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.