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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


Sunday, August 12, 2018

seal bay

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report – August 10th, 2018

Brought to you via the kind support of VLT and MCHT

“Nature is awesome”

pair of black-bellied plovers - state beach (8/9)

Highlights – Greater Shearwaters, Mushrooms!, Birdies!, 4 species of flowers! most ever mentioned!, Monarchs, Otter Spraint, other stuff


indian pipes from above
Business : PSA – a couple of folks have approached me with lines like “you haven’t posted in a while” or “no more VSR?” . Nothing can be further from the truth, but apparently not all the announcement emails are being received. We apologize for this and can tell you honestly that you have not been removed from the official email list. Not sure why this happens – maybe the email is going to spam folders or whatever – but the way this works is that there are two posts per month (at least). Some months it’s the 1st and the 15th or so, other months it’s the 10th and the 22nd or so. If you haven’t gotten a reminder email for a while feel free to check the blog site as you can still access the posts just by checking the blog out. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to check the blog every day! That will get our numbers up! (we are not counting numbers, that is a joke). Anyway, please let me know if you haven’t heard from us in a while and we’ll try to get to the bottom of the issue! Alright, enough of this malarkey!


Contact . If you send sightings anywhere else we may not receive! Or remember! Share your sightings and photos there! Thanks!


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


harbor porpoise
photo by Michael Seif
Update – so we posted in that last VSR that a Peregrine Falcon with jesses was spotted on the July 19th bird walk. Well, word got around and it ends up someone lost their pet “Gyrfalcon/peregrine” hybrid falcon on the 17th or 18th at Lincolnville Beach. While certainly the same bird, no one noted the Gyrfalcon part of the bird on the walk. So maybe its two birds. Just kidding, not sure how anyone would pick up on the Gyrfalcon part of the bird

osprey nest activity
photo by Michael Seif

So a dude lost his pet that was a hybrid of two obviously closely related species (or else they couldn’t hybridize!). Was the bird made in a lab? Artificially fertilized? This brings up many ethical and common sense questions, but really comes down to a big “whatever”. As in “whatever floats your boat”. And  “whatever, I don’t want to think about this anymore” as well as “whatever, I couldn’t care less”. There may be more “whatevers” to choose from, but feel free to pick from our selection if you’d like. I am going with the third one. Let’s move on, shall we! In other words….whatever…… there is a leash law!
greater shearwater
photo by Jamus Drury


SightingsGreater ShearwatersJamus Drury, sternman and obvious brains of the “Valhaula” (spelling) crew, reports a few days of seeing Greater Shearwaters from the lobster boat in Western Penobscot Bay. Jamus was able to snap a few shots and send them in to share. Rumor has it one of the sightings was close to the ferry route! Keep your eyes open from the ferry ride for porpoise and other sea life.

greater shearwater
photo by Jamus Drury


Greater shearwaters are a summertime specialty for the north Atlantic and the Gulf of Maine. their breeding zone, however, is the southern Atlantic, so when its winter up here these Shearwater are raising their youngster way away from here. So cool to see! Thanks for sharing Jamus! 

lesser yellowlegs on Lane's Island


Lane’s Island – (8/2) Had my favorite sighting of the year – Mary Drury! Always great to see Mary! Nice to see Terry too! … from the bird walk that morning – Northern Parula family with fledglings,  cedar waxwings, American goldfinch…(8/9) – Yellow-rumped and Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Red-breasted Nuthatch, BC Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Spotted Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Common Tern, Common Eider


The parking lot at Lane’s had a nice mixed species flock in fog on the 9th. Always a good time on lane’s.


least sandpiper on lane's

northern parula feeding youngsters
photo by John Drury


Green’s Island – Parula nest – John Drury was kind enough to send over this photo of an adult northern parula feeding youngsters that were still in the nest! Usnea (old mans beard!) lichen made up the walls of the nest of this suspended nest! Awesome shot! Must have been fun to watch! Awesome shot!


black-bellied plovers in flight


Bird walk – (8/9) – in the fog…..had an incredible experience in the fog with 2 participants who showed up in the rain at 7am. State Beach10 Short-billed Dowitcher, 10 Black-bellied Plover, 15+ Semi-palmated Plover, 4 Semi-palmated Sandpiper, 2 Lesser Yellowlegs, Sanderling, Common Tern, Common Eider, Song Sparrow, Double crested Cormorants, Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls….

can you find the black-bellied plovers
in the mist?

