|surrounded by birds|
|these folks showed up on a wednesday|
If you haven’t checked them out, make sure you find your way to the Vinalhaven Land Trust (vinalhavenlandtrust.org) & the Maine Coast Heritage Trust (mcht.org) websites to see what’s going on with these fine organizations. Becoming a member of both organizations is a good idea too, especially if you read this blog on any sort of a regular basis. These are membership driven organizations, Let it loose! If you know what I mean…enough.
Big Thanks! – To all those who are sharing sightings and sending in pictures to the VSR. That is what this whole thing is supposed to be about. So thanks for helping make this what this is supposed to be. For easier organizational factors if you could be kind enough to send sightings/photos to firstname.lastname@example.org , that would be sweet. Keep ‘em coming.
|she's a beauty|
photo by Nancy Campbell
Anyway, this Maple loving Lepidoptera was seen at Frances Evens and Grant Ditzlers house on their door frame. Giant Silkworm Moths are the coolest group of moths (judgment, but we were all thinking it). Along with the Polythemus moth from the last report or the Luna Moth caterpillar (this counts as the 2nd moth) that Stevie Mesko spotted on Squid Cove Road (coincidentally, Stevie also witnessed the Rosy Maple Moth. She gets the first Saturniidae Awareness Award -Congratulations Stevie!) Giant Silkworm Moths demand respect and attention in all stages of their lives. (The last sentence is one my favorite ones I’ve ever written - it starts way up at "Along").These are the moths you remember seeing, or at least pause when seeing, and this is the only I’ve heard of sighted this summer. Great picture and great sharing.
|honeycomb form of coral slime|
|more of the traditional Coral Slime look|
|Arcyria nutans - Droopy Slime|
first one i've ever seen. about time.
One group that has been a favorite for 15 years or so has been Cordyceps genus of the Clavicipitaceae family, in the “Ostiole Flask” Order (Spheriales) of the Flask Fungus Class (Pyrenomycetes) , in the old-school is cool Ascomycetes Division (subdivision Ascomycotina) – in the Kingdom Fungi. What this means is that they belong to a group of fungus that are not like the toadstools, corals, or even puffballs or stinkhorns (standard Basidiomycetes). No sir, Cordypceps gets the pleasure of associating with other Ascomycetes as Morels (Black Morel – State Fungus of Minnesota), Truffles, and Earth Tongues. Now that is good company. . Here’s what David Arora has to say about Cordyceps as a genus:
“Cordyceps are worthless as food because of their small size and infrequent occurrence. Their unique diet, however, makes them a fascinating group to study. Perhaps someday we will find a practical use for them in control of certain insect pests. Also worth mentioning is the closely related genus, Claviceps, which parasitizes plants rather than insect or truffles. The most potent hallucinogenic compound known as LSD was derived from Claviceps purpurea, better known as wheat ergot. “
- Mushrooms Demystified, D. Arora, page 880
Maybe a little more information than needed, “wheat ergot” is a completely different scene but interesting none the less. Not so sure about the” worthless” part of the whole equation "due to infrequent occurrence", I gave anyway many a cookie to the first kid who found a Trooping Cordyceps on fungus hikes in Ohio. The kids always found many. Anyway.
For hot videos about Cordyceps check out the BBC “Planet Earth” series, volume 5 (the “Jungles” episode), section 3 - , minutes 21- 27 (hey it’s only 6 minutes!) or so for an epic coverage of the Amazon, rainforests, ants, slime mold plasmodium and cordyceps. You should really see this footage!
|this is the deer trail/highway i was |
following when i found the Cordyceps.
this was made by deer, raccoon, mink
and maybe a coyote.
David Attenborough adds abiout Cordyceps infected insects- “It’s infected Brain directs it upward ….those afflicted and detected by the workers are taken and dumped far away from the colony” – talk about your exile on main street. Apparently if left in a colony the spores will spread so thoroughly that entire populations of insects can be wiped clean. Love this fungus group, enough to have a Cordyceps tattoo, but not enough to make them the fungus of the month! Love 'em even more when i find 'em in woods!
|do fungi excite you?|
this was typed to set up many a joke.
