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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


Friday, October 21, 2011

this way

 Welcome to the vinalhaven sightings report
October 20th, 2011

VLT & MCHT & U = "perfect togedder"
weak shout out to governer kean from the 80s

“this makes up for not finding a salamander last week” – Mitchell, 5th grade
Highlights – yellow-billed cuckoo barrage, owls – featuring saw-whet migration, wood ducks and waterfowl, fungus, pond scooping, other things


Business : it’s almost gun season friends - in a couple of weekends "kids day" will be a full-on, living reality! Gun season is a time to respect hunters by not going into areas where hunting is obviously going on (vehicle parked as to block or be an obstacle in front of a trailhead or to parked in a fashion that’s clearly asking to be noticed). Orange is also a good fashion statement to make - that statement -"i want to live" . Leif calls his orange hat his "halloween hat". but whatever you want to call your orange to make it more fun to wear doesn't really matter, just put some on. cuz it it also happens to be a great time to be in the woods, so just be aware if you head out when the woods are a blazin. Anyway.

The handsome buck  above was photographed on lane’s island, a safe haven for the deer. There are plenty of other characters to deal with it on lane’s. anyway – take note!

send in your sightings/photos whatever to! thanks to all that sent in links to the slime mold story in the new york times - lets just get it out there so everyone's on the same page slime wise. its worth it, trust me.


molly and carmen
with their tadpoles

pink is in
when pond scooping
 Kid stuff – 5th grade Outdoor Explorer pond scoop (10/12) - a bald naturalist once said, an afternoon pond scooping is an afternoon well spent. For the second week in a row our efforts at the “second pond” were bountifully awarded, with tadpoles, a larvae red-spotted  newt- (complete with gills and all – VNM for me - ), and a water scorpion, backed with plenty of midges.The big catch of the day played out like this... 

mitchell and his "bug"
photo sponsered by Island Sail.
You're welcome Karen
giant water bug - killer in the mix

when  mitchell called out “I caught a huge beetle”  we all chuckled in the way chucklers do – yes, we had all caught large aquatic beetles in our day, some larger than others. Just how big was a “huge beetle” to mitchell? Indeed, we were about to find out.

water scorpians are super cool
And it was big – by far the biggest insect I’ve seen in north America (not saying much). Giant Water Bugs – aka Toe Biters - are killers and thats what Mitchell pulled in from the quarries by the school. My friend Nif from back in my Georgia days told a famous tale with the scream of a 4th grader bitten on the toe as the main character. I’ve seen 'em on several occasions over the years, but none this big. It was super cool.

young newt, still with external gills

We went to transport our water bug  and newt and water scorpion to the fresh water tank in the school,  but before we even got to the soccer field the newt was seized and deceased by the water bug. By the time we made it back to the school all that was in sight was the red-orange tail. And just like that I killed the only red-spotted newt larvae I’d ever found. Ah, whatever.

mantis on roof -
photo by Lois day

And speaking of killers – take alook at the Preying Mantis (or European Mantis) Lois up on the neck snapped a photo of on her roof as solar panels were being situated on shingles nearby (9/24).  The way I heard it was – and you really should hear it from Lois- she hadn’t seen one in years and made the crew stop what they were up to and marvel for a moment or more at this striking lady killer, or killer lady to be more precise.

cool shot, nice find and thanks for sharing. …on the same note 5th grader Leila bickford also mentioned she saw a mantis in her yard on York road.
great blue in indian creek-
photo by stacey cramp

off huber

Who’s around - – loads of Yellow-bellied sapsuckers are around the island these days. To see if there are any near wherever you are follow these steps. Go to your favorite apple tree, pick two apples. Eat one. Look for rows/lines of shallow holes in the tree’s trunk. Look for holes that are freshly drilled (like the ones in the picture to the right). if found, then sapsuckers have been doing their thing wherever you are quite recently. Heck i scared two sapsuckers in my yard this morning when putting up laundry- one on an apple ttree and one in the lilac out my back door. See if you got any in your neighborhood....

look for flashes of yellow
at the rump of
the yellow-rump warbler
...Yellow-billed Cuckoos are being report from various spots around the island – Terry Goodhue spotted one at the school on North Haven (2nd year in a row), Lucy McCarthy saw one on Greens, and Pam Johnson found one over by Sand Cove….  17 Wood Ducks at Folly Pond (10/13)…(10/19) Folly pond -10 Wood Ducks, Belted Kingfisher… other waterfowl - Hooded mergansers are back in the pleasant river - 10 the other day. Also seen in vinal cove just below the  road....Red-breasted Mergansers in the Basin (10/22)...50+ Surf Scoters were seen off Calderwood Island (10/6), usually a few Scoters to be seen from the ferry...Terry Goodhue spotted a group of Brandt Geese going thru the thoroughfare recently, first time we've heard of that.......lots of loons, herons (checck out that photo sent in by Stacey Cramp), kingfishers, robins, & waxwings.... if you consider yourself a birdwatcher, or better yet a “birder” and have not seen a yellow-rumped warbler on vinalhaven recently then (a) you are not on vinalhaven, (b) you don't go outside & (c) you might want to reconsider what you consider your birdwatching status is because they are everywhere. In the basin on (10/2) i guessed i saw roughly 300 warblers and all the ones i identified were yellow-rumpeds...By lane's bridge - Dinah had a close watch on a Bald Eagle just off her deck. Sounds like she got a great look!...Raptor migration - still seeing daily sharpies and seemingly more peregrines than i've noticed in years past. whatever that is worth. 