“Shorebirds in the mist” was the theme of the morning outing. With limited visibility we let the shorebirds come to us…and boy did they ever! Great views as the shorebirds were feasting on amphipods tucked into the bladderwrack.

no shortage of semi-palmated plovers at state beach

a little mist, a little drizzle
nothing stops the bird walks!
except for hefty mist and hefty drizzles

Folly Pond – (8/9) visibility was a little bit better here, but not by much. We were entertained by Great Blue Heron, 4 Wood Ducks, Belted Kingfisher, and a 1st year (fresh out of the nest!) Bald Eagle. Had to work a bit for these, and be patient as well!


monarch caterpillars and land snail
photo by Sylvia Reiss

Breakfast at City PointSylvia Reiss was kind enough to send in this photo of a pair of Monarch caterpillars feasting on leaves along with a snail. This has been a summer of consistent, multiple daily Monarch sightings which (once again) is refreshing to see after some lean years not too long ago.

this freshly fledged Common Yellowthroat
mistook me for its parent when I turned over a
huge skunk cabbage leaf


(8/1) Basin – Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Common Yellowthroat with fledgling amongst others. The real story here, other than the cool fledgling Yellowthroat was the impressive amount of mushrooms “lining the trail!”.  Let’s break down some of what was out there….


teeth, as opposed to gills or pores


Toothed MushroomsHydnaceae (Tooth fungus family) – This specimen of the Genus Sarcodon was growing in the middle of the Williams trail in the Basin. With the incurved margin of the cap its most likely Sarcodon scabrosus – or Bitter Tooth – but this mushroom was pretty waterlogged and faded – past its prime if you will – which can make identifying to species a little tricky. Cool to see the teeth on the underside as opposed to pores or gills or whatever.

sarcodon scabrosus

zonate tooth

zonate tooth growing around hay scented fern

Zonate tooth – Hydnellum concrescens – these guys are cool. Growing from the outer lip of the mushroom, they will surround any plants or twigs in their way. This particular specimen surrounded a group of Hay-scented Ferns! Nice work!

tawny grissette


love the grissette
Amanitas – Tawny Grissette is still my all time favorite mushroom to find

grissette with sac

grissette....not tawny

middle of the trail yellow patches

Yellow patches has been the dominate Amanita in the woods these days as far as numbers go. Trailside, middle of the trail, and even in the middle of a squirrel midden! Love the patches….

yellow patches in squirrel midden

squirreled cone shrapnel

the blusher

the blusher after amanita mold attack

The blusher – wonderful Amanita that also tends to be attacked by Amanita mold (Hypomyces hyalinus) if a mushroom is to be attacked by that particular mold. The result of the “attacks” is a rather phallic looking, arrested development mushroom standing proud and at attention! For some reason Blushers along  the Basin trails, especially those off wharf quarry road, seem susceptible to the mold! Makes for some good laughs in the woods!

chrome footed bolete - just getting going

Boletes – Chrome-footed bolete – just getting going on this one – scabers on the stalk and yellowish at the base give this identification away.



Red-mouthed Bolete – nothing like being welcomed onto a trail than finding a poisonous mushroom!

red-mouthed bolete


King Bolete – and then a few more steps down the trail I crossed paths with the king of kings!
the king!

Painted Bolete – Suillus is a favorite genus for me of Boletes. And painted boletes are a favorite Suillus!
painted bolete that's been chomped!

lilac brown bolete

another suillus

Dye-makers Polypore – they are all over the place since the rains a few weeks back. Touches of yellow in many shapes and sizes – had a 6 patch day the other day.



Flowers – a few species for folks to enjoy – Indian pipes point up after being pollinated, and these have obviously been pollinated. They will change to black over time. No chlorophyll, so a parasite they are!


Pine sap – another Heath (Ericaceae) with no chlorophyll, pine saps are another parasitic plant, but as opposed to Indian Pipes, Pine Sap has multiple flowers on a single stalk. Less frequently seen on Vinalhaven than Indian Pipes. This one was found on Wharf Quarry road.

pine sap

poison ivy with berries

orangey vines of Common Dodder


Dodder – on Lane’s – another parasitic plant, this one from the Morning-glory family, look for orangey vines attached to low plants and shrubs.

Sea Lavender

Sea Lavender – I can’t seem to ever get a really good picture of these, but they add such a nice subtle purplish tint to shorelines around island – they just have to be included!

crap of crabs - otter spraint


Otter Spraint – Camouflage! Just the way this crab exoskeleton spraint ended up blending in with the granite.




 ...also some foggy shots...


Emmet looks impressed by the mantis

and leif with a small preying mantis....

hey - we'll see you out there! and we're looking forward to it!