Brought to you by

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


Thursday, July 21, 2016

maine painted turtle - you can tell by the license
photo by Jim Conlan
Welcome to the vinalhaven sightings report – July 22nd, 2016

Big thanks to MCHT and VLT and to you! The loyal and unloyal readers! We love you all!


Highlights – Fishfly, Great Horned Owls, Swainson’s Thrush, Red-billed Tropicbird, Harlequin Duck, Painted Turtle, Brown Creeper, Shorebirds!!!!!, osprey nests, mushrooms, slime mold, plant stuff, stuff I find in the woods and much, much more!

water lily

Businesscontact us! We appreciate/hope for/demand your involvement and will post everything and anything you send. Our email is . Let us know if you want to be on the “list” to get announcements when new VSRs are posted. Everyone makes the list!


Thanks – to those who’ve contributed to this VSR and to those in the future and the past!

dead duck

Tiit trick – click on the photos to make them as big as your monitor will let them. Poignant message us being in Estonia as I type!


Bird walks – Are happening weekly, either on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays! Consult the VLT website for exact dates.

dead squirrel

blue skimmer of some sorts!
sorry - little time to look up! you look it up!
Sightingson the water with Skua! (And John Drury!) – Word on the streets (or in the friend more specifically) is that the Red-billed Tropicbird is being on a somewhat regular basis these days. What is nice to hear is that the Tropicbird’s fondness for buoys (likes to mount them, like any confused seabird should) has broadened and is now not exclusive to certain color patterns. We love to hear about birds being open-minded, even aging birds like this one – at least 11 years old at this point. Also seen recently on trips to Seal/Matinicus Rock – Harlequin Duck, Greater and Manx Shearwaters, Leach’s Storm Petrel.
yellow patches amanitas are hot!


Do yourself a favor and sign up for a trip with John today before all trips are full! For more info check out john’s website - – to sign up!


Also from John – Black Tern in flight over the bay, Leach’s storm petrels heard at night from Greens Island, 8’ tuna sighting,
lane's island osprey nest - digiscoped
photo by Rick Morgan


Over the waterosprey nests seem to be doing great this year. Rick Morgan and Jim Conlan have sent in some photos of local nests to Crockett Cove and Lane’s.
osprey nest - crockett cove
photo by Jim Conlan


Bird walks(7/12) – 4 Bald Eagles, Osprey, Cedar Waxwing, Goldfinch, Purple Finch, Common Eider, Common Loon, Common Yellowthroat, common tern, Grey Catbird, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Chickadee, northern parula, black-throated green warbler, song sparrow, white-throated sparrow, short-billed dowitcher, lesser yellowlegs, least sandpiper.

common yellowthroat from 7/5 bird walk
photo by Rick Morgan

Highlights – (other than the nice people along) welcoming back some early shorebirds was fun. Some great looks at eagles and loons popping up right after the people hoping to see loons left! Timing is everything! Well, timing and having your eyes open. Another beautiful morning with the tweeters…


Bike Ride around the island road – (7/12) Brown Creeper, Ovenbird, Magnolia Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Black and white, Black-throated Green warblers, northern Parula, Broad-winged Hawk, hermit thrush,

picking raspberries

Around the island - 31 Reach Road – (7/11-12) – Broad-winged Hawk, Swainson’s Thrush (singing), Brown Creeper….Carrying place preserve (7/11) – Brown Creeper, Belted Kingfisher, Golden-crowned Kinglet…Basin (7/11) – Brown Creeper, Great Horned Owl (mack’s pond visual), Winter Wren, Hairy Woodpecker…Huber (7/12) – Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, ovenbird…..Wharf Quarry Road - Jim Conlan reports hearing Great Horned Owls calling from the beginning of Wharf Quarry Road recently! sweet!


Notes on above – Brown Creepers seem to be singing on every preserve I visit, pretty much the same with Winter Wren. Haven’t heard this much of these two species since April or so. Swainson’s Thrush singing in the morning is kind of heavenly – right out the back door no less.

tawny grisettes are my favorite amanita

Fungus and slimes – little rain – OK some hefty rain in spirts – has inspired some local fungus and slime molds to mix genes and disperse their spores! More to come with more rain – and more fun in the woods for sure….some of our favorites are starting to poke out – Tawny and Cecilia Grissettes, yellow patches, and some nice dye-maker’s polypore!

yellow patches poking

cacelia amanitas are pretty

....and strong!

fresh dye maker's polypore!

with a name like chocolate tube slime it just has to be good

As well as some chocolate tube slime at Carrying place.
we love chocolate tube slime! really we do!


loving the pink water lilies

Plant stuff – water lilies are fun. White ones on folly pond, and I can’t help but toss in a pink one from St. George (the marsh). I just can’t help myself when it comes to plants. Actually I can….

indian pipes poking!