Saw-whet owls – Huber Preserve – Some folks may have heard but the Saw-whet Owl banders from Biodiversity Research Institute ( were out for the another visit – this time staying 2 weeks – and it was a good thing they did since the night time weather hasn’t necessarily been good for migrating for the majority of the last two weeks. They might have gotten 7 nights of mist netting in, but they those nights proved to be good ones – over 50 saw-whet owls were caught and banded on their 2 week stint. this included a 26 saw-whet owl night (10/6), thats right 26 different saw-whet owls caught right by the huber parking lot over an 8 hour period. insane. other nights included a 9 owl night (10/18), and an 8 owl night (date not known). Becky and Kate have now headed downeast for some owl catching and we wish them the best of luck, and nets filled with owls.

Good sized rains and waves  got the creeks flowing and the shoreline smashing.
lane's looking at greens

Good conditions for observing as well. Sea watches from lane's and greens  over the weekend observed impressive numbers of migrating Norther Gannets - with sunday being particularly busy with numbers of gannets passing per hour tallied to be roughly a 100 per hour for much of the day. Lots of hunting going on with the gannets, but a consitent flow going west into the wind that helped provide some of these waves!also seen on the sea watch from greens - parasitic jaeger close to shore, possible kittiwake off shore....Ferry ride - first boat - on the 18th was highlight by lots of a feeding activity with Gannets. One scan to the north counted 47 gannets circling and fishing creating great splashes and attraccting many gulls as well. 
Videos – rainy day check.  This video is just above old harbor pond last Saturday after a big rain.

The harbor seal video is from the basin, capturing a moment when they (the seals) spooked themselves off the ledges along the western shore. My mumbled "there you have it" is made out of disappointment in the seals. The kayakers that inspired this exodus were well over a 100 yards away and being very respectful. Maybe that’s what freaked them out, respectful/aware kayakers. Anyway, see if you can tell when they jump into the water....

Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs preening  next to each other in the “cess pool”* on lane’s last year I believe (* - I am the only one who calls it this). I’ve talked about putting this on the blog for a while, now it’s not just talk. nice comparison on the bill.

Fungus video – Lactarius – a Milky mushroom on Penobscot Island that bleed clear. Lactarius get there name from the fact that (often white) liquid oozes from cuts when their gills are torn.  There’s at least one that bleeds orange. This one bled clear, and it stayed clear. The tricky part is to hold the fungus and the camera in the same hand. Probably could’ve put it on the ground. Anyway, hear’s a lactating fungus – Lactarius is the genus, Russulacae is the family. Enjoy!

false chanterelles -
if you mistake these for real chanterelles then
you really shouldn't be picking chantrelles at all

jelly tooth

Back to photos

Fungus and a slime mold photo gallery 

with such a great Amanita fall
it was no surprise
to find amanita mold

there are several, tis the season as they say –and a nice season it has been. Not nearly the flurry of False Chanterelles this year compared to last (you could walk across the island on the backs of False Chanterelles last year, but still more than years prior I’d say.

With the spetember breaking Amanita records left and right it figures that we would find some Amanita Mold (not a slime mold) attacking in the woods. The mold specifically attacks members of the Genus Amanita, arresting their development and apparently living off the undeveloped mushroom. Fungus attacking fungus. clearly thats where its at

maze polypores are amazing

wolf's milk slime goes from pink...
 brown very quickly
sometimes overnight

his phone calling on the other hand
seemed to dominate the air waves

 his texting was quiet,
but somehow
still a little wierd

And while I’m sure he’s got a nice personality or scary halloween story…..this guy in these pictures provided me with a scare out on lanes recently. the main fear was inspired by his loud talking on the beach. i thought there were two people below and then realized he was having a one sided conversation, about things that weren't on the beach. it took a few minutes to see that he was on a phone. (all i wanted was to look for hawks.) his texting wasn’t so loud, but his hovering in the same spot- looking down the entire time- felt a little odd. it was quiet and kinda funny, and i figure he's texting about what an inspirational place lane's is, how is life has been changed forever by the beauty of the morning. yeah, i bet this is more of a common sight where everyone gets cell coverage. anyway, it was scary. 

shadow of liberty and good buddies on a big rock..
 and on a different note....
have fun out there.....