New England Coastal BIrds

New England Coastal BIrds

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Part 4- Enjoying Vinalhaven

 Part 4- Enjoying Vinalhaven- Jen and I woke up early Tuesday morning, and immediately we walked out onto the deck.  Looking over the Harbor, we both realized that we were so lucky for the last two days, and so blessed for the Tropicbird and seabirding experience with John. With the change in temperature, the wind direction to the southeast and the drop in wind speed meant only one thing; fog!

      Since we were fogbound for at least the morning, Jen put on a pot of coffee and I decided it would be a good time to download and start reviewing and editing my images from the past few days in Maine. In the end, I had taken over twelve thousand images mostly from Seal Island.

      About noontime the fog lifted, and we decided to go over to the Preserve and take a walk (also because that is one of the only areas on the Island we found cell power)! After a good long walk through the preserve, it was time for lunch; so “when in Maine”-

     Actually there was excellent birdwatching from the deck of the Tidewater. When the tide flooded the birding was best. Here are a few images I took from our deck over the course of our five day stay at the Tidewater. Ospreys were present every day in the Harbor. This one was fishing and it suddenly dropped to the water…..

     …..and after a big splash, emerged with a small Harbor Bluefish-

     Black Guillemots were present every day as well. This one popped up with a Green Crab-

     This Great Blue Heron was only one of three we saw on the Island. This shot was taken early one morning-

    Hen Common Eider with one duckling-

     The Herring Gulls were always looking for a hand out!

     And so were the Laughing Gulls-

     I couldn’t resist, had to take at least one image of  Greater Black-backed Gull-

     Double-crested Cormorant with a fish. At high tide they would be directly below our deck-

      One of many Bald Eagles flying over the Harbor; this one being escorted by a Herring Gull-

     Harbor portraits from every morning, sunset and nighttime-

     The Lane’s Island Nature Preserve was located very near the Tidewater. It’s a beautiful Preserve which is popular with everyone and is managed by the Nature Conservancy. Lane’s Island Preserve is forty-five acres of spruce edges, rolling moors of Rugosa Rose, wildflowers, and other saltwater tolerant plants that run down to meet the sea.  You access the Island Park by crossing a stone causeway just outside town on the southern edges of Carvers Harbor. The Preserve features rough trails that lead to beaches and a bouldered shoreline, where the surf is said to be spectacular on a stormy day.

     When you walk into the Preserve your senses are consumed with the mild awakening of fresh air filtered through a potpourri of Spruce, Rugosa Rose and wildflowers; it was quite refreshing! Rugosa Rose-

     The Spruce trees along the ocean edges were covered with hanging moss-

     Natural art-

     It’s not like me to be so relaxed….I actually watched this Snail walk across this rock! Nothing like taking vacation in such a beautiful place! :^)

     The birding was quite good here, but difficult with the thick low-lying cover. Most of the time you get glimpses of birds scuttling from bush to bush in the waist-high ground cover.  Gulls and Terns were constantly flying over the Preserve trading from one Harbor to the other. Here are a few bird shots I was able to take here.  Common Yellowthroats-


   Song Sparrows-

     Mourning Doves-

     Cedar Waxwings-



     Common Eiders with ducklings-

     This is the first time I have seen a flock of Lesser Yellowlegs feeding on a large floating mat of Rockweed-

     Migrating Lesser Yellowlegs-

     Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs-

      And the ever present Osprey…….

     …..and Bald Eagles; everywhere!

     Jen pointed out this young Bald Eagle flying in with a stick?

     The weather forecast called for rain on Wednesday, Wednesday night and Thursday the day we were scheduled to leave. During the day Wednesday, the rain let up and the sky cleared. We went over to the Preserve in the late afternoon to enjoy our next to the last day on Vinalhaven. The afternoon was gorgeous with cooler temps, light winds and an amazingly fresh scent to the air. In the distance a large thunderhead was forming just as the sun was beginning to set. The sky was amazing! Here are a few images-

     The setting sun viewed through a Spruce tree-

     Spectacular colors of the sunset illuminated the side of this house.

     What a great way to end the day!

     Lane’s Island Nature Preserve (green arrow) and the Tidewater Hotel (red arrow)-

     Thursday morning we woke up to a cloudy and overcast morning. We had reservations on the 4:30 pm ferry figuring that we would stay as long as we could adding a little insurance time in case we had to go on a  make-up morning run to Seal Island. Everyday, three Black Guillemots would come into the Harbor at high tide and settle in along the small bulkhead jetty behind the Tidewater. Often one or more of these birds would haul out on these floating Lobster crates-

     Looking closely at one of these alcids, one of them had already started changing over into winter dress which was obvious by the salt and pepper speckling in its plumage-

     Within a short time, the clouds cleared and the sun came out again. As we were loading our car, I decided to make an attempt to see if I can get close enough to the Guillemots for close images. I walked between the buildings and on to the granite pier. I peeked over the top but the two alcids were gone. Where did they go? That was soon answered when both birds popped up near the wall only a few yards away. They both had made a dive at the same time and when they came to the surface, there I was. I took quite a few images of these Guillemots as they slowly swam away from shore. What a great way to end a birding vacation on Vinalhaven with these two Guillemots, Puffins, Razorbills, Common Murre, and the amazing Red-billed Tropicbird!

     Here is the summer dress adult Black Guillemot-

     The salt and pepper changing over adult-

     We drove to the Ferry and were placed on stand-by and we were able to be board the  1:00 pm ferry. As we passed through the Fox Island Thoroughfare, we watched Eiders, Terns, Eagles, Osprey, and of course Black Guillemots as we steamed to Rockland. We drove down to Spruce Head to stay at one of our favorite Inns; The Craignair Inn
     At the Craignair you will find warm and comfortable accommodations, peace and quiet, and probably the best dining in the State of Maine. Their Smoked Haddock Chowder is absolutely delicious! In fact Jen and I believe it to be the best Chowder we have had in New England from CT, RI, Cape Cod and Maine. The last day of our vacation was spent in Rockland and Camden going to art galleries and doing a bit of shopping.

     Even now as I sit and re-read this report, I am looking up at the Tropicbird decoy on our fireplace mantle and it now has so many stories to tell!  I can still see that magnificent bird strafing the Tern colony on Seal Island. I can still hear John telling us fantastic stories of seabirding off Vinalhaven.  I can still feel the rocking of the Fluke as it makes headway to Seal.  I can still taste that wonderful Lobster lunch Jen made for us at the Tidewater,  and I can still smell those wonderful fragrances of Spruce, Rose and clean ocean air. Great memories carry with you for a long time!

Keith and Jen Mueller

Killingworth, CT