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


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Welcome to the Vinalhaven sightings report –
Early July 2017
Brought to you, in part, with the support of MCHT and VLT

“I have never met a Carol that I didn’t like”
– Me (the royal “Me”)


Highlights – alewives stuff, mushrooms including King Boletes and Chantrelles, trip to Calderwood, flowers, dragonflies, 7 slime mold species day, plugs for VLT Annual Meeting and “Vinalhaven by Boat” mixed in – see if you can find them!
july 6th bird walk - focused on the nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow


Business:  Thursday morning bird walks continue! – July 13th at 8am!


A Bunch of Thanks - Big thanks to Carol Thompson for just being so awesome. Way to be consistently awesome, Carol!


smooth green snakes fade to a bluish
color when roadkill - or woods kill

Contact us - “Could have done without the scrat photo” – yes, and I could have done without finding scrat so freshly crushed on the street – start the “Ban cars! Not photos!” chant now.


Seriously though – this is the kind of comment we are looking for – so contact us at with sightings, photos, and comments and critiques and recommendations that you’d like to share with us.


I would also like to extend a big thanks to Horace Hunt, who months ago respectfully mentioned the process of “cropping” photos to me after I posted a series of red crossbill pictures where a magnifying glass was required to make out the dot that might be a bird on the top of what might be a tree. His comment was almost immediately “pooh-poohed” by me (standard Gentalen first response – it’s in my genes!) with jabs and nonsense about integrity of the photo with the loss of detail with cropping and the like.


And with time the standard Gentalen second response (should be standard if it is not) to new ideas developed as I thought about it more  and  started messing with “cropping” (least favorite verb at the moment) photos and sure enough the detail and quality of my  photos increased to an obnoxiously obvious level. (that is a good thing).

sundews don't get their due in the VSR
carnivorous plants!

(Is this story really necessary? Or are we just filling up space so more photos can be posted?)


female blue dasher in full flight
as opposed to partial flight which is
another term for crash

So there – for some reason I feel compelled to show how I am open to cutting edge new ideas like “cropping” photos, instagram (big thanks to VSR reader and best friend on the mainland Kristen Lindquist for that idea (of which I  pooh-poohed almost immediately as well)) and maybe not putting too many gross pictures of “runned-over” animals in the VSR. Not sure how long this will last, but I am at a moment where I am very open to ideas – so send them in! What would make the VSR better in your mind – no comments about beards will be accepted! Pre-emptive “Pooh-pooh” on that one!


alewives in traditional habitat - water

Alewives stuff – Old Harbor Pond just got a little more crowded….here’s what Luke Milardo wrote up about this exciting event…and some photos taken by someone...maybe Kerry hardy?


alewives are easy to catch when flushed out
of their non-traditional habitat-
tanker truck or tank on a truck

Alewives Delivered to Old Harbor Pond

The Maine Department of Marine Resources brought the second batch of mature alewives to rebuild the spawning run on Vinalhaven. Dropped into Old Harbor Pond in mid June, these adult fish will quickly spawn in the shallows before heading back out to sea. Their juveniles will stick around until August, when they will have grown large enough to start their own four-year odyssey through the ocean, before returning once more to repeat the spawning cycle on Vinalhaven.

Keep an eye on the pond this summer for some great wildlife activity. While they spawn, you'll see the water boil with moving fish, a sure sign that otters, loons, cormorants, ospreys, herons, and eagles will be dropping in for a snack.

While we are at it … a slight push for the VLT annual meeting – looks like a cool topic….


the catching is good

VLT Annual Meeting: A Focus on the Health of Penobscot Bay

Join us at Skoog Park on Friday July 28th at 4 p.m. for this year's annual meeting. We hope you will come catch up with board members, staff, and friends while learning about how to secure the future of fishing in Penobscot Bay.

The title of this year's talk is "Wild Fisheries and Alewives: Their Loss, Potential Recovery, and Resilience of Coastal Communities." Vinalhaven native, fisherman, and historical fisheries ecologist Ted Ames will team up with Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries' Executive Director, Robin Alden, to talk about Penobscot Bay’s past fisheries, current alewife recovery efforts, and the hopeful resiliency of fishing communities like Vinalhaven in the face of climate change.

the releasing is good too

Ted is a MacArthur Award winner for his work on local cod stock structure and Robin was recently named a Benchley Ocean Award Hero of the Seas for grassroots work in fisheries.

golden heather


Slightings or sightings we forgot to include last time- Oversights from last time….we start with flowers because in the last VSR we promised you  Heather (the flower, not the White) , then got you to read the whole post, and didn’t even give her (the flower) shout out or a photo. How rude.


