It was alternately cold, wet or windy for most of the past week in northern Maine, making it a tough week for birding. Nonetheless, a bunch of new arrivals were discovered.
For the month thus far, temperatures were slightly cooler than normal and we had just a bit above average rainfall (3.14 inches). The cool weather slowed leaf development, which was helpful for getting looks at the newly arrived passerines. The chilly temps also caused some birds to concentrate around available food sources.
New and arriving birds this week:
Chimney Swift (5/25)
Great Horned Owl (5/26)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (5/24)
Alder Flycatcher (5/23)
Olive-sided Flycatcher (5/21)
Great-crested Flycatcher (5/23)
Eastern Bluebird (5/24)
Swainson's Thrush (5/24)
Wood Thrush (5/27)
Cedar Waxwing (5/21)
Philadelphia Vireo (5/24)
Blackpoll Warbler (5/28)
Mourning Warbler (5/21)
Wilson's Warbler (5/28)
Seventeen species of waterfowl were reported in Aroostook county this week. As usual, the highlights are the continuing Ruddy Ducks and Redhead pair at Lake Josephine in Easton. The Easton Redheads were present at dawn recently when Paul Cyr showed up with his camera. Noteworthy was a flock of 14 Common Eiders on Christina Reservoir on the 22nd. 2 White-winged Scoters at Lake Jo on the 22nd and 8 at Madawaska Lake on the 21st were also good finds this far inland. An uptick in the number of male Common Mergansers was noted in the area this week by several reporters. Small flotillas of the drakes were seen on waterways in Connor, Fort Fairfield, Limestone and Presque Isle.
Wood Ducks, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, both species of teal, Ring-necked Ducks and Common Goldeneyes were all seen in good numbers at Lake Josephine this week.
One of the nesting pairs of Bald Eagles in Presque Isle has ceased incubating their eggs and abandoned their nest. The pair in Fort Fairfield continues to sit on their nest, but it appears that the time for hatching has come and gone and they too, may fail to produce young again this year. For the third year in a row, a Northern Goshawk has nested on the hardwood ridge at the Maine Winter Sports Center in Presque Isle. As before, the bird does not take kindly to visitors near the nest whether they are on foot or pedaling mountain bikes.
A decent (and likely, final) wave of northbound shorebird migration moved through the area in the past few days. High counts of 22 Least Sandpipers and 80+ Short-billed Dowitchers were the peak numbers at Lake Jo on the 22nd. The last migrant Solitary Sandpiper was seen on the 25th in the Connor unit of the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge.
A Great-horned Owl nest with an almost-ready-to-fledge youngster was found by a couple picking fiddleheads near the Aroostook River in Presque Isle. Paul Cyr checked it out and sent along a picture of the nest.
One last Snowy Owl was reported in Fort Fairfield on the 25th!
A few arriving Chimney Swifts were seen despite the nasty weather. The first arrivals include one in Sinclair on the 25th, another in Fort Fairfield on the 26th and numbers reported in Patten on the 27th.
The cold weather produced lots of action around area hummingbird feeders this week. Several observers noted highest-ever Ruby-throated counts in their yards as the birds struggled with the low temperatures and limited food availability. Nadeen Plourde sent over a shot of the activity at her feeder at Square Lake. The first females were reported over the Memorial Day weekend.
Most of the remaining breeding flycatchers arrived on schedule in central Aroostook. Alder Flycatchers were first heard near the Little Madawaska River Dam in Caribou on the 23nd, Great-crested's were loudly announcing their presence in Woodland on the 24th and Yellow-bellied's were picked up in a bog in New Sweden on the 25th. Still no sign of Eastern Wood Pewee or Willow Flycatchers...yet.
A Horned Lark was singing in a potato field near the Caribou Airport on the 25th. After a long absence, the first Cedar Waxwings have begun to reappear in the area. The first arrivals I found were a group feeding over a wetland in Cross Lake Township on the 21st.
A Gray Jay family, including at least 3 just-off-the-nest youngsters, was encountered near the Madawaska Dam in Caribou. The big sooty gray fledglings were clumsily crashing though the underbrush as they followed their parents around the woods. Blue Jays are busy gathering food for their nestlings which should start to appear away from the nests in the next week or so. One of Mary Collishaw's Blue Jays posed for her recently.
A pair of Eastern Bluebirds arrived in my yard in Woodland and checked out the accomodations for a while. Apparently they found none of my nest boxes to their liking and moved on. Other bluebirds were reported in Portage Lake, Stockholm and Oxbow. Swainson's Thrushes were quick to establish themselves in wooded wetlands across the area and a Wood Thrush was heard singing in Mt Chase.
Warbler migration has probably peaked this week with the arrival of Mourning, Blackpoll and Wilson's Warblers... In all, twenty one species of warblers were seen in northern Maine this week. Mourning Warblers were heard in Cross Lake Township (formerly T17R5) and at the Connor unit of the Aroostook NWR. Blackpoll Warblers were heard in Cyr Plantation and a male Wilson's Warbler was back on territory along the Muscovic Road in Stockholm.
Small mixed groups of migrant blackbirds are still showing up at my feeders in Woodland. These include Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds. The earliest-arriving local grackles have completed their nesting and are already feeding fledglings. Nadeen Plourde nicely documented a hungry fledgling on her hedge in Caribou
American Goldfinches and Purple Finches have started to disperse away from feeders but several of each are still making daily visits to my feeders.
A pair of Evening Grosbeaks are also stopping by, albeit more intermittently. Other Evening Grosbeaks were seen in Caribou, Cyr Plantation and New Sweden. After quite a few hours in the big woods this week I failed to encounter any White-winged Crossbills this week.