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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


Sunday, October 1, 2017

the ultimate king, the porcini, the one and only

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report-

October 1, 2017

With the kind support of VLT and MCHT

“Beautiful” –
said about a gagillion times on recent mushroom walks by both myself and Leif

my apologizes - I just snuck a glimpse at a preview of this VSR and there are incredible empty spaces between photos and writing. this is not the way it looks on the editing screen, it looks great on that screen. so there is nothing I can do about it.

this should be the best VSR ever with all the shrooms and everything, but the blogging gods have not been working with us. this has taken two full days plus to put together and it looks awful, or at least not up to standards. I will not use my new work computer to post again. this has been a big pain!

please bear with it , its worth it!

Highlights – Boletes featuring the King, Corts, Amanitas (including “the prettiest little amanita”) and other mushrooms, preying mantii (?), mixed species flocks featuring Wilson’s, Palm, Pine, Cape May and other warblers!, Great Cormorant from the ferry,

leif found this praying mantis

shamrock orb weaver

This is a special King Bolete collector’s edition. Seemingly unlimited with mushroom photos, this is one where we (the royal “we”) let loose and go free style on the fungal photog. Or something like that – it’s a little mammoth.

king bolete photo gallery!

First things first – a video of Leif cleaning a king bolete


photo by Banner Moffat

Second things second – here are a few shots sent in by Banner Moffat. My apologizes for the delay in posting these great shots! Thanks for sharing Banner!  

photo by Banner Moffat

grey seal
photo by Banner Moffat
Bald Eagle
photo by Banner Moffat

Great Blue Heron and otter spraint
photos by Banner Moffat

Business (third things third (are you catching onto the pattern here?))–

with sightings, photos and emails to add to the address list. comments are also welcome - not necessarily taken seriously.

a boy and his kings

Tiit trick – click on photos to enlarge them. Make sure you take a close look at every mushroom and otter latrine!

also - you might notice that the photos seems a little different as far as placement and organization. not sure what is going on here=, but with a new work computer this uploading is weird to say the least. we ask for your patience.

all hail the king!

Kingly business (fourth things fourth)- Bolete break #1 - Don’t know where to being -…

I am not exaggerating (OK. So, I might be exaggerating how little I am exaggerating) but it may be physically, spiritually, and legally impossible to explain how incredible the last week has been with mushrooms, especially King Boletes. There will be a complete onslaught of mushroom photos in this post, selected from the 500 pictures of mushrooms I took over a seven-day period. Capturing views of some of the 175 or so King Boletes (Boletus edulis) that we (the family “we”) have crossed paths with, with about ½ coming home with us (if you know what I mean).

family of kings
In my humble, fungal experience this is above and beyond just about any other King Bolete week I have ever had – certainly the heftiest “king path crossing” in Maine for me. Memories go back to September 2002 in Haines, Alaska – just me and a moose and about 70 King Boletes. That was a nice “seventy-two some”. This has more than doubled that legendary (in my own head) week.

Is this because we live in a new zone – finally in a zone with kings? The vast majority of the kings we have found have been within walking distance of our house, many on our property (we bought well! Great neighbors!). finding so many on Vinalhaven, so many more than I have ever found on island tells me this is probably, at least in part, just a great year with the right conditions.  Or maybe this is more of the “regular” king scene. We will keep you posted for years to come! (threat or a promise).

Regardless, this “King week” has been exciting and thrilling in ways that have made for a very unique King experience. Stories ad nauseum below! They will be called “Bolete breaks” from the “normal” VSR, whatever that means. This was “bolete break” - Enjoy the bliss!

great egret - photo by Rick Morgan
Sightings  Great Egrets – Rick Morgan snapped these shots of a Great Egret in carvers pond last week. Great Egrets, while not being the rarest of birds in Maine, has been seen in “larger numbers than normal” (judgement, no scientific evidence to support). There have been clearly more than one or two on island (people saw two together – you do the math!) which may automatically make it a big year for Great Egrets on Vinalhaven. Regardless, we are happy to see them and happy to post photos of them enjoying the island lifestyle. Hope you have crossed paths with an Egret sometime in the last month or so!

