Friday, December 28, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 22-28 December 2007

The weather warmed significantly in the past week in northern Maine and precipitation came in form of a soaking rain on the 23rd and 24th. This settled the snow down to about 18 inches locally and opened up a few holes in the ice on the rivers. Despite the break in the cold weather, the numbers of birds at my feeding station in Woodland seemed to increase again with Grosbeaks dominating

A very late juvie Hooded Merganser on Presque Isle Stream appears determined to linger for the Christmas Bird Count this weekend. Plenty of American Black Ducks and Mallards are keeping it company. In Caribou, a Red-breasted Merganser was reported below the Aroostook River dam mixed in with a dozen or so Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneyes.

There were quite a few Bald Eagles seen this week in central Aroostook County. Locations included Caribou, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Presque Isle and Washburn. Several were squabbling over a Red Fox carcass (including this apparent young female photographed by Paul Cyr) last Friday, the 21st. Rough-legged Hawks were reported from Easton and Westfield. A Red-tailed Hawk was seen in Presque Isle over the weekend. A Cooper’s Hawk continues to be seen in Presque Isle and an apparent Sharp-shinned was seen in Portage Lake over the weekend.

Barred Owls were reported from Fort Fairfield and Presque Isle again this week. Mark Bloomer got this eerie image during a storm a couple of weeks ago as the Barred Owl stalked the Northern Flying Squirrels that frequent his feeders at night.

A pair of vocal Black-backed Woodpeckers were seen on the Ouellette Crossroad in T17R5 near Dickey Brook on the 22nd. Bohemian Waxwings are still finding food and being spotted in small groups this week. Pairs were seen in Mt. Chase, Presque Isle and Woodland and a flock of 40+ were seen in Caribou on the 22nd. The intrepid Tufted Titmouse hangs on in Presque Isle and was present as recently as the 27th.

Both Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches were well reported this week from Caribou, Mapleton, and Presque Isle.

Formerly a rare find in winter in Aroostook County, American Crow flocks are being spotted from Sherman to Fort Kent this year. Groups of 100+ crows were reported near roosting sites in Caribou and Presque Isle this week. 22 were seen in Fort Kent on the 22nd.

A few American Tree Sparrows visiting regularly at my feeders in Woodland and in Caribou, Chapman and Presque Isle. A single male Dark-eyed Junco was not put off by the recent deep snow and persists at a feeder in PI. Snow Bunting flocks were seen in Mapleton, Mt Chase, New Sweden, Patten, Woodland and T17R4 near Cross Lake this week. The larger group seen at Cross Lake on the 22nd was about 70 birds.

Northern Cardinal reports continue to pour in and pairs have been showing now in Fort Fairfield, Caribou (2+ pairs), Mapleton, Mars Hill, and Presque Isle (3+ pairs). Prior to this winter, one or two reports of a cardinal at a local feeder was the norm for the whole season. This year, so far, it seems there are quite a few of the red birds about!

Probably the most exciting find of the week was the discovery of a Rusty Blackbird at a feeding station in Presque Isle. This species is rare enough in summer in northern Maine, but a winter record is probably unprecedented. Paul Cyrs photo shows off the understated beauty of this birds winter plumage. The bird may have been present for several weeks now and was seen through the 27th.

As in the rest of New England, the burgeoning winter finch show continues to draw attention of area birders. The finch highlight this week was a Hoary Redpoll found with 50+ Common Redpolls at a feeder in Mt Chase. Redpoll numbers seem to be increasing this week in the area. Four White-winged Crossbills were spotted gathering grit on a Westmanland Road on the 23rd. American Goldfinches are still being seen in small numbers with reports coming in from Westfield, Caribou and Fort Fairfield. Large mixed flocks of Pine and Evening Grosbeaks are brightening many feeders in the area. These were enjoying some seed in my backyard in Woodland

on Christmas Day.

Presque Isle Christmas Bird Count is Saturday the 29th!


Bill Sheehan
Woodland, Aroostook Co.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 6-21 December 2007

The last couple of weeks have been colder and snowier than normal by far. Snow depths continue to be ~3 feet in most sheltered areas and deeper in some of the woodlots downwind of fields. It has snowed on 15 of the first 20 days of December and temps have regularly dipped below zero at night….Caribou received 17+ inches of new snow with last weekend’s wild storm. I can’t wait for winter to start… on the calendar.

Open water is quite limited now (mostly below dams).

The only waterfowl seen in central Aroostook were 60+ American Black Ducks and Mallards in Presque Isle Stream near the wastewater treatment plant and a handful of Common Golden-eyes and Common Mergansers below the Aroostook River dam in Caribou.

Bald Eagles were seen in Presque Isle, Easton, Fort Fairfield and Caribou. Rough-legged Hawks were seen in Fort Fairfield and Easton. An uncommon brown-type, dark phase was photographed on the Aroostook River bridge in Fort Fairfield on the 8th. Rare for northern Maine, a Coopers Hawk has been visiting yards with feeders in Presque Isle.

A few Great Black-backed Gulls lingered in Fort Fairfield through at least the 15th

A count of 20+ Mourning Doves were reported from a feeder in Presque Isle following the storm on the 16th and 17th. Other larger-than-usual flocks were seen in Mapleton and Washburn. Owl reports continue with the season’s first Snowy Owl that was unfortunately struck by a vehicle in Presque Isle on the 10th. A hunting Northern Hawk Owl was reported from the Christina Reservoir area in Fort Fairfield on Wednesday, but has not been relocated since. A Barred Owl was hunting in the sunny afternoon on the 21st in Presque Isle when Paul Cyr photographed it. The widespread reports of Barred Owls being seen in the daylight hours in Maine this winter has some people thinking these birds are having a tough winter already and they are stressed and hungry enough to come out in daylight.

Three Pileated Woodpeckers were feeding simultaneously on a single tree trunk near Madawaska Lake in T16R4 on the 15th. Others were reported from Easton, Castle Hill and Mapleton. Drumming Hairy Woodpeckers were heard in Mt Chase.

A late American Robin was nibbling apples in Presque Isle on the 9th. Only a couple of Bohemian Waxwings were reported in the area this week. The small flock was seen in Mt Chase. These too, were chipping away at larger frozen apples now that most of the smaller fruits have been eaten.

The rare Tufted Titmouse continued to show up at the feeder in Presque Isle where its been seen for over a month.

Alice Sheppard got this nice photo of the bird. Boreal Chickadees were heard in Woodland on the 15th.

There are still plenty of American Crows being reported from around the area. Some Common Ravens appear to acting a bit more territorial lately with a few aerial squabbles noted. Paul’s game camera captured this well behaved group late last week. A Northern Shrike was seen along the interstate in Oakfield on the 18th.

Unusual anytime of year, but exceptional in winter was a Field Sparrow reported at a feeder in Presque Isle. Large flocks of Snow Buntings continue to be seen in northern and central Aroostook County. A few lingering Dark-eyed Juncos and American Tree Sparrows have also been seen in Woodland, Caribou and Presque Isle.

Northern Cardinal reports continue from several locations including Caribou (3+), Houlton (1) Mapleton(1) and Presque Isle (2). Tom and Theresa Johnson photographed this female at a feeder in Caribou.

Pine and Evening Grosbeaks are still being seen daily in central and southern Aroostook. Common Redpolls have only been reported in single digit numbers recently and may be departing the area. American Goldfinches have likewise been seen in small numbers. No other finch species were reported.

