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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


Thursday, October 18, 2018

guy on the boat told me to not bother taking
pictures of this sunrise. that I should just look
at it and take a photo in my mind.
unprovoked advice.
I find people like that boring

Welcome to the Vinalhaven Sightings Report – October 18th 2018

Brought to you in part by the support of VLT and MCHT – make sure you support them!

“He doesn’t seem old” – Leif’s new buddies Oliver and Clifford talking about me.


Highlights Sparrows, Great Cormorant, Surf Scoters, Belted Kingfisher, Shorebirds, Ferry rides, mushrooms, otter sign, and so much more


Business contact us – we love the pictures, we love the stories, and we love the sharing. Send in your comments, questions, observations and photos to and become legendary. At least legendary in a small circle of “friends”! come on – we dare you!


PSA – hunting season is happening – wearing orange is a good idea! Firearm deer hunting starts on the 27th – bow hunting already happeneing!


Great Cormorant drying its wings on the water
Photo by John Drury

Sightings  John Drury sent in this photo of a Great Cormorant drying its wings while floating on the surface of the water! Cormorants of all flavors are famous for not have preen oil, a substance that waterproofs feathers while also making a bird more buoyant (diving is tougher).
killdeer in the parking area.
photo by Jamus Drury



And how about one from Jamus DruryKilldeer in the Greets parking lot.


green headed jelly babies
photo by Elaine Drury


And sticking with the Drury’s – Elaine sent in this cool photo of a group of Green-headed Jelly Babies (Leotia viscosa) out on Greens. Always a treat to see these! Thanks for sharing!


northern gannet

Ferry rides – (10/12) 7am to Vinalhaven -  7 Bald eagles, Northern Gannet, 30+ Common Loon, Laughing Gull,  lines of Double-crested Cormorants

lots of loons these days

(10/16) – Laughing Gull, Bald Eagles, Northern Gannet, Common Loon

white-crowned sparrow...on the rocks

Lane’s Island – (10/12) –White-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow (singing), Red-necked Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Golden-crowned Kinglet,

white-crowned sparrow
yellow-rumped warbler - "butterbutt"
crappy lighting yellow-rumped
bayberry fruits. key to yellow-rumped
warblers overwintering
jelly tooth

Perry Creek – (10/12) Mushrooms – Citron Amanita, Yellow Patches, Amanita muscaria, Ragged Amanita, Rufus Milky, Jelly Tooth, Orange Jelly, Russula paludosa, Emetic Russula, Honey Mushroom, Lackluster Laccaria, Decorated Mop, False Chanterelle, Red-belted Conk, Deer Mushroom, Conifer Tuft, Common Scaber Stalk, Rusty gilled Poly[ore, White Leccinum, Coral Mushroom, Red-mouthed Bolete, Sweet Tooth, Tawny Grissette, Slippery Jack, Painted Suillus, Bulbous Cort, Violet Cort, Red-gilled Cort, Cinnamon Cort, Viscous violet Cort, Cortinarius sp.  
Jelly Tooth, "undercarriage"


false chanterelle

destroying angel

orange jelly, or course

chocolate milky

Hypholoma capnoides - with a unidentified cort

buttery collybia

Hypholoma capnoides group

red-belted conk

gypsy mushroom

gypsy mushroom

lackluster laccaria

Tricholoma sp.

Family collybia

odd texture for a Poisonous Pigskin

maze polypore dorsal view

maze polypore ventral view

reindeer lichen in the rain is soft

sweet tooth dorsal

sweet tooth ventral

red-gilled corts
Great to see all the corts out there!
been really digging the red-billed corts

red-gilled cort
red-gilled corts
violet cort
red-gilled corts
love the red gills!

bulbous corts

bulbous cort

some type of violet cort

same violet cort, check out that Cortina rusty colored
from the spores it caught/

spotted sandpiper

Birds – Bald Eagle, Butterbutts, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Spotted ‘Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Belted Kingfisher
lots of herons passing through these days

access to an otter den in the basin

Basin – (10/13) – Great Blue Heron, harbor seals, Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglets.


