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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, November 5, 2018

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings
November 5th, 2018

Brought to you by the kind efforts of MCHT and VLT

“Have you seen the thousands of brown birds long the roads?”


Highlights – Ferry rides, ducks including gadwall, mushrooms, bluebirds, robins, finches including red crossbill and pine siskin, otter sign, Palm warbler. Huckleberry been particularly colorful these days. Limited edition foods that scare us and so much more.

gannets have been numerous close to the ferry

Business Contact us! is the place to send sightings, reports, email addresses (to be put on the exclusive list!), ideas, complaints, photos of complaints, complaints of photos, comments and of course photos of limited edition foods!
lately, the hermit thrushes have seemed tame


Tiit trick – click on the photos to jumbo-size them! Its fun, its free, and its usually safe!

PSA - its hunting season - get your orange on! Beards help too!

SightingsCarrying Place Bridge – 10/19 – Grace Hinrichs reports 20 or so Bonaparte’s Gulls working the cove just north west of the bridge. Great sighting!
huckleberry has been looking red lately


There have been several days on which I have commented to myself how the huckleberry seems to be peaking, more so than any fall I can remember. Anyway – great colors this year!


dark-eyed junco
Side of the road bird groups – On the random calm morning between recent windy stretches, it (the royal “it”) was as if “b**tloads of sparrows fell from the skies” (that is a Kirk quote, one that I just made up in my head). On the mainland as well as on island, this yearly tradition of fall sparrow movement felt condensed (maybe?) with groups of roadside birds feeling (its all about the feeling) larger than groups observed in years past. They, the birds, also seemed to disappear as quickly as they showed up (kind of), making for a shorter, but more intense sparrow season. (not that there aren’t still sparrows around, but for a few weeks there is was kind of ridiculous).


white-throated sparrow
Couple thoughts on this observation. (1) – it could be wrong. (2) -This observation might be chalked up to weather pattern effect – birds stacking up further north waiting for an opportunity to migrate south – or (3) it just being a great year for sparrow youth survival, or both (2) & (3), or neither (1). Whatever the case groups seemed to be made up of White-crowned, White-throated, Song, and Savannah Sparrows, as well as Dark-eyed Juncos, mixed with Northern Flicker, Hermit Thrush (surprisingly tame in these groups) and the occasional Palm Warbler.
many surf scoter groups cruising around lately


Ferry Ride  - (10/19) 7am from Rockland – Loads of Gannets, 10 Surf Scoter, 7 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Old-tailed Duck, 4 Bufflehead, Sanderling, Canada Geese, Double-crested Cormorant…(10/20) 2:45 to rockland – gannets everywhere


After so many days on wind, here was the first day of duck season (for me) with Red-breasted Mergs, Buffleheads, and Old taileds seen from the ferry! Sanderling flyby was so cool!

geese of the Canada flavor
migration ahoy!

Folly Pond – (10/19) – 3 Hooded Merganser, 2 Gadwall, 2 Bufflehead, Greater Yellowlegs, Bald Eagle

The story here was the pair of Gadwall chillin’ in the pond. Gadwall are one of the few “subtle duck” species where the male doesn’t get all decked out in patterns with colors. Instead one of the best identification marks is the dark butt (rear-end, tushy). Only the third time I have seen on Vinalhaven. The hooded mergansers were great too!

starboard rock is always full of views

Starboard Rock (10/19) – saw-whet owl scat


destroying angel line up

Watershed trail – (10/19) Destroying Angels

little white island

White islands – (10/22) – otter sign, Mink den, White-throated sparrows, Bald Eagle, American robins, hermit thrush, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned kinglets, honey mushrooms, gem-studded puffballs, so many corts

active otter den

Always great to get out to the whites. Visited 4 historic otter dens – all with sign of recent use. Great latrines – is it weird to feel that the only thing in nature that might be as photogenic as mushrooms is otter spraint? I think it is normal. Lots of mink sign as well.

otter spraint by a pin
spectacle island
leadbetter island
view from bald/spectacle
spraint city

Lane’s Island – (10/22) American Bittern


Went owling. Saw no owls, but had a bittern flyby after the sunset. I was happy.

pileated woodpecker

Crockett Cove – (10/23) – lots of otter sign. Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Flicker, Bufflehead,


The Crockett river otter scene is always a treat, the latrines loaded with recent spraint and sign. Pileated Woodpecker sighting, and lots of sign, was another treat, as well as a handful of Eastern Bluebird, both of which could have been “the birds of the report” if it wasn’t for the gadwall at folly pond the day before. In my experience, Eastern Bluebird sightings on Vinalhaven are not that frequent, but it does seem like most falls there’s a wave or two of them that pass through the islands. I saw a bunch this week on North Haven as well.




its blue, if you look at it close enough
North Haven day – (10/30) – 10 Bluebirds, otter, mink and raccoon sign. Saw-whet Owl pellet. Common Snipe, American Woodcock, Belted Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, hermit thrushes, ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets,


The story here, first off, is the first Woodcock and Snipe day of my life! Both were seen in flight as I scared the poop out of them (probably literally) on my bike. Saw-whet owl pellet on the same trail I have found them on the last 7 years or so, as long as I visit in the fall. Saw-whets are migrating these days (nights actually) – keep your eyes peeled for them! (or not!). Bluebirds were fun to see, lots of ruby-crowned kinglets, and the white-crowned sparrow at JO Brown dock was entertaining.


white-crowned sparrow
pulpit rock bald eagle
raccoon latrine above my bike
raccoon scat



State Beach (10/30) – 20 Red-necked Grebe, 10 Red-breasted Merganser, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow

savannah sparrow


Off island – Clark Island, St George – Young porcupine, hermit thrush, red crossbill, pine siskin, white-throated sparrow.


and what I like to call "latrines with views"
this one was sent from South Carolina!
thanks mom and Aunt Linda
The fall means pumpkins. The fall means holidays. The fall means limited edition foods.
yummy - sent from Portland!
photo by Beth Guilford

Lots of good ones this report. Is there really someone out there that believes pumpkin flavoring should be put in everything?


Great times with Leif, he’s a cool 9 year old getting ready for age 10. We saw the movie Venom for the 3 time yesterday. Movie of the year!


Great time for kite flying!

and for our free tacos! thank you mookie betts!

See you out there!