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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, July 5, 2013

next one

gull sticking it to the man
photo by John Drury

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report –
July 5thish, 2013

Brought to you  by the usual letters,
the ones up above, and mostly U

Have you seen any large snapping turtles on the island?” – Bill Alcorn at the bank


Highlights – Insects!!!! Featuring Luna Moth, Slugs and Turtles, slime molds and fungus, tropicbirds and tasty ducklings, annoying raven babies continue being annoying,

this tree is covered in poison ivy (PI)
The Seceret of PI
is that is comes in shapes and sizes 

Contact – and while we are at it please send “all things VSR” to the official VSR email address – . comments, questions, concerns, karate chops!, pork chops…that’s a good place for this kind of sightings stuff. Thanks again.


Tiit trick – click on the photos to have them fill your screen! See what you think close up…


coral slimes have been particularly
easy on the eyes as of late 

Slime mold update – don’t want to get ahead of things and get everyone all worked up but at this point it’s (it being weather) has been largely “with this rain, I the (like in a wedding ceremony) wet” ….. in other words we are on a pace for a summer of slime molds! Slime mold photos are sprinkled throughout the post, several 10 slime mold days. Hope for more rain!…


Sightings –

they look so innocent

(Editor’s disclaimer – if when classifying yourself you find that you would classify yourself as “a typical follower of the island institute” then this message is for you. You may find the next segment of the VSR “inappropriate”. There is an old Estonian that states “If the island institute doesn’t think you can handle phallic fungus photos, then sexy slug shots are certain to make you spraint”. And when Estonians say “handle” I believe it’s in more of a spiritual sense rather than a physical one.

i'm not sure what that is,
but i know it is gross
photo by Linnell Mather

Anyway, and at the very least - I am happy to say I am not the photographer on this one!  Out of the loop! You have been warned, and it hurts like darn to do so….)


Leopard Slugs - … and so the VSR starts with a series of sensual mollusks photos (Ha! As oppose to “non-sensual” mollusks photos– as if! …).


Slug sex, slug porn – some call it beautiful, some call it dirty. Disgusting even. I think we all agree that it’s kind of gross.  How can we not?

they make gross cat toys
photo by Linnell Mather

In town! (6/27) Longtime VSR reader, confidant, and respected member of the “VSR Nation!” - Linnell Mather, has sent in some lovely photos of copulating slugs - straight from the doorsteps of her “pad”. Slug sex from Mather’s yard? Yes, and it should be mentioned that this is not the first time Linnell has sent in photos of slugs “doing it” on her doorsteps. There is a history there….and in the neighborhood….it’s that kind of neighborhood


(Another freakin’ disclaimer - Over the years leopard slug sex photos have been sent in to the VSR like maybe 3 times. If you are someone who sent in slug sex pictures before you may have noticed that your pictures were not used. No offense was ever intended if your photos weren’t used in the past, and that goes for photos not including slug sex. Timing and clarity issues seem to be factors in those decisions. And so with that in mind Linnell’s shots are here to represent this beautifully American pastimeLeopard Slug Porn, or LSP - and I think we can agree that she has captured the moment, and in the crispest of forms. Enough, back to the LSP on VSR….)



action shot
photo by Linnell Mather
And it should be noted that these are no ordinary slugs – they are Leopard Slugs and horny ones at that.  Leopard Slug sex (LSS) is a hot topic, so hot that when we “googled” slug sex we found this blog entrée from one Cassandra Willyard. Who’s Cassandra Willyard? I don’t know, but I do know this…..we’re glad to meet her.


Cassandra Willyard has written a post/ blog entrée (not a food really) for something called “Last Word on Nothing” that has this sentence in her first paragraph - “if you read my last post you already had the rare opportunity to see what a slug penis looks like”. Come one, that’s “the spraint” to have that in a post. A big thumbs up from VSR and the “VSR Nation!”    


Or something like that… anyway, here’s the link….

the white things are the penii
they have not yet formed
the "penis knot".
photo by Linnell Mather


and for those who don’t click on links – here’s a little sample of ms. Willyard’s wordsmith work. And a little interpretation on what Linnell has going on in her yard.


