Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Northern Maine Birds 23 October-6 November 2008

The last days of October brought unusually warm weather as well as a dusting of short-lived snow to Aroostook County and other parts of northern Maine. Patty Jennings shared her view of Mt Katahdin from Stacyville at sun up. Once again the precipitation totals for the month were well above average. A few cold nights early in the period produced a skim of ice on smaller ponds and wetlands but warm weather has kept everything open since. Almost all deciduous trees in Aroostook have shed their foliage. Fruit supplies remain good. Crabapples were mostly consumed by a wave of migrant American Robins but apple varieties with larger fruit as well as Mountain Ash and Highbush Cranberries remain plentiful. As mentioned before, cones are available but spotty.

The freeze up in mid October seemed to push a few birds out of the area but generally there seems to be quite a few lingering half-hardy bird species.

Canada Geese continue to dominate the waterfowl numbers in northern Maine. Large flocks are still being seen through out the area and I estimate numbers at about 8-9,000, down from last month's peak at about 26,000. The yellow collared Canada Geese from Greenland were last seen on the 27th at Collins Pond in Caribou. Paul Cyr found this horde over Presque Isle.

Small numbers of Snow Geese were reported with the last bird being a single juvenile seen at Collins Pond on the 24th

The waterfowl highlight for the period is certainly the lingering drake Redhead at St. Agatha. The duck was one of two originally seen back on 13 October at the tern nesting island on the north end of Long Lake. The Redhead was seen here again on 6 November.
Also noteworthy were Northern Pintails including two drakes at Presque Isle on Oct 23rd and 4 hens at Trafton Lake in Limestone on the 23rd. Nine Greater Scaup were seen on Long Lake and a single drake was also seen at Trafton Lake on November 6th. Lake Josephine hosted a handful of its usual noteworthy species through the end of the month. These included 9 Ruddy Ducks, 4 Buffleheads, 4 Gadwall and 9 Lesser Scaup.

Large numbers of Mallards and Hooded Mergansers have been noted lately. Trafton Lake held over 120 Mallards and 86 Hoodies on the 6th.

Warm weather has encouraged tardiness with other waterbirds. Double-crested Cormorants (2), Great Blue Herons (2) and a Pied-billed Grebe were all seen at St. Agatha on the 6th of November. 12 Common Loons was a barely note-able tally for this date and location.

Its been slim pickings for raptors recently. Northern Harriers have been in steady supply with birds seen in Bridgewater, Caribou, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Limestone, Presque Isle and Woodland. A dark phase Rough-legged Hawk was hunting near Christina Reservoir on the 28th. The Bald Eagle pair in Presque Isle has been sprucing up their nest recently. Ken Lamb got a series of great photos documenting their efforts. The birds were seen lugging sticks and lichens to the nest. Afterward the little male was snuggling up to the big female...

Except for single Wilson's Snipe and Greater Yellowlegs lingering through 25th at Collins Pond, no shorebirds have been reported. The 2+ inch deluge on the 26th brought water levels up across the area and seems to have flooded most shorebirds out.

Gull numbers have just about peaked and large numbers of Herring, Great Black-backed and Ring-billed Gulls are being seen in Fort Fairfield, Presque Isle, Caribou and St. Agatha. Two juvenile Iceland Gulls on the 5th at Collins Pond were the firsts for me this season.

Several Snowy Owls were spotted around the area already this season. In addition to the previously reported sighting in Woodland on the 19th, Snowy's were seen in two locations in Presque Isle and in Fort Fairfield. A shopper at the Presque Isle reported a white owl dropping from a light pole and taking an American Crow in the mall parking lot on the 25th and this Snowy was photographed by Paul Cyr about a mile or so away on the 27th. A Great-horned Owl was heard in the Woodland Bog Preserve in Woodland on the 25th and a Barred Owl was heard in Caribou. Another screeching owl of unknown identity, was heard in New Sweden.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was encountered in Haynesville during the first week of November. A check of the Muscovic Road in Stockholm yielded only a Hairy Woodpecker on the 6th.

Large flocks of American Crows (300+) were noted in Presque Isle during the last week of October and Common Ravens have become more noticeable as the crow numbers thinned out. Large numbers of Blue Jays seemed to pass through the area during this period and many birders noted a marked increase of this species at feeders.

A Gray Jay and Boreal Chickadee were seen in the woods near Haynesville. Red-breasted Nuthatches are being reported in moderate numbers. Patty Jennings photographed her Black-capped Chickadees cleaning out a few remaining sunflower stalks in Stacyville on the 25th

As previously mentioned, larger flocks of American Robins cleaned up some of the preferred fruit supplies and numbers seemed to thin out by month's end. Handfuls of robins continue to be seen. American Pipits were still being heard through the 6th. A pipit flew over Collins Pond on the 3rd and another was heard at Lake Josephine on the 6th. Mid sized Horned Lark flocks were seen in Fort Fairfield, Limestone, St. Agatha and Presque Isle

Fox Sparrows continued at my feeder in Woodland until at least the 5th. The peak number of 6 was tallied on the 26th of October. A few White-throated Sparrows and a Song Sparrow also stayed behind at my yard through the end of the period. Dark-eyed Juncos and American Tree Sparrows both appeared in numbers on the 26th. The tree sparrows were right on schedule according to my records.

Though I have still yet to see any, arriving Snow Buntings were reported in Bridgewater, Caribou and Presque Isle.

A late Red-winged Blackbird was seen in a yard New Sweden on the 4th and 3 tardy Common Grackles were seen the following day in Woodland.

My first of season Evening Grosbeaks (8) were heard flying over Caribou on the 6th. Other than abundant supplies of Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches the only finch sightings were a few Purple Finches at feeders in Presque Isle and Fort Fairfield and a flock of White-winged Crossbills on November 2nd in Woodland.

Finally I can't help but report this one non-avian flying species: A peanut rustling Northern Flying Squirrel captured mid-glide by Paul Cyr!