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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


Friday, October 16, 2015

white-sided dolphins - photo (probably) by Flora Drury
Welcome to the Vinalhaven sightings report – October 15th, 2015
Sponsored by the Vinalhaven Land Trust and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust

Glasswort, Sea Pickle
photo by Karen Oakes

Highlights – “on the water” featuring sharks and dolphins, “on the land” featuring mushrooms and mushroom dayz, spider, similarities, grebes.

these things happen

As always - we encourage readers and non-readers to send in photos or stories of nature sightings you have made from around the island. or even just pictures of your kid doing something cute in nature. anyway - send them to and we'll plop them up here in the blog. (it does make a plopping sound).

tiit trick - click on photos to make them jumbo

this is a shark and a log
photo by John Drury
First off – from the place I was born –

Everyone has to check out the jersey devil footage in this article –

The video at the bottom of the article is priceless – apparently it is very popular on the internet, which gives me little faith in humans. But here we are spreading it! Like locusts.


("insert" phallic comment here)

Congrats – word is it that Patience and Patrick Trainor have completed a “trans-crossing” of the island (Vinalhaven). Going south to north (sometimes that’s the way it goes) they started in the dogtown area and wrapped up their trek at the thorofare. Check with them about the trip cuz as we know the “trans-crossing” is the most dangerous kind of crossing of the island. Many attempt it each year and many “trans-cross-attemptees” never return (the same or successful).  Which is alright if you think about it (try not to think too hard). Leif would love to find their glacier mummies. “I get the head” and congrats!

white-sided dolphins
photos by John Drury

Sightings - On the water – alrighty – here’s but a sample of the amazing stuff you will find at John Drury’s Skua Sightings blog -  .


matinicus rock and dolphins

tiit trick - click on photos to make them jumbo

Awesome photos and the non-chalant mackerel shark “chaffing at the log” is amazing.


what I think was a mackerel shark chaffing on log." whatever it is its awesome.
photos by john drury------->>>>>>>>


john did not get permission to use this dolphins likeness
and had to settle for "the neck down" or
"the neck and to the side"
Plus the “dolphin rump”.

Thanks John for sharing some of the cool sights you see out there. Have not heard much of the story of the day, but the Skua went out a little further than usual (Seal) and then beyond that and found some cool stuff. Check out his blog!
hurricane sound



similarity -
sunrise at Clark's Island
Ferry Rides – lots of Loons, bald eagles every trip, Guillemots, the occasional Northern Harrier passing by.  Ducks and seabirds should be hitting the bay soon, hope I get used to the lighting by then.


On the land -Most Numerous – from our limited time on island and from the reports of respected observers the conclusion is that Yellow-rumped Warblers, sometimes also known as the Myrtle Warbler or Butter-butts, are everywhere. Check Lane’s, check the woods, check your yard, and check the mainland. There are lots of them – look for that flash of yellow (the butter) at the base of the tail (the “royal” butt – the dorsal butt) when in flight!. Honorary mention – white-throated sparrow, robins, blue-headed vireo (many singing). Creepers singing, Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Lots of woodpeckers.

this deer is dead
and at state beach

while we are at it....its getting closer to "deer carcass dropping season", hit the basin bridge,vinal cove and state beach to look for eagles and other scavengers feasting on the tasty remains of recently deceased hoofed ones. 

"big mama" - photo by Rick Morgan

Spider Rick Morgan photographed this “big ol’ female” spider in a yard somewhere (could be Rick’s). We hit the Golden Guide to Spiders and their kin (best spider field guide) and it didn’t take too long to realize she’s an orbweaver of the Araneus genus (not impressive information, it’s the largest genus of spiders – over 1,500 species worldwide). But what was impressive is that the Golden Guide had examples of 6 Araneus species in North America drawn in the book and this one matches one of them! The Cross (or Grass) Spider, Araneus diadematus. Anyway, makes you wonder why we don’t see these ladies (dames?) all over the place. All information above taken from the Golden Guide.

