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.

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