Monday, November 11, 2013

Great Goosing

What a great fall it has been for rare geese in the central Aroostook area!  Canada Geese are thinning out now, but numbers peaked in mid-October with more than 30,000 geese staging locally to fatten up on waste grain, grass sprouts and potatoes.

In addition to our usual hordes of Canada Geese, we had the pleasure of spotting SIX other species of geese over the past month and a half:

Snow Geese- It’s been a light year with some early reports starting in mid-September and several single Snows reported in Limestone and Caribou in early Oct.  A few small flocks were seen in the middle of the month.  No “Blue” phase Snow Geese were reported this year.

Cackling Goose-  Rare but regular most years…Only a couple of these mini-sized Canada Goose imitators were seen this fall.  One was reported at Long Lake in mid October, another one was photographed in the mill pond at Limestone on the 21st of October and yet another was seen at Christina Reservoir on November 6th.

Greater White-fronted Goose- Bob Carns in Portage Lake reported one in early November on the Fox Hill Road.  Another was reported in October from the Grand Isle area.  The Portage Lake bird was a member of the Greenland subspecies with a bright orange bill and legs.

Barnacle Goose-  Tanya Byrum spotted a Barnacle Goose in the mill pond in downtown Limestone on October 29th.  She was able to snap a couple pictures of the before the bird departed.   It was not seen again.  A European species, Barnacle Geese have only visited northern Maine on two other occasions.

Ross’s Goose-  Aroostook County’s first ever Ross’s Goose spent a week at the mill pond in downtown Limestone from the 29th of September through the 5th of October.  This miniature version of the Snow Goose was easy to observe and many area birders were able to enjoy the bird as it loafed and bathed with the Canada Geese.

Pink-footed Goose-  In a season of standout rare geese, this was the star.  This very rare species has only been ever seen in Maine a handful of times and the adult bird found at Collins Pond by the Aroostook Birders was another first-ever for Aroostook County!  Seen only on October 19th, this one-day wonder apparently moved on quickly.  We were lucky to see it on our Wild Goose Chase outing!

Other odd geese-  there were a few other strange ones seen this season.  “GL9” a Canada Goose banded in Greenland in July 2009 was at the Limestone pond on 3 October.

Also at Limestone, an apparent Canada Goose/Swan Goose hybrid was seen on the 29th of September-the same day as the Ross’s Goose.  

Lastly, also at Limestone, Tanya Byrum photographed a couple hazy gray geese in early November that were apparently leucistic Canada Geese .


Definitely a goose watchers season to remember!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Northern Maine Birds: Hoary Redpoll and Rough-legged Hawk

The Hoary Redpoll that has been sporadically visiting my yard for the past month, spent much of day here again today.  It was associating with Common Redpolls but seemed to move quite independently of the flocks.  

Had one sickie Common which shows the symptoms of Salmonellosis.

The American Tree Sparrows have begun singing here in Woodland and were good company while I pruned the apple trees today.

I poked around central Aroostook a bit in the afternoon to see if any more waterfowl had arrived, but ice still predominates the rivers and streams and Blacks and Mallards were the only ducks found today.  

I did spot a first-of-year Rough-legged Hawk along the North Caribou Road in Fort Fairfield.  I believe the light phase bird was my first Rough-leg ever in northern Maine in the month of March.

...A good end to a week that included arriving Red-tailed Hawk (Washburn), Common Grackle (Woodland) and Hooded Mergansers (Caribou).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Northern Hawk Owl in Houlton

Back in late January, Dennis Kerekes reported a Northern Hawk Owl had been seen in Houlton.  As soon as I could, I made the trip down to see the bird for myself and had no problem spotting it right where Dennis said it had been seen.  Since that time I've stopped in to the bird's favored location several times and its never failed to pop and and show itself. 

Like the Snowy Owl, the HawkOwl is a visitor from the north and always an exciting bird to see.  It is active in the daytime and a busy hunter.  As its name suggests, the bird seems like a Kestrel or other falcon with its longer tail and rapid and direct flight style. 

The bird is very conveniently located just north of the intersection of Route 1 and Interstate-95 along the Access Road just behind York's Ford/Toyota dealership.  The owl has been seen most often in the small group of trees directly behind Furniture and Floors North and across the street from the veterinary clinic there.  

Many local birders have been to see the owl and more than  few from southern Maine, New England and beyond have made the trip to see the bird.  This week Paul Cyr was in the neighborhood and stopped in with his camera and sent along these shots of the owl. Enjoy.