Sunday, August 3, 2008

Northern Maine Birds 18-31July 2008

The last two weeks of July continued with the warm and wet weather in northern Maine. Four and a half inches of precipitation was measured for the month at the Caribou Weather Station. This was about 1/2 inch more than average. Streams and rivers remain at bank-full levels.

Fledglings of many species are noisily begging and trying out their wings for the first time. A few species are massing into large flocks.

A waterfowl highlight for period was the presence of a hen Redhead and young found last week at a wetland near Lake Josephine in Easton. Also at Lake Jo, a young drake Common Eider was a great mid summer discovery! The bird was found and photographed by Ken Lamb on the 23rd.

Large numbers of molting Ring-necked Ducks are appearing in central Aroostook locations. 400+ were counted on Lake Josephine and another 350+ (mostly males) were seen on Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield this past week. Arnold Brook Lake in Presque Isle is also hosting a sizable congregation of ratty looking Ring-necks. Other high counts noted at Lake Josephine were 120+ Gadwall, 50+ Green-winged Teal and 20+ Northern Shovelers on the 26th. Most of these birds were juvenile ducks with their mothers.

Pied-billed Grebe broods were spotted at Washburn and Fort Fairfield last weekend.

Wading birds are dispersing after breeding and have become noticeable around the area. A noteworthy find was two Great Egrets discovered along the Aroostook River in Fort Fairfieldon the 31st. The birds were feeding on minnows along the flooded banks.

Two American Bitterns were seen a Christina Reservoir and Great Blue Herons were widely reported in the Aroostook and St John River Valleys.

This has apparently been a great season for nesting hawks in northern Maine. Lots of juvenile raptors are being seen across the county. American Kestrels seen especially abundant in the area right now. 17 kestrels were counted along an 8 mile stretch of road in Caribou in Presque Isle on July 30th and juvie kestrels have been reported in Ashland, Chapman, Caribou, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Portage Lake, Stockholm and Woodland. Kathy Hoppe sent over the top photo of one of her young kestrels as it perched on the railing of her deck.

This juvenile Broad-winged Hawk with a bad leg was photographed by Nadeen Plourde in T16R5 near Square Lake on the 27th. Broad-wings were also seen in Woodland and Stockholm where they were mobbed and scolded by passerines with young.

Other raptors seen include a banded juvenile Bald Eagle in Fort Fairfield, Ospreys in Easton, Island Falls and Presque Isle, a Sharp-shinned Hawk in Caribou on the 29th and Northern Harriers in Washburn and Presque Isle.

Sora and Virginia Rails were still quite vocal on the 26th at Lake Jo.

Southbound shorebirds are about but tough to locate with all the high water. A small collection of shorebirds was found in a normally-dry gravel pit in Washburn on the 26th. These included Killdeer, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Least, Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers and 4 Wilson's Snipe.

A Three-toed Woodpecker was feeding quietly off the Muscovic Road in Stockholm on the 30th. There was a bit of a resurgence in thrush song in late July. Hermits, Swainson's and Veeries could be heard singing in the early am at Woodland Bog in Woodland as recently as the 31st. Likewise with Winter Wren. Singing males were heard in Woodland, Washburn, Stockholm and up on Mt Katahdin in Baxter State Park over the past two weeks. An adult American Pipit was feeding young on the Tablelands of Mt Katahdin on the 20th. Also on that date, 3 Philadelphia Vireos were singing in and along the trail near Roaring Brook Campground in Baxter State Park.

As Aroostook's grain fields ripen and the harvest approaches, I find it interesting to note that European Starlings have formed some big flocks in the area. In Caribou, a flock of 1200+ was circling over a barley field on one of the few dry days last week.

Small mixed species flock of warblers are being found here in Woodland. On the 30th, I had a family of Yellow-rumpeds, along with Nashville, Magnolia and Black-and-White as well as Northern Parulas working the treetops in my yard. A late singing male Canada Warbler at Lake Josephine on the 26th was my first of this species at this location. Blackpoll Warblers were persistent singers on the Roaring Brook Trail up Mt Katahdin on the 20th. Northern Waterthrushes were still singing at Collins Pond in Caribou on the 31st and at Lake Josephine on the 26th.

Evening Grosbeaks have joined the increasing numbers of White-winged Crossbills in central Aroostook county recently. The grosbeaks were seen/heard in Stockholm and Woodland last week. Pine Siskins were feeding young in my yard in Woodland on the 30th.

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