Labrador tea was also in bloom recently

So here is a photo of a plant called Golden Heather that lives on the Williams trail in the Basin and , in my experience, is only noticeable when it is flowering. Flowering is over for the year…

"like a lady slipper in july"

While we are at it…here’s what lady slippers are looking like these days….


rose pagonia like this can be seen with binos
from the beaver dam at Folly Pond

That said another orchid is raging in marshes and along the shores of ponds these days – Rose Pagonia! Seen on the last bird walk at Folly Pond. Numerous ponds around the island have this orchid – go take a looksie….

now is the time to look for
bladderwort blooms

…this photo is taken from the marsh in St. George, but if it is blooming there it is safe to say it may be blooming on Vinalhaven. This little yellow beauty (judgment) is the bloom of Common Bladderwort, a wonderfully carnivorous plant that captures….well, let’s give clements and gracie (that classic duo) a shot at describing the wonderous features members of the Bladderwort family (Lentibulariaceae – “you sir are a mouthful” - Tobias) have.

look at all these bladderworts - like really take a look


Bladderworts have small, bladder-shaped traps that have sensitive hairs around the mouth, which when triggered by passing aquatic invertebrates cause the bladder to vacuum the invertebrate into the bladder where they are decomposed for nutrients” –

widow skimmer - backyard dragonfly

Wow! That is an impressive sentence, and quite literally more information about plants than anywhere else in their great book “Wildflowers in the field and forest   local review of said book – “thumbs up” from Javier Penalosa, yes the Javier Penalosa.


twelve-spotted skimmer - backyard dragonfly

Anyway, we found some bladderworts blooming up at the Armbrust Hill pond last year, might be a good time to go look for these yellow ones….


Fragrant water lilies – paddling in the marsh by our house in St George loads of these beauties, including some hot pink and even crimsony pink (I am not an artist) ones that even I could tell were easy on the eyes…take a look…


two days before

And while we are at it….living so close to the marsh means dragonflies…I’m sprinkling photos of dragonflies and a few damselflies throughout this post that I took recently in my yard or n the marsh. For the sake of space of all things – this is too long! But enjoy (ha,ha he said butt enjoy!)


just getting going - indian pipes in the basin

and more flowers to come as these young indian pipes show!

female blue dasher laying eggs,
slapping her abdomen on the water
across the street dragonflies

Bird walk(7/6) – hardcores galore! Good turnout for an early morning with not the best weather on tap. Folly pond – 4 wood ducks, American robin, blue jay, rose pagonia! …State Beach – many common terns, double crested cormorants, common eiders, northern parula, winter wren, osprey, American redstart, 6 peeps on a flyby, song sparrow with young (so cute- not a judgment but a fact!)


common emerald dragonfly sizing me up.

Also – visiting birder and nature enthusiast Frank Mantlik sent in this report from his visit…


johnny whiteface or dotted whiteface

Pileated Woodpecker flew N over Pequot Rd near Beaver Dam Rd.

(Aboard “Ruth”) 1 imm. Bonaparte's Gull and (at another spot) 53 Common Terns seen and photographed during an afternoon boat cruise with Mark Jackson. Also we found a Bald Eagle nest with one large juvenile, an Osprey nest at another site, and one harbor porpoise. Ninety Harbor Seals on Deadman's Ledge.

blue dasher laying eggs

This is a fine spot for a little push for Mark Jackson and his latest venture – “Vinalhaven by Boat”. First off, Mark’s a great guy and we’re (the royal “we’re”) big fans of his for a variety of reasons (he’s a Leonard Cohen fan- gotta respect that), and now it looks like he is offering a pretty sweet rides in his boat “Ruth”. 

 never met a Ruth I didn't like either...

common whitetail

Mark has a pretty nifty looking website that someone obviously helped him with so go check it out - – and then connect with Mark at (207) 248-1775 to make your reservations today – trips are filling up!


break on thru - yellow patches amanits

Fungal persuasionif you’ve been in the woods the last few weeks you would pretty much have to be blind, be blinded by the distractions in your mind or be talking with another hiker (VSR highly advocates solo hiking (not running – slow down!) and solo experiences in general in the woods – lead your own hike every so often.) to have not noticed the mushrooms busting through and adding some flash to token green and brown landscape.

Here’s a little photo gallery of some of highlights from the past two weeks….


Amanitas!.....”I’m an Amanita man” – I really wish that was a palindrome! Amanitas are mychorrizal and have a symbiotic relationship with the trees you find them growing by.


