Saturday, May 24, 2008

Northern Maine Birds 9 -22 May 2008

Slow to post lately. Its been a busy couple of weeks...

Almost two weeks of sunny weather and light breezes made short work of most of the remaining snowbanks in northern Maine. Temperatures were generally in the 50's and 60's with a couple days creeping up to 70. The 12th was the only night that I've seen frost here in Woodland. The only precipitation during the period was a good soaking rain shower on the 19th and some showers lately. A decent migrant pulse was sandwiched between weather systems to the north and south on the 17th and 18th and made for good birding on those days.

Water levels on area streams and rivers have receded but some lake levels remain higher than normal. Leaf-out remains less than 50% in northern and central Aroostook Co. Areas in southern Aroostook are over 50%.

New and arriving species

Redhead 5/17
Black Scoter 5/17
Sora 5/15
Semipalmated Plover 5/15
Spotted Sandpiper 5/11
Common Nighthawk 5/14
Chimney Swift 5/17
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 5/14
Olive-sided Flycatcher 5/17
Least Flycatcher 5/15
Great-crested Flycatcher 5/17
Eastern Kingbird 5/17
Eastern Bluebird 5/12
Veery 5/18
Swainson's Thrush 5/17
Brown Creeper 5/17
Warbling Vireo 5/15
Red-eyed Vireo 5/12
Nashville Warbler 5/17
Northern Parula 5/11
Yellow Warbler 5/15
Chestnut-sided Warbler 5/15
Magnolia Warbler 5/15
Black-throated Blue Warbler 5/17
Black-throated Green Warbler 5/11
Black-and-White Warbler 5/10
American Redstart 5/17
Common Yellowthroat 5/15
Wilson's Warbler 5/17
Lincoln's Sparrow 5/11
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5/11
Bobolink 5/15
Baltimore Oriole 5/15

The waterfowl highlight this time is certainly the returning pair of Redheads at Lake Josephine in Easton. This is the fifth spring this species has appeared. The birds appear to be settling in and were first seen on the 17th and were observed copulating in a small pond nearby on the 19th. They were joined by a second pair on the 22nd! I was able to get a digiscoped documentation photo of the new arrivals with a drake Ring-necked Duck (and a speeding Bank Swallow). Also at Lake Jo, Ruddy Duck numbers jumped with a high count of 10 birds including 3 females.

Male Ruddies were displaying and jostling for the attention of the females. Other good finds here were 2 Black Scoters on the 17th and 19th, high counts of Blue-winged Teal (12), Gadwall (20+), American Wigeon (40+), Northern Shovelers (30+) and a lingering Lesser Scaup on the 17th. Canada Goose nests seem to be everywhere this year and more than one birder has reported exciting encounters with the agitated parents. Ken lamb got this action shot in Caribou...

Another Red-necked Grebe in alternate plumage was seen at Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield on the 19th. The Great Egret remained at the ponds in Easton where it was found through at least the 15th. Ken Lamb got this great shot of the bird on the 9th. American Bitterns were found in Woodland, New Sweden and Fort Fairfield. Great Blue Herons remain on the nests at the rookery in Easton. The image above of an incubating heron comes from the camera (and big lens) of Paul Cyr.

A couple of late-ish Rough-legged Hawks were notable finds. A dark phase was seen on the 16th in Presque Isle and a light phase bird was hunting near Christina Reservoir on the 19th. Single northward straying Turkey Vultures were seen in Mars Hill and Island Falls on the 21st.

