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.

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