Bird News

Bill Sheehan, December 10, 2016

This is the time of year where I fill my feeders in the dark, go to work in the dark and come home in the dark.  I just have to wonder what is eating all the seed I’m putting out… until the weekend.

Today, I found my grosbeak flock is still all Evenings and the American Goldfinch numbers have increased significantly.  Thanks to the deep snow and cold temps, there was no sign of the American Robin or juncos that were still here last weekend, but there was a notable new addition.  A winter plumaged Chipping Sparrow was feeding with the American Tree Sparrows on the seed table I’ve set in the yard.  This bird was the latest, by far, I have ever seen in northern Maine.  Most of these have departed Aroostook County by the second week of October.  Looking at the eBird range map for Chipper’s, this appears to be the only one in Maine right now.  http://ebird.org/ebird/me/view/checklist/S32950204
To date, the only Snowy Owl I’ve heard reported in the area is one photographed by Nichol Soucy in Presque Isle last Saturday.  There have been numerous reports of Barred Owls hunting in the daylight lately.  Big numbers of Bohemian Waxwings, Evening and Pine Grosbeaks are being reported from Fort Kent to Hodgdon.  Reports of Northern Cardinals, (rare residents in this neck of the woods) always increase this time of year, but there seems to be more than usual this year.
A lingering Red-winged Blackbird was reported in Perham today and a Brown-headed Cowbird visited a feeder on the Hardison Road in Caribou for a few days early this week.
The Caribou Christmas Bird Count is next Saturday and we have plenty of open territories!  Drop me a line if you want to join the search.
Good Birding
Bill

 

Bill Sheehan, May 11, 2016

Its still chilly in northern Maine and some bird species just arriving now are a bit late.  White-crowned Sparrows are only now just starting to be reported in the area and (other than Yellow-rumpeds) even the hardier warblers have yet to be reported in central Aroostook.

This AM, on an Aroostook Birders/Caribou Rec joint birdwalk at Collins Pond, we had a few interesting species of birds.  A pair of Gadwall continue to hang out in the pond and has us wondering if they might stay and nest.  Killdeer and Greater Yellowlegs were the only shorebirds so far.  We also had the first Northern Waterthrush of the season in the alders along the boardwalk.  The bird was silent and only showed itself for a short time before dropping out of sight.
The highlight of the morning was an unexpected family group of Red Crossbills sunning in a Ash Tree near the ball field.  The greenish yellow female made a few calls for us as they took flight.  They seemed unusual in the urban-ish setting with few conifers in the area.  She must have been incubating eggs when snow was falling!
We expect to see a good pulse of migrants up here in the next few warm days.
Next Aroostook Birder/Caribou Rec outing is a hike into the Salmon Brook Bog Ecological Reserve in Perham on Saturday.  Check out the Aroostook Birders website for details.
Good birding

Bill Sheehan, March 13, 2016

First Canada Geese and Ring-billed Gulls came back to Aroostook this weekend… These were at the Riverside Park in Presque Isle. We also heard about several newly arrived pairs of Hooded Mergansers including this one in Caribou. Lots of reports of Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles and American Robins too.

 

Bill Sheehan, December 1, 2015

The lingering Brown Thrasher made it through a couple single digit cold nights and appeared this morning under my feeders here in Woodland.  Nice start to the December list!

https://flic.kr/p/BAvLVa

A Yellow-rumped Warbler is visiting a feeder at Cross Lake and is the latest ever for Aroostook County in my record books.
As reported on Robin Robinson’s Maine Birds Facebook page, a pair of Gray Jays are visiting a feeder in New Sweden and a very late young male Baltimore Oriole was nicely photographed at Presque Isle.  The oriole too, is exceptionally late for northern Maine.
The recent freeze-up has displaced most of the area’s Canada Geese, though a flock or two is still lingering in some open nooks and crannies.  A female Barrows Goldeneye was with a dozen Common Goldeneyes at the Caribou wastewater lagoons on Sunday.
Large flocks of Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches are now being reported from around the county with lesser numbers of Pine and Evening Grosbeaks.  A single male Evening Grosbeak supervised me while I put up some Christmas lights on Sunday afternoon.
Good Birding!
Audubon Christmas Bird Counts – Results 2014
 
On Sunday, Dec. 14, seventeen birders spent the day counting birds on the CARIBOU/LIMESTONE CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT. Weather was overcast, warm — generally good conditions with about 10 inches of snow on the ground. Ponds/wetlands still had ice, but earlier warm temps had cleared streams and rivers. The diversity of species and the numbers of individuals of uncommon species were exceptional.  We had 40 different species (five which we’d never previously found), the highest number ever in the five-year history of the Caribou count. Most interesting to me was there were 23 species which we had highest numbers of individuals ever on the count.  I suspect open conditions, abundance of food/fruit, influx of irruptive species and probably the earlier date, all contributed.
 

We had a really good Jan. 3, 2015 PRESQUE ISLE CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT. Most notable was all the help we had — a record 37 birders with 27 making it out in the field!  As for the birds, we had lower numbers of total individuals but our diversity (40 species) was second highest ever, plus sighted a Carolina Wren at a feeder the days before and after!  Would have be a first-ever species for us!  Other note-worthy’s: highest ever counts of Mallards, Wild Turkeys and Downy Woodpeckers, our second-ever Merlin, plus three “pretty spiffy” Snowy Owls and the first Brown-headed Cowbirds seen on the count in 25 years. Also, finches did well with seven species.

Bill Sheehan 1/14/15

Halfway through January and I haven’t posted in a while.  There’s been lots of good, birdy stuff happening in northern Maine.

Probably the most noteworthy bird (from a northern viewpoint) is a wintering Carolina Wren at a feeder in Presque Isle.  The bird showed up before the Christmas Bird count and was seen the day before and the day after but wasn’t seen on count day…  It would have been a new species for the count.  Interestingly, the homeowner suspects there may actually be two individuals and is working to confirm this.

Speaking of the Presque Isle Christmas Bird Count, a quick summary is in order.  For the first time in several years, we had decent weather for the count– though it was a bit chilly in the early AM.  We had a record setting 27 field birders this year.  Though numbers of individuals was down a bit from the recent average, we made up for it in diversity with a second-best ever 40 species found (+ the aforementioned Count Week wren).  We set records for numbers of Mallards, Wild Turkeys and interestingly, Downy Woodpeckers.  Raptor-man Dennis Kerekes’ team found the second-ever Merlin and Brown-headed Cowbirds were observed on the count for the first time in 25 years.

A Gray Jay made the count, but birders to the south will probably most-envy our finch supply.  We had seven species… including both grosbeaks (lots of Pine), Purple Finch, American Goldfinch, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin and White-winged Crossbills.  Three Snowy Owls was a nice total and included a previously undetected individual spotted by Lois Gerke.  The paucity of Snow Buntings was notable with only 11 seen.

This week there has been an additional influx of Snowy Owls with 5 new birds reported locally.  This puts our total season count for Aroostook County into the teens.  New reports include a very white adult male photographed Cross Lake, and others in Cyr Plantation, Littleton, St Agatha and Fort Fairfield.

Pine Grobeaks remain abundant throughout the area and I’m even seeing a few attractive pink males at my feeders in Woodland.  As reported elsewhere in area, Evening Grosbeak numbers continue to build with 40+ now daily in my yard.  A Sharp-shinned Hawk has taken notice and visits regularly too.  Redpoll numbers also appear to be increasing and several Aroostook Birders reported seeing the first big flocks of Bohemian Waxwings in the area this winter.

Stay warm! Bill

Bill Sheehan 12/16/2014

Two Snowies today. First at the PT Barn on my morning commute.  This owl has been around for well over a week, but I finally got to see it today.  http://ebird.org/ebird/me/view/checklist?subID=S20930015

Went to St Agatha today for a meeting.   A Northern Harrier sailed by the window…while we talked!   After my meeting the parking lot held 150+ Snow Buntings.   On the return trip home, we saw another Snowy Owl land on a poplar stub off the Flat Mountain Road.

Cheers,   Bill

Bill Sheehan 11/9/2014

There’s been a good assortment of uncommon birds reported in northern Maine this week.

Most noteworthy are probably two Red-bellied Woodpeckers that are being seen in Mars Hill and Mapleton.  The birds are apparently regular at feeders at both locations.  Photos of the Mars Hill bird show it’s a male.

A big influx of “white-winged gulls” appeared this week.  Though single Iceland Gulls had been seen previously at Lake Josephine in Easton and Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield numbers of the birds are now being seen in central Aroostook County.  16 were counted at the Tri-community Landfill in Fort Fairfield on the 8th and 23 were seen at Collins Pond in Caribou later that same day.  These were high counts for these uncommon visitors. Glaucous Gulls were also spotted a both locations on that date: https://www.flickr.com/photos/71911844@N04/15745003842/in/photostream/

Louis Landry photographed a (the?) Snowy Owl at Frenchville.  He also got a nice image of a male Pine Grosbeak, presumably nearby.  This was the first I’ve heard of this fall.