Otter sign – visited two otter dens on the north side of the basin. Both looked well used and wonderful.

laccaria, latrine, & (den) opening

rosy russula

Mushrooms – Citron Amanita, Dye-makers Polypore, Family Collybia, Emetic Russula, Rosy Russula, Gypsy,


yellow-footed chanterells

yellow-footed chanterelles

Should be noted – lots of Belted Kingfisher these days. Just about anywhere I see the water.

check out the slime on this one.
thinking its a Limacella
love this slime. Limacella is the other genus of Amanita
tawny grissette
getting ready for the spring...skunk cabbage
honey msuhrooms

Here’s a column I wrote on honey mushrooms recently


This is one honey of a mushroom


In my humble, fungal experience the two most frequently asked questions on mushroom explorations are “Will it kill me?” and “Can I eat it?” And while the edibility and toxicity potential of a mushroom adds an air of excitement to any harvesting experience, those potentials just skim the surface of characteristics that “make mushrooms cool and interesting”. There are plenty of things to think about when dealing with mushrooms. How does it release its spores? Does the mushroom glow in the dark? Does the fungus help, hurt or just turn trees into dirt? Does it have a veil? Does it look like a “mushroom”? Is it found locally, regionally, circumpolarly, or even globally? Can it clone itself or is it at the mercy of sexual reproduction? You know - classic fungal questions. They can go on forever.


With so much to think about and so many mushrooms out there things can be a little overwhelming to the newbie mushroom watcher/fungus tracker. But what if I told you there was an easy to identify (pretty much) mushroom that is, was, and continues to represent most everything a mushroom watcher looks for in a ‘shroom. Sound unbelievable? Well, start believing! And to make things even better – they call this honey of a mushroom the Honey Mushroom! I know – you can’t make this stuff up!


To oversimplify - September is for Boletes and Amanitas. Then, in early October members of the Cortinariaceae (Corts) take over the spruce and fir forests with their purples, greys and oranges. And just when the dust feels like its settling on the fall mushroom bloom, there is an intense, thick burst at the base of trees, rising from subterranean roots, and erupting through tree bark up to 25 feet or more off the ground. Welcome to the world of Honey Mushrooms (Armilllaria mellea), let the dance begin.


Typically fruiting in large clusters, Honey Mushrooms are known for their decurrent gills (they “run” down the stalks slightly and we love that) and (often) honey colored caps that are covered with dark, scaly tufts. Their stalk/stipes are tough, with a “pithy” interior and a bold white “veiled” ring. Their caps are edible, as are their “pithy” stalks once the tough outer layer is removed. (Pithy stalks cooked in olive oil is dreamy). And yet, honey mushrooms collected off spruce trunks and roots are more likely to make one become sick when compared to eating honeys collected off hardwoods. Yes, they are an edible mushroom that may make you sick! To make things even cooler - Honey Mushrooms and the fungus itself within the log or trunk glow in the dark, creating an eeirry green glow known as “foxfire”. These mushrooms are “on” both day and night! 


At times the honey mushrooms fungus is saprotrophic – decomposing the heartwood of plants, turning the non-living part of trunks and roots into soil.  And yet, when the decomposer lifestyle isn’t “cutting it”, Honey Mushrooms will send out “hyphae” – thread-like filaments that make up a fungus – through the soil in search of food. The thick, insulted groups of Honey Mushroom hyphae are called “rhizomorphs”, and they attack and begin to digest trees and shrubs they come into contact with. This can cause and spread the destructive “white rot” throughout a patch of woods! They go from decomposer to parasite in order to feed their insatiable appetite.  Adaptable and aggressive, the Honey Mushroom is a true survivalist.


As the fungus grows, it clones itself and continues its “individual” life by enlarging in size and extending its reach. In optimal conditions this results in grandiose specimens – as evidenced by the Honey Mushroom fungus in Malheur National Forest, in eastern Oregon. One honey mushroom mycelium – mat of fungal hyphae – in the forest has been measured at 3.5 square miles, and estimated to be at least 2,400 years old – the largest living “being” known to humans on the planet. Honey Mushrooms are not only circumpolar in the northern hemisphere, but are recognized as one of the most widely distributed mushrooms in the world as they can be found at the appropriate latitudes in the southern hemisphere as well.   This is why Gary Lincoff says - “With some justification, Earth could be called the Honey Mushroom Planet”. Well put Gary.


river otter(s) tore up this mossy hillside to mark territory
And just when it seems like this fungus can’t get any more perfect, it turns out the “Honey Mushroom” is actually at least ten different, but closely related and seemingly identical species! For most intents and purposes they are the same species and impossible to separate in the field. As our understanding and knowledge of fungus increases through DNA and other tests there are many “past facts” that will be corrected and will have to be relearned.  There is so much “unknown” or “wrongly understood” within our knowledge of fungus it can be interesting to correctly identify a mushroom knowing in the back of your mind there’s a fair chance that the resource you are using will turn out to be wrong. For some reason I like this, the mystery of it fungus. “Weird” Al Yankovic was right when he wrote “Everything you know is wrong”!

Honey mushrooms have it all, or at least most of it all! And they are growing in a patch of woods near you! We’ll see you out there!

limited edition pumpkin eggnog
photo by Linnell Mather

 and a limited edition photo sent in by Linnell Mather! we love the limited edition shots! send 'em in!

And we'll see you out there! great to see folks around town and in the woods!