cynabar red polypore
mainland and Crockett cove

 Some lists – (10/8) Huber- Mushrooms - Brick Tops (here and gone), Sulfur Tufts, Destroying Angel, Common Scaber Stalk, Citron Amanita, Painted Bolete, False Chantrelle, Silvery Grey Cort, Red-belted Conk (Roger that!), dye-makers polypore…Birds – Hermit thrush singing, Hairy Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Kinglet, 9 Surf Scoters, 6 Black Guillemot.

silvery grey corts

silvery grey cort with the cobwebby cortina


dark stalked bolete

decorated mop. cool name

Mill River area – (10/2) - Amanita muscaria, Yellow Patches, King Bolete!, Orange Scaber Stalk, Dark-stalked Bolete, Chrome Footed Bolete, Bitter Bolete, Violet brown Bolete, Birch Bolete, Chicken-fat Suillus (8 bolete hike! – eat that liverworts!), Destroying angel, Decorated Mop, False chanterelle, Orange Jelly, Blackening Russula, Green Stain, Dye-makers, Wooly Velvet Polypore, Birch Polypore, Chocolate Milky, Fawn Mushroom, Thin-maze Gilled Polypore, Coral, Rufus Milky, Orange delicious, Scaly-capped Amanita, emetic Russula…Birds – Kingfisher, nuthatch, kinglets,

painted suillus


Mushroom dayz – (10/2) some folks may have heard me mumbling on this summer about looking forward to King Boletes on the mainland this fall. “Something you don’t find much of on Vinalhaven” I could have said (but I didn’t). Well, monitoring with Colleen Conlan along Mill River and then spending some time at Huber was like an “eye-opening/awakening open fist slap”! And a good one at that.



the thing with the ring is my hand for size comparison
the thing below my hand is a healthy sized King!
The place (the island!) was loaded with mushrooms and more importantly – Kings! The roadsides (airport even!) the fields, the woods. I estimated about 36 Kings (or three dozen in the metric system – but not in the baker’s system!) – best day (if focusing strictly on numbers) I have had (porcini-ly speaking) since Alaska (those were pre-VSR days). What a sentence.

there is no feeling quite like turning
a corner and finding king.

Anyway, and so it wasn’t just about the kings – it was an8 bolete day.  Scaber-stalks and Kings made it home and were eaten happily by myself and Leif. But it wasn’t just about the boletes, there were lots of other shrooms to check out.


Actually, the whole woods were just bloomin’ with the shrooms.  After such a dry summer it was fun having a day filled with “Fungal spore dispersal treasures” (or “FSDT”), with plenty to share.  


day 2

day 1

If you think round is funny- The funny thing was that we (a real “We”) saw this king bolete thing coming from a mile away. We had a nice bloom of Amanita muscarias pop up along our driveway. Leif spotted the group and we let them grow for a few days and disperse before turning some into our own spore prints.

day 3

What does this have to do with Boletes? Well, in Mushrooms Demystified (mushroom bible) it is mentioned that Kings and Amanita muscarias come up at about the same time  - in California its “two weeks after the first significant rain” (of winter). Both Amanita muscarias and Kings (and about another hundred mushrooms) responded to this rule – sort of. And I have noticed a similar pattern here in Maine in the timing of Amanita muscarias and Kings (in my limited King Bolete tracking experience).
and a destroying angel



 And so we saw these Amanitas and were getting excited for Kings on the mainland – only to find all the kings (to this date) one day on Vinalhaven. Nothing on the mainland. So classic. Thank you timing!
splash cups, some species are known as birds nest fungus


chocolate tube slime

dead raccoon in the yard - 31 Reach Road
almost makes a "Y"

Similarity – apparently raccoons die on vinalhaven and on the mainland. This one is in the yard at 31 Reach Road. Waiting for scavengers….


dead raccoon - St. George Town Forest
…this one was along (Big Al) Jones Brook in the St. George town forest. Leif and I always seem to find something dead out there…
And so with that all in mind we wrap up this edition with some photos of people....
leif loving creek walks....
creek cone
apparently not in the middle of nowhere


cub scout!