Canada Geese numbers seem to be holding steady despite the deep snow in places.  Very large flocks (thousands) were seen in Limestone, Caribou, St Agatha and Presque Isle this weekend.  A flock feeding in a barley field north of the Brewer Road in Presque Isle held a lingering Cackling Goose.  The short little bird had to wallow through the snow in search of food: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20494396.

Other birds of interest were a latest-ever American Kestrel in St Agatha on the 8th and Northern Shovelers at Lake Jo on the 5th.  A Horned Grebe was at Madawaska Lake on the 1st and 2 Red-necked Grebes were seen at Christina Reservoir on the 5th. 10 Buffleheads constituted a high count at Daigle Pond in New Canada. Red-tailed Hawks, White-breasted Nuthatches and Evening Grosbeaks are being widely reported this week.   Good Birding!  Bill

Bill Sheehan 10/6/2014

I managed a quick check of the major Canada Goose roosting spots in central Aroostook this afternoon.  Trafton Lake in Limestone held the largest flock of the day (~3,100) and an adult Greater White-fronted Goose was among them.  The bird was distant and really required a telescope to discern but I managed a couple documentation shots (complete with arrow) for the record.  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20052371

Equally exciting for me at this spot was my first Dunlin of the season.  Unfortunately the bird was being chased by young Peregrine Falcon.  Amazing aerial acrobatics.  I thought the sandpiper was done for several times and then it dodged its pursuer at the last instant.

Christina Reservoir had a great quantity of Canada Geese, but no spiffy geese, that I could find, were in the flocks.  A drake Redhead and a pair of Ruddy Ducks were both late-ish here.

Also, had my first Fox Sparrow of the fall in Presque Isle near the Aroostook River today.  The bird was with a bunch of White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and a White-crowned Sparrow.

Collins Pond in Caribou is simply packed with waterfowl these days.  In addition to about 1,400 Canada Geese, there are nearly 400 ducks here in the afternoon.  Northern Shovelers and a few Blue-winged Teal continue among the much more numerous Mallards, Blacks, Green-winged Teal and Hooded Mergansers.

Interesting today was a massive flock of apparently-migrating gulls that descended from the stratosphere and filled the pond in a matter of minutes.  I managed a few shots of the phenomena as they were spiralling down out of the sky.  A couple Bald Eagles appeared in short order and flushed them all and in a few minutes, they were all gone again.

Good birding. Bill

Bill Sheehan 9/11/2014

This evening, after work, I found several hundred newly arrived gulls walking around the fields near the Presque Isle Airport… apparently feeding on nightcrawlers and other inverts flooded out by today’s rains.  The gulls were predominantly Herring and Ring-billed but there were at least three adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the flock.

While watching these, a Whimbrel flushed from among the gulls and flew directly over me.  The bird circled a couple times and returned to the ground on the back side of the runway–out of sight.  A rare find in northern Maine.

I also had some latest-ever records for me earlier this week.

Last night (9/10) I saw a Common Nighthawk over Route 1 in Caribou and earlier that day, I heard an Eastern Wood Pewee in the Woodland Bog Preserve.  Both were later than any others I’d detected in the county previously.   On Tuesday (the 9th) I had a late Great-crested Flycatcher vocalizing in my yard.  The bird only stayed for a few minutes and then moved out, southward.

Numbers of Canada Geese and other waterfowl appear to be increasing locally.  LImestone is now sporting flocks of over 500 geese and the Collins Pond flock now numbers over 300.  Collins Pond (Caribou) is good for 20+ Northern Shovelers and similar numbers of Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal.  My first of fall Northern Pintail was found here yesterday too.

Good birding

Bill Sheehan 8/26/2014

I’m bit tardy as usual but still wanted to send the report on our visit to Lake Jo in Easton last week.

A dozen Aroostook Birders come for the evening walk and we weren’t disappointed.  We saw/heard 38 species of birds with highlights being a flyover American Bittern, great looks at several species of shorebirds including Lesser Yellowlegs and Least, Semipalmated and Spotted Sandpipers and a plethora of scruffy waterfowl.

Kingbirds and kingfishers were putting on good shows and we got to enjoy both species in the spotting scope. Two of three young Redheads seen as recently as two weeks ago are still hanging out with their adopted family of Ring-necked Ducks.  We also saw some amazingly fresh, fuzzy young of another Ring-necked hen. The advertised Common Nighthawks put in an appearance, but were a bit early for most of the crowd.

Good birding!  Bill  link to complete listing:

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19583469

Bill Sheehan 5/10/2014

The Aroostook Birders hosted a couple of enjoyable outings this week.  It appears our struggles with the weather have abated and both Thursday and Friday morning were beautiful. On Thursday, Six birders visited Mantle Lake Park in Presque Isle and walked the trails there.  Led by Sue Pinette, the group turned up 22 species of birds.  Highlights were good looks at a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Savannah Sparrows, a flyover Broad-winged Hawk and a plethora of woodpeckers including Downy Hairy, Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and much evidence of Pileated. Briefly heard by some, were singing Blue-headed Vireo and Black-and-white Warbler.  Both were newly arrived.  A complete list of the sightings can be seen here:

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18312125

On Friday AM, Aroostook Birders and Caribou Recreation Department held the second in a series of birding walks in the Caribou area.  These are being sponsored in part by Cary Medical Center and all attendees recieved Audubon Bird Calls for participating.

Seven birders enjoyed Collins Pond and its associated walking trails.  Twenty nine species were sighted with highlights at the pond being a hunting Osprey, Lesser Yellowlegs, Common Goldeneye, and Hooded Merganser.  A sleeping Wilson’s Snipe was tucked in the cattails across the pond and was not well observed.  Notables on the boardwalk were a newly-arrived flock of Cedar Waxwings feeding in the alders, a pair of Black-capped Chickadees doing food exchanges and another well observed Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  A full listing of the birds sighted can be seen here:http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18312121

Bird migration is set to peak in the next week or two and Aroostook Birders has more outings planned, right up through our Northern Maine Bird Festival in early June.  Check the website for more details.  Hope to see you in the field soon.

Bill Sheehan 4/18/2014

Spring went from heel-dragging to fast forward in northern Maine in the past week.

Warm days and south winds early in the week were followed by some showers and breezes that erased much of our deep snow cover.  By Thursday, it was chilly again, but all the runoff had raised the water levels and done its work.   Ice is finally out of the streams and rivers but these are running hard between high windrows of beached floes.

Many fields are open but most woods have retained well over a foot of snow.

Collins Pond in Caribou has a wide lead of open water in the ice and now hosts a large bunch of migrant gulls.  Tonight I spotted 6 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls among 600+ Ring-billed, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls.  An American Wigeon was sleeping on the ice with the Mallards and Blacks and numbers of Common Goldeneyes, and Hooded and Common Mergansers are loafing here too.

Over at Aroostook NWR in Limestone this morning, I was surprised to hear a Winter Wren touch off in song. Bohemian Waxwings have been practically abundant in the area in the past 10 days with large  flocks seen in Caribou, Easton, Presque Isle, Limestone, Houlton, Westfield and Weston.

My first Northern Flicker was spotted in Presque Isle on Tuesday, but by Wednesday I was seeing them all the way north to Madawaska.

Counting the Juncos, White-throated, American Tree and Song Sparrows, the flock in my yard in Woodland now numbers in the hundreds.  7 Fox Sparrows joined the group on Wednesday.  This morning, we added a Savannah Sparrow to the list and tonight, a first Chipping Sparrow appeared. An American Woodcock is Peenting on the edge of the Woodland Bog as I write. Good birding

 

Bill Sheehan 3/22/2014

I have been thoroughly enjoying several (possibly four) different Snowy Owls on my daily commute to work along Route 1 in Presque Isle.  A darker female/juvenile owl has been dependable both morning and evening on the “PT” Barn north of town.  This bird has been around since just before Christmas.

Another very white adult male has been hanging out about 1/4 mile to the south.  The bird loves to tee up in the top of a tall spruce in the yard of a local photographer.  Some days its possible to stop and get both of these owls in the same field of view in my binoculars.  Just down the road and around the corner, along the Brewer Road, there have been at least two other Snowies perching on the power poles.  (In February, 5 Snowy Owls were reported here one evening.)

Yesterday after work, I found one of the Brewer Road Snowy Owls on a utility pole along the road.  After watching it for a good while, I headed for home and saw both the Route 1 birds in their usual spots…all in less than 3 minutes.  Bird nerdy fun for me…

Though I haven’t seen or heard about the Caribou bird lately, another long staying Snowy is being seen reliably along Route 10 between Presque Isle and Easton.

A frosty male Hooded Merganser was huddled at the edge of the ice below the Caribou Dam on the Aroostook River on the morning of the 19th…  Noteworthy considering it was still not quite spring on the calendar and the temperature was -8 F.

The Caribou Northern Flicker and the Presque Isle Northern Pintail both continue. No grackles or redwinged’s yet in this snowy landscape, but my records say they should show any day.

