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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, November 4, 2013

hope everyone had a happy halloween
Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report
November 3rd, 2013
Brought to you with the support of
“Why can’t I bring my legos to college?”
 Leif after watching Toy Story 3



proof that dinosaurs
lived on mars.
or that shorebirds are at
state beach
Highlights – slug babies, owls “rescue, dead & dying”, thrushes, Tree Sparrows, ducks, bird sounds,  fungus, frogs!, snakes, a bunch of videos, other stuff and whatever


BusinessDon’t forget to share! Please send in your sightings, pictures, comments to if you want to be guaranteed(*) that your sightings make the VSR. Sightings/photos sent to other emails (like baldfulmar) often get buried (cuz we’re soooooo popular) and may not make it in the VSR. 

you are almost guarenteed
a sunrise or sunset shot in the VSR
this is sunrise with owl's head light.
from the ferry.

(*) There are no guarantees in the VSR, just like there is no crying in baseball. Unless you are a St. Louis Cardinal. Speaking of which, congrats to Big Papi and the one or two other Red Sox players (non-pitchers) that had cameo (but crucial) moments in the World Series. What a performance (by Big Papi that is)!



my guess is that this dude is going to be toast soon
Got Orange? – Hunting season means more than a killer breakfast at the brown church Saturday morning. It means people shooting and others (hopefully all others) avoiding being shot. Do yourself a favor (and the hunter’s too!) and put on some orange before heading out. And not just orange socks! Hat, coat, gloves, whatever. Nobody wants to shoot you (I can’t confirm that statement) and no one wants to get shot (I can’t confirm that statement) so do your part and be smart – WEAR ORANGE!!!!!!
there is a waxy cap (Hygrocybe genus) in this photo

Tiit trick – click on the photos to make them bigger. You need to see Wooly Velvet Polypore jumbo size! You’ll never go back – I swear!


hygrocybe from the side

One last thingGot sick bird? - if you are a person your friends call about an injured and non-injured wildlife, or maybe you are someone who likes birds (as opposed to the bird haters out there!) then it might not be a bad idea to jot this number down – (382-6761) – it’s for the Avian Haven place in Freedom (ME). More on them later! (Ha, Ha. I wrote “more on”!).     


Sightings – We start with a springtail video, from the "tidepools" in the Reach

let there be slugs
photo by Erin Creelman
Slug babies! They are so cute when they are young! Erin Creelman, the sender of odd nature photos (odd = good in this case as in most cases) has topped even herself with this photo of young slugs emerging from a gang of egg cases (presumably a gang of slug egg cases). Looks like it’s already sick of its siblings as it is high-tailing it out of there. Awesome shot, awesome find, and awesome observation. Thanks for sharing! And while we’re at it…


there's an owl in there
photo by Erin Creelman
Owl Rescue – “we have a problem” was the phrase Mike Bunker started with after knocking on my door the other day. “Oh spraint” I said (paraphrasing) in my head not knowing which of the multiple options of “problem” (some big, some small) it could be. “We have an owl…” and it all went from there. Mike, Loren, and Joe from the Electric Co-op had come across an injured Great Horned Owl by Round Pond. They said its wing looked pretty bad and had it wrapped up in a sweatshirt. Whatever its physical state was, it was clearly pissed as it continued to struggle and bill snap from within the sweatshirt. Who could blame him really, no matter how many times you tell them you are there to help they just don’t seem to get it. Picking up a Great Horned Owl is always dangerous business (even a dead one might hurt someone), but they wanted to rescue the owl, salt of the earth these three guys are.


neither an owl nor a bird. seems like as good
a place to mention butterflies -
American Copper - on Greens!
Yahhhhhhooooo! We saw a butterfly!

And so the owl got shipped (was shipped?) literally to the kind folks at Avian Haven (  - 382-6761) in Freedom. We’ve mentioned these birdy rescue people in the past. They take in the injured and do what can be done. Last year a few Saw-whet Owls were sent over (they pick up at the ferry!) and rehabbed. Those birds were starving, but this Great Horned had a smashed up wing. Almost all birds that fly have hollow bones - makes ‘em lighter - Loons (with their thicker bones) are an exception in North America. Anyway, smashed hollow bones don’t heal well very often, and unfortunately the word on the street says that they had to put this Great Horned Owl down (like dead down). So it goes, the boys did what they could – it was a great struggle and effort.