Bolete Break #2 – (9/19) Tuesday – Tenants Harbor, mainland – at the last second I grabbed my Estonian mushroom knife and headed down a trail I had never gone before. At the end of the new (for me!) road that we live on are some 4-wheeler trails that I had not experienced since we moved in, mostly to avoid ticks. A neighbor reminded me of the trails and it being mid-September and the fact I haven’t seen a tick in well over a month added up to a trail VNM for this bald dude.

a little dirty 

To make a long story short, I took home 10 King Boletes  (only 9 pictured) from that exploration hike, and can honestly say that I have never walked that trail and not come back with at least one King Bolete! And I have walked it 5 times now! Anyway…


Excited to tell Amy and Leif about my “find” (only in the loosest terms of finding), but when I got home Amy told me she had found a patch of Kings within 50 feet of our property and so Leif and I said – take me to the boletes…and that just got the ball rolling…..

so beautiful

This patch pumped out at least 20 kings (that we processed) over the next 4 days, and a dozen more that we left behind.  Anytime we went outside Leif would go check the patch for more, he got hooked and the proximity to the house was key. The patch was almost too good to be true! We refer to this as Amy’s patch.

cleaning the kings

And to my amazement (pleasant surprise, maybe?) Leif as an 8 year old has only gotten more into mushrooms compared to when he was a little youngster! King boletes bring families together outside with knives! Needless to say it is awesome to mushroom hunt with Leif and Amy, and over the past week in particular! More below with Wednesday

like little loaves of bread

(9/21) Ferry Ride – 8:45 Rockland to Vinalhaven – Northern Gannet, Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle, Bonaparte’s, Laughing, Herring, Ring-billed and Great Black-backed Gulls, 10+ Common Loon, Great and Double-crested Cormorants, Black Guillemots, 3 Surf Scoter, Common Eiders

from this... this... this and then to Leif's belly!

here's a video of boletes cooking - no liquids added - its a dry sauté and the water is from the boletes!


more kings please!

(9/21) Vinal Cove – Harbor Seal, Northern Flicker, Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Dark-eyed Junco, winter wren. Mink Den, Otter latrine and mounds. Garter Snake, Monarch on goldenrod, Lady’s Tresses, Poison Ivy!

red-gilled cort
false chanterelle

Mushrooms – Rufus Milky, Honey Mushroom, THE KING!, Red-mouth bolete, Common Scaber Stalks, Chrome footed Bolete,  Red-gilled Cort, False Chanterelle, Violet toothed Polypore, Yellow Patches, Citron Amanita, Amanita muscaria, Lackluster Laccaria, Scarlet Waxycaps

Microphale foetidum

So the story here is….mushrooms of course. The woods were (almost) literally lined with mushrooms. check out the diversity in the list above!

basket of boletes
King Bolete break #3– quote from David Arora, Mushrooms Demystified….

“One of the finest of fleshy fungi and certainly the best-loved and most sought-after in Europe, where it has more common names than there are languages. If any mushroom deserves the dubious title of the “king”, this is the one. It is a consummate creation, the peerless epitome of earthbound substance, a bald bulbous pillar of thick white flesh – the one aristocrat the peasantry can eat!

The entire fruiting body is exceptionally delicious….But you have to find them before you can eat them, and it isn’t always easy. You can’t just casually look for them the way you can look for chanterelles or blewits – you have to hunt them down and root them up from under the duff before they are visible to others.  Timing is of paramount importance, because you face formidable competition from both maggots and boletivores. One source suggests getting up at the crack of dawn and wearing your t-shirt inside out.”

(9/20) the next day – Wednesday was a half day of school – by law I am supposed to mention that it is only a half day for students, teachers still work the rest of the day. (Hope that satisfies those radical teachers out there!). Anyway, Leif and I were down for looking for kings, especially since that morning I had found about 10 more on the close trail. Within an hour we had 24 (two dozens for those non-bakers out there) beautiful kings, way more than we needed but they were just so much fun to find…and pick…and kiss!