Cheers, Bill

Bill Sheehan 3/16/2014

Yesterday afternoon I found myself on the roof shovelling away (hopefully the last time this season).
Midway through the drift, I heard what I first thought was an American Robin vocalizing and then, I decided the sounds were some high pitched Blue Jay-ian mimicry.  The song was occasional squeaky phrases and had the cadence of a Brown Thrasher,  It continued intermittently for at least 10 minutes and caused me to pause to listen repeatedly.
Eventually, I abandoned my shovel, climbed down the ladder, retrieved my binoculars and hunted down the bird– an adult Northern Shrike tee’ed up on one of my neighbor’s Tamarack trees.  I suspect it was a northbound bird.

Bill Hersey sent over some interesting pictures of another Northern Shrike that was visiting his feeders in Caribou to nibble on a kidney he’d picked up with some suet at the local abbattoir. Nice feeder bird when its not chasing chickadees…  The other star of Bills yard is a Northern Flicker that showed up around March 5th and has been regular under the feeders since.

Locally there have been some changes birdwise.  American Crows have returned and dispersed across the landscape.  For the first winter in quite a few, crows had mostly departed from the county. American Tree Sparrows and Black-capped Chickadees are now singing strongly in the mornings.

Several recent reports of Northern Goshawks have come in from Bancroft to Chapman.  Bohemian Waxwings were seen at UMPI in Presque Isle and Woodland last week.  Northern Cardinals were reported in Ashland recently and are notable in a winter with very few reports of these locally.

The female Northern Pintail has successfully wintered at the pond at the hospital in Presque Isle.  It was seen this AM with 120+ Mallards and Black Ducks. Several Snowy Owls continue to be seen in the area with the Presque Isle bird being nearly-dependable at the “PT” Barn at sundown most days.

With snow cover here as deep as its been all winter and subzero nights predicted this week, it still seems spring is a long way off!!!

Good Birding,  Bill

From Bill Sheehan 2/3/14

Had a good, birdy, recent few days in Northern Maine. Finch numbers continue to increase, ever so slowly. Evening Grobeaks are being seen in Mapleton, Chapman and Castle Hill.  Good numbers of Purple Finches and Am Goldfinch continue to be reported.  I saw some Pine Siskins by the 6 mile gate to the North Maine Woods.

The female Northern Pintail is still hanging out with the big flock of Mallards and American Black Ducks at the pond behind the hospital in Presque Isle.

There are still plenty of Snowy Owls being seen around the county.  Most notable was a deep-woods bird seen WAY up north on Glazier Lake along the border with New Brunswick a week ago.  The owl was reported to be snagging dead fish left unattended by ice fishermen.  It was seen on both sides of the narrow lake and since the border bisects it, could be counted in either country.

This evening commute, I saw both the PT Barn Snowy in Presque Isle and the long-staying owl at the intersection of Route 1 and the Connector Road in Caribou.  Six Ruffed Grouse were budding in some birches near the Caribou golf course at dusk.

Photos of the PI and Caribou Snowy Owls can be seen here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/71911844@N04/12296305496/in/photostream/

Good birding, Bill

From Bill Sheehan 1/25/14

I spent some time in the North Maine Woods this AM and was surprised by the number and diversity of finch species found.  Most prevalent were Purple Finches which numbered in the hundreds and made up most of birds seen, but American Goldfinch and Pine Grosbeaks were quite numerous as well.  Pine Siskins were seen in few locations, primarily on the Beaver Brook Road near Portage Lake.  On the Pinkham Road not far out of Ashland I came upon two Red Crossbills picking up grit in the icy logging road.

Also notable was the number of Boreal Chickadees (20+) seen among the flocks of Black-capped and Red-breasted Nuthatches.   It’s interesting to note that only a few finch species (Am Goldfinch primarily) are showing up in eastern Aroostook county, while areas west of Route 11 seems to be hopping.

Here’s links to eBird lists with some horrible pictures…

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S16504730

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S16504734

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S16504670

Good Birding. Bill

Caribou, Maine – Christmas Bird Count

January 4, 2014  – compiled by Bill Sheehan

Canada Goose – 1

Mallard – 4

Common Goldeneye – 2

Ruffed Grouse – 2

Bald Eagle – 4

Rough-legged Hawk – CW

Northern Goshawk – CW

Mourning Dove – 77

Rock Pigeon – 277

Snowy Owl – 1

Downy Woodpecker – 4

Hairy Woodpecker – 10

Gray Jay – 1

Blue Jay – 68

Common Raven – 100

American Crow – 161

Horned Lark – 4

Black-capped Chickadee – 89

Red-breasted Nuthatch – 4

White-breasted Nuthatch – 1

European Starling – 2625

American Tree Sparrow – 16

Dark-eyed Junco – 2

Snow Bunting – 241

Pine Grosbeak – 1

American Goldfinch – 242

Total species – 24 Total individuals – 3937

Highlights: First-ever Canada Goose, Snowy Owl and Horned Lark. Most ever Blue Jay, American Crow, European Starling and American Goldfinch. Temperature at start was -25 degrees F. Reduced effort due to extreme cold.

 

Presque Isle, Maine – Christmas Bird Count

December 28, 2013  – compiled by Bill Sheehan

Mallard – 132

Am. Black Duck – 12

Common Merganser – 2

Ruffed Grouse – 1

Bald Eagle – 16

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1

Rough-legged Hawk – 1

Mourning Dove – 167

Rock Pigeon – 332

Snowy Owl – 6

Downy Woodpecker – 13

Hairy Woodpecker – 8

Northern Shrike – 3

Blue Jay – 178

Common Raven – 137

American Crow – 145

Horned Lark – 23

Black-capped Chickadee – 202

Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1

Brown Creeper – 1

American Robin – 1

European Starling – 429

Northern Cardinal – 2

American Tree Sparrow – 29

White-throated Sparrow – 1

Dark-eyed Junco – 8

Lapland Longspur – CW

Snow Bunting – 1058

Red Crossbill – 4

Purple Finch – 6

Common Redpoll – 7

Pine Siskin – 7

American Goldfinch – 200

House Sparrow – 12

Total species – 34 Total individuals – 3150

Highlights: Highest-ever counts of Snowy Owl and Mallard. Second-ever Sharp-shinned Hawk and third ever Red Crossbills.

From Bill Sheehan – 12/7/13

Paul Cyr and I poked around central Aroostook County for a couple hours this AM looking for a Snowy Owl that might pose for pictures.  We found one on the Mill Road just at the edge of the Aroostook NWR in Limestone.

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S15882883

Also, I received word from Caribou resident that he too, has a Carolina Wren visiting his feeders.  The bird has apparently been showing up since the first of December.

Both these birds are within the Caribou CBC circle… hope they linger.  Cheers, Bill

From Bill Sheehan – 12/5/13

Despite some recent diligent efforts by several Aroostook Birders, it took until today for northern Maine to get on “the map” of this Snowy Owl incursion.  An apparent juvenile bird was spotted this afternoon just south of the intersection of the Madore Road and Route 1 in Cyr Plantation (near Van Buren).  The bird was in a snowy potato field quite near the road but flushed and flew to the middle of this large expanse.  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S15871307

Birding has been tough in northern Maine for the past couple weeks.  A hard freeze put a final end to goose season in the area and most lakes and ponds and many streams are now frozen.  Most of Long Lake and much of the Aroostook and St John Rivers remain open and ice-free.  Snow cover ranges from 1 to 6 inches from south to north but the current rain will probably wipe out most of that. Feeders have been quite quiet.Still some noteworthy reports coming in:

A Short-eared Owl was reported hunting near the athletic fields at UMPI in Presque Isle just before Thanksgiving.  The bird was seen at dusk and apparently followed a runner around the grassy cross country trail there.

A Carolina Wren, reported sporadically since mid-summer, is apparently making an attempt to winter in Mt. Chase and Hersey at the Aroostook/Penobscot county line.  The bird has been visiting the feeder here daily and has been reported to be singing occasionally.

Dec. 1, several Lapland Longspurs were seen in a massive flock of ~1,900 Snow Buntings in the fields along the Flat Mountain Road in St. Agatha. A Common Grackle at Woodland and a lone Red-winged Blackbird at Presque Isle seen on Dec. 2 were late lingerers. A small flock of gulls remains in the Caribou and Fort Fairfield area and counts a juvie Iceland Gull in its ranks. The birds were seen at Collins Pond in Caribou on Dec. 3. Still not much of an irruptive winter finch show in the area, but American Goldfinches have increased a bit and are starting to show at feeding stations. Purple Finches are in the woods in good numbers but have, so far, mostly turned up their beaks to seed offerings from feeders. Good Birding, Bill

From Bill Sheehan – 10/30/13

Spent an hour at Lake Josephine in Easton and Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield this AM. Temperatures were in the high 20’s and snow was on the ground and all the smaller wetlands were frozen.

A good assortment of diving ducks were at Lake Jo including White-winged Scoter, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Ducks and a slew of Hooded Mergansers.  A few lingering dabblers including Gadwall and American Wigeon were also in the count.  There were also good numbers of gulls including my first Iceland and Glaucous Gulls of the season. A Rough-legged Hawk and a small flock of Horned Larks were also notable.

I put a couple digiscoped photos of the gulls in the eBird list: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S15527937

Birding at Christina Reservoir was slower but another Bufflehead and two Red-necked Grebes here were good finds.

