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.

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