Leopard slug courtship begins with a single slug laying down a trail of scented slime. Another slug picks up the scent and begins to follow, nibbling and nipping. Then the slugs begin to climb, one leading the other up a tree or wall. When they reach an overhang, the slugs align their bodies tail to mouth to form a circle. I’ll let Adams take over for a bit. “The circle now grows more contracted, the slugs overlapping and showing evident excitement, the mantles flapping before and behind,” he writes. “Then, suddenly, the slugs intertwine fiercely, and launch themselves into space, heads downwards, but suspended by a thick strand of mucus.” That’s right. Leopard slugs mate while hanging on a thread made of mucus. It just doesn’t get kinkier than that, folks.”


Wow. What a paragraph!


But the best part is that it gets better. Many of us have known the truth about but never outed slugs as hermaphrodites (I am so psyched to be writing this in the VSR)

is that a penal mushroom
or are you just happy to see me
photo by Linnell Mather

“Once the slugs are dangling midair, their penises emerge from a genital pore near their heads. Slugs are hermaphrodites, so they both have one. “The organ, cylindrical at first, quickly assumes a club-shape,” Adams writes. “But presently a frilled edge appears along one side.” Banana slugs, you may remember, insert their penises into one another. Leopard slugs, on the other hand, wrap their penises tightly together so that the ends touch. The upper part of this penis knot expands to form “a mushroom or umbrella.” – beautiful….



And that Cassandra willyard starts her ending with “For scientists who study slugs, called malacologists, this elaborate mating behavior is old hat. But I’ve never seen it (or heard of it) before. So I think it’s pretty much the coolest thing ever.” And includes a toss out to “chewing each other penises off” that Cassandra This is learly the kind of blog we at the VSR support.  And so


We gladly recommend checking out cassandra’s website as a freelance science writer at  she has a wonderful article about a bacterium that connected to stomach cancer and ulcers that may be do good things as well.  

shy maidens are in bloom

Disclaimer area over!!!!! It is safe to come back to the VSR and bring your innocent/denial eyes!


Here’s something we all agree on - raven babies are consistent! – they are what you are hearing over the buzzing of mosquitoes around your ear. Yes, the basin, state beach, Huber, Calderwood neck…damn near everywhere. Soon they grow up. Or something. Either way it will be nice not to hear them all the time…..I do love ravens though.

Singing Parula, BTG, Ovenbird, Yellows, Redstart, Yellowthroat, Butter butts and Magnolias.


Greens – “in that cove with the lobster pound” Great Horned Owls have been present over the last few weeks. Adults with young? Maybe so, but in either case Great Horneds are a totem bird for Greens.

photo by John Drury

On the water – And John Drury has sent in some photos that remind us that it doesn’t matter what boat he’s driving (or if he’s driving at all) – the islands are teaming with sea life and John can take you to find it!


The red-billed tropicbird is back – holey moley – for a ninth year in the Gulf of Maine! John got these great shots recently from “the Skua”, John’s boat.
on the water
photo by John Drury
Call soon for your spot on a ride out to Seal Island, Matinicus Rock  or even out to Brimstone – 596-1841 (I hope that’s the right number).


old tail take a look at my life
i'm a lot like you were
photo by John Drury
There is always plenty to see on a boat ride, and you never know what you might find – John reports that Minke Whales are regular over the last few weeks.
lingering Old-tailed Ducks (formerly known as “Oldsquaw” but the Island Institute thought you might be offended by this name and got it changed.). Look at this beauty! Breeding plumage no less! We hardly see this in the spring before they go. As well as Puffins, Terns, and Wilson’s Phalarope on seal!?! Very cool….


a feast
photo by John Drury
And some eagle action. Always a treat to see a Bald Eagle take something even remotely alive, and here john got a shot of an Eagle taking an Eider chick which is now not even remotely alive. Some people theorize that eiders have so many young specifically to feed eagles. Those people are silly. Eiders feed all kinds of animals with their babies. Not just eagles!


sweet luna
photo by Emily Carroll
Insects…..We always like a flurry – Linnell Mather is a landscaping genius, or is at least smart enough to hire some pretty aware crews. Over the years Praying Mantis, Snakes, and other cool shots have been sent in from the manipulated landscapes and ecosystems that Linnell and the Island Cultivations crew work on (for more info contact: ).


