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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 1, 2017

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report-

July 30th, 2017

Sponsored by the kind people at VLT and MCHT

Happy Birthday Carol Gentalen! You are the best!

mom on a whale

Highlights – goose neck barnacle video, Sand Dollars, mushrooms, wilson’s storm petrels, flowers, shorebirds, swainsons thrush, moths, otter sign, fog, and the ultimate question – what has happened to island raccoons?



Business – contact us! – send in your videos, photos and reports, as well as email addresses to get on the reminder list! This is your one stop place for all that is ……. Not sure where I was going with this, the VSR is not the one stop place for anything! But more like a cornucopia of…..


Tiit trick – click on any photo and make them jumbo sized! It’s fun! miss ya dad!


Crazy check out this article in the st George dragon -


There you have it….


Sightings we’ll start with what some might say was the “sighting of a lifetime in the tidepools”. This is an incredible video of two young gooseneck barnacles that washed into the intertidal area at Lane’s Island when the “floaties” of the rock weed they were attached to broke off from the rest of its plant. I have never come close to finding something like this is in the tidepools around Vinalhaven. These “dudes” were found by a 14 year old girl (young woman? not sure what’s cool to call anyone), named Norah and the video was taken by her dad, Rob Ryan. Very cool and thanks for sharing!


dead snake
photo by Colleen Conlan
Show a little backbone, will ya!” – Jock the pilot – Raiders of the lost ark-


Colleen Conlan, legendary knitter (user of mushrooms to dye wool for said knitting) and a wonderful person among other titles, sent in this picture of a snake backbone she found in her garden recently. In years past Colleen has been a source of great snake pictures including several coiled together and sunning on a shrub in her yard. Neat to see the backbone of the slitherer, maybe one from the historic photo! Thanks for sharing Colleen.

young punk - robin
photo by Jim Conlan

Young Robins, getting into troublerecently Leif and I  rescued a young Robin from the garage, and now Jim Conlan sends in this photo of a robin that got mixed up in a job site. Hopefully the youngster was released unharmed. Note the dots on the breast, giving away the age of the dude. This kind of behavior is why robins will have several sets of eggs a year.


what the cap?
photo by Jim Conlan

Not done with Jim just yet….some more adventures during the work day with Conlan Plumbing…this cap full of maggots…pretty awesome..


As if that weren’t enough – Jim also sent in this picture of a fly laying eggs or something like that on this small dead mammal. Very cool!

perfect place to raise a family
photo by Jim Conlan

lesser yellowlegs

Shorebirds – it’s that time of the year already and its ok if your internal clock has not fully registered the days getting shorter and the growing slower. Shorebirds on the other hand have a closer connection to the length of daylight and the solstice and things like that. They are not at the mercy of the Gregorian calendar! Anyway, folks are sending in reports…here’s one from Patience Chamberlin -  


State beach cove July 18 in the fog..
1 greater yellowlegs
20 lesser yellowlegs
16 short-billed dowitchers
Several least sandpipers
1 semi palmated plover
Heard some black bellied plovers

photo by Rick Morgan

Nice sightings Patience! Thanks for sharing….


Rick Morgan sent in this photo of a group of yellowlegs, as well as this hazy photo of a whimbrel at State Beach (7/25)! Rick also reports merlin sightings at Indian Creek and Mill River.  


state beach whimbrel
photo by Rick Morgan
wild cucumber root
photo by Beth Guilford

Beth Gilford sent in a couple of photos recently, including this one of wild cucumber root taken at the Huber Preserve. Not to label, but Beth is “one who likes flowers” (among other things) and mentioned that this particular patch of wild cucumber root is the only patch she knows of on island.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen, but I can’t keep up with flowers anyway! very cool!


primrose moth
photo by Beth Guilford

And Beth was also kind enough to send in this picture of beautiful primrose moths – thanks for sending in that one too, Beth!

rounded shinleaf

And while we are talking about flowers…here’s a shot of a “rounded shinleaf” (Pyrola minor) from the Huber Preserve parking area….


Here’s an Iris with a bee buzzing around it….

indian pipe

And an Indian pipe, our favorite “epi-parasitic” plant, just making its way to the surface.


The Fogremember that cool John Carpenter movie, about those old pirates spirits or whatever that came in with the fog one night? Well, this is nothing like that, other than that there was a foggy stretch.

Here are some pictures of fog

Wilson's storm petrels

One nice thing (one of many nice things) about the fog was the Wilson’s Storm Petrels that turned up with it! First reported in Hurricane Sound  by Patience Chamberlin, WSPs are sweet (judgment) little seabirds – equipped with tubenoses and all! – that zip around right over the water, “walk” on the water to stir up tiny morsels of food.

Wilson's storm petrel

Oh yeah, they also breed off the coast of southern Argentina and are on “winter break” to a certain extent from their breeding zones. Very fun to have them zip around the kayak in the fog. Look for them from the ferry as well!


wall of fog on the way out

Paddle to the White islands – (7/20) – loads of fog, very exciting to paddle with no view




little white island – sand dollars, spotted sandpiper, red breasted nuthatch, swainson’s thrush, osprey, otter stuff – new otter latrine on north side, historic otter den on south side appears not to be used this summer, active den on west side..compete with trail of otter spraint leading up to the opening!


