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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


Monday, July 15, 2013

raven photo by John Drury
Alrighty Vinalhaven…let’s do this thing…..
the VSR, July 15th, 2013
MCHT and VLT get a tip of the hat, but…
Hats are all the way off to our boy Lincecum – the Freak! – on his 148 pitch no-hitter!

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” – Leif. He was thinking about building a Viking ship.


Highlights – insects, shorebirds, slime molds, fungus, butterflies, eggcorn


here are bunch of people looking at birdies
Upcoming eventsAdvanced bird walk this Thursday July 18th , 7am at skoog– for our intents and purposes “advanced” just means getting up a little earlier. In theory an earlier start means well, we’ll see. Should be fun, will be fun. It always is – VLT/MCHT joint venture.


Regular bird walk – July 25th, 8am – skoog – regular.


MCHT Basin Mushroom Walk – Sunday July 21st at 1pm! Meet at skoog! – “Get down with your bad fungal self” and we’ll take in a leisurely stroll along some of the Basin trails and see what we can find, fungally speaking that is. Slime molds too!


Speaking of mushrooms here’s a video of chantrelles cooking in their own juices  

No moisture added


Two quick reminders – please send in sightings, photos, questions and emails to And the “Tiit trick” with the photos – click on them and they’ll fill your screen with joy and bliss. Sound good? OK!!!!!

Polyphemus Moth
Photo by Erin Creelman

HighlightsInsects we trustErin Creelman, (of recent turtle photo fame) continues to capture shots of wildlife in her neck of the woods, and now is sending in moth photos. “It is a polyphemus playground up here in our neck of the woods!” (7/9), now how often do you get to read that in any neck of the woods!


Nice antennae
photo by Erin Creelman
And how “Polyphemus” it is/was – Erin nailed it! Polyphemus Moths (Antheraea polyphemus) are members of the Giant Silk Moth family (Saturniidae – our favorite family of moths) and are huge – up to a 6 inch wingspan! (not bad).


Anyway, Erin points out that with all the talk about winter moth these days it’s good to point out moth diversity – not all moths suck as much as winter moth! Some are huge and others are beautiful even to non-moths….


ain't no tomato in my hornworm!
photo by Erin Creelman
…like this other one that Erin sent in photos of a freshly hatched– a tomato hornworm moth, aka Five-spotted Hawkmoth aka (Manduca quinquemaculatus). Beyond having one of the coolest species names while having one of the lamest common names (tomato hornworm?), this beauty is a member of the “Large Sphinx Moth” family – Sphingidae and apparently loves to feast on crops – especially potato, tobacco and tomato (anything that ends in “o”). So it’s really no surprise that the Creelmans, famous for their tomatoes and other crops (tobacco?) were the ones to find! The yellow/orange spots along the abdomen are distinctive.
get those wings dry and pumped
photo by Erin Creelman
More insects…..Had a nice bi-fecta of flying insects (7/13) – by the kiddie pool in the yard a Hummingbird Moth was taking some “liquid love “ (nectar) from the flowers (you know, those reproductive part of plants) of some non-native plant (you know, those things that hold up flowers and are from away). Always a treat to see Hummingbird Moths and I think it’s safe to say they are probably my favorite insect, which is saying something since there are a lot of cool insects out there. 
dragonfly style


and then I went up to Armbrust Hill to get some dragonfly pictures (insert nerd/loser joke/comment here) and crossed paths (literally) with this young Praying mantid (for some reason most references I’ve found call them “mantid” rather than mantis! Whatever it’s called I can honestly say that this little bugger was tiny!


this dude was really tiny
I’ve seen a handful of mantids out here on the island, and others have sent in photos, but for some reason this little one helped me realize that I didn’t know squat about their being or life cycle (or lifestyle) other than the fact that the lady sometimes eats the dude after mating. Here’s some more info on them – much of it lifted from the internet so you know it has to be true!


Insect relations are still disputed, but currently (or what I most easily found) is that Mantids are all in the order Mantodea, and are included in the superorder (I love my orders to be super) Dictyoptera along with cockroaches and termites. Nice company.


It is believed that back in Cretaceous Period Mantids evolved from some sort of “predatory cockroach”. That’s right folks, not only did mantids roam with Dinosaurs, but there were predatory cockroaches roaming too. (Maybe there still are predatory cockroaches today, I don’t know squat about cockroaches). Anyway…. and so for at least 65 million years Mantids have been eating their mates, right? Sure. Good for over 2400 species of mantids on earth today, many in the tropics.


Mantids go thru 3 states – egg, nymph, and then adult - during their life, a process lovingly referred to as incomplete metamorphosis. Nymphs (like the one I found) look pretty much like adults, but they can’t fly (thusly why I was able to chase this one in the video below) and can’t reproduce (one less thing to worry about for a nymph). This little dude will shed/molt its exoskeleton up to 10 times before it achieves adulthood and then can start eating mates, or be eaten by them.


