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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


Monday, July 10, 2017

Lady Slippers
photo by Banner Moffet

Welcome to
the Vinalhaven Sightings Report

Late June 2017 – and even later posting!

MCHT and VLT Sponsored
thanks a bunch!

Calico Pennant from the Basin

"alright joe, you asked for it - here come's the big one!"
                                                       - Frank Zappa

Official editorial note – this post is long overdue, and we already have much for the next VSR, so – in theory and in hopefulness – there should be two VSR posts in somewhat
rapid succession. Apologies if that is overwhelming…another one in a few days…or so…there may be things listed here that will be included in the next edition...thanks!


old harbor pond

Highlights – spotted turtle, red-billed tropicbird, woodpecker nests, flower things including golden heather, otter spraint and latrines, red crossbill families, smooth green snake, spotted salamander larva, slime molds including scrambled egg and chocolate tube, mushrooms, butterflies, dragonflies (more in the next one) – just about everything, really! – just in – Harbor Porpoise!

Iris field, field of iris
photo by Stephen Zoloth

Business Contact us: hey – send you photos, sightings, complaints, advice to us! we are programmed to receive.

Amanita mush-hump, gotta love 'em

Tiit Trick – click on a photo to make it get large


R.I.P. – we learned the sad news of the passing of Mia Mather last month. Our hearts and thoughts go out to Mia’s family and friends. She is missed already.


Armbrust Hill Green Frog

green frog tadpole

Volunteers – MCHT and VLT are always looking for volunteers to help out with trail work (and more probably!). I only really care about trail work – so if you are interested in helping out an afternoon, morning or day on the trails give me (Kirk Gentalen – or VLT Stewardship Coordinator Kerry Hardy ( and set up some work time in the woods!


Upcoming eventsMCHT/VLT Thursday morning bird walks are happening (I say this again below!). they alternate between starting at 8am or 7am - Check out the VLT or the MCHT websites for times! They are fun and have fun people on them. Trust me – you’ll learn that you love it or you’ll learn that you don’t like bird walks – either way you’ll be learning and what’s wrong with that!

Armbrust Hill Chalk-fronted Skimmer

Instagram – if you are on it and are into that kind of thing we (the royal “we”) are posting under the label “baldfulmar”.


Harbor Porpoise swim by
photo by Jay Borden

Sightings- Hurricane Sound – Jay Borden paddled recently through hurricane sound when he heard a pair of Harbor Porpoise surface close to his kayak.


photo by Jay Borden

Jay positioned himself and his kayak in the right spots and was able to get these incredible shots. The porpoise were apparently curious as to Jay’s presence on the water as well! Thanks for sending these in Jay!

spouting off
photo by Jay Borden

ripples from the second porpoise

bookin' it - three legged spotted turtle style
photo by Eryk Silver

Spotted Turtle – Kerry Hardy and VLT intern Eryk Silver found this three legged Spotted Turtle crossing the road by Folly Pond. Folly Pond, Otter Pond, and Mack’s Pond we all found to have healthy populations of Spotted Turtles when Herpetologist Trevor Persons visited the island a few back. 


spotted turtle
photo by Eryk Silver

Word is that Trevor caught no three legged spotted turtles when he was out. Not saying that one he caught couldn’t have lost a leg in the meantime, but he also did not put any traps in Folly Pond.


Either way – thanks for sending in the picture Kerry and Eryk! Watch the road for critters when cruising up ol’ North Haven Road.



full nelson - nelson's sharp tailed sparrow
photo by Rick Morgan

Birdies – Bird walks are happening! – they have been going on since early June and people have been loving them. Here are a couple of lists and a photo of the Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow from the bird walk (7/6). See you out there!


winter wren
(6/29) Herring gull, Black throated green, Red breasted nuthatch, Hermit thrush, Black capped Chickadee, Common eider, Song sparrow, Winter wren, Yellow warbler, Flicker, Common crow, Osprey, White throated sparrow, Blue jay, Modo, Amer goldfinch, Bald eagle – not sure why this background color is here.