The Presque Isle Christmas Bird count is Saturday December 29th!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 21 Nov-5 Dec 2007

There has been alot of traffic reported at northern Maine feeding stations this week. Snow depths in the region now range between eighteen to thirty inches following the Monday night storm. Most lakes are entirely ice covered and only the swifter places on area streams are ice free. The larger rivers St. John and Aroostook still have plenty of open water but the slower stretches are becoming ice-choked. Temps have ranged from single digits to mid thirties over the past week.
A bit of an ice storm was experienced in some higher locations in Aroostook Co. in late November. Some observers thought the ice might have covered some natural food causing an increase in bird numbers at feeders . The small fruit (berries, cherries and small crabapple) supply is getting quite sparse in some spots thanks to all the Waxwings and Pine Grosbeaks.
Waterfowl numbers have dwindled quickly over the past two weeks. Most Canada Geese had departed shortly after Thanksgiving. Mallards, American Black Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, and Common and Hooded Mergansers continue to be seen on the remaining open water. 3 Common Loons were found at Long Lake in St. Agatha on the 24th.
An adult Northern Goshawk unsuccessfully chased some Pine Grosbeaks around my yard in Woodland on Dec 2nd. Light phase Rough-legged Hawks were seen in St Agatha on the 24th and in Presque Isle on the 28th. A few Bald Eagles were also reported.
A Barred Owl was seen in Woodland several times last week. The male Three-toed Woodpecker was seen at the usual spot on the Muscovic Road in Stockholm on the 24th. The bird was drumming and excavating a cavity. On the 27th few Horned Larks were feeding in association with a flock of several hundred Snow Buntings on the Waddell Road in Mapleton. In central Aroostook county, decreasing numbers of Bohemian Waxwings were noted as the preferred fruit supply was almost exhausted
A very rare Tufted Titmouse continues into its second month at a feeder on Canterbury Street in Presque Isle. A couple reporters noted increasing Black-capped Chickadee numbers at area feeders in the past week. A Boreal Chickadee made a short visit to my yard on Sunday before storm. The bird only momentarily checked over the suet feeder then moved on.
Unusual for winter, a large flock of American Crows remains in the Presque Isle area. The black horde was photographed by Paul Cyr's game camera mounted at feeder late last week. Gray Jays were seen in Easton, Woodland and Sinclair this week.
Also uncommon in northern Maine, Northern Cardinals were seen in Caribou and Presque Isle this week. Trina Coffin got this nice photo of a male cardinal at her feeder. Other than the fore-mentioned Snow Buntings, the only members of the sparrow family reported recently were Dark-eyed Juncoes, American Tree Sparrows and a couple of reluctant-to-leave White-throated Sparrows at feeders in Caribou and Presque Isle. A young Red-winged Blackbird huddled under my feeder on the 5th was the latest I've ever had.
Many observers reported increasing numbers of Pine Grosbeaks over the past week. Flocks were seen in Ashland, Caribou, Chapman, Fort Fairfield, Presque Isle, Westfield and Woodland. Evening Grosbeaks are making a good showing as well, with flocks reported from Caribou, Portage Lake, Presque Isle and Woodland. Common Redpoll numbers increased but Pine Siskin numbers remain low. There was only a single report each of American Goldfinch and Purple Finch in the area this week.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 1-13 November 2007

It seems like the cold weather has finally settled in and things are changing rapidly -birdwise in northern Maine.

The month started out with a couple of warm-ish days but, since the passing of the remnants of Hurricane Noel on the 3rd and 4th, it seems to get colder with each passing day. Small ponds and wetlands across the area are now frozen and some of the larger ponds (Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield/Arnold Brook Lake in Presque Isle) are also skimmed over. The pattern of regular precipitation continued with over two inches of rain falling during the storm and some accumulating snow on the 6th. The snow did not last in southern and central Aroostook though some is still hanging on in the higher terrain in northern Aroostook. Water levels are still quite high in streams and rivers. Most lakes have recovered a bit from the dry fall.

As previously reported, the cone crop is quite meager following two bumper years and fruit supply is dwindling fast under the onslaught of the frugivores.

Waterfowl numbers have been declining throughout the period. Canada Geese flocks seem to have aggregated a bit with the freeze up. *Largest concentrations were 4000+* at Trafton Lake in Limestone and 2000+ in Mapleton and Washburn. Smaller flocks reported include 700+ at Long Lake in St Agatha, 400+ at Collins Pond in Caribou and 300+ in Westfield. No unusual geese were seen other than a white headed Canada that continues to be seen at Collins Pond.
Duck highlights were young *Black Scoter*, *4 Buffleheads*, 4 Lesser Scaup and a pair of *rare Greater Scaup* all spotted on the 3rd at Lake Josephine in Easton. Two late Wood Ducks and a lingering drake Gadwall were found on Presque Isle Stream on the 2nd. Diving duck numbers seemed to peak just before the storm. A high count of 220+ Hooded Mergansers were seen on Christina Reservoir and 59 Common Goldeneyes were tallied at Lake Jo.

Some late-season lake watching paid off with an *uncommon Horned Grebe* found on Madawaska Lake in T16 R4 on the 10th. More surprising, were two discoveries of the (usually) less-common *Red-necked Grebe, *one at Long Lake (10th) and another at Lake Jo (9th). A few Common Loons are lingering in whatever open water is available and probably the last Double-crested Cormorant of the year was seen on the 3rd at Christina Reservoir. A tardy juvenile Great Blue Heron was hanging out with some Mallards on the north end of Long Lake on the 10th.

*Rough-legged Hawks were seen regularly* across the area with reports from Hersey in southern Aroostook to St David in the northern part of the county. Of the seven Rough-leggeds seen, 5 were light morph and two were dark. Northern Harriers were reported from Caribou, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Limestone and Presque Isle. A few Bald Eagles are still being spotted where the open water remains... An adult-like, fourth year eagle was seen at Long Lake and juvies were reported from Christina Reservoir and Presque Isle. Four were seen at LaPomkeag Lake Uncommon in northern Maine, Red-tailed Hawks were observed in Presque Isle and Easton this week.

An American Coot feeding on Lake Josephine on the 9th and 3 Dunlin at Christina Reservoir on the third were good finds for this late in the season. The premier Iceland Gull of the season was a first winter bird found with some lingering Ring-billed Gulls at Collins Pond in Caribou on the 12th.
A Black-backed Woodpecker was found at the boat launch of the newly re flooded Nadeau Pond in Fort Fairfield. A high count of 11 Pileated Woodpeckers were reported from locations across the county this week. A few Horned Larks continue to linger in area potato fields. Numbers are down from a high count of 120+ seen in Limestone at the beginning of the month. Five late-ish American Pipits were also seen at Limestone on the 3rd. An uncommon White-breasted Nuthatch was photographed in Presque Isle.

The early arrival of a few Bohemian Waxwings noted last month, has grown into widespread affair. These waxwings are being seen in medium sized flocks from Madawaska to Houlton consuming trees worth of crabapples and berries in a few hours. Largest flocks seen were *170+ at Presque Isle* and 120+ at Caribou. Most other groups were 20-50 birds. A few lingering American Robins also spotted nibbling fruit in Presque Isle and Fort Fairfield.

Gray Jays were seen at Madawaska Lake and Woodland.

Lingering sparrows included a Fox Sparrow in Woodland until the 8th, Song and Swamp Sparrows seen in Presque Isle on the 2nd and White-throateds reported through the 8th in Caribou and Woodland. Dark-eyed Junco numbers have thinned a bit recently but are still widely reported. American Tree Sparrows have settled in for the winter at my feeders in Woodland. Snow Buntings have been reported in Presque Isle and Grand Isle in flocks greater than 500 birds. A group of 50+ was seen in St. Agatha on the 10th.

A very late Brown-headed Cowbird was found with a group of House Sparrows in Presque Isle. A single Red-winged Blackbird and Common Grackle were in Woodland until the 4th.

Evening and Pine Grosbeaks are not hard to find this week. Small flocks of each have been reported from around the area. Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins and a few reappearing American Goldfinches are starting to sample the thistle seed in Woodland. White-winged Crossbills are heard daily here. Purple Finches were reported from Caribou.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 19-25 October 2007

A busy week but managed to squeeze in some birding here and there.