schönen Fisch!!!!
photo by Mia

PS - as we gear up for hunting season we welcome Dylan, son of Gabe and Adrianna, loving twin of Mia, to the fishing club within the hunter/gatherer world as he caught his first fish - "right out of lawsons"!
Give this guy a high five for the fish next time you see him!
and give him a big "schönen Fisch". He deserves it. First fish a bass, he's not messing around.
no word on bait used, or if it was mentioned I spaced it.
Cormorants south of Hay
Photo by Kerry Hardy
Hodge-podge -
"they were so big that it would
take the arms of several strong men
to dislodge them from the earth"
-Estonian Bolete Legend/Fable/Psalm
photo by Colleen Conlan

"Who could use a beard"
I have almost as many chins (5-6) in this picture as
the number of boletes found that day (8).
photo by Colleen Conlan

did this peep have yellow(ish) legs?

Clark's Island sunrise

barred owl pellet

we love that shaggy stalk of the
Russell's Bolete

pear-shaped puffballs are often confused for pears

this beautiful lobster mushroom
was grilled and eaten by me and Leif!

tawny grisettes look as lovely as ever

we are not sure if there is a name for the event in this video, but I think it might be call "reflection".

see you out there! and thanks to all that shared!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Welcome to the Vinalhaven sightings report – October 1st, 2015

Brought to you with the undying support of VLT and MCHT

“a passel of woodies” – Bill Sheehan.

How many woodies in a passel? The answer (in this particular case) is somewhere in this report.


We start with a video of “wind lapped” cattails at state beach.


Highlights – raptors, warblers, owls, couple of walks. Not much meat, fresh start


“Anyway” and “whatever” into the future – so the hiatus is over and we shall see what form this “report” takes as it morphs into “VSR phase 5” (or maybe is it 6?). this is just more of a starters whistle than a full on report I guess. It was a lovely hiatus and thanks for asking by the way.


“Regardless” and “as always”, the more people sharing their sightings the more successful the VSR will be. So continue to send sightings, questions, photos (appropriate photos only please) about nature things to Get in the habit! Let’s get this VSR thing back up and kicking butt again!



Coltricia is the only genus of polypores that are
mycorrhizal. Thank you Shiny-Cinnamon Polypore
Sightings - Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends…go outside, go outside.

 (You know we are rusty and not on our game when we start off with a “spraintily-modified” emerson lake and palmer reference- that was for UBAJ) But here we go….

Raptors – good days for raptor migration – fox rocks, tip-toe, and some days just about anywhere…


a bunch of us were present for a 6 liverwort hike with
"Mr. Liverwort" himself - Javier Penalosa.
a highlight of the summer
Middle Mountain - Rick Morgan reports watching a Northern Harrier hunting out at Middle Mountain while doing some trail work on the preserve. Thanks to Rick, Kerry Hardy, VLT and their volunteers for opening up that trail again this year!


(9/21) John Drury reports - Peregrine, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Merlin, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel at brimstone

Greens Island – Cooper’s Hawk…Yellow-rumped Warblers


hanging in the basin

Great Horned Owl – Rick Morgan and Kay Hendrick both report hearing a Great Horned Owl out on Lane’s several (or a few) evenings in August/September. Very cool on the owls.


State Beach – red-necked grebes have been back for a while

young tree swallow - swallow on the wire!
Bird walks – thanks to those who either attended a bird walk or intended to attend a bird walk (or whatever) for a really successful summer of weekly outings. Some of the highlights – the 3 whimbrels, this (somewhat confusing) young Tree Swallow and the other Tree and Barn Swallows we saw on one bird walk (only swallows on any of the 5 years of bird walks), the teacher named Jane, some great Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow looks, and I don’t know – tons of great looks at some cool birds. We ended with a nice green heron session in the Lane’s cesspool. Where all walk sessions should end. 
rose pogonia

Retrospect – great summer for wilson’s storm petrels and red-necked phalaropes. Cedar Waxwings as well. not going to dive too deep in the hiatus time, it was a true hiatus.


