Its been a while... I've been spending lots of time in the field but just haven't had much keyboard time in the past month! Thought I'd pick up with the first couple weeks of July.
It is the peak of breeding season in northern Maine. Many species are busy feeding their young but some are still on nests. Bird song has increased a bit lately and parents are increasingly visible as they frantically seek food for their nestlings. Shorebirds are on the move and crossbills have recently infiltrated the area.
Western Aroostook County has been exceptionally wet over the past two weeks with the National Weather Service reporting as much as 15 inches (!) of precipitation along the Quebec border. The farther south and east you go, the drier it gets. Water levels remain high in most area rivers and streams. Pond levels are above normal as well.
The spruce and fir cone set looks very good and the elderberry crop is exceptional. As Patty Jennings' photo above shows, waxwings were among the species enjoying the berries. There is no shortage of insects.
The waterfowl show at Lake Josephine in Easton continues to be exceptional. In early AM and at dusk 1000+ ducks and ducklings can be seen feeding here on insect hatches. At least one pair of Redheads remain in the area though the female has been hard to find lately. Ken Lamb photographed the drake here on July 7th. A half dozen Ruddy Ducks remain on Lake Josephine and pairs have been seen in some of the wetlands surrounding the pond. Broods of Gadwall, American Wigeon, Blue and Green-winged Teal were seen on Wednesday. Some early hatching Canada Goose and Mallard young are approaching adult size already.
Blue-winged Teal were seen in Mars Hill and at Collins Pond in Caribou on the 14th
Common Goldeneye chicks were seen on Long Lake in St. Agatha on Sunday the 13th and broods of Common Mergansers were seen from Island Falls to Eagle Lake. Ted Roberts got a nice series of photos of the mergs patrolling the waters in front of his camp at Pleasant Lake in Island Falls.
It looks like the raptors have had a good breeding season. Many young are being seen out of the nests.
Ospreys were seen feeding young in Easton and Van Buren.
In Presque Isle at the Winter Sports Center, the Northern Goshawk that thrilled many mountain bikers this spring (by raking its talons over their helmets) has successfully fledged at least two youngsters. The bird was reported to have left the nest with her young by the end of the first week of July and the trail near the nest was reopened after a five week closure.
American Kestrels are increasingly apparent on the wires along county roads. A vocal Merlin was seen in Wade on the 16th. Northern Harriers were seen in St Agatha, Easton, Caribou and Presque Isle this week. Paul Cyr chanced upon this fierce looking nestling harrier in Presque Isle last week. Sharp-shinned, Broad-winged and Red-tailed Hawks were also reported this week
An American Coot was seen in a wetland in Easton on the 8th. A Sora was heard at Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield on the 7th
Some southbound shorebirds have been seen already. A Greater Yellowlegs was seen at the Town Park Pond in Mars Hill on the 14th and Least Sandpipers were seen at Portage Lake on the 8th and Lake Josephine on the 15th. Wilson's Snipe were still doing some end-of-season winnowing displays over Portage Lake on the 8th.
Once again, a pair of Black Terns is hanging around the Common Tern colony on Long Lake in St. Agatha. Due to the high water levels in the lake this summer the available space on the island is much less this year. Despite the crowded quarters, at least 30 pairs of Common Terns seem to be using the islet. Breeding activity ran the spectrum from copulating pairs to the feeding of nearly fledged chicks. It does not appear that Ring-billed Gulls are nesting here this year. On the 8th, three pairs of Common Terns were feeding young on Portage Lake as well. Here the terns have individual nests on beaver and muskrat houses.
Rare anywhere in northern Maine, a singing Marsh Wren was a good find in the Manuel Wildlife Management Area in Hodgdon of July 4th.
Flycatchers are still vocal. Olive-sided Flycatchers were heard in Connor on the 13th and in T13R5 off of the Beaver Brook Road on the 17th.
Yellow-bellied Flycatchers were heard in both locations as well. At least three Alder Flycatchers are calling in the brush around my house in Woodland.
Eastern Phoebes are winding up what appears to be a very successful breeding season. Many nests were reported from around the area. In Presque Isle, Paul Cyrs phoebe nestlings were already crowding the nest on the first when he took their picture.
Patty Jennings got this great image of her adult phoebe on a recent morning in Stacyville.
Boreal Chickadees with broods were spotted in Connor, Hamlin and Nashville Plantation. A young Horned Lark was seen in a potato field in Hamlin on the 15th. Two Philadelphia Vireos were singing in T13R5 on Thursday and another was heard off the Guerrette Road in Connor on the 13th.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Winter Wrens and Veeries, Swainson's and Hermit Thrushes all seem to have increased their song activity as the nesting period winds up. Some mornings its downright noisy in the woods in the Woodland Bog. Likewise warbler song is still being heard for a couple hours each morning. A Tennessee Warbler is singing in my yard here in Woodland and others have been heard in Hamlin, Connor, Perham and T13R5. A late singing Bay-breasted Warbler was heard near Bull Brook in T13R5.
Two different male Fox Sparrows were seen singing several miles apart in T13R5. Both birds were found in thick 10+ year old regenerating logging cuts. Lincoln's Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were singing in Conner on the 13th. One of the lawn and garden stores in Presque Isle was offering a hanging basket of Fuschia for sale with a Chipping Sparrow nest in it! Roberta Griffiths sent along this picture of the hungry nestlings.
White-winged Crossbills have recently returned to northern Maine and flocks of 10+ are being seen in the woods. Two were in my yard in Woodland on Tuesday. Pine Siskins and Evening Grosbeaks are also being encountered.