This weekend I've been looking for the collared Canada Geese that I found last Monday in Caribou. The five geese from Greenland had bright yellow neck collars and I figured it would be easy to relocate them with a little effort.
Yesterday during the middle of the day, I visited six towns checking the usual day roosts that the Canadas use for hanging out and snoozing between forays out to the fields. I found 11 different flocks totalling over 8,300 geese. Since most of the day roosts are in protected, in-town locations I was able to get good looks at most of the birds and didn't spot a single collar... However there were some great consolation prizes...
At Malabeam Lake in Limestone I found my first Greater Scaup of the season. It was a hen associating with a dozen Ring-necked Ducks in a mass of 600+ Canada Geese.
On the other side of town I stumbled on to two Greater White-fronted Geese in the small impoundment on Limestone Stream in down town Limestone. These were also the first of this species for me this season. They were adult geese of the Greenland variety and had bright orange bills and legs.
Three White-fronts were reported in Caribou about two weeks ago and I wondered if these might not be a couple of that group.
On the West Limestone Road in northern Fort Fairfield, I drove by a huge flock of Canadas feeding a freshly harvested potato field and probably wouldn't have noticed them and stopped, if it hadn't been for a large flock of Horned Larks spilling across the road in front of me. I stopped to check the larks out and then heard the honking of the geese in the field behind me. I counted 769 Canadas. While I was scanning and counting the flock, two young Snow Geese came in and landed with them.
Snow Geese are quite uncommon in northern Maine in the fall. Even though this area is located just south of the big staging areas on the shores of the St Lawrence River in Quebec, we are far enough east and off the preferred travel route. So its usually only young Snows or the occasional weather blown flock that we see this time of year.
Further along my goose-loop I found the biggest goose flock of the day at Puddledock Pond in Fort Fairfield. The little impoundment on Pattee Brook was filled with Canada Geese.
While searching each goose for yellow collars, I caught a glimpse of some color in a dense mass of birds on the far side of the pond. Once I zoomed my scope in, I was treated to the view of another Greenland Greater White-fronted Goose...and another...and another. In all there were FIVE White-fronted Geese in this group. With the two up in Limestone, this was a day total of seven White-fronts... more that I had ever seen in Maine in my life.
Another young Snow Goose sailing into the field a view just before I packed up and left, was just gravy on a great afternoon chasing geese!
Today I did a quick check of the flocks in Caribou including at the location where they were originally spotted still found no collared geese. There was yet another juvenile Snow Goose feeding with about 1400 unmarked Canadas, but not much else in the waterfowl category. A single American Pipit, an immature Northern Harrier and a couple hundred Horned Larks were my apparent best finds of the day...until had almost arrived home.
Just a quarter mile from my house I came upon the earliest arriving Snowy Owl I've ever encountered. The owl was perched on a utility pole beside the Morse Road and seemed to be soaking in the morning sun. The owl didn't seem to be hunting or I think the young house cat that was padding along the road right in front of it might have been enticing to the bird... I was able to get some good photos and the owl remained in place for almost a half hour- until a truck pulling a loud rattley trailer flushed it. The bird flew off across the big field of canola stubble towards the west...and my house.... I watched it till it was out of sight over the hill....and I wondered...
Once I got home I scanned the area around my house with no luck in relocating the owl. I was about to give up when I spotted a distant bump on the horizon in the fields east of my house. The scope showed that it was The Snowy Owl...yard bird 133 and my fifth owl species!