The story here was the sand dollars, which are classic for little white island.

line of spraint....happy trail!

And the trail of otter spraint on granite that led to an active otter den. There may be nothing as beautiful as otter spraint on granite. I mean other than my wife, Amy Palmer. And my mom. And all of you readers. But other than those things what could be more beautiful?




Bald Island – cranberry flowers, song sparrow, annoying baby crows, northern parula, spotted sandpiper, mushrooms - yellow patches, emetic russula, otter den still active (and why not?), awesome otter trails through the marsh and along the east side of island…


cranberry flowers

The story here was…Cranberry Flowers! Psyched to catch some great looks at these beauties at a sunny part of the day..because it certainly turned “unsunny” soon after…But no trip to Bald is complete without checking out the otter scene on island. and as usual, the otters did not disappoint.


otter trail through the marsh on bald island

Bald island otter activity - I loved seeing the otter trail through the marshy area, so well worn, more obvious than years past. The way through the quarry marsh seems to move over time, a fluctuation in spacial location and focus that may result in less than quality angles. This year the trail is quite obvious…


anal goo

We’ve (the royal “we’ve”) been watching this otter scene for about 10 years now (historically important) and the trails from the eastern shoreline, into the quarry marsh, and to the den have always been the highlight. This year was no different…

crabby otter spraint

…lots of mounds of rolled up grasses and forbs covered with spraint and that anal goo that is really gross (judgment).


rolled up grass in an otter trail

The historic slide once lined with chanterelles in now ancient, and a new trail entering the quarry has developed. Lined with one russula, it isn’t hard to imagine an otter or two or three or four belly sliding down the incline and into the quarry. It’s the continuation of the trail lined with mounds. The mounds trail (mounds don’t, by the way).


old grass

otter trail with russula...
...must be a great slide in the snow

But the real story for the day was kayaking in the fog. Predicted to be a sunny afternoon, the white islands were socked in by the time I was to leave them at 2pm. Having paddled to white island every year for the past 10 years was helpful, but all of those days were with 100% visibility.


this island thing was nice to see

From Bald Island I followed the sound of a ferry crossing up to Lawry’s narrows and over to pole island (I think that’s the name!). I knew I had to head east to city point or dyers island, and so I did….into the complete fogginess for over 3 minutes. It was super exciting, and totally safe (kind of) as the tide was coming in and I knew I wouldn’t be taken out to see by the current. Maybe my favorite paddle, and maybe my favorite moment of the paddle was when I could finally see dyer’s island! what a rush to be out in the fog kayaking. Probably not a big deal for some, but was my coolest day of work in a long time. And I have really good days of work all the time!


dyers island appearing through the fog.

scarlet waxy caps are plentiful at Huber

a few select mushroom pictures this go around. I mention where I found them, but in honesty (finally) they could be anywhere.

young painted bolete

red-belted conk
photo by Linnell Mather

First a photo from Linnell Mather – good friend, long time reader and contributor of the VSR, as well as being a great executive director for the Vinalhaven Land Trust– of some sweet red-belted conk – or maybe just one? Good chance the spores dispersed by each of the fruiting bodies are genetically the same. This one is over at VLT’s  Fish Hook preserve – go see for yourself! Do the “conk walk” and send in your photos of red-belted conk or any shelf mushroom!

young chicken fat suillus

chicken fat suillus

Gemmed amanita

Amanita ceciliae

Purple bloom Russula
Amanita ceciliae


cracked bolete - Boletellus chrysenteroides

Coltricia perennis

blusher amanita - Amanita rubescens

scaber stalk - Leccinum aurantiacum 

pale grissettes

chrome-footed bolete

coral mushroom

painted lady - underwing

painted lady - upper

silver spotted skipper

Butterflies - Loads of Painted Ladies, and apparently some American Ladies as well turning up…Aphrodite Fritillary….silver spotted skipper…pearly crescent…painted lady all from a recent trip to otter creek (Mount Desert Island). with a name like “otter creek” it’s hard to argue…I spent the summer of 2005 there.

Aphrodite fritillary

pearl crecent

Raccoons – at this point 4 different people over the last month have approached me to ask whats happened to the island’s raccoons. Each person noted that they hadn’t see one in months, which got me paying a little more attention to raccoon sign especially scat (raccoon scat is the most underappreciated scat on the island!). Anyway, places like the white islands usually are loaded with raccoon scat and alas I saw not a speck of it in my ventures the other day.


raccoon scat

Allan Hayes spotted a raccoon near Folly Pond recently, so my declarations that they are all dead was a little premature. I also found 1 patch of scat on Calderwood Island, so they certainly  aren’t all gone, but something has put a dent into the raccoon population. Tanited garbage? Bad crabs? Paralytic shellfish poisoning? In the speculation room we have ruled out rabies since an island wide epidemic would have resulted in a stretch of time where zombie raccoons ruled the woods. Have you been seeing raccoons? Have you been poisoning raccoons? Any thoughts? Anyone care?



eating blueberries

eating blueberries

And then some of Leif….

and mom….

good times!

great year for blueberries! 

 See you out there!