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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


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.