Anyway, we received about 5 shots of the same luna moth from the island cultivation crew (on/around 6/28). Emilly Carroll apparently found the beauty on Reach Road, and the entire crew were able to check it out. The Luna Moth is a VSR officially labeled “Cool Species” to see, and we are very thankful that the crew clued into its presence. Rock on and thanks for sharing! And that one has no mouth! Adults aren’t here to eat!


bee in action
photo by Sally

And speaking of bees Skin Hill Sally sent in this wonderful photo of a Red-tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus termarius) on a flower of some kind in her yard. Insects sure aren’t birds, or slime molds even but we’ll take shots of ‘em whenever possible, because we love’em. Except for Winter Moth. We hate them….
cedar waxwing
photo by Sally

and as a bonus Sally also sent in this Cedar Waxwing shot. Waxwings are no strangers to the island at this time and they clearly are birds. Thanks for sending in the beautiful shots Sally!


And while we’re at it…… Small Ironclad Beetles (Phellopsis oscordata - Family Zopheridae, not to be confused with Ironclad Beetles - which are darklings and apparently don't live around here) – have found the big ol’ Red-belted Conk (RBC) at Huber! You know that fungus – the one that rages just past they hodge-podge of bridging. Well, 5 on these Ironclad beetles were witnessed to be munching on “Vinalhaven’s Most Photographed Fungus”! We have been watching this fungus for 9 years now, and have been preparing for its eventual decaying – is this or could this be the beginning (or middle part) of the end? Or nothing.
there are 5 beetles munching on the bottom of this fungus

this RBC has a moist undercarriage

And while Ironclad beetles were observed on several RBCs along the trail, no beetles seen on RBCs that had water droplets along their undercarriage. This may or may not signify anything, something, or nothing but when it comes down to it it’s just an observation. Probably doesn’t amount to much.  

can't you hear me munching

ironclad style

And there was hot Ironclad action as well. In what could only be referred to as “Ironclad style” food wasn’t the only thing on these Beetles’ minds!


little sucker sneaking a suck
And a little parasitism action going on as well.  Here’s a shot of an Ironclad Beetle getting some juices sucked out of its side by what appears to be a member of the family Pentatmidae – Shield and Stink Bugs – possibly Rough Stink Bug (Brovhymena quadripustulata) or a Soldier Beetle of somesort- (Podisus species).  Anyway, cool to see energy going from tree to fungus to beetle to stink bug?  

here i am getting preyed apon



beautifully striated edge
Amanita ceciliae
And in just about any other VSR post snapping turtles would have been mentioned front and center.  For this post we have slug sex - it’s that kind of a week.  Anyway, there is something going on with those turtles, and that’s safe to say. Snapping turtle chatter around town is on the rise!  Over the last 4 years (how long have we been “doing” these VSRs? Standard answer to any “timely” question: Too long!)  snapping turtles have been mentioned to me a couple of times maybe and now we’ve gotten 3 reports in the last week and a half. I have been so inspired that I even got to make my first 3 legged dog joke/snapping turtle joke. It was admittedly not that funny or well put, and the response was hard to judge but luke-warm might be an accurate description. Lukewarm has been judges as an appropriate response to such nonsense. Kind of like how I was “poo-poo’d” years ago when I jokingly mentioned snappers nippin’ at toes at Folly Pond. I think Kristen at the bank thought it was somewhat funny. Anwyay…. So here’s what I’m talking about (you are talking about something?)


scrambled egg slime
slug train on A ceciliae
“Goat Soap” Brita (hey, we’ve all been called worse) left an awesome message about a female (we’ll assume a female) laying eggs (yes, it was a female) in her yard….David Wiley reported seeing a turtle that kinda, sounded “Snapper-like” in a mud flat near somewhere (we admittedly are poor at forming a picture in our mind of anything described to us. We are a product, and that is certainly the royal we. We are also poor with landmarks on the island too, usually making up our own for convenience sake, so names of spots mean little)….and then there was Bill Alcorn talking about the “local poole’s hill road snappers” at the bank. What’s up is egg laying times apparently. If you find them early enough you can fry with chantrelles. Which have been yummy already.
dwarf rattlesnake plantain.
almost in bloom.
indian pipes are coming up


Snappers may not be pretty, and that’s more than a “may not”. But we love ‘em anyway. They’re turtles!


yellow patches

Fungus – We are here and here we are! A little early still but some of the classics are up - several species of boletes - including the king, amanitas - yellow patches, Blusher, and A. ceciliae, plus chanterelles and Fragile Russula to name a few. others too. and more to come!

coral slime to so cool to touch

And leif loves the slime mold.