Yesterday, at Collins Pond, I heard and eventually saw a very late Yellow-rumped Warbler while watching the geese with Paul Cyr. Good Birding ~ Bill

From Bill Sheehan – 10/23/13

There is a nip in the air today. On my way to a meeting this AM, I spotted a big hawk hovering over a grassy field and expected that this was going to be my first Rough-legged Hawk of the season.  When I stopped and glassed the bird I was a bit surprised to see the hawk was a Red-tailed Hawk doing a pretty good Roughie imitation.

A couple miles down the road (the Burlock Road in Presque Isle to be exact) I came upon another raptor kiting over a field.  This bird didn’t let me down..it was a handsome light phase Rough-legged Hawk.  Arriving right on schedule by my records.  A Northern Cardinal calling from a hedgerow nearby was another good bird for the county.

Post-meeting I stopped for a minute at Trafton Lake in Limestone and found Canada Geese, Hooded and Common Mergansers and couple Ring-necked Ducks.  A small flock of divers out in the middle of the lake turned out to be 5 Ruddy Ducks and a couple a Buffleheads.  I assumed the lone scoter that was also mid-pond would be the Black Scoter juvie I saw earlier this week, but it turned out to be a juvie White-winged Scoter instead.

With the exception of American Robins, passerines are thinning out quickly.  I still have plenty of Dark-eyed Juncos, a couple of White-throats and three Chipping Sparrows remaining in my yard.  An American Tree Sparrow finally joined them this AM…a bit tardy it seems. Good birding  Bill

From Bill Sheehan – 10/22/13

I  posted a few photos of the Limestone Cackling Goose here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/71911844@N04/10418744414/in/photostream/

A couple people asked how to distinguish these birds from other Canada Goose types.

Body size is the obvious clue, but this can lead you astray because we have several subspecies of Canada Geese migrating through Maine in fall and apparent relative size between these can be tricky.  A smaller Atlantic or Interior Canada Goose beside a hulking Giant Canada Goose can look quite tiny. Look at this photo of a known Interior Canada Goose that was captured and marked in Greenland compared to the Giant Canada Goose just behind it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/71911844@N04/10107977935/in/photostream/lightbox/

The notable features (other than size) of this Cackling Goose that help confirm the ID:

apparently short stubby bill compared with nearby Canadas.  (I think David Sibley is onto something when he suggests comparing the ratio of the length of the head to the length of the bill…as we do with the two yellowlegs).

Steep forehead with almost a bump at the brow.  Give’s them a bit of a caveman look;

Short, apparently-thicker necked even when alert.This bird shows a hint of a white ring at the base of the black neck “sock” and has a silvery tone to the back and wings.

I noticed, after running a Cackling Goose query on eBird, that Maine is practically surrounded by Cackling Geese currently, with reports stretching from the Gaspe peninsula in Quebec around to Newburyport, MA.  I expect we’ll be seeing more in the next week or two.

Good luck. Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan – 10/19/13

Though we had a slow start this morning, the Aroostook Birders “Wild Goose Chase” field trip had a big ending…

Starting at Collins Pond in Caribou, we began the morning watching the Canada Geese depart from the pond and head to the fields to feed.  Some handsome male Green-winged Teal, Hooded Mergansers, a few late Greater Yellowlegs and a Pectoral Sandpiper were also enjoyed here.

 

We hoped to relocate the honkers out in the farmland, but struggled to find them at any of their favored haunts. We eventually located geese in a couple spots, but viewing conditions were less than ideal.

After a couple hours of winding through the wide open parts of Limestone and northern Fort Fairfield, we encountered a massive flock of Canada Geese as they erupted from a grain field on the Hardison Road in Caribou.  We were able to distinguish some Snow Geese from the 1000+ Canada Geese, but the birds were heading away from our vantage point so we followed them back towards Collins Pond.

On returning to the pond, we were treated to a great mass of roosting geese including the group of Snow Geese.  While looking at these, we also discovered a county-first Pink-footed Goose!

 

This is a smaller brown-headed goose that has only showed up in the state a few times before…most recently last spring.  These are native to Europe and nest in Scandanavia, Iceland and Greenland.  The bird was a lifer for most of the group and a great way to end the morning in the field.

The bird was vocal and gave a harsh squawk periodically.  It even showed us its bubblegum pink legs a couple times!  Many of us were able to photograph the goose since it was as close as 150 feet away. I put a few digiscoped images on my Flickr photo stream here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/71911844@N04/10366259456/in/photostream/

Going to be hard to beat… Good birding! Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan – 10/3/13

The Ross’s Goose was back at the mill pond in down town Limestone again this afternoon.  During a short visit, I was able to see it on shore for a couple minutes and confirmed it had all its toes and no bands.

Also here today was a yellow collared Canada Goose GL9 from the Greenland study: http://greenland2012.wikispaces.com/Recoveries+and+resightings

This goose was originally trapped and banded in Greenland on 18 July 2009 and has been spotted all over New England during fall and winter in the years following.  It spent the winter of 2011/2012 in Mass and was seen last winter in CT.  In March 2013, the goose was spotted in New Hampshire, presumably on its way back north to Greenland.

I also spotted a foursome of Wild Turkeys within a 1/4 mile of the Canadian border up in Hamlin. This is the northeastern-most I have seen turkeys in Maine.

Yesterday, at 3 in the afternoon, I was surprised to find a Great-horned Owl peering out of a big old spruce on the banks of the Little Madawaska River in Stockholm. Good birding! – Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan – 9/29/13

I spent the morning in the field and turned up a few good birds today.

Highlight was an adult Ross’s Goose with about 1,600 Canada Geese at the pond in downtown Limestone.  This was my county-first Ross’s Goose.  At first I mistook it for another Snow Goose (there are many single Snows in the area lately).  But once I scoped it, I could see it was smaller than the surrounding Canada Geese and had a very short neck and a stubby warty bill.  It lacked the dark “grin” patch on the bill than Snows usually show too.

This wasn’t the only interesting goose in the mix.  An apparent Swan Goose x Canada Goose hybrid was also in the pond.

I uploaded some photos on my Flickr page here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/71911844@N04/10007061925/in/photostream/

Snow Geese were seen at Collins Pond in Caribou and at Malabeam Lake in Limestone today too.  Considering that the feed supplies are excellent right now, I expect all these geese will hang around for a while.

Earlier in the day, I had stopped at the Caribou wastewater lagoons and found a good assortment of shorebirds.  These included 22 White-rumped Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, Spotted Sandpipers, numbers of both yellowlegs and a discouraged Wilson’s Snipe which appeared to be experiencing high-density polyethylene lagoon liner for the time…  (It eventually decided it was un-probe-able and departed.)  A juvenile Peregrine Falcon shook things up at one point.  Waterfowl here include three Northern Pintails, Blue and Green-winged Teal, 30+Wood Ducks and a single Northern Shoveler.  Two Rusty Blackbirds and my first White-crowned Sparrows of the fall were the other notables.

Three young Surf Scoters were at Lake Jo in Easton and a female/juvie Bufflehead was hanging with Canada Geese at Puddledock Pond in Fort Field.

American Pipits were a constant this AM with regular flyovers. Good birding! – Bill

From Bill Sheehan – 9/27/13

I poked around central and northern Aroostook County over the past few days to get a feel for the goose situation.  Numbers have been rapidly building over the past ten days.  By my crude tally, I estimate at least 19,000 Canada Geese are currently in the area.

Collins Pond in Caribou is hosting about 2,400 in the middle of the day today.  A Snow Goose was hanging out with them.  About 25 Northern Shovelers, Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal, Hooded Mergansers and plenty of Mallards and Blacks are also moving with them.

 

Limestone area has at least 3,000 birds including 1,400 at Malabeam Lake (A Snow Goose and 70+ Ring-necked Ducks here also).  Nearly 1,000 were roosting down town on Thursday

Up at Long Lake, about 900 Canadas are roosting on the lake.  About 5 hundred big gulls are also spending time in the north end in St Agatha..  130 were Great Black-backed Gulls and a Lesser Black-backed and Bonaparte’s Gull were also seen there on Thursday.  There were a nice bunch of American Pipits (60+) here too.  Presque Isle has about 4,500 geese roosting in the area with about half of these spending time on Arnold Brook Lake.  Two roosting spots on the Aroostook River and two private ponds are sharing the balance.

 

Fort Fairfield also has about 5,000 geese with Monson Pond, Christina Reservoir and several spots on the Aroostook River hold most of these during roosting times.

The Easton area has 1000+ Canadas roosting on two private ponds as well as a couple hundred at Lake Jo.Mars Hill, Washburn, Mapleton, Ashland, Portage Lake, Bridgewater and Conner also have smaller flocks (hundreds) but I haven’t spent time chasing these down yet.  No unusual geese yet but I expect there’s got to be a few interesting honkers in this mass of birds.

Other interesting birdy stuff this week was a very late Ruby-throated Hummingbird and some Eastern Bluebirds in New Canada,  a Northern Goshawk in Presque Isle and a pair of late adult Broad-winged Hawks soaring over down town Limestone on Thursday.  (I was tipped off to these by the geese on the pond tilting their heads skyward).  Good birding! – Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan – 9/17/13

The first good pulse of migrant Canada Geese seems to have arrived in northern Maine with the good weather.

