under the code name “baldfulmar”
|thank you Cheerios!|