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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


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Vinalhaven Sightings Report – August 16, 2016

Brought to you by the Vinalhaven Land Trust and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust


Highlightsboat ride with minke whale and ocean sunfish, ruddy turnstone, shorebirds including a 7 shorebird day!, warblers, fungus, slime molds, birdies, a VNM orchid or two (but really only one actually), other stuff too …


Upcoming eventsthis week is island-wide (including both coasts!) “Margaret Wise Brown week”. Check out the Vinalhaven Land Trust website (   )for more details about outings all this week focusing on Margaret Wise Brown.


Next week - - Coyote talk – next Monday – August 22nd! Come and hear me babble on about coyotes in general and about the coyote that spent some time on Vinalhaven. 7pm in the town hall, school place up on the hill.


Bird walk next Wednesday (August 24th) 8am at skoog. Check the VLT website for bird walks through September.

Businesscontact us!

Tiit trick – click on photos to enlarge!

nice fin
photo by Rick Morgan

Sightings – (8/16) – lots of flickers around island today. Saw maybe 7.

photo by Rick Morgan
On the water – (7/28) –in the bay and on board the “Neeve”, Norbert Leser and Rick Morgan reported some nice sightings (and photos). A Minke Whale and an Ocean Sunfish were the noted nature highlights and Rick got these sweet shots of the sunfish.


Some background stats - Minke whale stats - Measurements from the Audubon guide to marine mammals

“ At birth – (8’ 2” – 9’ 2”) about 710 lbs.. “

“Max length – male 32’, female 35’. Weight probably 20,000 lbs” 

ocean sunfish
photo by Rick Morgan
They are small baleen whale and there are lots of them worldwide.

On ocean sunfish, or the (Mola mola) from the national geographic website place…

 Sunfish, or mola, develop their truncated, bullet-like shape because the back fin which they are born with simply never grows. Instead, it folds into itself as the enormous creature matures, creating a rounded rudder called a clavus. Mola in Latin means "millstone" and describes the ocean sunfish’s somewhat circular shape. They are a silvery color and have a rough skin texture.”

this has nothing to do with
mola mola

The mola are the heaviest of all the bony fish, with large specimens reaching 14 feet (4.2 meters) vertically and 10 feet (3.1 meters) horizontally and weighing nearly 5,000 pounds (2,268 kilograms). Sharks and rays can be heavier, but they're cartilaginous fish.”


Cool stuff and cool sightings! Thanks for sharing Rick and Norbert!


John Drury reports Ocean Sunfish and sharks from an off shore adventures on the Skua! Thanks John

pair of eagles at old harbor pond
photo by Jim Clayter - thanks Jim!

Bird walks – bird lists(7/28) in the words of Pete Jacques…

Lane’s Island was very slow, just goldfinches in profusion and otherwise just distant songs or single sightings of alder flycatcher, yellowthroat, song sparrow.  Female eiders were unusually active at half tide in the cove, and a lone catbird shyly amused us.  We saw one cedar waxwing - they’d vanished temporarily - and one semipalmated sandpiper.  It was an odd morning there, and light fog didn’t help.



 State Beach was better: greater and lesser yellowlegs, common tern, raven, crow, osprey, song sparrow, blue jay, bc chickadee, black duck, common eider, robin, short-billed dowitcher


and the waxwings finally behaved like themselves.


Bird walk - (8/9) – another slow morning, lots of goldfinches, and highlights being 3 least sandpipers and a turkey vulture.  Beautiful morning.


ring0necked snake in steve's hand
Bird Walk – (8/16)Ruddy Turnstone, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Black-bellied and Semi-palmated Plovers. Bald Eagle, Osprey, Crow, Blue Jay. Black Guillemot, Common Tern, Common Loon, Double-crested Cormorant, Herring and Greater Black-backed Gull, Common Eider. Hummingbird, Cedar Waxwing, American Goldfinch, Purple Finch, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-shafted Flicker, Black-capped chickadee, red-breasted nuthatch, brown creeper, common yellowthroat, Song sparrow, grey catbird. Highlights – group of 6 loons chillin’ together, at times swimming in circles with each other. Ruddy Turnstone after most folks left, but any 7 shorebird species bird walk on vinalhaven is a good one in my book! 31 species? Felt good.