The best waterfowl this week were a *pair of early-arriving drake Barrow's Goldeneyes* seen with a flock of about 25 Common Goldeneyes on Long Lake in St Agatha on the 25th. 32 Snow Geese were regulars in Mapleton and Washburn early in the week. Surf Scoters and a single White-winged Scoter were seen on Cross Lake on the 21st. A small group of Black Scoters were reported at Arnold Brook Lake in Presque Isle Thursday.

Canada Goose numbers remain at ~16-18 thousand birds in central Aroostook Co. Still no unusual goose species have been seen but there is plenty of opportunity to study the many subtle differences in plumages of the Canada's. Flock subspecies breakdown seems about 40% /Branta canadensis maxima/ (the locally breeding Giant Canada Goose) and 60% /B.c. canadensis/ (the Atlantic Canada Goose). The Atlantic Canada Geese are slightly smaller and and more delicate than the hulking Giants. I recommend David Sibley's write up on Canada/Cackling Geese for the waterfowl nerds in the group!

Two lingering Gadwall at Long Lake and a pair Northern Pintails at the Town Park Pond in Mars Hill were other notable ducks seen this week.

A late-ish Pied-billed Grebe was seen at Daigle Pond in New Canada on Sunday. A *late Black-crowned Night Heron* was seen and heard at Arnold Brook Lake on Tuesday early AM.

*Arriving Rough-legged Hawks* appeared en mass, in northern Aroostook County. Three dark phase individuals were seen off the Chasse Road in St Agatha Thursday AM and another was spotted minutes later on the Ouellette Cross Road in T17R5. A *notably late American Kestrel* was seen in Monticello on the 24th. Northern Harriers continue to be reported from across the region including Bridgewater, Mapleton, Presque Isle and Woodland. A Red-tailed Hawk was seen in New Sweden.

The *American Avocet on Long Lake* in St. Agatha was the shorebird show this week. The bird was found on Sunday but has not been relocated since. Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs are still being seen. There was a definite increase in gull numbers in northern Maine this week. A mixed flock of about 800 gulls is now present at Long Lake in St Agatha and Several hundred were seen at Arnold Brook Lake. Great Black-backed Gulls seem to dominate the flocks and Ring-billeds are thinning out a bit.

Great Horned (Presque Isle) and Barred Owls (Woodland) were heard this week. 40+ Horned Larks and 4 American pipits were flushed by a low-cruising Rough-legged Hawk off the Flat Mt Road in St. Agatha. A *young Northern Shrike* spotted in Orient on the 24th was the first for me this season. Likewise, *arriving American Tree Sparrows* seem to pop up overnight with individuals appearing in Frenchville, Sinclair and Woodland on Thursday. Other than the Dark-eyed Juncos which remain in numbers, Song and Swamp Sparrows were the only other species encountered this week.

Always a good find in northern Maine, a Northern Cardinal was reported at Collins Pond in Caribou. A late Yellow-rumped Warbler was seen hawking insects near Baskahegan Stream in Danforth in northern-most Washington County on the 24th.

*Pine and Evening Grosbeaks continue* to being found in small numbers around central and northern Aroostook County. 5 Pine Grosbeaks visited my yard in Woodland on the 25th. White-winged Crossbill flocks were heard in Presque Isle, Stockholm and Woodland this week. The Pine Siskins have seemed to thin out a bit after a good pulse earlier this month.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

American Avocet in St. Agatha

It was slow birding in the wind this AM so I spent some time lakewatching at Long Lake in St. Agatha. St Agatha is located in northern-most Maine about three miles south of the Canadian border.

I was surprised (to say the least) when I came upon a nonbreeding/juvenile plumaged AMERICAN AVOCET feeding with a Greater Yellowlegs in the shallows on the northwest end of the lake. I believe this is the first record for the county maybe for even inland Maine. I got a few documentation photos through the scope but the vibration from the wind gusts was ridiculous.

The bird can be found behind the St. Agatha municipal building in "downtown" St. Agatha off Route 164. The bird was visible in the cove to the northwest of the small park behind the office building. A spotting scope helps. The bird was feeding on the opposite side of the lake for a time but it obligingly flew across and landed on our side of the lake eventually.
Other notables at Long Lake were a juvie White-winged Scoter, three Surf Scoters, all three species of Mergansers and a few Gadwall amongst the commoner gulls, geese, loons and ducks.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Northern Maine Birds October 10-18, 2007

The past week gave us more seasonable temperatures in northern Maine but we are still a bit warmer than normal. Just one morning of frost at Caribou in past seven days. We received the first significant precipitation in a long while with 1.5 inches falling on the 11th and 12th. The rain brought stream and river levels up and stripped some of the leaves. The south winds seemed to pile up the migrants for a couple days leading up to the rain and a large pulse followed the storm.

Dabbling waterfowl seem to be thinning out a bit but the divers are increasing. Geese are at or approaching peak numbers in central Aroostook with ~16,000+ Canada Geese being seen at the day roosts. Collins Pond in Caribou is currently hosting ~4,500 and a similar number is being seen roosting on the Aroostook River in Mapleton and Washburn. Around 3000+ were seen landing in harvested grain/potato fields in the northern part of Presque Isle. Trafton Lake in Limestone is hosting about 2,700 birds. 750+ Canadas are coming into the mill pond in Washburn and 550+ are roosting at Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield. About 500 Canada Geese are also crowding into the Town Pond at Mars Hill. Ashland, Bridgewater, Easton, Eagle Lake, Portage Lake and St Agatha are also reporting small to medium sized flocks of geese. Snow Geese were reported in Ashland on the 12th

I have spent lots of time looking at geese and have yet to find an unusual species. Two Canadas with yellow neck collars and one with white neck collar were seen at Collins Pond this week. There is also an apparent leucistic (albinistic) Canada Goose with a white neck and head showing itself at Collins Pond.

Duck highlights this week were Black (1) and White-winged Scoters (3) continuing at Lake Josephine in Easton. A young Bufflehead and a lingering group of 9 Northern Shovelers here were also notable. A late-ish and showy drake American Wigeon is squeezing its way through the gaps in the Canada Geese horde at Collins Pond. Merganser numbers took a tick upward with 130+ Common Mergansers and 80+ Hoodeds seen at Christina Reservoir on the 17th. A few Lesser Scaup were associating with the 140+ Ring-necked Ducks at Lake Josephine.

Double-crested Cormorants and Great Blue Herons have thinned out rapidly with a few stragglers of each still being reported. Bald Eagles and Northern Harriers were seen in Fort Fairfield and Presque Isle. A Sharp-shinned Hawk did a low elevation pass through my yard in Woodland on the 14th.

There still a good assortment of shorebirds around though numbers are thin. A Black-bellied Plover, 2 Semipalmated Plovers and 9 lingering Killdeer were good discoveries at Christina Reservoir on the 12th. Nine Dunlin was a high count seen at this location on the same day. A tardy Spotted Sandpiper and a Pectoral Sandpiper were seen at Lake Josephine on the 17th. Both yellowlegs and Wilson's Snipe make up the balance of reported shorebirds.

Time was well spent birding in the harvested fields of central Aroostook this week. Horned Larks , American Pipits, Lapland Longspurs and some early Snow Buntings were found. The larks numbered in the hundreds in several locations including Caribou, Presque Isle and Easton. On the 17th 15 pipits were seen in the same potato field in Presque Isle with 6 longspurs. Single Snow Buntings were seen in Caribou, Fort Fairfield and Woodland.

A lingering Gray Catbird was heard in Easton and the last few Yellow-rumped Warblers were seen in Woodland and Easton. The first Bohemian Waxwings of the season were reported from Wade on the 10th.

The White-crowned Sparrow masses had thinned a bit by mid week but Dark-eyed Juncos continue to dominate the hedgerows and yards in central Aroostook. A Fox Sparrow made a brief, one-day appearance in my yard on the 14th. A lingering Chipping Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow were also at my feeders this week. Gray Jays were seen in New Sweden and Woodland.