These indian pipes fought their way through the “tough duff” in Basin…


1. this bee is just starting to penetrate
And bees seem to like to like the sweet treats irises offer. Who can blame them!
2. a little closer to sweet reward

3. almost there
4. sweet bliss
sweet looking iris
fish fly, male

Insects stuff  - Fishfly  - (Chauliodes pectinicornis) Family corydalidae – Dobsonflies and fishflies. Don’t know what to say about this bad boy, other than I had never seen one before and it was on the side of the house. Nice antennae? You bet! Here’s a little more about these dudes…


tough looking dude. I did not enjoy this stare down
“In contrast to mayflies, which are small and usually live only 24 hours as adults because they do not eat, fishflies are quite large, their wing span being from 2.5 to 3". They will eat aquatic plants as well as smallish animals including vertebrates like minnows and tadpoles, and may live up to seven days as adults. Their entire lifespan is several years, but most of this time is spent as larvae” – lifted from Wikipedia (so it has to be true!)


I always like to contrast things with mayflies. These guys are killers! Minnows and tadpoles be warned! And 7 days as adults – better than mayflies! I would imagine they are not eating minnows when they are adults, but as aquatic larvae – which is the vast majority of their life! Several years as larvae, 7 days as an adult. They are hungry kids for most of their individual existence. Very cool.

squirrel pieces
get a leg up!

Stuff I find in the woods – folks who have been around me for any length of time probably know I am not the biggest fan of red squirrels (or crows for that matter!). so I was somewhat psyched to find squirrel body parts in the basin the other day – tail and leg – right in the middle of the trail! Broad-winged hawk leftovers? Who knows and who cares! Just leave some more!

not sure who or why someone would do this....

Roger gets a makeover – the most photographed mushroom on vinalhaven is along the Huber trail – the big red-belted conk which I lovingly refer to as “Roger”. This mushroom has hardly changed (in the eyes of this human observer) over the last 12 years other than the random penny or dime jammed into it (not sure why or how this tradition started) and was even highlighted as a food source for ironclad beetles in the last VSR. 


but roger has never looked so homey!

So it was a little surprising to come back a week later and see that someone had built one of those “fairy house” things on top of roger! Personally I have never built a fairy house but have always admired the imagination and architecture involved in such building. Anyway who has seen my bridges has seen the limits of my construction abilities. I am not sure when “fairy houses” became popular, or if they act as “visual noise” to some people and disturb their experience, but I have always been a fan of “whatever gets you out there” and if building a house for fairies on top of Roger is the worst thing you do then you are leading a charmed life. I will keep on checking out the house as long as it lasts (nothing last forever but the earth and sky – Kansas) to see if any fairies move in. it’s a pretty sweet house, so it’s only a matter of time!


the poop is hanging on the left side of the trail
have I ever mentioned how little I enjoy
chainsawing in the summer?
Doggie bags – on the other end of the spectrum is the moron (or morons) who keep bagging their dog’s poop (or maybe their poop?) and then leaving them on the trail or hanging in a tree along the trail. Tip of the hat to them for using biodegradable bags (how conscience of them!) but it makes no sense to bag the poop and then leave it along the trail. Why not just flick the poop off the trail with a stick? Why not just leave the poop on the ground so the bald steward can flick it off the trail? Apparently this humanoid loves the feel of poop through a bag (I for one care less for them) and just has to have that sensation in the tips of their fingers. Whatever floats your boat I guess, and whatever gets you out there, but both cases of bagged poop were easily handled by me tossing the biodegradable bags into the woods. So simple!

this bag of poop is tucked under the right
side of the closest spruce!
right next to my sign! how rude!

Someday I find out who is doing this and we will drink a beer and laugh at stories of bagged poop. Until then my friends! Until then…..


And some Leif action as always……


Legos still a hit, making stop action movies with them these days….

picnics in the marsh....

this mime wasn't creepy
And spending time in Estonia with Nana and a mime!

iron maidens are creepy

more Estonian pictures later! it's time to post!

Good times out there people! Enjoy ‘em!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

I can hear you
Welcome to the Vinalhaven sightings report

July 8th 2016 edition


Highlights warblers, Swainson’s thrush, red crossbills, slime molds, mushrooms, butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, bird stuff

chalk-fronted skimmer

Business – contact us with sightings and photos –


“Tiit Trick” - click on the photos to enlarge!


