Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cackling Goose, Rough-legged Hawk and Iceland Gull

After a week of slow birding, I had a good day in the field. There were a bunch of new arrivals in central Aroostook county... and good ones at that.

Just after sunup I located my first Cackling Goose of the year among a few hundred Canada Geese at Collins Pond in Caribou. A Bald Eagle had the flock quite nervous and the geese were leaving the pond in 10s and 20's. We were able to snap a few photos of the little goose before it departed.

In the cropped shots you can see the bird's small size, short neck, stubby bill, steep forhead and overall silvery tone of the plumage are all visible in the photos...enough to make this tough ID.

A single Lesser Scaup and a few dozen Hooded Mergansers were also milling with the geese.

Over in Easton at Lake Josephine, the duck flock seems to be reassembling after retreating from the gunfire earlier this month. Best of these was seven American Wigeon and 18 late Gadwall. 11 Lesser Scaup, 70 or so Ring-necked Ducks and 25 Common Goldeneyes were also present. My first-of-the-season Rough-legged Hawk was hovering over the field just north of Lake Jo. The dark phase hawk allowed a long viewing session and was quite spectacular in the morning sun.

Just north at Christina Reservoir my first-of-the-season Iceland Gull flew up as if to greet me when I had just arrived. The first winter bird did a lap around the pond with a small flock of Herring Gulls and then headed out towards the potato fields to the north. A White-rumped Sandpiper was a bit of a surprise as were a few lingering Lesser Yellowlegs. The Common Mergansers here numbered over 90.

In the afternoon I also found a medium sized flock of Horned Larks in a potato field on the Limestone and Fort Fairfield town line. Mixed in with the larks were 18 Snow Buntings and two colorful Lapland Longspurs. The longspurs landed very near the road and treated me to some of the better looks of these that I've had in a while.

Not too shabby.

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