Comma (either Grey or Common)
this shot was nto fuzzy until it was posted.
Yahhhooo! another butterfly!
A few days later Mike informed me that there are some action pictures of the owl being placed in a box for shipping. Word is that the Owl remained pissed thru out the entire experience. The pictures are in a place called “the facebook” (similar to “the Netflix”?) and if someone joins this exclusive “the facebook” club then you might be able to find them. That’s the best I can give about that.


dead owl
photo by Faith Osgood
*****This Just In***** - And talking about dead owls…. Faith Osgood, from over Old Boston way, has sent in a few shots of a Saw-whet Owl she found this morning along her walkway. With no signs of wounds or blood it was guessed that this Owl probably died the old fashioned way – by smashing into a window? Or on its own. Many owls starve and that may be the case here. The recent blustery weather probably hasn’t helped Owls or any other predators that use sound to at all.  


But what makes this even cooler is that Faith took it “to the next level” and searched for leg bands – and found one! Holey moley! And here’s what it read/said:



dead owl leg, with band
photo by Faith Osgood
Not a “900” number but almost as good. So for spraints and giggles I called the “Bird Band Hotline” (like just called them) since I failed completely with their website. The conversation started slowly and I wasn’t too sure what to think at first  of the fact that the person on the line didn’t know how to spell Saw-whet. I realized quickly that this was  a bird data entry job that you probably didn’t have to like birds to do.  I was happy with a friendly person on the other side. Anyway, things picked up when they said “and you get a reward for sending in the info”, and I was like “hellsssss yeah! Right on”, to which they laughed and quickly changed their wording to “you get a certificate” with info on the bird you (we) reported. So now Faith and I are waiting eagerly for our certificates that confirm she found a dead bird and that I called a number. Here’s the info on this owl they were able to relay over the phone –


It was banded – Nov. 15, 2012. In a place called Fort Loudon, Pennsylvania. (the person on the phone misspelled Fort Loudon as well). Anyway & for folks keeping track at home, that's roughly 638 miles away from Vinalhaven, or a 10.5 hour car ride - probably not including the ferry ride!  

this vole is dead, and a lot of owls eat voles


Anyway, maybe we’ll have more information when the certificates arrive, as this is a "last second" story with more to develop (or not) soon. Anyway and in conclusion, the bottomline is that this bird put some serious miles on those little owl wings. And I got to say  “Fort Loudon” for the first time in my life! Still don't know where it is though! Somewhere south of Buffalo! Moving on and thanks for sharing Faith!


look at that red tail
photo by Karen Oakes
Around the island – Songbirds #1 songbird on the island -  When we last left off (two weeks ago) Vinalhaven was essentially covered with Yellow-rumped Warblers. These days its Hermit Thrushes and American Robins. Every Winterberry and Mountain Ash plant thing is libel to have a fine mix of both species. Or so it seems. Here’s a few nice Hermit Thrush shots sent in by Karen Oakes….


mackin' on berries
photo by Karen Oakes

Sparrows - Tree Sparrows are back! Along with White-throated, Song, and Savannah Sparrows are the most numerous around the island. A Lincoln Sparrow has been reported from Greens by John.
golden-crowned kinglet
photo by Sally


armbrust White-throated Sparrow
photo by Sally

In the woodsHermit thrush, Brown Creepers, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets,  Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers (honorary songbirds)



Pinky Tuscadero
photo by Sally
Cool backyard observation. Skinhill Sally (as she is known to me) sent in some recent photos of Cardinals from her yard and feeding station. Sally keeps such a close eye on her yard (do not mess with her garden!) and her yard birds that she took note when a "pinker" cardinal showed up for a day. Knowing your yard "regulars" like Sally does lets you clue in when something "different" shows up, no matter how slightly different it is. ( Speaking of which - (11/4) 31 Reach Road - Just had 2 Common Grackles show up in my yard - 1st time in months!).

for comparison
photo by Sally

Anyway, Sally was kind enough to send in a photo of a "regular" looking Cardinal for comparison. Now that is awesome and thoughful. Thanks to Sally and everyone else who's shared their observations in the VSR. Enough!

On the water – seabirds, sea ducks, and Captain Pete ‘s report


Surf Scoters - "Poor man's Puffins" from Huber
From the ferry - 10/18 Lots of Gannets
10/23 Mergansers (red-breasted)
10/26 Long Tailed Ducks (lots)
Scoters (surf)
Bufflehead (a few)


Thank you captain Pete!


State Beach – Gannets, Loons, Great Cormorants, Horned and Red-necked Grebe, Guillemots, Red-breasted Mergansers, Song Sparrow, ….

buffleheads - coming to a cove near you

"Sea Ducks" happening – Surf Scoter (Huber, The Reach, Ferry), Red-breasted Mergs (State Beach, Ferry), Buffleheads (Carver’s and Huber), Old-tails (Ferry)…. Other ducks Wood Ducks (Folly Pond, puddle ponds), Black Duck (Folly, Pleasant River, Carvers), Hooded Mergansers (Old Harbor Pond, Carver’s, Pleasant River).


