There have been several pulses of migrant-arrivals in Northern Maine in the first couple weeks of April and though its hard to find time to post them all, the list is growing unwieldy...
New and arriving species since the beginning of April are:
Cackling Goose 4/13
Wood Duck 4/4
American Wigeon 4/1
Northern Pintail 4/4
Northern Shoveler 4/8
Ring-necked Duck 4/4
Barrow's Goldeneye 4/8
Common Loon 4/8
Pied-billed Grebe 4/8
Turkey Vulture 4/12
Northern Harrier 4/4
Sharp-shinned Hawk (migrant) 4/8
Rough-legged Hawk 4/4
American Kestrel 4/1
Wilson's Snipe 4/6
Belted Kingfisher 4/1
Northern Flicker 4/4
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 4/9
Eastern Phoebe 4/4
Tree Swallow 4/4
Eastern Bluebird 4/5
White-throated Sparrow 4/11
Northern Cardinal (migrant) 4/10
Brown-headed Cowbird 4/4
Its been an unusual spring for arriving waterfowl. Thanks to the rapidly thawing ice and abundance of open water, areas where the ducks and geese usually congregate in spring are not holding birds for long. Many new arrivals have been quick to disperse or move on.
Most noteworthy among arriving duck migrants so far this month were Barrow's Goldeneyes seen at Lake Josephine in Easton on the 8th (2) and the 12th (4-two pairs). Northern Shoveler's didn't break the record for earliest arrival but were a week or so ahead of the typical date. A drake at Lake Jo on the 8th was joined by a female by the 12th. American Wigeon made an early appearance with the first pair showing at Easton on April Fools Day. Eight wigeon were seen in Fort Fairfield on the 4th, a pair at Limestone on the 5th and four were spotted. among a large flock of Mallards in Washburn on the 10th. Gadwall arrived en masse, with 7 seen feeding on the edge of the ice at Lake Josephine on the morning of the 8th. Likewise Ring-necked Ducks with large flocks appearing across the area overnight on the 4th. Though groups of ten to twenty were reported in Caribou, Washburn, Ashland and Presque Isle on that day, 75 migrant Ring-neckeds seen in a pond near the Aroostook river in Fort Fairfield was notable. On the 8th, 108 were tallied in a small wetland near Lake Josephine. Paul Cyr got the shot of the three newly arrived Ring-necked Ducks at the top of this post... You can even see the brown "ring" around the neck of the middle bird...a tough characteristic to spot most of the time.
A pair of Northern Pintails were feeding with a fifty Canada Geese in a flooded field at Fort Fairfield on the fourth. The first Wood Duck reported in the area was a drake seen in some flooded woods in Fort Fairfield. The bird was right on schedule by my records. common and Hooded Mergansers were seen across the county, where ever liquid water and tasty minnows could be found.
Rarest among the birds seen this period, a single Cackling Goose was grazing with a huge flock of Canada Geese on the lawns of Trafton Lake Park on the 13th. The miniature version of the Canada Goose is apparently a rare but regular visitor in the fall but spring records in this area are few...
Also noteworthy was the news that a couple of the marked Canada Geese from Greenland that stopped at Collins Pond in Caribou last fall are on their way north. Project leader, Tony Fox at the University of Aarhus in Denmark said that GC0 and GC7 seen last October by Casey Scheppele were spotted again on March 25 by observers in Quebec at Baie du Febvre, Lac Saint Pierre near Montreal!
Ruffed Grouse were heard drumming in Caribou and Presque Isle. The northern vanguard of Wild Turkeys has reached Portage Lake and, to my surprise, Woodland. I saw two jakes (young males) in the Woodland Bog on the 13th.
Many of the migratory raptors have returned with Northern Harrier being the most widely reported since a first sighting of a displaying male in Easton on the 4th. Male American Kestrels have also begun to appear on utility wires in the open areas in northern Maine. The kestrel's first appearance in Woodland was right on schedule when compared to the last 15years of arrival dates in my notes.. A first of season Merlin was flying due north over Presque Isle on the 1th. A dark phase Rough-legged Hawk was circling over a field near Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield on the 4th. Possibly the same pair that has nested in this location in past few years, two Red-tailed Hawks were hunting on the edge of this same field on the 8th.
A Turkey Vulture seen in northern-most Maine at St. John Plantation on the 12th was a notable observation. These big birds are quite rare in the county north of Island Falls.
An early Wilson's Snipe was doing its winnowing display on the warm evening of the 6th over the Nature Conservancy's Woodland Bog preserve in Woodland. Though I've yet to personally hear them, American Woodcock have been reported to be displaying at locations in central and southern Aroostook county.
An early Belted Kingfisher was reported at Barren Lake in Caribou on the 1st but no other sightings have been reported since then. On the other hand Northern Flickers were well seen after the first arrival in Fort Fairfield and Presque Isle on the 4th. I had one (still a bit early) in my yard on the 10th and Paul Cyr got this great shot of the gorgeous individual in Presque Isle on the 4th. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have only just arrived in northern Maine in past 3 days.
Truly advanced in arrival dates were single Tree Swallows spotted on the 4th in Fort Fairfield and the 6th in Caribou. The previous early date I have for these in Aroostook County is April 13th back in 2003, aking these arrivals nine days early. Eastern Bluebirds were new on the 5th in Portage Lake and the 6th in Caribou.
After hardly as single report all winter, male Northern Cardinals seen at both Caribou and Presque Isle on the 10th would appear to be new arrivals. Late Bohemian Waxwings continue in the area with a big flock of 98 seen nibbling last fall's soft apples in Presque Isle on the 8th and 10 in Caribou on the 13th.
White-throated Sparrows have only just started trickling into the area as the first one was reported on Green Ridge in Caribou on the 11th and had reached my yard in Woodland by the 12th. American Tree Sparrows are still being seen and have been singing with gusto since the beginning of the month. No Fox Sparrows were reported thus far this season.
White-winged Crossbills, Purple Finches and American Goldfinches were widely reported. Pine Siskins have been hard to find lately but several were seen near Oxbow on the 10th and 6 Evening Grosbeaks were seen in Limestone on the 13th