Bald Eagles were seen at the nests in Fort Fairfield and Presque Isle but it appears both have failed this year. The Fort Fairfield nest is tilting precariously after one of the supporting branches appears to have broken in the recent wind. The female continues to sit in the leaning collection of branches... Interestingly, a Common Grackle appears to be building a nest of its own in the underside of the eagle nest. Red-tails seem to continue to increase their presence in central and northern Aroostook. In addition to birds found at nests in Westfield, New Canada and T16R4, individual Red-tailed Hawks were reported in Ashland, Caribou and Oakfield. These hawks were uncommon in the area in the 90's. Northern Harriers were also well represented recently with individuals at Dyer Brook (5/9), Presque Isle (5/11), Madawaska (5/15), Washburn (5/17), Woodland (5/17) and a pair at Christina Reservoir on the 17th. The Northern Goshawk is aggressively defending its territory at the Maine Winter Sports Center in Presque Isle. Several mountain bikers have reported close calls with the female on the trails here. American Kestrels were reported throughout the area from Sherman Station (Stacyville) in northern Penobscot County (5/9) to St. John Plantation on the northern border (5/19). Merlins were seen in Caribou, Presque Isle, New Sweden and Castle Hill.

A newly arrived Sora was well seen at a wetland near Lake Josephine on the 19th. Virginia Rails were heard here as well.

A decent assortment of shorebirds were seen recently including a rare-in-spring Semi-palmated Plover at Lake Jo from the 15th to the 17th. High counts of other species reported were: 6 Killdeer in Easton (5/15);10+ American Woodcock along the Sullivan Road in T17R5 (5/12);14 Greater Yellowlegs at Christina Reservoir (5/15) and 4 Lesser Yellowlegs and 11 Least Sandpipers at Lake Jo (5/15).

On the 17th I finally achieved a long time goal of seeing all seven of northern Maine's breeding woodpeckers in one day. That is, Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Downy, Hairy, Pileated, Black-backed and Three-toed Woodpeckers. 5 Three-toed Woodpeckers in the Irving woodlot in New Sweden and 3 Black-backeds at the Muscovic Road in Stockholm were my highest counts ever for these species.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds seemed to arrive all at once this year with males and females reported. Patty Jennings got this stunning image at her yard in Stacyville in northern Penobscot Co. Arriving flycatcher species included Least Flycatchers on the 15th and Eastern Kingbird, Olive-sided and Great-crested Flycatchers on the 17th. Boreal Chickadees were seen near LaPomkeag Lake in T8R7 and a pair of Gray Jays were spotted along the Muscovic Road.

Only fourteen species of warbler have been seen in the area now. None of their arrival dates were particularly notable. Two singing male Wilson's Warblers in Stockholm were good finds amongst the commoner species. 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers were hard at work on a nest already on the Sullivan Road in T16R4 on the 17th. The nest was only about 6 feet off the ground in a small spruce tree.

American Tree Sparrows lingered through at least the 11th and the first Lincolns Sparrow arrived at my feeders on the same date. Mary Collishaw snapped one last picture of her departing Tree Sparrow in Caribou last week. Another Lincoln's was singing on territory in a regenerating clearcut on the Sullivan Road in T17R3 on the 17th. 17 Chipping Sparrows at my feeder on the 10th was a high count. White -crowned Sparrows built in numbers through the 15th and have seemed to dwindle in numbers since then.

Arriving Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were noted in Caribou, Houlton, New Sweden, Presque Isle and Woodland on the 11th and 12th. Singing Bobolinks have been heard in several locations in central Aroostook. Several were seen along the dike of Lake Josephine in Easton on the 19th. 6 Baltimore Orioles are visiting a feeder in Presque Isle. 4 Rusty Blackbirds were seen in Madawaska on the 15th and another was heard in a small wetland in T17R3. Small mixed flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles and Brown-headed Cowbirds continue to make their way through the area and don't appear particularly anxious to get about the business of breeding.

What was probably the last Common Redpoll of the season, was lingering at a feeder near Echo Lake in Presque Isle on the 11th. Large numbers of Purple Finches (30+) and American Goldfinches (20+) arrived at my feeder over the past two weeks. A few Pine Siskins continue to be seen as well. Evening Grosbeaks continue to be widespread visitiors at feeding stations but no one has noted high counts. Evening Grosbeaks were reported at Caribou, Chapman Fort Kent, Frenchville, Madawaska, St. John, T17R3, Presque Isle, Mars Hill, Houlton and Oakfield.

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