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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, December 13, 2016

merry Christmas....from California...Satan's Bolete
photo by BAJ

Welcome to the Vinalhaven sightings report  Dec 11, 2016
Brought to you with the kind support
of VLT and MCHT

“when the deer are-a-dying,
the winter moth are-a-flyin’”
old Estonian proverb,
or Bob Dylan, nobel prize winner

happy 8th birthday mister....


We are welcoming off island photos of mushrooms, kid(s), and mushroom(s) and kid(s), as well as kid(s) and mushroom(s) in this edition. And we start with an incredibly beautiful Satan's bolete (above) from Santa Cruz County California. Enjoy!

Highlights – Winter moth update, red crossbill, red-throated loon, red-necked grebe, razorbills, kittiwake, otter and raccoon latrines, and lots of poop pictures….and mushrooms….scoter tri-fecta!...and so much more

any fire in this pit is underwater at high tide

Business – contact us with your sightings, photos and anything/everything in between at . It’s free and it won’t hurt.

Tiit trick - click on photos to jumbo size them

and in tiit's name - make sure you watch the wonderful ESPN 30 for 30 documentary "When the garden was eden". It's on Netflix and it reminds me of my dad and uncle gus. Interesting watch even just to see the last time the knicks won the championship.

snow. a little of it on the coast.
Hopefully more to come

Have you been seeing winter moth flights in your neighborhood? If you have been we cordially invite you to send in your sightings to the VSR as we (the royal “we”) do a “short hand documentation style” documentation


Winter Moth update – what started as a trickle became “a ton” for a bit and may not be done with yet!


the moss looked especially cool on Big Hen Island

Those dastardly invasive insects are back (or more precise– still around) and the cold weather flights of winter moth males may only be matched by the cold weather, non-flights of winter moth females (they have no wings) as a mating frenzy worth its weight in rabbits and mink has been underway for the last month or so (roughly). A timeline of reports sent in….


come on now! why don't we have these satan's boletes
around here? probably because we are so pure...
photo by BAJ
look at that phat, bulbous stipe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(11/16) Linnell Mather reports a dozen or so moths flittin’ about between the Sands and Main Street on her evening ride home.


(11/25) after a (somewhat moderate) cold stretch, a burst of winter moth flight was documented this night in both St. George and Vinalhaven (and undoubtedly other locations as well). Words like “HUGE” and “TONS” were used for the observed flights that night as my windows were partially covered as I rode the horned lark (my old bike) and every time the door opened another moth or two would enter! This was a big night…


typical view from the ferry these days
of old tailed ducks
(11/29, 5:15pm) Linnell Mather and I drove through a couple dozen winter moth males as we headed up to the town hall. As we drove through the winter moth population, with their scattered and spaced out dynamics, their presence reminded me of a December a few years past where reports of intensely active flights when investigate 20 minutes or so after the fact turned up few to hardly any adults flying. In other words, what Linnell and I saw that night between the Sands and town hall reminded me of what I saw a few years ago when I barely missed a huge flight of winter moth.

I had never seen a mushroom like this before

(12/1) Linnell Mather (has anyone else noticed how connected Linnell is to the winter moth flights this year?)   reports male winter moths flying out by the Dyer’s Island bridge, which is further than she has seen them out of town (the Basin way) in the past.


The bottom line is that we are waiting for the “flies that are parasitic on winter moth” to take hold and start limiting the number of moths observed in an observable way. The flies of course were introduced maybe 3 springs ago, which can take 10 years or so to establish themselves which is slow, even by Vinalhaven standards.


then I realized it was an Amanita where the cap
never pulled away from stalk or stipe;
instead the cap split around the Amanita egg shell pieces
and what you are seeing as upper and lower teeth is
the torn gills

What we can do in the meantime is document where the winter moths are being seen. Have you been seeing winter moth, or any moths lately? Even if you saw them 3 weeks ago, it’s never too late to share! Send in your winter moth reports to .


red crossbill in the basin
best shot I got at the moment


turkey tail
photo by Jim Conlan
Sightings Shrooms galore….. with some recent rains and some recent warmth (not today or yesterday though) and with that Jim Conlan found, photographed, and then sent in this photo of one of our local favorites, Turkey Tail…Trametes  versicolor

Here’s some cool stuff about this frequently seen polypore, which is small with multiple layering shelves. Straight from mid-coast Maine’s own Greg Marley in his epic “Mushrooms for health


a little excavating after finding
some treasure with the metal
detector. that is my underwear
in the back!
Turkey tail is the best-researched and most clinically tested of the medicinal mushrooms, at least by allopathic medicine standards. In the mid-1960s, a Japanese chemical engineer saw his neighbor succeed in using the mushroom known there as Kawaratake as a traditional remedy for his cancer. The engineer’s initial horror at the idea that his friend would rely on an unproven treatment to address his cancer turned into wonder and intense interest in the mushroom behind this folk remedy. He then worked on a team that tested Kawaratake for antitumor activity, isolated a highly active strain of the fungus, and extracted and concentrated a bioactive fraction from the fruiting body.