The finches are starting to show up. 7 Evening Grosbeaks are regular at my feeders. Pine Siskins are being reported from around the county. The first of season Pine Grosbeaks and White-winged Crossbills were heard in Woodland on the 17th.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 25 Sept- 2 Oct 2007

Some good birds are being seen in Aroostook County lately and I thought it was worthy of a note.

September was dry and warm. Record high temperatures were recorded in Caribou last week. Half of the month's rain fell on the 27th and 28th, though streams and rivers are still very low. Water levels in many of the northern lakes are also down a foot or two. Fruit and cone crops are looking lackluster this season after the past two very good years. There are still plenty of insects about and I even saw a Mink Frog basking in the sun on Monday afternoon.

Migrant waterfowl are appearing in numbers in northern and central Aroostook now. High counts of Canada Geese last weekend were *1900+* on Collins Pond in Caribou and 780+ at Long Lake in St. Agatha. Two geese with yellow neck collars were seen. No Snow Geese have been reported yet though the first ten days of October is typically the period when many flocks are seen.

Duck highlights included 4 *White-winged Scoters*, 12 juvenile *Surf Scoters* and 2 young *Black Scoters* all seen at Lake Josephine in Easton. 2 Lesser Scaup and *3 Buffleheads* were also being seen there. Long Lake hosted all three species of merganser on Sunday the 30th. Commons and Hoodeds were seen near Sinclair and a young *Red-breasted* was seen at the north end of the lake at St. Agatha. *3 Northern Pintails* are being seen daily at Collins Pond. (an aside: ME Dept of IF&W waterfowl biologists banded a young Pintail at Lake Josephine, in early September, that they thought was probably hatched in the area. There are only one or two breeding records for this species in Maine). Other locally breeding waterfowl seen on or around Lake Josephine included a Gadwall, 20+ American Wigeon, 8 Blue-winged Teal, 30+ male Wood Ducks, 130+ Ring-necked Ducks and 6 Ruddy Ducks.

The raptor flight was quite good last week with 8 species reported. The Fort Fairfield Bald Eagles have begun to *rebuild their nest ** *since it blew down again in August. *Local observers say this is probably the fourth time they have rebuilt in seven years(!)*. A late-ish Osprey was seen flying down the Aroostook River in Presque Isle on the 27th. Northern Harriers, mostly juveniles, were seen at Easton, Presque Isle, St. Agatha and Woodland. American Kestrels lingered at the Muscovic Road Bog in Stockholm and in Woodland. Merlins were buzzing shorebirds at Lake Jo and Arnold Brook Lake in Presque Isle.
The raptor highlight for the week had to be an *adult Peregrine Falcon *seen* *in St Agatha on Sunday. The bird put on a good show chasing Horned Larks over the harvested grain fields on the Flat Mountain Road . A Northern Goshawk in Woodland Bog and a lingering Broad-winged Hawk at Arnold Brook Lake round out the tally.

A pair of *rare Dunlin* at Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield on the 27th and high count of *21* Lesser Yellowlegs at Lake Josephine were the shorebird highlights for the week. Its interesting to note all my fall Dunlin records for Aroostook County (only 5), fall in the last week of September.

Gull numbers continue to build with lost of young birds showing up on area lakes. Uncommon Bonapartes Gulls were seen on Long Lake, Arnold Brook Lake and Christina Reservoir in small flocks of up to ten.

All the breeding woodpeckers were seen again this week in Aroostook County. The *male and female Three-toed Woodpecker* were seen on the Muscovic Road in Stockholm and were joined by an attractive male *Black-backed Woodpecker* on Sunday. The Muscovic Road also hosted its usual suite of boreal species including Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jays, Dark-eyed Juncos and both species of Kinglets.

The biggest flock of Horned Larks I have seen in Aroostook County was trading back and forth over the grain stubble in some St Agatha fields last Sunday. It was hard to get a close count, thanks to the attention of the aforementioned Peregrine, but conservatively *600+ larks* were feeding in the fields. An *early Lapland Longspur* and 20+ American Pipits were also seen here.

Very few Yellow-rumped Warblers and Blue-headed Vireos continue to linger after what seems to have been a good migration season. There were very few passerine "fallout" days in the past month. It seemed that the small birds had good weather for travel and passed through/from northern Maine rather quickly.

White-crowned Sparrows were reported to be seen in many spots in central and southern Aroostook

A single *Rusty Blackbird* was feeding on the shore of Arnold Brook Lake on October 2nd. *3 Evening Grosbeaks* were seen here as well.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 13-27 July 2007

It rained in Caribou on 20 of the first 21 days of July but the past five days have been dry. The hordes of young birds are enjoying the hot weather we're finally experiencing here in northern Maine. Water levels are dropping rapidly and southward migrating shorebirds are being seen around the county. Bird song has picked up a bit recently following a lull during fledging.

Over 800 molting and juvenile waterfowl are being seen on Lake Josephine in Easton this week. Species seen with young include Ruddy Ducks, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Canada Geese, Blue and Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Ducks, Mallards and Black Ducks. Wood Ducks and Common Goldeneye are also regulars. A female Common Goldeneye was seen at Chimney Pond on Mt Katahdin on Sunday.

Shorebirds seen in central Aroostook county this week include Wilson's Snipe, Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitcher and Killdeer.

Rare inland, a basic plumaged *Red-throated Loon* was reported from Madawaska Lake in T16 R4. *Two rare Black Terns* continue to be seen at the Common Tern colony on the north end of Long Lake in St Agatha.

A new *pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers* were located along the Beaver Brook Road in T14 R5. Another pair in Stockholm was reported to have been tending fledglings. A late stage, *Black-backed Woodpecker* nest was located off of Route 11 south of Masardis along the St. Croix Road. A singing *Philadelphia Vireo* was heard at the Roaring Brook Campground parking lot in Baxter Park on Sunday.

In Mt. Chase, two families of Eastern Bluebirds have fledged.

Singing Fox Sparrows were heard along the Beaver Brook Road in T13R5. In Baxter State Park, several Fox Sparrows were heard singing just N of Nesowadnehunk Field Campground. Another was heard along the Roaring Brook Trail near Basin Ponds on the east side of Mt. Katahdin. A singing *Vesper Sparrow* on Tuesday night in Woodland was a new yard species for me.

Blackpoll Warblers continue to sing on the sides of Mt Katahdin.

An Evening Grosbeak was heard flying over my yard in Woodland last week.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Birds in Northern Quebec

An annotated list of birds in northeastern Quebec and southwest Labrador, Canada between 28 June-7 July 2007

These observations were made during a weeklong fishing trip in the Caniapiscau region of east-central Quebec. I am tempted to say I was in northern Quebec, but in truth, the region is located approximately half way between Ungava Bay in the north and Quebec City in the south. Also included are bird sightings made along the route traveled from northern Maine.

Birds were generally sparse in this area but certain habitats supported good diversity and numbers. Though this excursion was not primarily a birding trip, I was able to spend several hours a day observing the birds of the area. I kept my binoculars with me at most times and when I was not distracted by large salmonids, I focused on the birds. I was able to get hours-long exposure to the life-bird Gray-cheeked Thrush while it sang, fed and interacted with other individuals. I also encountered several species at their breeding grounds and observed some interesting behaviors.

The Route:
We left northern Maine on the morning of June 28 and traveled across northern New Brunswick from St. Leonard to Tide Head along Route 17. We entered the province of Quebec at Matapedia near the mouth of the Restigouche River and followed the roads along the Matapedia and Matane Rivers north to the town of Matane. At Matane, we boarded the ferry across the St. Lawrence River to Baie Comeau on the north shore.

The following day June 29 we traveled north on Quebec Route 189 from Baie Comeau to Manicougan Lake and then on the gravel road, Route 389 to Fermont. About ½ way between the Manic 5 dam and Fermont we passed through the abandoned mining town of Gagnon. From Quebec we crossed into Labrador and spent the second night in Labrador City near the 53rd parallel.