Amanita  flavoconia – the number one Amanita on Vinalhaven for at least the last 13 years has been the Yellow Patches. Pushing through in the middle of the trail seems to be a characteristic of these little dudes. These shots are mostly from the Basin…


the blusher, bustin' out - move over lichens!

Amanita rubescensThe Blusher – classic Amanita of Vinalhaven. Lately I’ve been seeing them pushing through up in the Pitch Pine and Red Spruce ledgey spots in the Basin…

nice sac! - tawny grissette -
and amanita with style

Amanita fulva– my personal favorite mushroom, and has been for at least 4 years now , so I think its sticking! Tawny Grissettes in the basin is the call!


roger's profile looks good...

Goodbye tour for Roger….the decayment of the legendary Red-belted Conk along the Huber Trail - lovingly referred to as “Roger” - continues as it’s (roger is gender neutral, as all good fungus are) fruiting body shows the signs of age and scars of ironclad beetles munching it. Make sure you take a moment to acknowledge this important mushroom, it took years to grow and it will be interesting to see how fast it disappears. Thank you Roger!

but his undercarriage is a little disturbing

Russula and Milky – Russulacae is one of our 5 favorite mushroom families (judgement)  to cross paths with and not because they are often underappreciated by “hardcore” mushroom hunters – or Mushheads. Heck – even David Arora talks about “J.A.R.” – just another russula. But it does play a role – for some reason I’ve always make sure to appreciate the things others don’t. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not….


purple bloom russula - Russula mariae

…(not so) quick story from Alaska 2001– not long after Amy and I got hitched we spent a summer (2001) working at “Alaska Nature Tours” - a mom and pop nature outfit in Haines, Alaska leading Bear and Eagle tours as well as rainforest hikes (southeast Alaska is considered mostly temperate rainforest based on yearly rain fall). Anyway, this was my first nature interpretation work with adults and it was a lot of fun.

chocolate milkies look like thin mint
girl scout cookies

On one rainforest hike I was “the guy in the back with the pepper spray” (like I was going to stop a bear that wanted something) and this woman on the hike saw that I knew my mushrooms and made her way to walk with me as opposed to most folks who stay with the leader who was giving some standard script talk (no judgment, it’s what many “naturalists” do). Anyway, I mentioned Russulas and she asked me to point out all the Russulas I saw along the trail. This was a very cool request and still the only time someone has asked for Russula info.  I was more than happy to talk Russulas with this woman and she was busy snapping pictures of each species and writing info down about them in her little notebook.


chocolate milkies have an undercarriage
that is easy on the eyes

Once while working on Cape Cod I was in the research kitchen soaking in whatever I could from Mushrooms Demystified when I remember wondering “Why am I learning all this about mushrooms”. I mean, I was way interested but I was also getting way deeper than I would with 5th graders which was the average level of schooling that the majority of people I was hanging out with were at. And here it was with this woman at the back of a hike to Battery Point in Haines, AK that I felt – this is why I learned so much about mushrooms, to point out Russulas to this interested hiker.


After a bit I asked her why she liked Russulas so much, and she said that she really didn’t care one way or the other about them, but that it was her husband who loved them. He was back on the cruise ship she had sailed in on – she was another cruise ship client that basically screamed “get me off that boat and in the woods” when she joined the group. Apparently he had developed MS and could not make the hike and was pretty limited in what he could do outside in general. Her eyes teared up as she told me this, and my eyes teared up as well. And then I realized why I learned so much about mushrooms all those years ago.

Calderwood island King Bolete

Boletes – the king lives! – Boletus edulis – porcini, the cep, the king! What a bloom for early summer Kings with the rains of late June. Lane’s island (they were yummy!), the Basin, Calderwood island, the roadsides of St. George and even in the woods at our (the royal “our”) new property! I think of Kings as a September bloomer, but I won’t argue with a bloom like this ever!

fireflies having sex on a king bolete

who can blame them

this pair of kings at lanes
were extremely yummy

Boletus calopus– the bitter bolete – Big Al’s favorite bolete to find in the woods, these dudes (dude being gender neutral) are big, bold and beautiful…and apparently bitter tasting, so make sure your King bolete doesn’t have the “cobweb” pattern on its stalk/stipe. Love ‘em too BAJ!

s. sinuspaulianus

Suillus sinuspaulianus -  well, we asked for common name ideas for this one and each one (meaning one) we received was as inappropriate as the names I came up with so we are still going with the latin, which happens sometimes I guess. Check out this  beauty from the Williams trail!