700+ at Malabeam Lake in Limestone,150 at Collins Pond in Caribou, and 300+ in Presque Isle today.  Quick survey of the flocks showed nothing fancy..yet.

Central Aroostook is currently awash in Northern Flickers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and sparrows.  Heard a White-throated Sparrow doing some weak singing tonight at sunset.  A feeble vocalization, but I appreciated one last song. Migrant warblers are starting to thin out.  – Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan – 9/4/13

The most twitchable pelican ever began its ninth week in northern Maine today.  This morning I finally got to witness it feeding… in the company of 19(!) Great Blue Herons at Lake Josephine in Easton:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/71911844@N04/9673239243/

Had a nice little collection of shorebirds feeding in the puddles over at McCain’s mud and rock dump. Semipalmated Plovers and Semipalmated, Least and one White-rumped Sandpiper were feeding with several hundred Starlings and a handful of Savannah and Song Sparrows.  Interesting mix. All the shorebirds were juveniles except the WRSA.

A Green Heron and late(ish) Eastern Kingbird in the eastside pond were also noteworthy.

A juvie Bonaparte’s Gull and a later adult Common Tern were sharing a floating log in the very-full Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield.

Good Birding!  Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan – Lake Josephine & Christina Reservoir, Aug. 7, 2013

On Aug 7th, nine Aroostook Birders visited Christina Reservoir and Lake Josephine for some late summer water birding.  Our leader this trip was founding Aroostook Birder, Dr. John Greenlaw, who was visiting the area from Florida.  The weather was fantastic and the birds were quite active and kept us busy the whole time.  As we walked, Jon offered up a steady river of facts about the biology of the birds we were seeing.

 

At Christina Reservoir, we encountered numerous juvenile birds along the dike including Song and Swamp Sparrows, Yellow Warblers, Red-eyed Vireos and a Black-and-white Warbler.  On the lake we saw a raft of attractive male Ruddy ducks, a Bonaparte’s Gull, Pied-billed Grebes and several hundred molting Ring-necked and Mallard Ducks.

 

At Lake Josephine the highlights were good looks at juvenile Bobolinks, Several late broods of Gadwall, a Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Ducks, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  A family of River Otters in Lake Jo put on a wonderful show and modeled for the photographers in the group.  A confused Solitary Sandpiper that buzzed through our group landed in a puddle beside us was a nice treat as we were walking back to the cars.

54 species were identified and we all learned many new facts about our local birds thanks to Jon!

 

From Bill Sheehan – Downeast Birding Trip, July 27 & 28, 2013

Our first day started at the famed Lubec sandbar and mud flats.  Though it was a little gloomy and misty when we started, the weather began to clear by late morning. The tide was completely out when we visited and presented many acres of mud and gravel to search for shorebirds. We found a good diversity of sandpipers and plovers including Ruddy Turnstones, Black-bellied Plover and Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers.  We also spotted a few Short-billed Dowitchers.  Nelson’s Sparrows were still singing in the Spartina grass and were lifers for a few in our group.

Later in the morning we ventured out to West Quoddy Head State Park (eastern-most point in the US) and hiked the trails there.  Highlights here were Great Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon and a Bog Copper butterfly at the bog.

After lunch we hopped across the bridge and visited Campobello Island, NB.  We stopped at Friar’s Head for great views of Eastport then had a quick tour of the FD Roosevelt “cottage”.  Afterward we walked the boardwalk at Eagle Hill bog and got to watch a female Palm Warbler feeding her newly fledged young. Out at Liberty Point (the southeastern tip of Campobello) we had good looks at feeding Northern Gannets and flocks of Razorbills flying by. We ended our day with a quick stop at Herring Cove where we were able to see both White-winged and Surf Scoters and lots of Common Loons.

Day two began at the Edmunds Division of Moosehorn National Wildlife refuge.  We toured the South and North trails and hiked into the woods in search of warblers.  Though we found a half dozen of the commoner warblers, some still singing, highlight were a calling Black-billed Cuckoo, a feeding Common Nighthawk and very close looks at a cooperative Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.

We next ventured out to the Young’s Cove section of the refuge and visited the “Reversing Falls” a narrow spot where the water rushes through as the bay drains and fills.  Here we enjoyed watching some Harbor Seals trying to swim up the rapids.

We then scurried into Eastport and met Chris Bartlett at the breakwater in town.  Chris had offered to give us a quick tour of the bay in his skiff and we eagerly took him up on it!  From Eastport we headed quickly up the open water between Deer Island and Campobello.  This area is known as Head Harbor Passage and has wild currents and upwellings that bring food up to the surface where birds can feed on it.  We saw hundreds of newly arrived Bonaparte’s Gulls, Common and Arctic Terns and many Razorbills and Black Guillemots.  Many of these were very close to the boat.  One Razorbill was equipped with a satellite transmitter.  You can learn about that bird and the project to track Maine’s Razorbills here: http://www.wildlifetracking.org/index.shtml?project_id=881

Other uncommon birds we saw in the bay included a Black Tern, a Common Murre and lots of Black-legged Kittwakes (another kind of gull).  We saw quite a few Harbor and Gray Seals and Harbor Porpoises kept us company at the north end of Campobello.  We were also lucky enough to see several Minke Whales and a Fin-backed Whale.  Certainly not the kind of stuff we get to see up north!

Just for fun on the way back, Chris took our boat through the “Old Sow”, allegedly the second biggest whirlpool in the northern hemisphere.  We came through it without a scratch!

By the end of the day we tallied up a total of 86 species for the trip and got to see much of the good natural sights that the Downeast area has to offer.

From Bill Sheehan 8/7/13 Trip to Lake Josephine and Christina Reservoir with Jon Greenlaw

On Aug 7th, 9 Aroostook Birders visited Christina Reservoir and Lake Josephine for some late summer water birding.  Our leader this trip was founding Aroostook Birder, Dr. John Greenlaw, who was visiting the area from Florida.  The weather was fantastic and the birds were quite active and kept us busy the whole time.  As we walked, Jon offered up a steady river of facts about the biology of the birds we were seeing.

At Christina Reservoir, we encountered numerous juvenile birds along the dike including Song and Swamp Sparrows, Yellow Warblers, Red-eyed Vireos and a Black-and-white Warbler.  On the lake we saw a raft of attractive male Ruddy ducks, a Bonaparte’s Gull, Pied-billed Grebes and several hundred molting Ring-necked and Mallard Ducks.

At Lake Josephine the highlights were good looks at juvenile Bobolinks, Several late broods of Gadwall, a Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Ducks, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  A family of River Otters in Lake Jo put on a wonderful show and modeled for the photographers in the group.  A confused Solitary Sandpiper that buzzed through our group landed in a puddle beside us was a nice treat as we were walking back to the cars.

54 species were identified and we all learned many new facts about our local birds thanks to Jon!

 

 

From Bill Sheehan 7/21/13

To everyone’s surprise, we had good weather for the Aroostook Birder’s trip to Perham and the Salmon Brook Bog Ecological Reserve on Saturday the 20th.  It was a tad warm and humid, but during much of the four mile hike we were walking in the cool shade of the spruce/fir forest.

We caught the end of the breeding season with a few intrepid male birds still belting out their song but more common were family groups with juveniles begging to be fed.  Boreal Chickadees, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Swamp Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and Common Loons all showed well with their offspring.

A vocal Tennessee Warbler, Swainson’s and Hermit Thrushes and a frolicking White-tailed Deer fawn were some of the other highlights.  A full list of the birds encountered can be seen here:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S14702751

Good Birding!  Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan 4/27/13

The Aroostook Birders finally hit it right on weather!  We had bright skies, calm winds and balmy temps for the Annual Waterfowl Walk this morning. Top duck today was a pair of newly-arrived Redheads at Lake Josephine in Easton.  This pair was accompanied by several Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Gadwall and good numbers of the commoner ducks like Ring-necked Duck, Common Goldeneye, Common and Hooded Mergansers, Green-winged Teal, Mallard and Blacks.  There was, of course, no shortage of Canada Geese but nothing unusual was found among them.

Common Loons, Double-crested Cormorants and plenty of Belted Kingfishers had also arrived at Lake Jo.  Though a couple of skulky Brown Thrashers only showed themselves for some brief glimpses, everyone had good looks at their first American Bittern of the season at Puddledock Pond in Fort Fairfield.

We also spotted a good assortment of raptors, with several Northern Harriers, Ospreys, American Kestrel, Merlin, Red-tailed Hawk and Bald Eagle.  Always notable in Aroostook County, a Turkey Vulture glided by while we were visiting Nadeau Pond in Fort Fairfield.

Back in my yard in Woodland, I still have a good assortment of sparrow species with 180+ Dark-eyed Juncos, 30 White-throated, 20 Song, and single digits of Fox, Savannah, Chipping, American Tree and a Swamp Sparrow too.  Most interesting was a hoary Junco- a very light gray leucistic Dark-eyed feeding not far from a lingering flock of redpolls which included a Hoary Redpoll.