There have been a few other species that have enjoyed last week’s drizzle. Here’s a few fungal lists : (8/6) Carrying Place – Emetic Russula, Fading Scarlet Waxy Cap
(8/13) Basin – Salmon-unicorn Entoloma, White- scaley Amanita sp. (see photo), Yellow Patches, Emetic Russula, Blusher, VTP, Birch Polypore, Tinder Conk, Chocolate Milky…(8/14) Amanita Caelia, Yellow Patches
|a more traditional looking|
Entolomafungus of the month!
|white, scaley, amanita|
|fading scarlet waxy cap|
|Slug and slime - tapioca past its prime|
The highlight for me was the great looks at the Semi-palmated and Western Sandpiper. The Semi-palmated walked along the beach ahead of the bird group, at times within 10 ft of us, for great looks all round. Then after going thru the differences between Least, Semi-palmated, and Westerns and checking out the book, a Western Sandpiper was spotted quickly and the group pounced on the I.D. , rattled off the field marks we’d just gone over. It was very cool, actually the whole walk was cool.
Shorebirds are flowing thru Vinalhaven and paying visits at the local hot spots, putting yourself in the right locations – the Basin, State Beach, Pleasant River – increases the odds of experiencing the migration movement. And of course there are lots of other things to check out at these places. Here’s what I’ve seen on a few outings.
Basin Marsh – (8/7) – 14 Greater Yellowlegs, 6 Least Sandpipers, Bald Eagle (1st year), 5 Osprey, 2 Great Blue Herons, 4 Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows (2 males singing, 1 female and 1 juvy being fed by female). 31 Harbor Seals on ledges.
|Nelson's sharp-tailed Sparrow|
good parenting club - not a shorebird
(8/14) Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow, 6 Least Sandpipers, 1 Greater Yellowlegs, Great Blue Heron, 6 Laughing Gulls, Osprey, 2 Common Terns, 20 Harbor Seals. Foggy.
|BBP-lovers in the basin.|
Osprey chick still small in nest, Common Tern fledglings following and begging adults for food, and just loads of shorebirds made this a very rewarding day. Add the state beach numbers with the Basin numbers and suddenly (8/15) has over 100 individual shorebirds spotted, many more left unspotted!
Speaking of Shorebirds - Lets focus on Black-bellied Plovers ever so briefly since 51 individuals were observed (8/15). Black-bellieds , or BBP-lovers, are Tundra nesters way up in the Arctic Circle, where they nest “in dry, exposed sites where the snow melts first, with extensive views” –Birder’s Handbook (which by the way is the 3rd best book ever written after “Mushrooms Demystified” and “Breakfast of Champions”). The individuals we are seeing have migrated like what, a couple of thousand miles or like a gagillion meters (even more in millimeters!) and still have places to go. They mostly eat insects on their breeding grounds, but will switch to polychaete worms and clams in migration. On wintering grounds, which regularly extend as far north as Cape Cod, they are pretty aggressive defend feeding territories. The ones in the pictures don’t seem aggressive at all, which makes you wonder how big territories might be and how much the tides play a role in access to defendable territories. Whatever way you look at it, they are here right now! Yearly visitors who can slide by largely unnoticed.
Around the island – Pocus Point –(8/7) Beth Guilford spotted an adult Northern Gannet from her spot, closer in due to fog was her theory. Beth hadn’t seen one from Pocus Point before. Cool to see one from your yard or deck...Dump (8/16) - Black Vulture still hanging as of yesterday...a Great Egret was spotted in the Basin a few weeks back, and then relocated (8/14) in the Pleasant River, making the plesant river even that much more pleasant...Spring Peepers are chirping again, heard at the Huber, Perry Creek, Lane's and last night from my room...
|yes thats an amanita on his finger. he's also going thru a bongo faze|