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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, May 7, 2018

Welcome to the Vinalhaven sightings report – May 6th, 2018

Vinalhaven Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust – we salute (and thank!) you!

spotted salamander egg masses


Highlights – songbird migration! Warblers and the such! Saw-whet pellet, red crossbill with young, springtails, otter stuff and sighting from the ferry

cinnamon fern fiddlehead


Business – contact us! – – send in your photos, your stories, your email addresses and bask in the glory that is the Vinalhaven Sightings Report

Tiit trick – click on the photos to jumbo-size them! It’s fun and is mostly painless

raccoon pile!

Upcoming events! – Warbler Walk! – Friday May 25th, 8am – meet at Skoog Park to carpool. John Drury will be leading a two-hour outing to check out what warblers and other songbirds are “passing through” or “setting up shop”. Migration is the best! Enjoy it with some tweeters!  

saw-whet pellet in trail.
been there a while

Sightings! - Who’s singing – the woods are aloud with bird song! = Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, American Robin, hermit Thrush, White-throated and Song Sparrows, Purple and Gold finch, Dark-eyed Junco, Eastern Phoebe, Northern Parula, Black and White, Yellow-rumped, and Black-throated Green Warblers! Common yellowthroats, Blue-headed Vireo, Ovenbird, blue jay, crow and ravens!


saw-whet owl pellet treasure
Wharf Quarry Road/Basin Preserve/ Williams section – (5/4) Red crossbills (w/young) Saw-whet owl pellet, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Belted Kingfisher, otter spraint, yellow-rumped warblers, spotted salamander egg masses.

more spotted salamander egg masses

The story here….is many fold. The 15 second interaction I had with a family of red crossbills was priceless. Long enough to hear them coming, see them land, hear the young begging, watch the adult feed and then have them take off. Whirlwind! If I had been distracted by anything else I would have missed for sure. Makes me wonder what I missed by being distracted by the red crossbills! Songbirds already fledging! Take that!

hope rain comes soon for these dudes
they are built to be out of the water for extended periods
just nice to see them in the water as well!
Saw-whet owl pellet was cool, looked as if it had been there for a while, yet still had enough fuzz and bones to clearly be a pellet. Right on the trail! Apparently, it’s a good place to regurgitate!

The spotted salamander egg masses can be seen from Wharf Quarry Road, just past the MCHT parking area. The first wetland zone on the left (south) side of the road – will be there for the next few weeks! Fun to watch them develop!

 Basin – (4/30) Platform trail – it was springtail time in the basin! The focus seemed to be largely on one root just past the second bridge section. Check out this video to see what I am talking about! My apologizes – I zoom out at 10 seconds and thought the video would focus on its own – it doesn’t! check it out!

springtails on a red-belted conk!
So that is like an enormous number of springtails. That’s cool – but what are they? Springtails have their own order in the insect world – Collembola. There are about 6000 species worldwide, and in my judgmental noggin’s opinion the most popular and regularly noted springtails around Vinalhaven are the “snow flea” (found on snow on warm winter days) and the seashore springtail (found in tidepools during the summer).

Here’s what Arthur V Evans says about them in NWF’s “Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America” –

“they (springtails) are part of the decomposer community”

“most springtails eat bacteria, fungi, lichens, mosses, pollen, or decaying vegetation. Others are carnivores and prey on small invertebrates”

“Springtails “jump” by means of modified abdominal appendages. A forklike structure called the furcula is attached to the rear of the abdomen and held in place along the length of the abdomen by a post like retinaculum. When released by the retinaculum, the furcula quickly snaps out and backward, launching the springtail into the air”

after recent rains tree ears have been everywhere

In other words, they eat the little things and then bounce around by their spring-loaded abdomens. Or something like that! See them every now and then, but when you see them in such numbers it hard not to be impressed.

skunk cabbage is looking good these days


Skunk cabbage is big and green these days. Almost tempted to munch on some! But not really….


this dude was scared scatless!
woodcock poop

Winter Harbor – (4/30) Jane Arbuckle stirred up an American Woodcock while searching for a boundary pin. The only evidence of the encounter left behind was this impressive pile of woodcock poop. I guess they really do poop their weight in digested worms every day!

there is a rumor that seal pups make a popping sound when
they are born. keep your ears peeled for popping soon!
From the ferry – (4/30) Steve Walker spotted a river otter in the ocean (what part of river does this otter not understand) by the ledges outside of Lairey’s narrows. With local dens on both Lairey’s and Leadbetter Islands this area seems prime to look for otters while folks are looking for seals and eagles and whatever.

Seal pups should be popping out soon! In the Basin somewhere around the 15-17th of May traditional has been prime pupping season. Look for the little grey ones from the ferry as well!

American beaver

Off islandTenants Harbor – Beaver session – crepuscular with mammals is fun, most recently in the Marsh near our place I was taking photos of this beaver passing me by while I was on shore. My camera is loud – no doubt about it – and I think the noise distracted the beaver enough that it made a pass – came really close in fact – slapped a few times to let everyone and everything in the marsh know I was there – and then headed off on its merry way. I love you too!


Leif and Reid - scouting for eggs
Tenants Harborvernal poolin’ with friends. Headed out to the long cove region of Tenants Harbor to see what the egg status is in some pools on MCHT land. Did not disappoint – and a morning with Reid – he may look familiar, spends a bit of time on island – Drew and Andy and found 57 or so egg masses on one property, and then another 50 or so at another old quarry spot. Looking forward to perspectives this week! Eggs will be “a-plenty!”.  
Leif and Reid with some eggs
life is better with polarized glasses!

spotted salamander egg mass!