Upcoming event – (7/12) 8am bird walknext Tuesday – see you there!


Hat’s off! … and congratulations go out to Bruce Young and his lovely bride on getting hitched last weekend. Best of luck you crazy kids!


atlantis fritillary
Sightings – photos dispersed… of flowers, butterflies; mushrooms, slime molds and a dragonfly have been liberally sprinkled throughout this VSR. Hard to argue with beauty that is early summer. With these rains only more mushrooms to come! Enjoy!

(7/5) Bird Walk – Lane’sosprey, cedar waxwing, American goldfinch, song sparrow, common yellowthroat, American redstart, Black-throated Green and yellow warblers, catbird, alder flycatcher, crows, common eider, herring gull, black-backed gull


(7/5) bird walk (continued) – State BeachBald Eagles, Osprey, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrow, nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrow, lesser yellowlegs, common tern, eider w/young, black guillemot, double-crested cormorant, Ravens (with young) crows, white-throated sparrow, northern parula.
red pored bolete. don't eat this one



Summary – really great bird walk this morning. Fantastic, scope views of common yellowthroat preening and nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrow singing. Redstart singing and active in the lane’s island parking lot was a treat. Good to see folks! See you next week…
red-pored standing


Little rain, little mushroom growth! – 2 King Bolete (Basin), 2 red-mouthed Boletes (Basin), yellow patches (basin), Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria – Calderwood), Fawn Mushroom (Calderwood), Ceciliae Grissette (Huber), Tawny Grissette (st. George) – More to come!

ceciliae grisette.
I love the striate edge! mushrooms and butterflies are

Basin (7/1) -  magnolia, black throated green, nashville, yellow rumped and black and white warblers, red crossbill, common yellowthroat, american redstart, golden-crowned kinglets, juncos.

roger the red-belted conk ...

Summary – still seeing red crossbills along the platfrorm trail. They nested here and around the basin this spring, lots seen all spring, a few keep on singing and chipping. Golden-crowned kinglets with babies!


(7/2) Calderwood island – Parula, Yellow, Black-throated Green, Yellow rumped, and black and white warblers, 2 bald eagles, Swainson’s Thrush (consistent, mildly annoying singing), Osprey. Butterflies – great spangled and atlantis fritillaries, red admiral, ringlet, tiger swallowtail, American copper. 3 green snakes, amanita muscaria.

...still feeding ironclad beetles 12 years later!

Summary – love the islands with Swainson’s Thrush being the main thrush. Loads of butterflies, Calderwood is a haven for butterflies in july. 3 green snakes I turned up while weedwacking the trails was great. Most summer visitsto Calderwood have a green snake or two involved.


For whatever reason, I remained “steadfast and true” to form and lived within my discipline mantra that is “I am here to work and took zero pictures of butterflies. In fact, I even left my camera back at 31 reach road so I wouldn’t be tempted to lose focus (do I know myself or what?) thinking I would have a few hours over the next few afternoons to document species at lane’s or wherever (to be continued)
question mark below


(7/3) Lane’s – continued or “in search of butterflies” – windy day, not a good day for butterflies. This will teach me to not bring my camera to Calderwood – to save what – 10 minutes or whatever it takes to get butterfly pictures? Moron.


question mark above
With lane’s being a blowout I found myself at Armbrust Hill (7/3)  in search of life to observe (other than plants, but let’s not have that conversation now) and the little pond are turned out to be the place to be. (later the bench by the swings turned out to be “the place to nap” but that is a different story altogether. Here’s what we (the royal “we”) found…


Green darner, chalk-fronted skimmer, green frog, red-eyed vireo, parula, cardinal, black-throated green warbler, catbird, chickadees and a most amazing plant in bloom – common bladderwort.

eyed brown. aren't we all?

Not sure if I have ever seen this plant (yes – plants again!) in bloom on island before (maybe), but have seen the bladders plenty of times while pond scooping. “Bladders?” you ask. Let’s go to good old John “who the hell is…” Eastman from his lovely and poetic “The book of swamp and bog” (seriously awesome book) …..