Thorofare – Scoters and Old-tails are reported!


Gulls – Multiple reports of people enjoying Bonaparte’s Gulls recently. We are running out of time and need to post this soon,  and let’s face it – Gulls are a low priority – even the cool ones! Ha! Anyway, here’s a video or two from Pleasant River – lots of Bonaparte’s and Ring-billeds at low tide. Bonaparte’s make a great sound! Listen up!



and here was the ring-billed gull scene the same day, just "up river" 100+ Ring-billeds


Herps – fun to be writing about Amphibians and Reptiles (you know, the cold blooded ones) in November. Unfortunately some of it is the continuing saga of road kill snakes. (8/23) was a classic bike ride – 10 snakes – 8 dead, one soon to be dead (squirming and rolling with intestines partially on the “exo”-side) and then one live one right by my house. Picked him up, let Leif and Zo handle him and then let him go. Here’s a couple of videos from the release.




late fall oysters and
brick tops
Still seeing daily snakes – (11/2) 3 dead and 1 live ring-necked snake.


Halloween FrogsDyer’s Island – Elaine Drury reports an active Pickerel Frog scene out on Dyer’s on Halloween. ….Reach Road - Peeper still heard (10/31) in one, warm, sunny, spot.

Mycenas are sexy no matter how you see 'em

Salamander’s – Two reports of Spotted Salamanders in the last week. Erin Creelman saw one in her neighborhood, Josh Clayter found one near Loud’s Quarry.

turkey tails are so dang pretty

Fungus -  we start with some recently bloom’ Turkey Tails from Perry Creek. The “shelves” of this(these) particular fungi individual like to reconnect. Don’t always see that. Anyway, here’s a bunch of TT photos to start with….


these turkey tails are
all brothers. or something like that


polypores so cool stuff like this
And now for what everyone’s been waiting for – Fungal Focus on Wooly- Stalked Polypores!!!!!  

And so of course we all love Polypore Mushrooms (and the associated fungi too!). Turkey Tail, Red-belted & Tinder Conk, Birch Polypore and VTP (not the disease) - these are the ones we see year round, these are the ones that are medicinal, these are the classics. These are the ones that have little to no “stalk” (a “stipe” really, but we are not big fans of REM), for they often fruit along the sides of standing trees (“dead or alive” – Bon Jovi), essentially using the tree as its stalk. Once again, the whole purpose (mostly) of the stalky stipe in mushrooms to lift the cap as high up as it can be (duh!) so wind and gravity can work together to gain maximum spore dispersal. Man, there has to be a better way to word that.   



here is your side view, some people would say
"its better side"

So some Polypores decompose the roots or the lower portion of trees (“the butt”)  


David Arora, from Mushrooms Demystified - “these are the fleshy to rather tough polypores with a clearly defined cap, pore surface, and stalk. As such they are easy to recognize – the presence of a stalk separates them from most other polypores, and confusion with the boletes is unlikely because boletes have a soft fleshy texture, central stalk, and tubes which are usually longer (deeper) and peel away easily from the cap (and often from each other”


wooly velvet polypores are around this year

First off, I love any “fungal group description” where the majority of talk is what they are not. Stalked Polypores are not boletes! Neither acting nor looking like. We have a few examples of stalked polypores on the island – Shiny Cinnamon Polypore, the random Hen of the Woods to name a few. As of late though the Wooly Velvet Polypore has put out a bloom that has been fun to watch. A bigger bloom than I have seen before out here, and one noted up and down the coast from recent walks.

leaf absorbed

We like the way the fruiting bodies of polypores absorbs what’s in their way rather than pushing leaves and grass to the side. Anyway, I don’t see them all that often.



old friend

The original “old friend” - Crowded Parchment – Stereum complicatum (cool species name).
Something like 18 Years ago, back when letters were folded (and envelopes licked!), I sent a letter to an “old friend”, Tad Drake, about seeing lots of Crowded Parchment in Ohio. In Tad’s reply from California (CA has a noted lack of crowded parchment) he referred to the C.P. as an “old friend”. Not sure why I am sharing this, but Crowded Parchment always brings a smile to my face. The original “old friend”, one of many mushroom “old friends” these days. Anyway – found at the Huber!

parchments are smooth on the bottom
if you know what i mean

here's some others to round out the fungal scene these days....

so many species of fungus are bloomin on logs i've cut.
brings a tear to the eye

had a nice Purple Coral mushroom session towards Zeke's Point....

purple coral

purple coral looks cool from above

 ...reported fungal scene that is....

and so leif was stoked on his costume

please don't tell leif you've seen a photo of
his secret hiding place
not so secret with the nunchucks red hanging from the tree

stoked on rock cairens on greens

and stoked on legos in general

rock on everyone!

we'll see you out there...