Monday, April 27, 2009

Northern Maine Birds 21-27 April 2009

Over the weekend the ice went out (melted off) of Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield and Lake Josephine in Easton. The combination of the previous week's warm rain, a hot day on Saturday and the howling wind on Saturday night left only a small floe of ice cube-sized pieces rattling in the southeast corners of the lakes.

These favorite northern Maine birding spots have been locked up in ice for just over 5 months. The waterfowl were quick to move into the area.

New and arriving species this week:

Common Loon (4/23)
Double-crested Cormorant (4/24)
American Bittern (4/25)
Gadwall (4/26)
Northern Shoveler (4/24)
Common Eider (4/26)
Long-tailed Duck (4/24)
Bufflehead (4/27)
Ruddy Duck (4/24)
Greater Yellowlegs (4/24)
Spotted Sandpiper (4/26)
Dunlin (4/27)
Belted Kingfisher (4/23)
Northern Flicker (4/21)
Barn Swallow (4/26)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (4/26)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (4/26)
Hermit Thrush (4/25)
Chipping Sparrow (4/26)
Savannah Sparrow (4/26)

With the reduction in ice cover on marshes and arrival of many species of waterfowl, its been a good week for a duck head like me. Locally breeding Canada Geese have already been seen on nests (Caribou, Fort Fairfield) but migrant flocks as large as 250+ continue to move through the area.

Notable waterfowl arrivals this week include a pair of Gadwall, a single hen Bufflehead, a couple Ruddy Ducks and a dozen Northern Shovelers at Lake Josephine in Easton.

A pair of Redheads has also set up shop in this area. American Wigeon and Ring-necked Duck numbers are increasing (20's for the former and 200+ for the latter).

A pair of Long-tailed Ducks were a good find on the edge of the floe on still-ice-covered Trafton Lake in Limestone. Rare this far inland, an attractive drake Common Eider was riding the waves on the Aroostook River in Caribou on Sunday. These ducks are nocturnal migrants and I suspect the wild northwest winds that kicked up Saturday night brought this guy down for a rest.

Only a day or two early, Common Loons returned to whatever open water they could splash down into. Arriving loons were reported in the Aroostook River in Fort Fairfield, Trafton Lake in Limestone and T8R7 at LaPomkeag Lake.

The first American Bittern of the season was skulking around the weeds at the access point to Barren Lake off of Route 205 in Caribou.

Hawk migration continued at a steady pace with American Kestrels, Northern Harriers and Sharp-shinned Hawks widely reported. Interestingly, there were was only one new Broad-winged Hawk sighting reported (Easton) despite large pulses noted in the southern parts of the state.

A young Bald Eagle dining on a fish was photographed by Cheryl Hallowell on the ice of Madawaska Lake in T16R4 on the 27th.

Shorebirds began to arrive in numbers over the weekend. A Dunlin at Lake Josephine shown to me by Craig Kesselheim was a first April record for this location. The early bird was very drab and assumed to be a young bird on its first migration northward. Nearly as notable, a Spotted Sandpiper at Nadeau Pond in Fort Fairfield was over two weeks early for northern Maine. A good assemblage of shorebirds behind the funeral home in Fort Fairfield included 5 Wilson's Snipe, 5 arriving Greater Yellowlegs and several Killdeer.

One of the previously noted Lesser Black-backed Gulls was seen in Caribou this weekend (4/25).

The first Belted Kingfishers began trickling in with birds seen along the Aroostook River in Fort Fairfield on the 23rd and 24th. Others were reported in Caribou, Easton and Woodland.

Northern Flickers are quickly filing into the area though more reports came from southern parts of the county.

A pulse of passerine migrants on the southern winds that blew on Friday and Saturday brought numbers of arriving Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Some early Barn Swallows also appeared amongst the Tree Swallows. One was seen over Puddledock Pond in Fort Fairfield on the 26th and another was found over Lake Josephine on the 27th.

The first Hermit Thrush was heard singing in the woods near LaPomkeag Lake in T8R7 in northern-most Penobscot county

Sparrow flocks have been dynamic with the vanguard of arriving White-throated Sparrows showing up over the weekend. An up-tick in American Tree Sparrow numbers portends their departure from the area in a short while. The first arriving Savannah and Chipping Sparrows were heard on Sunday.

A few lingering Common Redpolls continue at my feeder in Woodland. Pine Siskin and Purple Finch numbers are increasing rapidly. Evening Grosbeaks continue to be reported in 10 and 20's from several locations around the area.

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