It was around 2:30 or so and we realized that teachers would be done with the day and meetings soon, thinking they would be heading out the door and home and maybe in the right zone for taking a king bolete or two. We were spot on!

king bolete mushhump. 
hunting kings is a totally different game
more of a tracking experience
We gave away 15 or so kings that afternoon, and maybe 2 dozen (that’s 24) total over the 5 days of bolete bliss that we found ourselves entrenched in. Some paused when approached, most asked advice on cooking, but all returned the next day with stories of tasty times and appreciative eaters. It was the anniversary for one young couple and the female representative in the mixed gender union told me they had gotten some nice salmon for the occasion (salmon is yummy) and that the boletes were the perfect compliment. Another lucky path crosser spoke of a tasty steak dinner taken to the next level by the King Boletes that accompanied. Those were supplied from the Pleasant River area, and the random paths crossing and mushroom handoff between humans took place on the ferry. The 100% positive reports made Leif and I stoked…this was the best kind of sharing.  More below…..

wolfs milk slime is always a welcome sight...
(9/22) Basin Platform Trail – Wolf’s Milk Slime, False Chanterelle, Destroying Angel, Citron Amanita, Red-mouthed Bolete – Mixed Species – Palm, Wilson’s, Black and White, & Yellow-rumped Warblers, Blue-headed Vireo, Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee any stage or phase of their life...
(9/22) Armbrust Hill – with Janet Ghoures and Rick Morgan – Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpecker, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Cedar Waxwings, Catbird, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, Raven, Crow, Blue Jay, American Goldfinch, Greater Yellowlegs, Northern Parula, Palm, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green Warblers, Cardinal. Mushrooms – 24+ KING BOLETES, Citron and muscaria Amanitas.

destroying angel

Fun to get up to Armbrust for an hour or so, loads of Yellow-rumpeds, quick cameo of the Palm and a nice session with the Sapsucker and Rick and Janet of course. But the store here is so clearly the 24 + KING BOLETES found along the less than .5 miles total of trails through the park. How many king boletes have I found on Armburst hill before you may be asking? The answer is none, zero, nada, empty set! What a week!

roadkill mantis

Insects -

Preying Mantii – this is something of a side note to the king and mushroom scene, but recently the praying mantis scene has been somewhat hefty in observable entities (are you with me?).

mantis on helmet
photo by Amy Palmer

The roadside observer turned up two specimens, one photographed. Two roadkill mantii probably meant many more to find out in the world, and so leif found the one at the top of the report....

and my father in law found this one while biking. it immediately went for the highest point on Jeff - his helmet!

citron amanita button

Other mushrooms – yes there are other species than Boletus edulis.

Mushrooms - I’m an Amanita man – They (David Arora) say to look for King Boletes when Amanita muscaria is up, so let’s not forget that mushroom families other than Boletes exist.

amanita muscaria buttons

Let's start with Amanitas

Amanita muscaria – we’ll start with honoring this species, as well we should. They have been every much as beautiful (judgement) as the King Boletes, and every much as present. nice to see them in multiple stages. Amanita muscaria gallery begins now!

citron amanita

Citron Amanita - sublte, especially when compared to the Amanita muscaria, always a welcome sight

wells amanita

Well's Amanita - Amanita  wellsii - Amanita VNM - the prettiest little amanita these eyes have seen. found a few and more on the king hunts. Barron says "Widepsread but rare and handsome and distinctive" in Mushrooms of northeast North America. Stunning in a way different than other Amanitas I cross paths with.

soft characteristics aren't best captured on
"film". must be seen in person!
wells amanita undercarriage

baby honeys

Honey Mushrooms? - and at the same time as the Bolete burst came the Honey Mushroom explosion that is a September stable for Maine. To say this year's explosion was subdued would be to speak correctly for a change! subdued in numbers and mass, honey's still put on a show on every preserve and every trail I went down.

honey undercarriage. nice veil!

little bigger honeys



more and more honeys

this shrew looks to have not been hit by a vehicle
just died on the road, like a rebel

Roadside lessons – lots of dead stuff on the
side of the road these days. Some obviously effected by vehicular traffic, others appear to have just died there….

newt skeletons are usually positioned like this

not sure what happened here, but I do know that snakes
are usually found in one piece

