Thursday, March 27, 2008

Northern Maine Birds 12-26 March 2008

Its still winter in northern Maine.

The Easter Weekend Blizzard dropped 14+ inches of snow in Caribou pushing the tally to a record 185+ inches (over fifteen feet). More snow fell in the St. John Valley. Record low temperatures (down to -14 F) were hit on the past three evenings. Snow depths range from 2 to 5 feet from north to south. Even open areas have a deep snow cover.

Some streams in southern and central Aroostook have opened up but overall there remains little open water available.

Despite all local meterological evidence to the contrary, the spring migration season is finally upon us and a few early scouts are arriving in southern areas of the region.

Arriving Species :
Canada Goose 3/26
Turkey Vulture 3/25
Merlin 3/26
Horned Lark 3/14
Song Sparrow 3/16
Red-winged Blackbird 3/20

15 arriving Canada Geese were seen on the edge of a narrow lead in the ice of the Aroostook River in Presque Isle. A single goose was also seen in another part of town on the same day (26th). This date tied last years record for an early arrival. Common Goldeneyes were spotted on Presque Isle Stream in Presque Isle on the 25 and below the Aroostook River dam in Caribou on the 16th. Common Mergansers were at the dam on the 19th. There were 27 American Black Ducks and 20 Mallards at a small pond near the hospital in Presque Isle on the 26th. Ken Lamb noted this Black Duck appeared a bit hard of hearing...

A skier at Mars Hill Mountain was enjoying the post-blizzard powder on Saturday the 22nd when they flushed a roosting Ruffed Grouse from the deep snow on an ungroomed trail.

Raptor reports are trickling in. Bald Eagles continue sprucing up the nests in the area, but we've yet to hear of any settling in to incubate eggs. Ken Lamb photographed the eagle above in Presque Isle on the 25th.

Reports of injured and killed eagles, ravens and crows on stretches of I-95 in southern Aroostook and northern Penobscot continue. The Department of Transportation's unfortunate decision to log and thin the median strips near deer wintering areas between Benedicta and Medway, this winter, has resulted in numerous (dozens) of road killed deer. The deer which are struggling with a particularly tough winter, are tempted to cross the interstate to get to the tasty tree tops that are being stacked here. Though it appears some of the deer carcasses are removed, enough have remained and are an attractant to these scavenging birds. Ironically, DOT says the purpose of the thinning project was to reduce wildlife injury and accidents....

In Caribou a newly arrived Merlin was photographed on the 26th. The female/juvenile appeared to have an injured or frozen foot but still managed to take a Mourning Dove at a feeder here. Carroll Knox was able to get a picture as the bird digested its meal on the phone lines in front of his house.

A few blocks over, a Sharp-shinned Hawk scattered the flocks of finches at Trina Coffin's busy feeder and then posed for the image below.

An arriving Turkey Vulture was seen over Hersey in southern Aroostook on the 25th.

19 Great Black-backed Gulls were seen at the dam in Caribou on the 18th and a single was seen over Presque Isle on the 20th. No other gull species have been reported yet.

All the regular corvids were noted. A Gray Jay was seen in Westmanland on the 15th. Crow numbers continue to increase. Common Ravens continue to work on a nest in Castle Hill and others were observed carrying sticks in Chapman and Easton. A returning flock of four Horned Larks was first spotted along the snowbank-bound roads in Mapleton on the 14th. The birds have subsequently been seen in open fields in Limestone and Caribou.

The Presque Isle Tufted Titmouse survived the blizzard and stretched out its overwinter stay here. 10+ Boreal Chickadees encountered in a woodlot in Westmanland on the 16th, was a high count for this usually-less-than-gregarious species

Snow Buntings have been seen in small numbers in Caribou, Limestone, Presque Isle and Woodland. A vocal Song Sparrow in Mt Chase on the 16th was a bit early in its arrival. Overwintering American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were still visiting feeding stations in Caribou and Presque Isle.

The female Rusty Blackbird continues at a feeding station in rural Presque Isle. An arriving Red-winged Blackbird stopped briefly in Mt Chase on the 20th. This too, was slightly early.

Pine Grosbeaks were still being seen in Caribou, Fort Fairfield, Presque Isle and Woodland but numbers have dropped and several reporters have noted their complete departure from their yards. Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches and Common Redpolls continue to increase throughout the area with redpolls dominating the counts. Trina Coffin, in Caribou photographed her goldfinch which is starting to change to summer plumage.

A Hoary Redpoll joined a flock of 60+ Commons in my yard in Woodland for one day on the 22nd. Also seen was an interesting "yellow"-poll which had a bright yellow cap replacing the normal red spot on this Common Redpoll.

Evening Grosbeak numbers also seemed to have waned though as many as 12 were still visiting my feeders as late as the 25th.


Sandpiper said...

What a fantastic collection of pictures. That EAGLE SHOT!!!!!! WOW!!! You captured some outstanding detail in that picture.

Bill Sheehan said...

The praise goes to Ken Lamb, Carroll Knox and Trina Coffin for the photos on the blog this week! Those raptor shots are all treats for sure. Ken Lamb's eagle-eye pic causes me to understand why waterfowl are nervous when eagles are around...

Lisa said...

Bill - wonderful photos!
Tell Laurie that Lisa says hi and she needs to come to the 25th class reunion!

Bill Sheehan said...

Hey Lisa! I'll pass that along when she wakes up from hibernation.

Lisa said...

Here is the link to the reunion homepage. Wake her up!!! :-)

Again, really amazing photography! I've enjoyed looking through your lens!