Since our little man of the house (Leif) is going thru a huge Ancient Egyptian/mummy faze I had to look up if there was anything about them mentioned in ancient texts. Sure enough…..


During the excavations at Deir el Medine B. Bruyère [5] discovered a small, somewhat anthropomorphous coffin made of clay which contained the remains of a praying mantis wrapped in linen.”


12 spotted skimmer - hint: only count the black spots
That’s right – a mantis mummy! That’s so cool, and truly the spraint! Ancient Egypt must have been so cool (they were making mantid mummies for crying out loud!), and all of us at the VSR wish Egypt a smooth settling these days, for everyone’s sake. I’m sure they feel better.


“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” -  Any reference to Mantids in ancient China? (just pretend you were wondering that) so while we are at it…


beavers are active at folly pond
beavers are not mantids
“One of the earliest mantis references is in the ancient Chinese dictionary Erya, which gives its attributes in poetry (representing courage and fearlessness), as well as a brief description. A later text, the Jingshi Zhenglei Daguan Bencao 經史證類大觀本草 (, Epic , history , collection , kinds 大觀, overall impression , basic , algraculture Annotated and Arranged by Types, Based upon the Classics and Historical Works") from 1108, is impressively correct on the construction of the egg packages, the development cycle, the anatomy and even the function of the antennae.”


“Two martial arts that had been separately developed in China have movements and fighting strategies based on those of the Mantis. As one of these arts was developed in northern China, and the other in southern parts of the country, the arts are nowadays referred to (both in English and Chinese) as 'Northern Praying Mantis' and 'Southern Praying Mantis'. Both arts are very popular in China, and have also been imported to the West in recent decades.” - Wikipedia


So that’s all cool, but what are they called in Estonia? “palvetades Mantis” and yes, Mantis is capitalized for some unknown reason (to us, the royal “us”).

chalk-fronted skimmer

And while we’re at it and pardon me for getting all literary and spraint but I often find myself writing/typing the name “Preying”, rather than “Praying”, Mantis. Now, the whole “Praying” (standard, excepted way of spelling) part of the mantis comes (obviously) from the way Mantis (or is it Mantii?) looks as if it is praying as it sits waiting to strike in ambush (praying for food?) or looks to mimic blades of grass (maybe praying not to be seen). The little nymph in the photo appears to be doing this, but failing miserably as I could see it . Word has it that they mimic ants as well, but we didn’t see that. Anyway, this simple slip in spelling that I make constantly (or as often as I have to type “praying mantis”) is probably due to the fact that the appearance of them “praying” is not so much on my conscience as much as their “preying” on other critters (hefty appetites or so we hear), or their mate (how many times do we have to mention this?). This simple mix up with no intentions of being witty, whiffy, punny, or funny is called an “eggcorn” by some. I had never heard of an “eggcorn” before, but the term comes in reference of someone writing “eggcorn” instead of “acorn”.  “Eggcorn”, what a concept. Is there a term for everything? It’s like a pun but not supposed to be funny, not that puns are funny. Anyway, we like the term “eggcorn”. That’s what this whole thing is about.


tropicbird and pal
photo by John Drury
Wow, that was exhausting….what next – On the water… John Drury has sent in another set of great shots as well. The tropicbird looks to be continue being seen (what?) on a regular basis out on seal. From the photos and reports of Puffins, Razorbills,  Manx Shearwater and Tropicbirds sounds like the trips have been going great. Don’t forget to get out on the water with john this summer –


wren and fir
photo by John Drury
Also and from up Tip-toe way is the raven (seen above) and a great shot of a Winter Wren. Winter wrens are some of the loudest songbirds in our woods, some of the earliest singers and yet it seems like years can go by without a view of one.

least sandpiper

Bird walk – we had a nice morning with our first bird walk of the summer last Thursday (7/11). Lane’s Island – goldfinch, common yellowthroat, alder flycatcher, catbird, song sparrow….folly pond – wood duck and bald eagle….state beach – willet, least sandpiper, lesser yellowlegs, short-billed dowitcher, common tern, nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrow, common eider with young, osprey, double-crested cormorant, common loon,….
the story here is several fold. It was a great bird walk – shorebirds so close you could lick the tundra off them, nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrow aerial display and then in the scope, eider babies, and other things – lots of songs in the woods. But the highlight was Army seeing birds for the first time on one of the bird walks. He has been on several bird walks over the course of a few years and had never mentioned not seeing birds before! Good on ya Army! Way to keep with it!


Fungus – wish we had mroe time to delve into, here's a little taster, so to speak...

Chanterelles and Amanitas are doing well……

Amanita muscaria
You can hide, but you can't run


no comment, destroying angel

Boletes looking good….


....with pink pores even!



and even staining blue!


Slime molds are doing their thing.


yes, that is a springtail on this tapioca slime


meeting of the minds

And leify is handling the hot days well. Weller than his dad for sure. 

and a video of rockin' out with uncle big al jones. 

see you out there!!!!