A Sharp-shinned Hawk keeps making passes at them but has yet to snag one today (that I’ve seen). Good Birding! Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan 4/21/13

Northern Maine saw another nice pulse of birdy migrants this weekend with a bunch of new arrivals noted by local observers.  The snow pack took a beating in the heat and breezes late in the week and rivers and streams experienced some minimal flooding.  Lakes and most ponds remain ice covered.

 

Though Lake Josephine in Easton is still mostly icebound, the floe is looking pretty dark and rotten and I expect we will have open water for the Aroostook Birders annual waterfowl walk on Saturday the 27th.  Some of the small wetlands nearby have opened up some more and some of the usual unusual ducks have appeared.  These include Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon and Gadwall.

 

New sparrow arrivals on the 21st included Chipping, White-throated and Swamp.  These were on time and expected, but a Field Sparrow at my feeders was notable and only my second ever for Aroostook County.  A Hoary Redpoll also continued to visit my yard with a small flock of Commons.  Photos can be seen with the eBird list here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S13836355

Despite high water levels at Collins Pond in Caribou, the Greater White-fronted and Snow Goose are continuing and have been seen daily here in the early afternoon.  A Belted Kingfisher was also seen here on Sunday.  The eBird list has some pics:

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S13836092

Other reported new arrivals include Eastern Phoebe and Tree Swallows in Caribou on the 20th and a Double-crested Cormorant on the Aroostook River on the 21st.  Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Merlin and Sharp-shinned Hawks have all been seen in central Aroostook Co.

Good Birding. Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan 4/7/13

A quick note to pass on that I saw an adult Greater White-fronted Goose with ~700 Canada Geese this AM at Collins Pond in Caribou.  The goose had the orange bill, brownish head and neck and strong belly marks of the Greenland subspecies. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was on the ice there as well!

Down river near the Fort Fairfield/Caribou town line I saw another Lesser Black-backed on the ice with some Ring-billed and Herring Gulls…  It could have been the same bird but I doubt it.  An attractive male Wood Duck was swimming in a bit of open water there too.

Fort Fairfield had a couple newly arrived Killdeer and a light phased Rough-legged Hawk.

My yard in Woodland is crazy with redpolls this afternoon.  At least three Hoary Redpolls are in with a flock of 350+ Commons.  My first Song Sparrow showed up today here too.

Snowing hard here now. Cheers,  Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan 3/24/13

I’ve yet to lay eyes on my first Red-winged Blackbird this year, but today I saw a group of five Brown-headed Cowbirds–my earliest ever in northern Maine.  The group was seen in a large flock of Starlings at a Fort Fairfield feedlot.  Surprisingly, it included a female which was particularly unusual since they typically follow the first males by at least a week or so.

I was expecting to see an American Kestrel when I checked out a small falcon teed up on a poplar tree in Caribou this AM.  Instead it was a male Merlin.  This tied my previous earliest date from 2005.  I think I spotted the same bird down river a couple miles about 30 minutes later…

Yesterday, I found the Northern Hawk Owl still hanging out in Houlton.  The bird was on a power pole in the car dealership.  It was making some interesting squeaky vocalizations when crows were about.  The crows seemed to heed its warning and never messed with the owl while I was there.

Other interesting birds today included a Northern Shrike in Limestone and a mixed flock of Horned Larks and Snow Buntings on the Madore Road in Van Buren.  An adult Northern Goshawk flew over my yard during a wild snow squall and never even slowed down.  The Evening Grosbeak was OK with that.

Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan 3/16/13

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).

Good birding, Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan 2/20/13

The Northern Hawk Owl continues at the Access Road in Houlton and seen yesterday 2/19. Also yesterday, I spotted an adult Northern Goshawk just west of Caribou.  The bird came out of the woods and passed just in front of me as I was driving home late in the afternoon.  What a luxury it is to actually have some daylight remaining when I make my evening commute!

The Hoary Redpoll I saw at my feeders all day on Sunday appears to have departed but my wintering Northern Cardinal is hanging tough.  I have received photos of four Red Crossbills that are visiting a feeder in Presque Isle. Hope to check these out sometime soon.

Good Birding,  Bill

 

Caribou Christmas Bird Count – 12/29/12

Mallard 11

Common Goldeneye 7

Common Merganser 40

Bald Eagle 4

Cooper’s Hawk 1

Mourning Dove 102

Rock Pigeon 727

Downy Woodpecker 6

Hairy Woodpecker 23

Black-backed Woodpecker 1

Pileated Woodpecker 3

Northern Shrike 1

Blue Jay 58

Common Raven 130

American Crow 85

Black-capped Chickadee 275

Red-breasted Nuthatch 7

White-breasted Nuthatch 1

American Robin 1

European Starling 2603

Bohemian Waxwing CW

Northern Cardinal 2

American Tree Sparrow 33

Dark-eyed Junco 13

Snow Bunting 18

Pine Grosbeak 68

Common Redpoll 935

Purple Finch 1

American Goldfinch 30

Evening Grosbeak 17

total species = 30

total individuals = 5193

 

Presque Isle Christmas Bird Count – 1/1/13

Mallard 35

American Black Duck 48

Wild Turkey 2

Ruffed Grouse 1

Bald Eagle 34

Sharp-shinned Hawk CW

Cooper’s Hawk 1

Rough-legged Hawk 1

Mourning Dove 170

Rock Pigeon 589

Snowy Owl CW

Downy Woodpecker 19

Hairy Woodpecker 19

Pileated Woodpecker 4

Blue Jay 93

Gray Jay 1

Common Raven 192

American Crow 138

Black-capped Chickadee 527

Red-breasted Nuthatch 34

White-breasted Nuthatch 10

Bohemian Waxwing CW

American Robin 1

Brown Thrasher 1

European Starling 752

Northern Cardinal 6

American Tree Sparrow 21

Savannah Sparrow 1

White-throated Sparrow 4

Dark-eyed Junco 23

Snow Bunting 242

Red Crossbill 4

Pine Grosbeak 37

Hoary Redpoll CW

Common Redpoll 615

Pine Siskin 1

American Goldfinch 51

Evening Grosbeak 30

House Sparrow 48

total species = 35

total individuals = 3755

 

From Bill Sheehan, 12/08/12

Though snow was predicted today, I made a quick run up north this AM to check the ice condition on the lakes.  Most of Long Lake was still mostly ice free but the shallow and protected coves were skimmed over.  It was dead calm and the skies were gray so birds were easy to see.  I saw 33 species which wasn’t bad for this late in the season.

Best bird of the morning was a juvenile Glaucous Gull on the tern island with some lingering Ring-billed, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls.  Though it was distinguishable from shore with the naked eye, it took the scope to see the long pink and black bill and the flat crown.  The bird was husky and appeared well bigger than the Herring Gulls.  I got some distant  documentation photos.

There were also a few lingering Common Loons and a good charge of “Whistlers” (Common Goldeneyes) on the lake.

Up on the Flat Mountain Road, a light phase Rough-legged Hawk was teed up on a large spruce tree in a hedgerow.  Common Redpolls were abundant and are still sticking to the weedy fields and gobbling up the seed heads there.  They appear to be leaving the birch and alder catkins for later.

Other notables this morning were a Gray Jay in Cross Lake, a couple Boreal Chickadees on the Muscovic Road in Stockholm, a lingering American Robin at Madawaska Lake and Sharp-shinned Hawk hunting for redpolls in Woodland.

A couple of the lists are here:

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S12250434

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S12250440
Good Birding, Bill

From Bill Sheehan, 11/20/12

With nighttime temperatures now consistently dropping into the low teens in valleys, the water birding is coming to an end for year in northern Maine. In central Aroostook county, Arnold Brook Lake in Presque Isle and Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield are frozen solid now and Lake Josephine in Easton will probably be in the same condition by morning.

I checked Collins Pond in Caribou this AM.  It was frozen too and I found only the inlet open.  A late lingering Ring-necked Duck was feeding among a bunch of Canada Geese that were contentedly sleeping in the slush there.

A small flock of gulls roosting on the ice included a sharp looking adult Lesser Black-backed Gull with some Herrings and Great Black-backed’s.

Dark and light phase Rough-legged hawks have been spotted around the wetlands near Lake Josephine this week.

Here’s my Collins Pond list:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S12119147

Have a happy Turkey Day.
Bill Sheehan
Woodland, Aroostook Co., Maine
http://northernmainebirds.blogspot.com/

From Bill Sheehan, 11/14/12

The first couple weeks of November have produced some great birds in Northern Maine.

Best among them was a Leach’s Storm-Petrel that was found in Mapleton over the weekend.  This was a first ever record for Aroostook county.  The bird was found in the mouth of dog (!) and narrowly missed becoming a specimen.  It is now recuperating at Avian Haven.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Red Crossbill are visiting feeders on opposite ends of Presque Isle.

I posted some pictures of these and others on the Northern Maine Birds blog

Cheers, Bill

From Bill Sheehan, 10/28/12

Caribou wastewater treatment lagoons are my new favorite spot for duck spotting.