The Destination:
On June 30, we flew approximately 70 miles WNW back into Quebec to the camp at Facoli Falls on the Caniapiscau River. The Falls are located on a short (1/2 mile) stretch of river between Lac (lake) Raimbault (upper) and Lac Vignal (lower). The Caniapiscau River flows north to Ungava Bay. The location coordinates are: 53° 16.331n 68° 19.249w . There are no roads in the region and the nearest other manmade structure was another fishing camp over 25 miles away.

The Habitat:
The Matapedia River Valley in the Restigouche watershed is mostly mixed and coniferous woods on steep hillsides. The Matane River valley was wider and characterized by more farmland and development. The St. Lawrence crossing was 39 miles of brackish salt water. Baie Comeau had some mudflat areas along the Pioneer Park waterfront but the north shore otherwise appeared to be steep rocky coastline. The woods along the road north to Fermont were dominated by Black Spruce with birch and poplar in some locations. Some Jack Pine was encountered just north of Baie Comeau. The area between Gagnon and Fermont was less rolling than the areas south and had more bogs, fens and kettle-hole ponds. Labrador City was surrounded by several lakes and had the expected cleared and open areas usually associated with a town. The iron mines on the north and south east sides of the city were dominant landscape features.

The Facoli Falls area, where the camp was located, was sparsely wooded with Black Spruce as the dominant species. Other trees species included Tamarack, White Spruce the occasional Balsam Fir. The understory was Speckled Alder, Amelanchier sp. Bog Laurel and ground cover was lichen and sphagnum. Cranberry, Crowberry and Blueberry as well as Bunchberry were growing at ground level. The topography was rolling. Higher hilltops were barren except for occasional stunted trees and lichens.
Some bog and fen areas were located within a mile or two of the camp. A single grove of Balsam Poplar was found in a protected south-facing valley on the shore of Lac Rimbault. Numerous burned-over areas were encountered throughout the landscape. Older burns had regenerating Labrador tea, Bog Laurel and alder.

The lake shores were generally wooded and rocky though a few sandy coves were found. Alder was most commonly found immediately adjacent to the water. Smaller ponds and well protected coves often had boggy margins. Lake depth varied with a deep hole of 60 feet found in Lac Vignal. Water temperatures varied between 49 and 58° F. Current was discernible in the narrow areas of the lakes. The Falls drop 10 meters between the two lakes over about 1/2 a mile. The river cut through a large esker about ¼ mile below the outlet to Lac Vignal. The gravelly soils in this area appeared to support more Alder and Tamarack than most other spots.

The birds (75 species):

Canada Goose- uncommon. Seen in a couple of the shallow ponds along the road between Fermont and Gagnon and on the mudflats at Baie Comeau

Mallard- uncommon. Several pairs were seen in Labrador City. Also seen flying along the Matane River on the south shore.

American Black Duck- uncommon. Several drakes were encountered on Lac Vignal and quiet areas on the Canispicau River. About a dozen were seen on the mudflats at Baie Comeau.

Common Eider- common. Several dozen were seen from the ferry and along the shore in Baie Comeau. Not encountered inland.

Surf Scoter- rare. Saw one drake on Lac Vignal.

Harlequin Duck- uncommon. Three were seen a couple of times flying over the falls and rapids.

Common Goldeneye-uncommon. A drake was seen flying over the outlet of Lac Vignal and a female was seen along the road between Fermont and Gagnon.

Red-breasted Merganser- common. A dozen or more were seen in Lac Raimbault, Lac Vignal and Lac Opiscoteo. Several drakes were in eclipse plumage. A couple of pairs (male/female) were seen.

Common Mergansers-common. Seen mostly in the fast water areas but several were found on the lakes. Mostly drakes/some immatures were seen.

Common Loon- common. 20+ seen. At least four pairs on Lac Vignal, at least three pairs on Lac Raimbault and two pairs seen on Lac Opiscoteo. Seen on several of the small lakes along the road between Gagnon and Fermont. More than eight were seen from the ferry.

Double-crested Cormorant-common. Many seen in Matane and Baie Comeau. Several seen from the ferry. Not encountered inland.

Osprey-rare. One seen over outlet of Lac Vignal. Carrying a fish.

Bald Eagle-rare. One adult seen flying over Caniapiscau River below Lac Vignal. Another was seen over the Matapedia River on the south shore.

Sharp-shinned Hawk-uncommon. One or two individuals seen near camp several times during the week. Gray Jays and Rusty Blackbirds sounded alarm most times. North of published range.

Merlin- uncommon. Seen along road just south of Labrador City. Another was seen flying across the parking lot of a shopping center in Matane.

Red-tailed Hawk-common. Seen multiple times along the road between Manic 5 dam and Labrador City. Saw a flying bird from the float plane. One was being chased by a Rusty Blackbird on the south end of Lac Opiscoteo.

Rough-legged Hawk-rare. Two seen. Both along the road between Manicougan Lake and Fermont. A light phase individual was soaring above a small hill and an apparent dark phase (heavily backlit in late afternoon) was seen perched on the top of a small black spruce.

Ruffed Grouse- uncommon. Several seen along the road near Manicougan Lake. None seen near camp.

Spruce Grouse- uncommon. One seen near camp. None seen along roads.

Killdeer-uncommon. One seen at Labrador City.

Wilson’s Snipe- rare. One heard winnowing over boggy area near Lac Vignal.

Short-billed Dowitcher-rare. Flushed one from boggy area near Lac Vignal. Flew short distance and landed. No distraction display but appeared unwilling to leave immediate area. Possible breeder.

Greater Yellowlegs- uncommon. Flushed pair in boggy cove of Lac Vignal. Birds flew away and dropped into boggy spot away from water. Saw another along road south of Fermont. May be breeders or migrants.

Solitary Sandpiper-common. Seen at several locations south of Labrador City. One seen in Labrador City. One seen along Caniapiscau River below outlet of Lac Vignal. Often seen perched in dead trees.

Spotted Sandpiper- uncommon. One seen at Labrador City. Another was heard in Gagnon.

Least Sandpiper-common. Seen along rivers. Numbers of Leasts appeared during insect hatches (caddisfly and mayfly) and birds would catch emerging insects on rocks and vegetation. Approached to within 3 feet easily. Likely breeders but no behavior or other evidence seen to support this.

Great Black-backed Gull-common. Seen from ferry

Herring Gull- common. Seen from ferry, in Baie Comeau and at Gagnon. As many as 7 adults loafed at the outlet of Lac Raimbault and the species was seen regularly throughout the area. Enjoyed fish offal.

Ring-billed Gull- common. Seen from ferry and intown Matane. Not encountered north of the St. Lawrence.

Bonaparte’s Gull- uncommon. 5-10 were seen from the ferry. Not seen inland.

Black-legged Kittiwake- common. Seen from ferry. Not seen inland.

Common Tern- common. Not seen from ferry. Small groups of (2-3) terns were seen flying over Lac Vignal, Lac Raimbault and Lac Opiscoteo. One appeared to be fly-catching caddisflies during a particularly heavy hatch of this species in the Caniapiscau River below Lac Vignal. Checked numerous small islets for signs of nesting with no luck.

Caspian Tern- rare. One seen briefly at the outlet of Lac Raimbault at Facoli Falls on July 5. Apparently unexpected in this location. Wind was blowing from south all day.
Very large adult tern. The wingspan appeared nearly the size of the nearby Herring Gulls. Dark capped with a red bill. Dark tipped white wings. Bird hunted at outlet for a minute or less then proceeded down the shoreline and out of sight.

Non-guillemot Alcid. One seen in distance flying behind ferry. Suspect Razorbill.

Common Nighthawk- rare. One heard on night of July 4th over Lac Raimbault. At northern edge of range.

American Three-toed Woodpecker/Black-backed Woodpecker-uncommon. Dark woodpeckers were seen in flight several times but species wasn’t determined. Found several cavities and flaked-off bark on black spruce. Flaking was common near the camp.

Northern Flicker- uncommon. A few were seen along Route 369 south of Manicougan Lake. Two were seen in old burns.