Had a “5 species dead individuals roadside bike ride” (trying saying that 10 times fast and understanding it) recently. 4 of the critters were cold blooded. All were cold….

there are still dead raccoons on island

that's a neat trick to get your jaw like that

On Vinalhaven – this nasty raccoon reminds us that raccoon have not been extripated from the island at all. seems like there are still pockets of raccoons around the island. story still yet unexplained as more folks approach me about the lower numbers of raccoons people are encountering..

those are king boletes, right next to the airport

Bolete Break #  4      - 9/26 - this just in….king boletes at the vinalhaven airport! – check out this photo of the dozen or so kings that recently went through the motions and stages roadside by the white spruce at the airport.

Untouched by humans, this is a king bolete spot of historical importance. 2010 maybe was another 12 or so kings sprouted (not politically correct) by the white spruce there.

baby red-mouth bolete

but what about other boletes? good call! here are some other boletes that have been popping up around island and on the mainland.....

...Red-mouthed Bolete - the only poisonous I know of in the area, look for the red pores below.

the dark pores of the red-mouthed bolete

here are some shots from recent weeks - impressive size for the reds!

and here's a video of a red-mouth bolete staining blue - awesome video rated g!


lots of chicken fat these days

Chicken-fat suillus - can't miss these yellow beauties under pines these days. look for under white pines.
chicken fat undercarriage

chicken fat suillus are cool
slippery jacks have a protective covering
for their pores. this will turn into a cool veil

Slippery Jacks - another suillus genus, simply a beauty at any stage. so much fun to find....

slippery jacks are pretty

slippery jills have dark spots above and below
the veil that has yet to break off yet!

slippery jills - saw fewer of these than slippery jacks, but still appreciated their look!

hefty amount of scabers on this birch bolete
Leccinum scabrum

birch bolete

Scaber -stalks - genus Leccinum - look for the black, flakey pattern on the stalk of these yummy dudes...

bulbous cort, note the Cortina wrapped
around the top of the stalk-
covered in orange spores
Other mushrooms - Corts - here's a gallery of some local corts. check out that Cortina! the cobwebby covering of a corts gills that becomes a cobwebby veil covered in spores after a bit.

silvery-violet cort, note the orangey veil

and another cort with the Cortina still
attached from the cap to the stalk

typical view/feel of a  cortinarius genus mushroom

typical feel of the gills on a cort.


Final King Bolete break - this is kind of the grab bag of the bolete breaks. Couple of things, including a triumphant return video of a successful bike ride......

...its me going no hands and trying to have the mushroom and its shadow visible..... see what you think.

check out those pores!

seeing so many Kings clued us in on some diversity within the species, which you would expect. yellow pores, odd coloration and extra cap pieces were observed.

this king had the huge stalk
but the cap looked more like a chicken fat!

some kings were attacked by mold
molds deserve their share of kings too!

this one had this extra doo-dad attached to the cap

slug on king, the last few days the kings have looked
more like that

missing something

old kings

when the dust cleared several trips to the woods were made looking for patches of kings that we hadn't crossed paths with this year, but look forward to checking them down the line. this is the time of watching kings getting eaten

squirrel chewed to the pores

ate right down to the pores.
those circles in the middle

final cook off - quick to freeze and we'll feast over the winter!

and more of the boy with his kings. he loved this week, and even wanted to try and sell some at the Good Tern, which turned our mushrooms into money, which leif turned into a lego set. so if we use  the transitive property of equality  we find that mushrooms = legos.

the check that changed everything.
or at least got capitalism involved!

ink from an inky cap

and some of leif without kings....

catching frogs

interrupting  dragonfly mating
what a blocker!

I am all smiles when it comes to finding kings
I think this might be comforting to a king
about to be decapitated

ever wonder what a king bolete would see if they could see me's a shot of what that view just might be like

and now, even after all that, I realize I am skipping stuff and dropping out even more pictures. I apologize to all the mushrooms I have neglected, but really it is time to post! but we will end with an orange-gilled waxycap, one that really got Leif going. he loved this color.

we'll see you out there!