Bird activity continues to pick up in northern Maine as migration proceeds without any unusual weather systems to interrupt the flow of birds. A good soaking rain fell on the 9th and 10th and temps dropped to freezing on a couple recent nights. Otherwise its been pleasant spring weather in the region.
Insects are now abundant with the first blackflies making their seasonal debut on the warmer afternoons. Water levels have dropped significantly in area streams and the developing greenery is sucking up much of the precipitation these days. Leaf out is still below 25% at this point.
Birds have been trickling steadily and their net mass is growing daily. There haven't been any recent pulses that were noticeable.
Arriving and new species this week:
Pied billed Grebe (5/8)
Least Sandpiper (5/8)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (5/8)
Winter Wren (5/9)
American Pipit (5/14)
Nashville Warbler (5/8)
Northern Parula (5/9)
Yellow Warbler (5/13)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (5/14)
Black-and-white Warbler (5/9)
American Redstart (5/13)
Common Yellowthroat (5/11)
Lincoln's Sparrow (5/10)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (5/9)
Waterfowl numbers at Lake Josephine are approaching peak. Quite a few high counts for the more uncommon species were tallied here on the 8th. Noteworthy were 30 American Wigeon, 10 Gadwall, 28 Northern Shovelers, 78 Ring-necked Ducks, 11 Lesser Scaup and 9 Ruddy Ducks. The gorgeous big-lipped drake shoveler above was photographed in Easton by Ken Lamb.
All three species of merganser were seen at Arnold Brook Lake in Presque Isle on the 10th. A pair of uncommon Red-breasted Mergansers joined the Common and Hooded as they fed along the far (eastern) shore of this shallow impoundment. An adult Bald Eagle in on of the tall spruces on the west side probably helped concentrate the ducks on the far side.
Arriving Pied-billed Grebes were quick to join the noisy marsh chorus this week. The grebes were heard at locations in Caribou, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Mapleton and Presque Isle this week. Common Loon and American Bittern vocalizations were widely reported again. Paul Cyr sent along a great photo of a bittern stalking frogs in Presque Isle.
The Bald Eagles continue to incubate eggs at area nests. Paul Cyr was watching one in Fort Fairfield at sunrise recently and sent me the great photo at the top of this post. Noisy nesting Merlins were found in a Caribou and Fort Fairfield this week. The birds are making such a racket that locating them was hardly a challenge. Another Merlin buzzed through my yard in Woodland on the 10th.
Virginia Rails continue to call and grunt throughout the day in the cattail marshes behind Lake Josephine.
I heard 19 American Woodcock in T11R12 while conducting a Woodcock Singing Ground Survey for USF&W Service on Monday night. 12 of the birds said "peent!" and were tallied for the count. Wilsons Snipe were almost as abundant on the 3.6 mile stretch of road we surveyed with 14 winnowing birds heard. The first Least Sandpiper of the season was flushed off of some deadwood on the shore of Lake Jo by a Northern Harrier on the 8th. According to my records, this sandpiper was earliest by a couple days.
Though Barred Owls were heard in Woodland and T11R10 this week, an extremely late Snowy Owl photographed by Paul Cyr was significantly more exciting. The owl, (an apparent male) seen on the 9th south of Presque Isle was exceptional but not unprecedented. A check of the records showed that back in 1977, a Snowy was seen on 30 May in Presque Isle! Paul's picture of the owl with the emerging foliage in the background nicely document this rare occasion.
Ruby throated Hummingbird males arrived last Friday in Bancroft and Woodland. Numbers rapidly increased through the weekend. My first Winter Wren was heard in Stockholm at dawn on the 9th.
An arriving flock of 26 American Pipits were trading back and forth behind the tractors in a potato field in Woodland on the 14th.
Arriving warbler numbers are increasing daily. To date 10 species have been reported. Nashville Warblers were seen in Sinclair (5/9) and Presque Isle (5/13). Northern Parula's were first noted in Sinclair as well (5/9). Singing Yellow and Black-throated Green Warblers were heard at the airport in Presque Isle on the 13th. A small pulse of arriving American Redstarts and Black-and-white Warbler were noted on the 12th and 13th in Caribou and Presque Isle.
An Indigo Bunting was a great find at a feeder in Garfield. Normally quite rare, this is the second reported in northern Maine this spring. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks arrived in numbers on the 9ths and had reached the feeders in my yard by the 14th.
The last American Tree Sparrow departed after being seen my yard on the 9th. Arriving Lincoln's Sparrows were right on its heels (haluxes?). I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to photograph the skulky new arrival but only managed to come up with this blurry shot as one of the two birds dodged through my flower beds and hedges. Good numbers of White-crowned Sparrows continue throughout the area and currently number ~10 in my yard.
While plenty of mixed Common Grackle, Redwinged Blackbird and Brown-headed Cowbird flocks continue to move through the area, sightings of migrating Rusty Blackbirds have dropped off to near zero lately. Out in the North Maine Woods, in Soper Mountain TWP in northern Piscataquis County, a male Rusty was seen harrassing a Red-tailed Hawk which would seem to indicate a territorial breeding bird. Seen on the 11th, it was interesting to note the bird was in a regenerating upland woods cutting away from the boreal wetland habitat normally associated with this bird.
Evening Grosbeaks were seen in several locations this week but numbers continue to wane.