red-mouthed bolete

while we are at
bolete. no other comments are
Boletus subvelutipesRed-mouthed Bolete – the bloom of another favorite underground, mychorrizal fungus that gives nearby trees nitrogen and phosphorous that it absorbs as it grows. In exchange the tree(s) give the fungus sugars produced way up in its leaves or needles, which are just modified leaves but that is another story….


badius bolete

…these are the poisonous boletes in our woods  - if you happen to have picked boletes to eat and notice one of them has red pores (apparently that is what was meant by “red-mouthed”) then you should toss all the mushrooms you have picked and then pick up a mushroom field guide and study. You are in no position to harvest wild mushrooms for consumption either by yourself or with others. Tough love.


Boletus badius – Bay-brown bolete – I like this mushroom, it’s kind of quaint in its own way. But I think the common name doesn’t tap into the potential that a species name like “badius” has to offer. I am afraid to say this but I think “badius bolete” or some crasser version of this

Calderwood island chantrelle - time to check your patches!

dye-makers polypore has been fruiting on most preserves as of late

slightly older specimen

fresh wolf's milk slime in the basin

Slime Molds - I don’t want to brag, so I won’t about anything important, but I do believe that I have the highest single day slime mold patch tally that I know of. On Frenchboro Island in 2009 – Summer of the Slime Molds!!!!! – I clicked off 532 patches of slimes on a three or four mile hike. It was the “drool inspiring awesomeness” that slime mold fanatics (known as Moldies or Moldheads) live for. Well…


two days later
…We were spoiled in 2009 (Spoiled Moldies!) and haven’t seen days like that since, which is also nice since it also means that it didn’t rain for 35 days in June like in 2009 which was the inspiration for the slime mold burst in the first place! Anyway - with the recent rains inspiring so much of the fungal persuasion one would have to figure (or have a hunch) that slime molds would also be making appearances in the woods, and sure enough they were putting on a show!

chocolate tube slime in the basin

(7/2) –while weedwacking – the day’s patch tally was in the 50 or so range – impressive even for spoiled Moldies like me! – but the real story for me was the range of species I crossed paths with while working the Platform and Peggy Williams trails in the Basin Preserve (co-managed by VLT and MCHT – Good work!). We start with an impressively fresh patch of Wolf’s Milk Slime (Lycogala epidendrum) growing on one of my bridges!


coral slime - typical form
Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa var. fruticulosa
It is always an honor to have Slime Molds on bridges and cuttings in the woods, even moreso than finding mushrooms blooming on them. Where the mushroom is a sign that the bridge is being eaten by a fungus which is possibly running out of food, Slime Molds eat fungal spores and bacteria and in a way they are the protectors of bridges and our health (and the forests health) by helping to keep fungus and bacteria in “check” by not letting


And they are so cool to watch as they change so dramatically over such a short period of time as we mentioned in the previous VSR with the Chocolate Tube slime series of photos. I went back to the Wolf’s Milk patch two days later and got this shot – they have gone to spore and look very puffball like! Just another reason to walk the same trails over and over again – because they are not the same trails ever.


Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa var. poroides - alternate form

tapioca slime - lovely as always

may I introduce...crusty slime

I continued on with my day and tallied these slime mold species – Wolf’s milk, Chocolate tube, Scrambled Egg, Tapioca, Coral slimes as well as Mucilago crustacean and Badhamia utricularis species that don’t have official common names that I can find….maybe I’ll call them the “Crusty” and “Bad Ham” (in honor of one of my favorite co-workers Betsy Hamm) slimes. 
crusty and polypore, perfect together

bad ham slime! there - we said it


Anyway, here are some photos and loose commentary and highlights about the species…enjoy!


badd hamm is badd a_ _

leif in the marsh

And we are going to wrap it up…my apologies to Beth and Colleen  (and now Jim!) I promise to start off with yours in the next one!
they got in just a little after I had decided to make a random date to cut off with this post. Whatever that means.


Here’s a few of Leif – kayaking in the marsh….

another beaver lodge conquered


…king of the abandoned beaver lodge!


And at a seadogs game with me and mom. It was an exciting game with two home runs and afterword we got to camp out with the cub scouts on Hadlock field. How cool is that…


they showed a baseball movie that had
john candy in it

I think john candy died in 1994
leif ended up chasing around with other scouts

and as the grim reaper in front of our new place

here's the backyard ....

and a view of the sunset in the marsh

we'll take it

…more soon enough, and this is long enough, or at least I think so….


Thanks for reading and we’ll see you out there!