Olive-sided Flycatcher-uncommon. Seen at Gagnon and heard along road south of there.

Alder Flycatcher- common. Heard once at camp. Heard regularly from Baie Comeau to Gagnon. Also heard in Labrador City at float plane base.

Tree Swallow- common. Seen throughout the trip except on the ferry. Nesting in boxes at the Labrador City floatplane base and at the camp. 10+ were regular around the falls and numbers were seen over lakes during insect hatches.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet- common. Encountered singing males from Baie Comeau north. Feeding young around camp.

Golden-crowned Kinglet- uncommon. Heard along road from Labrador City to Baie Comeau. Not found at camp.

Bohemian Waxwing-uncommon. Seen at Lac Vignal in several locations. Two adults feeding fledged young were seen on the 3rd along the Caniapiscau River.

Cedar Waxwing- common. Several small flocks (5+) seen flying over camp and river. Heard along road south of Manicougan Lake.

Gray-cheeked Thrush- uncommon. 4+ singing males heard and seen at location below outlet of Lac Vignal. Heard in two other locations.

Swainson’s Thrush- abundant. This thrush was heard and seen, in numbers, throughout the trip. A good portion of all birdsong heard at any given location near camp was Swainson’s Thrush song.

Hermit Thrush-Uncommon. Heard once each at Lac Vignal and Lac Raimbault. Also heard and seen at Gagnon.

American Robin- Abundant. Dark subspecies, T. m. nigrideus found at camp and Labrador City and Gagnon.

Boreal Chickadee-common. Family groups encountered daily at camp. Heard behind hotel in Baie Comeau.

Gray Jay-common. Family groups encountered daily. 5+ adults plus several juveniles frequented camp. Seen along regularly along Route 389 north of Manicougan Lake.

American Crow- uncommon. Found in Baie Comeau and along route south of Matane.

Common Raven- common. Seen daily but not in large numbers.

European Starling- uncommon. Only seen as far north as Baie Comeau.

Tennessee Warbler- common. Heard often in shrubby habitat. One male on territory at camp. 5+ at Manic 5 dam.

Yellow Warbler- uncommon. Heard at camp and in older burns. 4+ at Manic 5 dam.

Yellow-rumped Warbler- common. Males were heard singing at most locations with black spruce from Baie Comeau northward

Blackpoll Warbler-common. Males were heard singing at most locations with black spruce from Baie Comeau northward.

Northern Waterthrush-uncommon. Several were heard around camp and along river. Encountered more frequently along the roads south of Fermont.

Common Yellowthroat-uncommon. Heard along road from Manic 5 southward in small numbers. Not encountered around the camp.

Wilson’s Warbler- uncommon. Seen and heard at Gagnon. Heard at Labrador City and around camp.

Chipping Sparrow-rare. At northern edge of range in east. Heard at Pioneer Park in Baie Comeau. Not found away from the St. Lawrence.

American Tree Sparrow- rare. One heard singing near camp on one occasion.

Savannah Sparrow- rare. Not found on the north side of the St. Lawrence but did not travel through appropriate grassland habitat. Heard in Amqui.

Fox Sparrow-common. Males were heard singing at most locations with black spruce from Baie Comeau northward.

White-throated Sparrow- common. Seen and heard throughout Quebec route and at camp. Uncommon at camp. Feeding young.

White-crowned Sparrow- abundant. Males were heard singing at most locations with black spruce from Baie Comeau northward. 20+ seen daily. Located nest near treeline of hill near camp. Three hatchlings 7+ days old.

Dark-eyed Junco- common. Males were heard singing at most locations with black spruce from Baie Comeau northward. Seen feeding young at Lac Raimbault.

Rusty Blackbird-common. Only icterid encountered at the camp. Seen regularly around lakes. One chased a Red-tailed Hawk at Lake Opiscoteo. Feeding young at Lac Vignal.

Common Grackle- rare. Not encountered at camp or north of Baie Comeau. Regular south of the St. Lawrence.

Pine Grosbeak-uncommon. Males seen at Facoli Falls and near the outlet of Lac Vignal. Pair seemed agitated at site on Vignal.

Purple Finch- uncommon. Heard daily at camp but in small numbers. Mostly flyovers.

House Finch-rare. Two singing males seen and heard at Pioneer Park at Baie Comeau.

White-winged Crossbill- uncommon. Seen regularly in small numbers around camp. Heard along road south to Baie Comeau.

Pine Siskin- uncommon. Small flock of 4+ seen once at camp. Heard along road from Manicougan to Labrador City. At northern edge of range in East.

American Goldfinch- uncommon. Seen and heard as far north as Baie Comeau. Not found at the camp.

Evening Grosbeak-rare. Flock of four at a feeder in Matane were the only individuals seen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 2-15 May 2007

The first two weeks of May were generally cool and dry. In the middle of the stretch, was a three day warm period with temperatures about 20 degrees above normal. Precipitation (rain) fell on three days. Migrant arrivals seemed to increase during the warm weather when winds were from the south. Ice is out on all but the biggest lakes. Snow persists in the woods but the Woodland Bog trail in Woodland and the roads near Beardsley Brook in New Sweden were snow free for the first time this week

Several raids on area feeding stations were reported. Both black bears and raccoons were reported as prime suspects in the cases.

New/Arriving birds in Aroostook Co. during this period:

Ruddy Duck (5/4)
Broad-winged Hawk (5/2)
Red-tailed Hawk (5/4)
Sora (5/12)
Solitary Sandpiper (5/12)
Spotted Sandpiper (5/10)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (5/9) southern, (5/13) central
Least Flycatcher (5/10)
Great Crested Flycatcher (5/12)
Eastern Kingbird (5/12)
Cliff Swallow (5/15)
Northern Mockingbird (5/13)
Brown Thrasher (5/10)
Gray Catbird (5/15)
Scarlet Tanager (5/15)
Nashville Warbler (5/10)
Pine Warbler (5/15)
Northern Parula (5/12)
Yellow Warbler (5/11)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (5/14)
Black-throated Green Warbler (5/10)
Black-and-White Warbler (5/10)
Magnolia Warbler (5/13)
American Redstart (5/10)
Ovenbird (5/10)
Northern Waterthrush (5/11)
Common Yellowthroat (5/12)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (5/9)
White-crowned Sparrow (5/9)
Bobolink (5/12)
Baltimore Oriole (5/12)

Other than *5 arriving Ruddy Ducks*, interesting waterfowl at Lake Josephine in Easton included *5 Redheads*, Greater and Lesser Scaup, a pair of Northern Pintails, Gadwall and the more usual American Wigeon and Northern Shovelers. Canada Geese are incubating eggs at locations across the county. A possible lingering Snow Goose was seen on Malabeam Lake in Limestone on the 8th. 50+ Common Goldeneyes and 111 Ring-necked Ducks were high counts at Lake Jo. A hen Hooded Merganser was incubating eggs in a nest box in Caribou and a drake was seen at Mantle Lake in Presque Isle.

Eight raptor species reported in northern Maine was a good count. Osprey, Bald Eagle and American Kestrels were all reported to be on nests in the central Aroostook area. *Seven Ospreys* were seen fishing at one time at LaPomkeag Lake in T8R7 on the 6th. Merlins were seen in New Sweden, Easton and Fort Fairfield. Northern Harrier, Coopers Hawk, Red-tailed (all Caribou) and arriving Broad-wings made up the remainder.

An (the?) adult* Lesser Black-backed Gull* was found loafing on the ice of Trafton Lake in Limestone on the 6th. It was in the company of a mixed flock of Great Black-backed, Herring and Ring-billed Gulls.

The *male Three-toed Woodpecker was drumming* in the Muscovic Road woodlot in Stockholm on May 5. Boreal Chickadees, Gray Jays and 40+ White-winged Crossbills were also seen at this location. Arriving Least and Great Crested Flycatchers as well as Eastern Kingbirds were spotted along a medium sized beaver flowage in Caribou on the 12th.

