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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, June 17, 2016

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report – June 15th, 2016

…with the support of VLT and MCHT

“Think of how many eels it took to make a trout that large” – trout woman from Tenants Harbor


Highlights – plants, ants, moths, state record rainbow trout, woodpecker nesting reports, flower stuff…


Business Don’t forget to share! The vinalhaven sightings report works best when folks send in photos and sightings and whatever. Send them in – unless they are complaints about the blazes on the trails! Those you can kindly keep to yourselves…. Anyway here’s the email – we check it about once a week or so at this point –


can you hear the baby woodpecker begging?
Tiit trick – click on photos to make them appear “as large as your computer screen” or something like that!

 Upcoming eventsBird walks are already happening and we love it! Check the VLT website for exact dates and times. We’ve (the royal “we’ve”) have managed to toss the schedule into chaos with no pattern in scheduling thanks to my new work schedule (thanks to VLT for understanding). I can only speak for myself, and I can tell you this – I am leading a bird walk july 5th at 8am (I hope).


marasmius and its favorite habitat
Congratulations’s not a bass, but…. Jim Clayter was kind enough to pass along this link to a story in the Bangor Daily News (“out there” section) about a state record - 13 pound 7 ounce, 32.5 inch - Rainbow Trout being caught on island recently. The story goes that Tim Kelley of Arkansas (state south and west of Maine) was visiting his dad on Vinalhaven and “bought a cheap $25 Shakespeare ultralight trout rod from Walmart, and a package of $5 Blue Fox rooster tail [lures]…and went fishing”. The story takes off from there with the article stating several times that Kelley caught the monster trout in “a quarry pond” on island which doesn’t really narrow it down much. Anyway – photos and story –

carpenter ants digging it
photo by Banner Moffat

Trout still are not bass.



male on top!
photo by Banner Moffat
Sightings – Ospreys getting ready to make baby osprey.  lots of birds are copulating out there these days - in plain sight no less!

check out these osprey getting cozy! watch those talons mister!

eventually the male will twist its tail and wrap its lower parts around the females tail and will preform the "cloacal kiss"! hot action

winter moth caterpillar poop
Mothy Stuff – this photo of the hood of Jamus Drury’s hood shows it liberally sprinkled with Winter Moth caterpillar poo. Dropping of the “little buggers” has been happening all over “town”, but should be wrapping up (or have wrapped up by now)! Hopefully those parasitic flies will be making their dent in winter moth numbers soon – before cars are completely covered in the scat!


One-eyed Sphinx – staying on the mothy topic, there are “moths other than winter” out there. Leif and I were walking home from school the other day when Leif stopped to stare at a tree (not that “out there”). “I see something awesome” he called to me – and voila – there was a super cool one-eyed sphinx moth hanging on the side of a pine. “One-eyed” is a funny name for this species (that’s what the book said) as moths have like a gagillion real eyes (hard to keep track of?) and have those cool fake eyes on the top of both hind wings, which would make them 2-eyed. Either case cool moths are out        in the night and the day! Go find yourself a few!


Butterflies – while we are at it the diurnal moths – also known as Butterflies – have been putting on a show as well. Tiger Swallowtails seem to be everywhere except in front of my camera! But I did manage to snap a shot of this American Painted Lady as she/he was taking in some of the lovely sunshine (thank you sun!) recently.



pitcher plants
photo by Anna Poe!
Flower stuffGallery – June is a great time to see some of the local “show-off” flowers – they put on quite the show out there in the woods! We’ve got pictures of a few species – take some shots of what you find and send them in!


star flower
photo by Banner Moffat


the heather stuff is in bloom on the
Williams trail

PSA – someone (“flower hugger”) was kind enough to put a thing in the Wind that mentioned people and dogs staying on trails when Lady Slippers are in bloom, which seems like a good idea. They even mentioned Huber Preserve by name, as this is the best trail to see multiple Lady Slippers from and it can be quite a visual – I counted 120 Pink Lady Slipper plants along the trail last week (not all in bloom).  Anyway, this of course is a great idea – the staying on the trail – so the orchids (and other plant like things) don’t get crushed under foot – but probably a good idea when the Lady slipper’s aren’t in bloom as well. Lady Slipper leaves continue to photosynthesize and collect energy for next year’s bloom long after this year’s flower is gone.


As a mushroom lover I understand I recognize that staying on the trail is impossible, but being aware of what you are stepping on and hopefully around is not impossible. Be aware people and treat lightly.


As a naturalist I do need make sure correct information is out there and mention (and I apologize if I offered whomever put the blurb in the Wind) that Pink Lady Slippers are not endangered in Maine and are also not the orchid endemic to North America. They are vulnerable to picking or collecting – don’t try it! Transplanting lady slipper does not work – and probably shouldn’t be stepped on. They are worth appreciating. Protecting and certainly should not be trampled but for reasons other than endangerment or endemicness.

the nest is/was in the tree with the poison ivy
crawling up it!

Woodpecker nesting - And while we are at it…a report of a Northern Three-toed Woodpecker nest along the Indian Ladder trail up at Fox Rocks was relayed to me just before a trip to the island recently. Word on the street was that the woodpeckers picked a tree right along the trail and had mobbed/harassed/dive bombed whomever sent in the report.


Now, and we are being honest here, I had hefty doubts about this right from the beginning. The Fox Rocks area in my mind is famous for woodpeckers and their nests, usually made from the Hairy or Downy flavors of Woodpecker. Three-toed Woodpeckers are (in Maine and in my mind) the rarer cousin of the already somewhat rarely seen Black-backed Woodpeckers which visit Vinalhaven most winters (regular in small numbers rather than rare I would say) but are seen by few. That said, I did not want to be the guy who “blows off the three-toed woodpecker report only to find it turned out to be true and the coolest thing up at fox rocks since the Harriers bred up there”. No one wants to be that guy, and sometimes that kind of motivation is enough to get me out there.

lots of activity at this nest.
the parental woodpeckers tail feathers
have worn a mark below the nest opening
pretty cool.

Anyway, the tree was easy to find because those dang baby woodpeckers make such a begging racket the last week or two before fledging. I found a cozy spot and waited for the Hairy Woodpeckers I had been hearing in the area to swing by and feed some offspring. It took about 5 minutes before a female Hairy showed up, spotted me and started the harassment (who’s harassing who?).


All in all it was a very cool nest, and over the course of my 30 hour stay on the island I heard/found at 6 active woodpecker nests. Those babies are soooo loud I couldn’t have missed the nests if I had tried!

we are big fans of the little marasmiuses
same picture?

marasmius are everywhere
Mushrooms – I spotted a few of my favorite (they are all my favorites) spring mushrooms popping up – lots of the white Marasmius in the woods and then some of the eclectic Water Clubs popping up in puddles in the basin. A little taste of things to come!


water clubs are cool, but not exclusive

And I think that’s what we got for this one! Hope everyone is enjoying the late spring and has a wonderful summer! We will be back and rolling along in July!
ready to fish and scoop at the beaver dam

had a great baseball season

this porcupine was not on vinalhaven
leif likes this photo

See yah out there! thanks to those who shared this round!