Today at the treatment plant, there were a pair of newly-arrived Barrow’s Goldeneyes, Greater and Lesser Scaup and the latest Wood Duck and Blue-winged Teal I have seen in Aroostook Co.  A very late Lesser Yellowlegs was also nibbling the goodness around the edges of the lagoon.  Drake Common Goldeneyes have also arrived and were seen on the Aroostook River just downstream of the treatment lagoons.   Here’s the list: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S11889416

 

Nearby in north Fort Fairfield, I found several hundred gulls in a cow pasture not far from the Tri-Community Landfill.  I couldn’t spot another white winged gull but a 3rd winter Lesser Black-backed was close to the road and an easy study.  Canada Geese are probably now at their peak numbers in the county and likely number 30,000+ at this point.   I scoped a single flock of 1,100+ in a potato field not far down the Murphy Road without turning up anything unusual.  A flock of 31 American Tree Sparrows was a good count for the species considering I’d only seen ones and twos so far this fall.  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S11889403

 

St. Agatha also had a few good birds this AM.  I spotted my first Rough-legged Hawk of the season (a light phase) on the Chasse Road.  The Long Lake gull flock was greatly diminished from the mass seen here in the past few weeks, but 109 Great Black-backed Gulls seemed a good count.  A White-winged Scoter, a lingering Greater Yellowlegs and a single Bohemian Waxwing were the reward for birding the park by the Town Office here.  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S11889373

 

Christina Reservoir had a few shorebirds on Friday the 26th.  These included my latest ever Spotted Sandpiper in Aroostook Co., as well as a White-rumped Sandpiper, a Dunlin and two very late Pectoral Sandpipers.  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S11875959

 

A very rare find this far north, a Red-bellied Woodpecker has been sporadically coming to a feeder in Presque Isle.   The bird has been seen in the vicinity of Mantle Lake Park and Canterbury Street.

Cheers, Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan, 10/2/12

The Canada Goose flock at Collins Pond in Caribou now numbers over 1,800 with a big tick upward in the numbers over the weekend.  Among the new arrivals were two adult and one juvenile Greater White-fronted Geese.  They appeared to be of the Greenland subspecies.  They arrived just in time for the Aroostook Birders’ visit tomorrow at 10:30 AM.

Northern Shovelers, Green-winged Teal, Hooded Mergs and Blacks and Mallards were also feeding in the pond.  I couldn’t find a Blue-winged Teal but that doesn’t mean they’re gone.  A lone Lesser Yellowlegs was the sole shorebird thanks in part to higher water levels from the weekends rain.

At my feeders in Woodland, the White-throated Sparrows have mostly departed and have been replaced by 20+ White-crowned Sparrows.  Still a few Yellow-rumped Warblers feeding on this sunny afternoon.  Six Evening Grosbeaks visited again this AM.
Bill

From Bill Sheehan, 9/13/12

It’s not quite Sandy Point, but there was an impressive pulse of migrant birds through my yard in Woodland this AM.

My guess is several hundred passerines moved through or over my backyard in a little over an hour.  It was a steady movement of arriving and departing birds and I missed getting good looks many of them before they moved out.  The only brief break in the action was when a Sharp-shinned Hawk glided in and deftly excised a juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker from the side of my big birch.

The horde consisted mainly of White-throated Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and juvie American Robins.  At least six Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers came through and I saw two snag Yellow jacket wasps from the sap wells and chow them down after some focussed manipulation in their bills.

The highlight for me though, was my yard-first Philadelphia Vireo in a small mixed flock of warblers and vireos.  Species number 140.   I thought second one appearing in the same field of view was pretty special too.  These departed and an apparent THIRD Philly showed up within 10 minutes. Fun.

The two Ovenbirds were my latest ever in Aroostook County.

A late report: I spied 3 newly arrived Northern Pintails on Long Lake in St. Agatha on Sunday the 9th.

The list of the birds (I was able to get looks of) is pasted below.

Good Birding.

Bill

 

From Bill Sheehan, 9/8/12

Craig Kesselheim started off a good morning of birding when he showed me a flock of 23 American Golden Plovers just as I arrived in Easton today.

The flock consisted primarily of molting adult birds with a couple of crisp-plumaged juveniles.  We enjoyed good looks at the varied group as it was feeding in a recently harrowed field between Lake Josephine in Easton and Christina Reservoir.  Some of the molting adults were still quite colorful with golden backs and a lot black left on their bellies and undertails.  The bright supercillaries, thin bills, dark caps and black feathers in the undertail coverts all helped with the ID.  Nary a dark wing-pit in the bunch when they flushed.  I got a few pictures.

The waterfowl at Lake Jo proper were not especially inspiring, though we saw a dozen species including a foursome of newly-arrived Lesser Scaup.  Passerines were fun with lots of action in the thickets below the dikes.

There was also a good assortment of raptors moving against the stiff south wind.  An American Kestrel, a couple Merlins, a Sharp-shinned and Osprey and Bald Eagle all came by while we were there.

The second highlight of the day was another of Craig’s finds: a juvenile Common Gallinule feeding in some flooded timber in one of the lower ponds behind the McCain Foods plant.  Though it was tough observe through all the dead wood, we were able to eventually get good looks at it and to see the flank stripe.   After a couple minutes we realized it was joined by another—a drab post-breeding plumaged adult with a faded bill.  Though I had heard the birds here several times this summer this was my first sighting of these.  Good to confirm breeding again this year.

Craig has the full lists and has promised to share, but I think we had about 50 species for the morning.

Good Birding

Bill

 

Bill Sheehan, 8/19/2012

Trafton Lake in Limestone is showing a lot of muddy shore around the boat launch at the park.  There was a fine assemblage of shorebirds here this AM.

My first-ever Aroostook County Ruddy Turnstone was the highlight of the crowd.  The bird appeared to be a juvenile and was poking along the rock/mud/gravel shore in the company of 9 or 10 Killdeer.  Other waders including a bunch of Wilson’s Snipe, both yellowlegs, Least, Semipalmated, Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers.

Quite a few American Bitterns were skulking around the edges of the pond and a late flight of migrant swallows was also notable.

The list is attached below–
Bill Sheehan, Woodland, Aroostook Co., Maine
http://northernmainebirds.blogspot.com/

Trafton Lake, Aroostook, US-ME
Aug 19, 2012 8:20 AM – 8:50 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.9 mile(s)
27 species

American Black Duck  6
Mallard  45
Green-winged Teal (American)  24
Ring-necked Duck  31
Hooded Merganser  11     all apparent young of the year
Common Loon  2
American Bittern  5     High count.  At various locations at cattail edges around pond.
Great Blue Heron  3     adults
Killdeer  18
Spotted Sandpiper  1     juvie
Solitary Sandpiper  2
Greater Yellowlegs  3
Lesser Yellowlegs  5
Ruddy Turnstone  1     My first ever in Aroostook County.  Apparent juv bird feeding with 9 KILLDEER on lake shore. Short, conical and sharply pointed bill, orange legs, breastband.
Semipalmated Sandpiper  6     juveniles
Least Sandpiper  17
Wilson’s Snipe  8     higher count
Rock Pigeon  1
Mourning Dove  1
Belted Kingfisher  4
Eastern Kingbird  1
American Crow  5
Common Raven  1
Tree Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  2
Cliff Swallow  9     migrant flock lateish with BARS and single TRES
American Goldfinch  5

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

 

Bill Sheehan, 8/7/2012

With the very low water levels we’re experiencing up here in Aroostook co. we’ve actually been having a good shorebird  show in some places.

Collins Pond in Caribou is practically a mudflat with a stream running through it right now and has attracted quite a flock of small waders.  The diversity is pretty good with about 10-12 species and you can’t beat the convenience of having the whole gang crowded into a small area you can easily see without getting out your muck boots.

The flock of Killdeer has been averaging about 50 to 60 daily for about two weeks and is the biggest concentration I’ve had here.  (I hear the coastal birders snickering, but this is a great horde for inland!)  The Solitary Sandpipers are quite numerous as well. Pectorals and snipe are fun to watch feeding in the open at point blank distances too.  I thought I heard a White-rumped Sandpiper here this AM but didn’t spot it.

The males of Mallard flock have begun to molt from eclipse plumage back into their green headed splendor.  Most of them are easy to mistake for hybrid Black x Mallards in this early and still forming plumage…

I’ve attached a copy of Sunday’s list below….its been a similar show most days for the past couple of weeks.  I encourage local and visiting birders to take advantage of this rare coincidence of low water and abundant birds while it lasts.

Cheers

Bill

 

Bill Sheehan, 8/7/2012 – August Field Trip

Ten Aroostook Birders visited Lake Jo in Easton and Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield on Saturday morning.  The weather was pleasant, the bugs were not bad and we were able to find 68 species of birds between 7 and 10:30.

At Lake Josephine in Easton, the group found the expected mass of molting ducks, but many of these remained on the distant northwest corner of the pond and were best observed through the spotting scopes.  Mallards were most common with Ring-necked Ducks, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Wood Ducks, American Black Duck, Green-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser and Common Goldeneye also in the mix.  Best duck sighting was the rare-for-New-England breeding Redhead duck with her one remaining duckling.  Other fun finds were American Bittern and Virginia Rail that were, for a short time, visible in the same field a view and provided good long looks for the crowd.  Four belly landing Common Loons were also a treat.