winter wren pooping
that white thing shooting to the ground below

(7/6) – Common Raven, (all) American Crows, Alder Flycatcher, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Northern Flicker, Common Loon, Eiders, Bald Eagles, Osprey, Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Green Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow


Also with birdies – families of Red Crossbill were seen and heard in the Basin and at Huber in late June.


spraint on the lower right.
might be easier to run up hill after pooping
Otter latrines – turning up in the most interesting of places…


Basin preserve– platform trail – here are a few photos of this brand spanking new otter latrine right along the trail.


Folks may be familiar with this part of the trail; it’s the kinda steep uphill stretch just after the first hay-scented fern field on the left side of the trail. gotta say it seems like a

this spraint had a real nice blue hue to it

A second latrine was re-opened where the set of bridges in the second hay-scented fern field crosses running water.

its been a few years since I saw spraint
at this spot - welcome back spraint!

maybe 6 years ago this spot was marked with spraint. hasn't been marked since nad trust me I've been looking! easily could have been marked from scent glands, but hey...

great to have another couple of places to look for otter spraint!


skinny dipping spot- with matted otter spraint area
clearly visible if you are looking
Basin preserve - Williams trail – I re-opened the little side trail to the otter latrine/skinny dipping spot (funny how often those two go together) and found the latrine to be pretty active. This is a latrine that has been used for at least 11 years ranging in activity use from just a “handful of spraints” to “spraints up the wazoo”. This year is a “mucho spraint” kind of year as otters must be using the lobster pound area more frequently, or denning nearby. Love the spraint for what it is!

sprint of crab and fish scales! must have been tasty

grass and spraint

Also found this ancient writing on a bridge…ends up it’s the cursive and creative sprainting of a River otter! This was past Poole’s Hill…

more on this location in the slime mold section below…


this tire acts like a stump or raised
area on a trail where otters love to mark.
or it just had a great view

Monroe Island is that big island just to the east of Owl’s Head that you see from the ferry…or from owl’s head I guess. Went on a visit recently and found tons of otter sign, including a set of spraint on an old tire…

this is a nice (judgment) otter trail 

…the otter trails were impressive…

otter print

…and this was a cool otter track in the mud….


shy maiden anyone?

…plus these beautiful single delights/toad’s reading lamp/shy maiden/single flowered shinleaf…


…also great to learn about otters all along the Maine coast – send us your Maine coast otter story today!





couldn't miss these scrambled egg
slime molds
A tale of two molds - Slime molds and woodpecker nests – Seal Bay – doing some work… 


So here’s a story about some work out towards Coombs Neck way…as I was wrapping up some chain sawing this Scrambled Egg Slime mold caught my eye. Bright yellow, sparkly and gooey – scrambled egg slimes always demand attention and who am I to not give them what they demand. So I got close, took the shots you see here, and was making my way back down the trail when the mobbing started.


Editor’s note – “mobbing” is an aggressive behavior where birds (or other animals I’m sure) yell, scream, dive bomb and generally try to annoy a critter (a being) that is basically not wanted in their territory. In this case it was me.


woodpecker nest on the left, scrambled egg slime on the right
First off – I am not a big fan of being mobbed by wildlife in the woods, especially when I didn’t do anything. This mob started with a pair of Downy Woodpeckers freaking out so much that it was obvious that they had a nest nearby (nice parenting move Downies!). It took less than a minute to find the nest cavity after the mobbing started. The only reason I found the nest was because they were mobbing. There you have it.


male (daddy woodpecker) torpedoing
out of the nest.
nice polypore above the cavity opening

So the woodpeckers were making all kinds of ungodly squeaks and squeals, had quick jerky flight patterns, and then were flapping their wings rapidly when perched. All while making their way slowly down some spruce towards me. Damn woodpeckers. No reason for that.