A rare find in Aroostook was a Northern Mockingbird in Portage Lake. Brown Thrashers made a good showing as well with birds reported in Caribou, Easton, Masardis and Portage Lake. The first Gray Catbird for the area was reported in New Sweden on the 15th.

A good pulse of migrant warblers arrived in Central Aroostook. 12 species were seen. Rare and at the northern edge of its range in Maine, a *Pine Warbler* was heard near Pleasant Lake in Island Falls on the 15th.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks arrived by 9 May and were widely reported by weeks-end. Uncommon in Aroostook County, Northern Cardinals singing at Collins Pond in Caribou and on the UMPI Campus in Presque Isle were noteworthy.

An American Tree Sparrow lingered in Woodland until at least the 10th. White-crowned Sparrows were reported from Masardis, Caribou, New Sweden and Woodland. *Two male Fox Sparrows were singing* and appeared on territories near Beardsley Brook in New Sweden.

A first Bobolink arrived on schedule and was singing in Caribou on the 12th. Baltimore Orioles and Brown-headed Cowbirds were reported from yards around the area. The former is taking advantage of any citrus offerings they find. Common Grackle and Red-winged Blackbirds are still being encountered in small flocks.

Evening Grosbeaks were seen in Sinclair (5/5) and Island Falls (5/15). Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches continue to be seen in small flocks at feeders and in the woods.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 25 April-1 May 2007

The last week of April was generally cool, gray and wet. No significant fronts passed during the period. Temperatures continued to be slightly below normal. Caribou received precipitation on 5 of the 7 days which included some snow on May 1... Snow melt proceeded slowly. Fields are generally clear of the white stuff now but snow remains in the wooded areas. 18+ inches is still present in the North Maine Woods west of Route 11. Large lakes remain ice bound but all moving water is now ice free. Ice out should occur this week at favorite central Aroostook impoundments including Christina Reservoir, Lake Josephine and Trafton Lake.

New or arriving species in Aroostook Co this week:

Gadwall (4/28)
Redhead (4/28)
Lesser Scaup (4/27)
American Bittern (4/27)
Greater Yelllowlegs (4/28)
Belted Kingfisher (4/27)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (4/26)
Winter Wren (4/29)
Blue-headed Vireo (4/27)
Hermit Thrush (4/30)
Eastern Bluebird (4/30)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (4/30)
Chipping Sparrow (4/26)
Swamp Sparrow (4/28)
Savannah Sparrow (5/1)
Red Crossbill (4/29)

The huge flock of *Snow Geese continued in Grand Isle with 2400+ estimated* feeding in an unharvested grain field there. At least 5 of the dark form (Blue Goose) are mixed in. They are difficult to spot amongst the undulating mass of white as the geese feed beside the St. John River. Large flocks of Canada's continue to arrive and depart central Aroostook. Pairs of Canada Geese are being reported throughout the area and birds are being seen on nests already. Arriving waterfowl this week included a pair each of *Gadwall and Redheads at Lake Josephine* in Easton and several Lesser Scaup at Puddledock Pond in Fort Fairfield. A high count of 74 Green-wing Teal was tallied on the 27th on the McRae Flat of the Aroostook River in Fort Fairfield. 6 Northern Pintails were found with several hundred American Black Ducks and a lesser number of Mallards in Grand Isle. Other ducks seen this week included American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Wood Duck, Common Goldeneye, Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser and Common Merganser

Several Common Loons found the open water on the Aroostook River in Fort Fairfield on the 28th. Another was seen in-town on Puddledock. A Pied-billed Grebe was heard only at a small wetland in Caribou. Also quick to take advantage of any open water, Double-crested Cormorants were spotted in Easton, Washburn, Caribou and Fort Fairfield.
Arriving American Bitterns were noted at Puddledock Pond on the 27th and on the 30th in Mt Chase. A pair of newly arrived Greater Yellowlegs joined Killdeer and Wilson's Snipe near Lake Josephine.

*Turkey Vultures continued to be reported in new territory* in the central Aroostook area along Route 11. Vultures were seen on the ground, at carcasses, in Masardis and Ashland this week. Bald Eagles were seen at the nest in Fort Fairfield and in Caribou. A few ospreys continue to trickle in. Individuals were seen from Island Falls to Mars Hill and as far north as Frenchville. Northern Harriers seemed to spike in numbers on Friday the 27th with birds seen in Allagash, Caribou, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Presque Isle, St. Francis and Woodland this week. A *late-ish light phase Rough-legged Hawk* was hunting over a grassy field in Woodland on the 27th. Numbers of American Kestrels overspread the county by weeks end. Males were most commonly reported, but some females were seen as well. Kestrel observations came in from Ashland, Caribou, Chapman, Fort Kent, Frenchville, Mars Hill, Presque Isle, Portage Lake, Van Buren and Woodland. The Merlin pair continues to make a lot of noise in a Fort Fairfield neighborhood.

Newly returned Belted Kingfishers were seen at Trafton Lake in Limestone and Collins Pond in Caribou. A Blue-headed Vireo had arrived in southern Aroostook County by Friday. *Gray Jays* visited my feeder in Woodland again this week and *Boreal Chickadees* were spotted on the Muscovic Road in Stockholm. Red-breasted Nuthatches were frequently encountered in area woodlands.

A few Barn Swallows had reached central Aroostook Co by the 27th. These were seen in association with some small flocks of Tree Swallows in Fort Fairfield. A vocal Ruby-crowned Kinglet announced its arrival in Fort Kent on the 26th. Golden-crowned Kinglets were also singing in New Sweden, Stockholm and Woodland. Not to be outdone, Winter Wrens were quick to sing after their arrival on the 29th.

A bit late in arriving, Eastern Bluebirds were checking out nest boxes in Island Falls and Mt Chase over the weekend. The first Hermit Thrushes were singing over the few snow-free patches of ground in the Woodland Bog in Woodland. The only warblers seen so far are the somewhat-tardy Yellow-rumped Warblers which were heard singing for the first time this spring in Stockholm.

New sparrow species include Chipping (Woodland and Caribou), Swamp (Caribou and Fort Fairfield) and Savannah Sparrows (Presque Isle). Several American Tree Sparrows continue with Dark-eyed Juncos, Song and White-throated Sparrows at my feeders in Woodland.

The Muscovic Road in Stockholm hosted a good variety of finch species this weekend. Purple and American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, *Red and White-winged Crossbills* and Evening Grosbeaks were all seen here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 18-24 April 2007

The melt is on.
Temperatures were above average all week with a high for the month (to date) of 77 in Caribou on the 23rd. Some insects were active. Most of the snow cover in fields and open areas has retreated substantially. All rivers and stream had flooded and were open by mid-day on Tuesday. Some smaller ponds are ice free as well. Larger lakes are still a week or two away from ice out. South winds on Monday brought a decent pulse of migrants. Most migrants were on the lateish side for first arrival dates, but none unusually so.

New/ arriving birds in Aroostook Co. this week:

Snow Goose (4/21)
American Wigeon (4/20)
Green-winged Teal (4/22)
Northern Pintail (4/22)
Northern Shoveler (4/22)
Common Loon (4/20)
Pied-billed Grebe (4/22)
Double Crested Cormorant (4/23)
Great Blue Heron (4/20)
Wilson's Snipe (4/21)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (4/22)
Eastern Phoebe (4/21)
Tree Swallow (4/20)
Barn Swallow (4/24)
White-throated Sparrow (4/24)

*Snow Geese were first spotted* flying high over Portage Lake on the 21st and high numbers (1000+) were reported from the St John River flats in Grand Isle on the the 23rd. Other arriving waterfowl included an American Wigeon at the Robinson Millpond in Blaine, Green-winged Teal at Collins Pond in Caribou, (4) Northern Pintail in Limestone and Northern Shovelers at Lake Josephine in Easton. Green-winged Teal were also spotted at Lake Jo and in Mapleton. The *male Black Scoter continued* at the Town Park Pond in downtown Mars Hill through at least 4/20. Canada Geese, Ring-necked Ducks, Mallards, American Black Ducks, Common Goldeneyes and Common and Hooded Mergansers are all widespread and being seen in numbers. 72 Common Mergansers in Blaine was a high-ish count for that species. 350+ Canada Geese were in a potato field near Trafton Lake in Limestone and nearly that number were seen in another near Lake Josephine. Resident Canada's are already acting skulky at some traditional nesting locations.