It was dry, plants were around, fungus too, but it was dry. Here are a few plant photos just to prove we looked at plants this summer! Fungus photos next report.

pine sap


Differences – regardless of whether we like to celebrate differences or not, it is going to be tough to continue the VSR without some references to observations we (the royal “we”) have made and will make in the St. George region. It will also be tricky to not point out differences between here and there, and there will be plenty we are in such close proximity. Some things will be pretty much the same. Probably won’t mention many of those, but maybe we will. Anyway – “new section 

tenants harbor

Noted Difference #1 – this is the harbor in Tenants Harbor where we live. Funny that I have this picture since I hardly ever see this harbor –I can go days, weeks without seeing the harbor here in tenants harbor as the main roads and my early hang out spots don’t take me by there much. So far at least. Will undoubtedly see it more in the winter after the ducks arrive!

sunrise in the marsh

Anyway – here is what I am seeing way more often than the harbor. This is a place called “the marsh” (creative name) and its within walking distance of our place (but really – all places are within walking distance if you have enough time).
Here’s a video of 2 of the local otters snorting at me from “the marsh”.


You see I was standing on their latrine, one I had just found, when these two otters popped up and started snorting. Possibly they were planning on coming to land to “lay a spraint” down on their latrine and I was in the way. All about timing. I have revisited the latrine many times since and have seen nothing (and like it!). The microphone on my little cybershot picked up none of the snorting, but with a little imagination you may see their nostrils flare at times.
we got an "F"! alphabetic otter spraint


The marsh has inspired this writing….


“I think I know

where I am going to go first

when this place freezes over.


It’s that rock out there, in the lower section

The one that appears to have otter spraint on the top.

Yeah, that’s the one, you can see it from the school trail.


Unless there is some distraction on the way – and there are always distractions –

That’s where I am going to go first

When this place freezes over.”
here's a video of a beaver slappin' her tail in the marsh...
this is Don Reimer and that is the
otter latrine and otter run he
found in the westkeag
don was nice enough to give us a dead
otter he found. the gift that keeps on giving.


Anyway, this place has the best of both worlds. Otters and owls. Both great horned and barred in the neighborhood, 3 barred owl pellets found so far. And 4 otter latrines (including the one on the rock), as well as 2 beaver dens and dams (see the tail slapping video), a “passel of woodies” or 52 wood ducks leaving the marsh a few evenings past.


Noted Difference # 2 - Road kill – sorry, the mainland has much more interesting road kill than all the dead green snakes on round the island road. We’re talking porcupine, skunk (spraintloads), ccoyote, fox, and the regulars. Nothing like road kill to teach you about the larger animals in the area. we appreciate the information.

leif, nanni, marshall point
and the Jonah crab.

Noted Difference #3 – the entire VSR crew advocates folks riding the 7am ferry to rockland to look for wildlife, especially as fall turns into winter. One (dreadful – judgment) difference is the lighting while riding the 7am (or 845am) FROM rockland. Everything is back lit and glarey, calling it “Sprainty” might be a little too gentle and kind (and we’d never want to be like that).


Maybe “we” have been spoiled by wonderfully westward direction the 7am from vinalhaven has followed all these years. So now it is time to adapt and do a little cloud dance – “overcast days never turned me on” but it looks like those will be the better light mornings. Better for observation. The troubles I deal with.


Shout out to Yogi Berra who has passed recently at age 90. I hear he was a great player, but around the VSR newsroom he is known for more for the mantra “you can observe just by watching”. One of our favorites, right up there with Chili Palmer’s “ I’m only going to say what I have to, if that”.


torches and 6 year-olds-  not the best idea

Big “Thank you” for the letters, the kind wishes and good food folks shared with us (the royal “us”) as we packed up our stuff and then unpacked it in Tenants Harbor. 11 years is a good long stretch, and we (the royal “we”) have gone thru some major changes and learned a ton during our run on Vinalhaven. We have felt a lot of love over the last few months – actually last 11 years. Glad we can continue to learn on Vinalhaven.

 and we close with a gross video of maggots on a deal carcass. enjoy!

See you out there!