The licensed fraction is a group of protein-bound polysaccharides called Polysaccharides-Kureha, now known as PSK or by the trade name Krestin. The Japanese Ministry of Medicine initially approved it for use in treating cancer in 1977 (Hobbs, 2004)…

BAJ and Asa and a Shaggy Parasol
photo by Shauna

…PSK is the second leading cancer “drug” in Japan….recommended for use as adjunctive therapy, along with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Under these conditions they have been shown to strongly inhibit cancers, improve survival times, and help conserve or improve the immune status of patients facing the toxic stresses of conventional treatments …”


beyond what is recent, Marley delves into history….


Turkey Tail has been used as a folk remedy in Japan and China for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Traditionally, fruiting bodies of T. versicolor have been harvested, dried, ground, and simmered in water as tea. This type of extract is recorded in the China edition of De Materia Medica as a treatment for a variety of symptoms associated with liver dysfunction and respiratory-tract infection, and for promoting a healthy body and spirit generally.”

sign o' the time

In other words, Turkey Tail is as badass as it looks like a turkey tail. Hats off to the fungus that increases cancer survival rates. Can’t argue with that...

"overcast days never turned me on"
but overcast gives the best light
on morning rides from Rockland


Ferry and boat rides….11/29 – ferry ride - 8 razorbills, 8 great cormorants….all the regulars – 30+ old tail, eiders, 30+ guillemots,70+  loons plus Bonaparte’s gull, and a sizable flock of surf scoters (27 highest count) in hurricane sound, easily observable from the ferry

on sunny mornings the light on the 8:45am from rockland is
rather sprainty when it comes to observing. so I end
up looking backwards, still seeing birds, but watching them
float away rather that getting closer. what a whiner

12/6 – ferry ride1 Black-legged Kittiwake, ~ 12 Bonaparte’s Gull were the highlights….somewhat quiet….

…(12/6) on The Skua with John Drury - Ride around the east side to Big Hen Island, located in the beautiful, yet somewhat hard to get to, waters of Seal Bay/Winter’s what we saw on the way…~12 great cormorants, ww scoter, black scoter, surf scoter (scoter tri-fecta!), a few red-breasted merganser, old tailed ducks, black guillemots, common loon, red-throated loon, red-necked grebe, common eiders, Bald Eagles, Harbor Seals…


buffleheads and surf scoter
(12/7) ferry ride – red-throated loons, common loons, laughing gull, black guillemot, 1 razorbill, 1 black-legged kittiwake, 

common loons are commonly seen
from the ferry

this is big hen island.

So much to see here ….


Big Hen Island – (12/6) – out in the wilds of Seal Bay/Winter Harbor is a very fun island to visit, especially in December when undergrowth of the island has died back. Scat was especially prevalent on the island this day with Raccoon and White-tailed Deer represented in impressive numbers…

Big hen had some big rocks
view back to the Skua from Big Hen

Red-tailed Hawk perched momentarily on a birch snag while John and I were getting ready to go on the beach.


the otter latrine I spotted from my kayak
the second otter latrine was tucked in under here

2 River Otter latrines were located on island this particular day. Sign of multiple otters for sure, from the size and amounts on the latrine it felt safe to assume a den was nearby. The heavy use of otter trails was likely accentuated by local raccoons.

there is a dead raccoon in there

shells and skull
pretty sure that raccoon is dead.
cleaned by periwinkles no doubt....
ahhh, the irony

…which was funny because John and I came across sign of two Raccoon that had passed their life status – one body fully intact ….


And one skull in the shallows by a southern beach….there seemed to be lots of death on big hen.

...the irony is that the raccoon scats were loaded with
periwinkle operculums (trap door things) so the raccoons
have been cleaning up on periwinkle snails, and then when
they die their skulls are (likely if in the water) cleaned by
the periwinkles. its the periwinkle/raccoon poop cycle!
and beyond that is was a poop fest on the are some classics from the day!

one can never have enough otter spraint pictures!

deer poop on big hen

balsam cones before

and then there were these cones on the balsam fir trees

balsam cones after

Leif's Jurassic World

and of course leif and legos

Leif exploring the Camden Hills...

Lily got some cukes and cheese
photo by Amanda Devine

and introducing to the VSR family - Lily, Amanda Devine and "Amanda's husband Kevin"s kid. she's a sweety!! 

oh yeah - and before I forget -

check out leif talking legos on youtube!

he is so proud of the videos! I hope you enjoy!