A Common Loon on the Mattawamkeag River in Haynesville was a bit of a surprise on the 20th. This area of the river is slow moving but quite narrow and definitely not an impoundment that would make a loon feel comfortable. The big bird was dozing in a sunny eddy... A pair of arriving Pied-billed Grebes looked equally out of place on the ice choked Aroostook River in Caribou on Sunday. The first Double-crested Cormorant seen at Collins Pond on Monday was joined by several others today. Great Blue Herons were seen at Bridgewater (4/19), Limestone (4/22) and Washburn on the 23rd.

A possible Turkey Vulture was seen high over Caribou on the 20th. Adult Bald Eagles continue to tend the incubating eggs at Fort Fairfield with a hatch date coming up soon. A sub-adult Bald Eagle was seen in southernmost Fort Fairfield. A Merlin was vocalizing at Hot Brook Lake in Danforth in northern-most Washington County on Friday. Northern Harriers (mostly males) were reported from Caribou, Presque Isle and Woodland. Arriving Wilson's Snipe were seen in Washburn and Limestone and one was heard at Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield. American Woodcock are being heard in Limestone and Houlton. The numbers of Killdeer increased rapidly this week. Eleven were seen/heard in three hours on Sunday including a mating pair at Trafton Lake.

Aroostook County's *first Lesser Black-backed Gull continues* to be seen at Collins Pond most mornings. The adult bird is quite easily distinguished from the numerous Great Black-backed Gulls by its small size, lighter gray back and bright yellow legs. A Pair of River Otters seem to enjoy startling the gulls here and are regular visitors to the pond

The distinctive drumming of a male gave away the identity of an arriving Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Trafton Lake Park in Limestone. Another was seen in Woodland. Pileated Woodpeckers were widely reported and included individuals in Ashland, Castle Hill, Caribou, Limestone, Presque Isle and Woodland.

Insect-eaters showed up in small numbers this week. Bancroft, in southern Aroostook, hosted the first arrivals of both Tree and *Barn Swallows*. Tree Swallows were reported as far north as Caribou, Presque Isle and Wade by the following day. Eastern Phoebes were spotted in Caribou, Mapleton and Woodland. Northern Cardinals were seen in Caribou.

American Robins were ubiquitous and being seen in large numbers. Several hundred were flushed along one mile of road in Washburn on Saturday. Certainly this species numbers in the tens (if not hundreds) of thousands in the area currently. No other thrushes were reported yet this spring.

A few arriving White-throated Sparrows were seen on the 24th in Caribou and Woodland. They joined the Song and American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. Flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles are continuing to migrate through the area though residents of these species are establishing territories. Female Brown-headed Cowbirds are starting to be seen.

No change in the finch supply this week. An occasional *Evening Grosbeak continues* to be the highlight at my feeder in Woodland. American Goldfinches are almost completely molted and males are starting to disperse from the winters flocks and are singing. Pine Siskins were seen in Forkstown and Linneus.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 3-18 April 2007, Lesser Black-Backed Gull


Early spring bird migration seemed to come to a virtual standstill after the first pulse of arriving birds back in late March. The first two weeks of April were cold and was regularly punctuated with snow storms. Caribou received precipitation on 12 of the last 15 days and temperatures were well below average throughout the period. Northern Maine was lucky and mostly avoided the deluge and high winds that the rest of the state experienced during the April 15-17 storm.

Snow cover continues throughout the area, with open areas only just now appearing. Though small and medium sized streams have opened up, ice cover on some rivers, ponds and lakes has a long way to go.

Some migrants appeared quite stressed during the past two weeks and new arrivals were few. Arriving/New species in the area:

Wood Duck (4/14)
Ring-necked Duck (4/11)
Black Scoter (4/18)
Osprey (4/18)
Rough-legged Hawk (4/14)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (4/16)
Fox Sparrow (4/16)

Despite the limited open water and restricted feeding opportunity, waterfowl numbers increased. But overall numbers and variety are below normal for this time of year. Canada Goose flocks crowded into any open water they could find and flocks of 75-100 are being seen regularly now. Pairs have been seen visiting still-frozen nesting sites. An arriving male Wood Duck was seen swimming in a narrow lead in the ice on the Aroostook River in Fort Fairfield on the 14th. Male Ring-necked Ducks were first spotted on the 11th in Mars Hill. Also in Mars Hill, a *drake Black Scoter* was an early record for this uncommon species on the 18th. Hooded and Common Mergansers are widespread with reports of both species coming in from across the county. Mallard, Black Duck and Common Goldeneye numbers seem to have increased slightly but the winter concentrations in Presque Isle and Caribou seem to have dispersed.

The first Osprey in Aroostook Co. was seen at a nest site near Fish Stream in Island Falls on the 18th. This same nest was reported to be empty and snow covered on the 11th. Bald Eagles were seen in Caribou, Fort Fairfield and Oakfield. An eagle is currently incubating eggs on the nest in the Stevensville area of Fort Fairfield. A light phase Rough-legged Hawk was seen hunting over a field in Fort Fairfield on the 14th. No American Kestrels or Northern Harriers have been reported since they were first seen in the beginning of the month.

A few, very stressed Killdeer survived the ice and snowy periods by feeding on bits of flotsam collecting along the downstream ends of open spots in stream ice. Several drivers reported the birds standing in the roads during the larger snowstorms.

An *adult Lesser Black-backed Gull* at Collins Pond in Caribou photographed and is apparently the first county record for this species. The bird was first seen on 16th roosting on the ice with 200 Great Black-backed, Herring and Ring-billed Gulls. It continues to be seen.

Pileated Woodpeckers were reported in Caribou, Fort Fairfield, Oakfield and Presque Isle. At least one early Eastern Phoebe survived through the 7th in Mount Chase by flycatching on the south facing side of a house. A* lingering Northern Shrike* was seen at the same location the following day. Most Common Raven pairs in the area have begun incubating eggs and nest building and some incubation has been seen for American Crows in the area. A lone Gray Jay visited my feeder in Woodland on the 16th. Six Horned Larks were seen feeding in the road in Fort Fairfield on the 14th and a group of four was seen in Woodland on the 18th.

American Robins were widely reported and had overspread the area early in the month. The birds appeared very stressed with snow covering ground and the limited fruit supply. Several robins were seen eating bird seed at my feeder and numbers were crowded into any snow-free piece of sod they could find. Two hundred American Robins were seen huddled along the foundations of buildings on the UMPI campus in Presque Isle on the 16th.

Sparrow numbers seemed to hold steady over the past two weeks. American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos made up the bulk of the reports. Song Sparrows are singing in Presque Isle, Washburn and Woodland. A *first-of-the-year Fox Sparrow* was seen on the UMPI Campus on the 16th. An apparent final wave of northbound Snow Buntings pushed through the area over the past two weeks. Flocks as large as 350 birds were seen and were reported from Castle Hill, Caribou, Fort Fairfield, Presque Isle , Washburn and Woodland.

American Goldfinch flocks continue to dominate the feeder activity in the area. 50 were reported at a feeder in Portage Lake and 120 were seen in Woodland. Singing male White-winged Crossbills were heard in Fort Fairfield and Woodland. Purple Finches have thinned out a bit put were still represented in reports from Chapman, Caribou and Woodland. A *few Evening Grosbeaks* continue to be seen in Chapman and Woodland.
Several House Sparrows successfully overwintered at the Walmart parking lot in Presque Isle.

This should be a good week for arrivals.