Also this tiny little ring-necked snake was found at the end of the bird walk. The garter snake is from North Haven


State Beach – (8/9) Short-billed Dowitcher, Spotted Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, Semi-palmated Plover

Greens otter praint

Greens Island – (7/26) – lots of otter sign spotted sandpiper, lesser yellowlegs, semi-palmated plovers, common tern with young. Significant bloom of Tawny Grisette.

ragged fringed orchid
vnm! yeah baby!

Very cool  highlights – Common Tern adult leaving a fresh fledgling on the rocky shores of greens to fish off shore, the classic otter latrine


Unexpected plant VMN on Greens for me – Ragged-fringed Orchids (Planthanthera lacera)


and the tawny grissette bloom -  Here’s what Lawrence Millman had to say about them poetic the tawny grissette (Amanita fulva) in “fascinating fungi of new England”, a case of Larry going “descriptive poetic”.

tawny grissette

very handsome mushroom


“…long tapering stem and pale sheath-like volva.”

nice sheath-like volva

the absence of a ring (around the stem) disproves the popular belief that all Amanitas have rings

(I learned that there are such things as “popular beliefs” about mushrooms!)

We all know that the Tawny Grisette is my favorite mushroom, and to update it is “by far” my favorite at this point and time. What is your favorite mushroom?
for some reason the blog is turning some photos upside down
this is one of them. chanterelle!



Bike Ride – (7/26). Calderwood neck road – 3 chantrelle patches (nice ones) and a sharp-shinned hawk parent with youngsters sounding pretty fresh out of the nest. Both were highlights.

chanterelles are tasty

Starboard Rock – (7/26) really the first patches of the BlusherAmanita rubescens – an island amanita favorite of ours. Back to Lawrence Millman as he goes “anthropomorphic” about A. rubescens!

good and bad
the blush and the mold
“does the fact that it’s not poisonous make it feel like a wimp next to its toxic Amanita cousins?”


“Or is it embarrassed because it’s so susceptible to the designs of the Amanita mold? “


More on the mold/A. rubscens relationship… “The Amanita mold (Hypomyces hyalinus) turns A. rubescens into a phallic, chalky, pimpled mutation of its former self.”

moldy amanita

“The jury is out as to whether other Amanitas might be victimized because the host is so completely altered by the parasite’s sleight-of-hand.”

non-moldy amanita

“With A. rubscens, red dish stains identify the host”


blusher blushing

another blusher look

Here’s some more from the fungal photo gallery file.
painted bolete!


even with the toupee...
it's still a destroying angel!
red-pored bolete. after slugs...
red-pored bolete from below
bitter bolete


these indian pipes started out strong

Plant stuff - These Indian Pipes (Monotropa uniflora) have been having a rough go of it on the along an early stretch of the Huber trail. Not sure what the black stuff is, but they smelled pretty bad this last photo. Here’s what John Eastman has to say about them….

but never really got past this point

“Botantists of an earlier generation, convinced that nature had made a bad mistake, deplored this strange little perennial for its “degenerate morals”.” Botantists also used to think mushrooms were plants! Those were the days.

these are "kind of normal" indian pipes

“Indian pipe’s key associates, necessary to its survival, are the subsurface fungi by means of which it obtains nourishment.”


“Germinating seeds form mycorrhizal bonds, and several stems usually rise together in hooded “ghostly array” from a parent mycorrhizal mat. The plant always grows in shade, never in open sunlight.”

tapioca slime anyone?

Slimes – recent rains pumped out some significant numbers of tapioca slime along trails.

big patch o' slime
photo by Jim Conlan

Jim Conlan came across this 2x2 patch of a slime that has “gone to spore” as we say (the royal “we”). Could be tapioca, or severally bleached scrambled egg slime. Nice find Jim!


bagged doggy-doo in Tallinn
Things we find in the woods


Nice collection of recent “bagged doggy doo” photos – Estonia, Adirondacks and beautiful Lane’s Island!

baggeddoggy-doo in the adirondacks

lane's island picnic tables this morning!
Condom from the thorofare!

"one prophylactic - soiled"
quote from Frank Oz

archery in Estonia

with Nanni and family in Estonia

ready for mining

and the proud biker!

and leify stuff of course!

see you out there!