Soon some of the neighbors got involved – I know for a fact those nuthatches had no clue what they were yelling about. The chickadees seemed one part angry, one part curious. Anyway…


after torpedo

I pulled back down the trail after all the mobbing shenanigans and within moments things calmed down and the woodpeckers went right up to their nests like good parents should. I snapped a few photos of the woodpeckers tending and being parental. See what you think…



patch # 2 day 1
patch #1 started like this

Chocolate tube slime – as you may know, we moved around the block recently and so will not be walking our traditional walk through the woods to the St. George school anymore. We saw a lot on this minute long trail over the 2 years we lived there and we closed out with a session with a Chocolate Tube slime.

patch #1 day 2
patch #2 day 2
One of my favorite things about slime molds (what are your favorite things about slime molds?) is how they change over the course of days – in appearance, structure and form (not sure if form is the right word there but it kind of flowed so I am keeping it!).

patch #1 day 3
patch #2 day 3
Anyway, the chocolate tube slime went from tiny white balls (so cute at that stage) to chocolately spore dispersing elongated tubular wieners on a stick. Spore covered corn dogs. Spore dogs! Spore dawgs. Love ‘em. Here are photos from the few days before we moved, of two patches of chocolate tube slime on the same log…what a way to wrap up a trail! enjoy


patch #1 day 4
patch #2 day 4

More slime mold stuff in the next VSR.


on one day it looked like this...

Fungus – nice bloom of Amanita muscaria on the mainland. Most of my bike rides in mid-late June on the mainland have been with A. muscaria and woodpecker nests on my mind. All Amanita photos here were taken from bike rides from tenants harbor to the Marshall point lighthouse and back. Nice times…

bustin out

later it looked like this....

...and it looked like this...

a goal of mine is to not be the creepy guy in the woods. I often find that I fail at that goal.

recently I was the creepy guy by the church (to a certain extent) as I was hiding behind the sign in the photo waiting for parent woodpeckers to return to a nest in the tree to the right of my bike.
baby downy woodpecker.
cute, and a constant beggar

never saw the adults, but one of the kids looked like this...

now back to mushrooms...

Suillus sinuspaulianus has no common name it can find.
can you come up with a common name for it?
yes, you.

Boletes Suillus seems to be the genus of choice, or the genus of bolete I have crossed paths with recently. Can’t really remember if I have ever seen this one before, but it was all over the Williams trail in the Basin Preserve trail (6/22) - identified out as Suillus sinuspaulianus. Sticky cap is classic for the Suillus genus....

cool shaped pores

... S. sinuspaulianus has a beautiful undercarriage of angular pores and a sweet ring around its stalk/stipe. just check these out....


"S. sinuspaulianus" is a fun common name

dot stalked suillus has dots on its stalk

....I also can’t remember the last dot-stalked suillus I saw, if ever but this one was definitely bloomin’ along turkey cove road in St. George. Subtle along the stalks…


Water club - (6/15) – wetlands close to Seal Bay turned up a handful of these beauties – love the “club fungus”.

Much more on fungus and mushrooms in the next VSR!

love the water club

More on mushrooms in the next VSR - including King Boletes....

Butterflies Tiger Swallowtails, American ladies, Common ringlets all pretty common these days. Lilacs have been sweet smelling and irresistible (no way to actually tell this) to American Lady butterflies.


"viceroys are much tastier than monarchs"
- ancient Estonian Proverb

I found this Viceroy sitting in the parking lot of the Tenants Harbor General Store. He spent the night in some potted flower thing on the porch. When you look at them closely they don’t really look that much like Monarchs, but it was fun to have this guy hang out for an evening in some store bought flowers. Classic Viceroy habitat!


leif and flowers next to the viceroy for size comparison.
leif is much bigger than a viceroy butterlfy

"we'll have plenty more nature stuff in the next VSR"
says scrat the chipmunk
alright - enough for now - more to come in a few days!!!!!!!