Bladderwort family – Ultricularia vulgaris (“macrorhiza” in clemants/gracie 2006)  “…Bladderworts are not strictly insectivorous – a better term would be carnivorous. In contrast to the others (insectivorous plants including pitcher plant and sundew), bladderworts probably trap fewer larval insects than smaller zooplankton, owning to the pinhead size of their utrcles, the creature-capturing bladders.

this is a common bladderwort bloom

There are up to six hundred of these small deflated, pear-shaped pouches on a plant. When triggered by sensitive hairs outside a “trapdoor” entry, they suddenly inflate with water. The quick suction into the bladder carries with it the creature that touched the outer hairs. Inside the bladder, digestive enzymes and bacteria go to work on the trapped victim, reducing it to plant nutrients (in fifteen minutes to two hours, depending on its size and digestibility). Special cells then extract the nutrient water in the stem. This restores a partial vacuum and deflated concave shape to the bladder, thus resetting it to trap again. “


So cool and there is more!



all the flowers
few for the amount of bladders underneath
“zooplankton are probably attracted to the bladders by a  sugar secreted from special glands outside the trapdoor device” (so sneaky and clever!) “ this almost microscopic portal, which opens and shuts in something like two-thousandths of a second, is one of the most intricate wonders of the plant kingdom”. Really? Who is this john Eastman making these bold statements so freely? Whatever the case I am glad he wrote about bladderworts!


bladders exposed
photo and finger Amy Palmer

“whatever the precise mechanism, you can sometimes hear it operating by holding a plan close to your ear; removal of the plant from water may cause sufficient disturbance to trigger the bladders, which gulp air with slight popping sounds. (unlike most plants lifted for inspection, bladderworts can be replaced in the water hardly the worse for wear since it had neither roots nor anchorage”.  


bladders exposed again!
photo by Amy Palmer
Finally a plant we can inspect on our terms! Been pulling these bladder lines out of quarries for years now. Here’s a little more


“…One investigator estimated that all the inflated bladders on one large plant held a total of 150,000 organisms, based on counts of captured animals in sample bladders. So the presence of these  plants indicate tremendous abundance of life in their pond environments”

not a "tremendous abundance" but
there certainly has been a lot of swallowtails around

tremendous abundance” ! what a great description of a population.


“the presence of bladderwort indicates rich zooplankton populations. More than just plant carnivores, however, bladderworts provide thriving  microhabitats for many small organisms that attach themselves to the plant as a “home base” for their own feeding…more sessile rotifers attach to bladderworts than to any other aquatic plant”. They provide habitat! This is the spraint!


great spangled fritillary
“bladderwort prey includes….protozoans such as paramecia, rotifers, nematode worms and microscopic insect larvae. Most bladderwort prey, however, consist of minute crustaceans: fairy shrimp (unlikely), water fleas , copepods, and scuds. The abundance of microscopic life, either captured or resident, inside a bladder can be astonishing. One observer reported an average of 215 Euglena per bladder…Sometimes a larger organism gets caught half-in, half-out of a trap, and the half-in part is promptly digested. Observers have reported insect larvae, tiny tadpoles, and young fishes being caught in this way. “
scrambled egg slime forming?


More history….

“in 1875 Charles  Darwin, concurrently with two other biologists, established that the bladders were indeed animal traps; this discovery ended once and for all the presumption that they were floatation devices”. Even Darwin dug bladderworts!

indian pipes are popping up along a
trail near you.

And from the web…


Common bladderwort is an often overlooked, but remarkable aquatic carnivorous plant with highly divided, underwater leaf-like stems and numerous small "bladders". The flowers, which grow above water, are yellow, two-lipped with a forward facing spur on the lower lip (similar in form to snapdragons).

chalk fronted skimmers like to rest


The "bladders", from which the common named is derived, are used to capture small aquatic organisms. Hairs at the opening of the bladder serve as triggers, and when contacted, mechanically cause the trap to spring open, drawing in water and organisms like a vacuum. Enzymes and /or bacteria inside the traps aid in digestion.


Common bladderwort is native to the Northern Hemisphere, and is known to occur in fifty of the United States. It is found in lakes,  ponds, wet marshes, and rivers and streams; often in water up to 6 feet deep.



blue light putt putt golf


Common bladderwort is occasionally used by aquarists in tropical aquariums, but it has a habit of growing quickly and intertwining with other aquatic plants, requiring frequent maintenance.


Several insects, mammals, and waterfowl use common bladderwort as a food source, and others use the stems as shelter, or to lay eggs.

first family roller coaster ride

The genus Utricularia is Latin meaning "little bag"; referring to the "bladders" on the stems.


There you have it and all is well that ends well! Been to California since we last posted.  good friends and nice places, plus a couple of new ones.

Alcatraz and blue oyster cult were big hits!

See you out there.