Up at Christina Reservoir, the spectacle of distant waterfowl continued with large flocks of molting Mallards, Ring-necked Ducks and American Wigeon found on the west end of the pond.  Best observations on this pond was a continuing Red-necked Grebe, an American Coot, a pair of Common Loons with a nearly full grown chick and some Common Terns.  A few shorebirds were spotted along the muddy shoreline, including both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer, Semipalmated Plover and Spotted Sandpipers.

A family of foxes lazing off and lying in the morning sun was a nice non-bird observation.

I’ve pasted copies of the full lists of the birds we saw or heard below.

Good Birding

Bill Sheehan

 

Bill Sheehan, 8/1/2012

In preparation of the Aroostook Birders’ outing to Lake Jo and Christina planned for this Saturday, I checked the Reservoir this AM.  Despite the gloomy skies, the pond was hopping with bird activity.

Most impressive were the waterfowl with more than a couple thousand molting ducks and geese present.  Low water levels have forced these birds out of the cattails and into the open.  Ring-necked Ducks, Mallards and American Wigeon dominated the mix but a handful of drake Ruddy Ducks and Gadwall, Shovelers and others were in the rafts.

A Red-necked Grebe and lots of Pied-billed Grebes were fun to see.  American Coots continue to be seen here along the north shore but you need a scope and patience.

The bare mud has begun to attract shorebirds and I expect to see the numbers build quickly. A first-of-season flock of Short-billed Dowitchers buzzed the pond for a while but they couldn’t talk themselves into landing…

Here’s the list.  Bill

Christina Res., Aroostook, US-ME
Aug 1, 2012 7:05 AM – 8:10 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.6 mile(s)

57 species
Canada Goose  30
Wood Duck  25     eclipse plumage drakes
Gadwall  30
American Wigeon  290     molting with RNDU and MALL
American Black Duck  15
Mallard  650     molting adults primarily
Northern Shoveler  3     juvies
Green-winged Teal (American)  13
Ring-necked Duck  1300     irrigation withdrawal lowered H2o level.  Many mostly drakes seen
Hooded Merganser  5
Ruddy Duck  5     males
Common Loon  9     eight adults one juvie
Pied-billed Grebe  71     counted.  about 50% juvies
Red-necked Grebe  1     ratty breeding plumage,  associating with many PB grebes
Bald Eagle  1     adult
Red-tailed Hawk  1     one in the northern fields
American Kestrel  2     adult female and fledgling
Virginia Rail  1
American Coot  2     adults no juvies seen
Semipalmated Plover  2
Killdeer  8
Spotted Sandpiper  2
Solitary Sandpiper  2
Least Sandpiper  2     two adults
Short-billed Dowitcher  19     first of season,  Flock flew around west end of pond for 20 min and left
Wilson’s Snipe  1
Ring-billed Gull  3
Herring Gull  1
Common Tern  4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Belted Kingfisher  3
Downy Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1

Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  2

Alder Flycatcher  9
Eastern Kingbird  12
Red-eyed Vireo  2
Blue Jay  5
American Crow  9

Common Raven  1
Barn Swallow  2

Black-capped Chickadee  4
Hermit Thrush  1
American Robin  15

Gray Catbird  1

European Starling  40
Cedar Waxwing  4
Northern Waterthrush  5     several males singing, juvies
Common Yellowthroat  5
Yellow Warbler  7     some juvies.  Males mostly quiet some singing

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  1

Savannah Sparrow  3
Song Sparrow  80     probably more, many juvies.  seemed to be everywhere.  some singing males
Swamp Sparrow  20     many in the marsh.  some males still singing
Red-winged Blackbird  10

Common Grackle  22

 

From Bill Sheehan, 6/18/12:

I’m slow to post, but I spent the weekend showing the Hampshire Bird Club from Amherst, MA around eastern Aroostook County. The weather was delightful and the birds performed well.

An early morning visit to Aroostook NWR in Limestone on Saturday gave us a good start on the weekend. Among a dozen plus species of warblers, a Mourning Warbler was singing at our very first stop. Singing Olive-sided Flycatchers, a skulky drake Blue-winged Teal, the discovery of a Brown Creeper nest and some glimpses of fluff-ball Upland Sandpiper chicks being shepherded through the grass were all noteworthy finds.

Saturday afternoon at Lake Josephine in Easton produced all the usual unusual waterfowl including the continuing White-winged Scoter drake, a pair of Redheads, two brilliant drake Ruddy Ducks, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Shovelers, both flavors of teal, etc. Sora and Virginia Rail showed themselves to a lucky few in the group. A House Wren singing in the wetland was probably the most unusual sighting of the afternoon. 93 species were tallied for the day.

Yesterday was another fine day weather-wise.

Stops in Cross Lake Township were busy with a steady chorus of warbler song as we traveled along the Square Lake Road. A wetland stop along a side road offered up lots of woodpecker action in the dead standing timber. Northern Flickers, a male Pileated, a Downy and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker were all seen here but the highlight was a pair of Black-backed Woodpeckers feeding juvies in a cavity just twenty yards from the road. The black-backs were good parents, making steady sorties out and returning with food regularly. They vocalized for us nearly every time the left the nest. Ruby-crowned Kinglets scolding a family of Gray Jays was the background noise while we watched the woodpeckers. A Merlin made a quick appearance as well.

Further along into Square Lake Township we found another Mourning Warbler, a singing Tennessee, Palm, Wilson’s, and lots of Nashville and Magnolia Warblers. Gray Jays, Boreal Chickadees and more Olive-sided Flycatchers were eclipsed by a hen Spruce Grouse feeding with chicks directly beside the road. We later spotted a Ruffed Grouse to get the two grouse day.

After a late lunch, we scanned Long Lake in St. Agatha and turned up a Bonapartes and Great Black-backed Gull. An apparent nesting Common Loon in the Common Tern colony at the north end of the lake seemed odd. Later, a couple Cape May Warblers were found along the return route on Blackstone Siding Road in Westmanland. Intermittent singers in the afternoon heat, the Cape Mays still allowed a few in the crowd get a glimpse of them before flitting away.

Good Birding! Bill

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Audubon Christmas Bird Count:

Caribou Count List
Posted, 1/12/12:

Species .. #

Mallard .. 74

Am. Black Duck .. 9

Mallard x Black Duck hybrid .. 3

Common Goldeneye .. 19

Common Merganser .. 9

Ruffed Grouse .. 2

Sharp-shinned Hawk ..1

Great Black-backed Gull .. 5

Herring Gull  ..1

Mourning Dove .. 49

Rock Pigeon .. 368

Downy Woodpecker .. 3

Hairy Woodpecker .. 6

Pileated Woodpecker .. 1

Northern Shrike .. 5

Blue Jay  .. 29

Common Raven .. 58

American Crow .. 131

Black-capped Chickadee  .. 265

Red-breasted Nuthatch .. 25

White-breasted Nuthatch .. 3

Golden-crowned Kinglet .. 7

American Robin .. 2

European Starling  ..1356

American Tree Sparrow .. CW

Snow Bunting .. 87

Common Redpoll .. 27

American Goldfinch  ..168

Total species 26

Total individuals 2627

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From Bill Sheehan, December 5, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net)


Lake Josephine in Easton had a female Long-tailed Duck–my latest ever in Aroostook County– feeding with a medium sized flock of Common Goldeneyes.

Christina Reservoir held only four ducks however one of them was a fantastic drakeCanvasback.

It was a County first for me.  I had a report of one at Trafton Lake in Limestone that I received late last week but I couldn’t relocate it.  Maybe this is it (about 10 miles south), but considering all the reports in the rest of New England and in New Brunswick, I think there could be others around.

I put a couple documentation photos on the Northern Maine Birds blog.

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From Bill Sheehan, December 1, 2011
(via MaineBirds.net)

I got to see the wayward southerner this AM.

The Yellow-throated Warbler was at the previously reported Washburn location at sunrise.  The attractive bird was vocal and active and visited the feeders for a quick feeding session every 20 minutes or so.  If this one behaves like others that have showed up in Maine in late fall/early winter, I suspect it’ll linger for a while.

Paul Cyr was also there and I have posted a few of his pictures of the bird on the Northern Maine Birds blog.  The home owner is OK with visitors so let me know if you’d like directions.

Also!… after work I stopped at the freshly-thawed Collins Pond to check out the arriving gulls.  Though it was almost dark, I was able to scope 13 Iceland Gulls among the couple hundred gulls on the pond!  This was a high count for me in the county.  Ten of the white gulls were juveniles and three, second-cycle Icelands.  There were plenty more gulls arriving after dark, but I couldn’t make out their garb.
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From Bill Sheehan, November 26, 2011  (via MaineBirds.net)

I found my first Snowy Owl of the season in the open country on the Flat Mountain Road in St. Agatha.  The bird was perched on a snag on the backside of a field.  I took a couple digiscoped photos but the bright sunlight washed out the image so badly it looked like a picture of a Q-tip…

I had better luck with a couple light-phase Rough-legged Hawks on the Chasse Road.  They were hover hunting right along the road-ditch and within 20 yards at times!

A Bald Eagle blew out the gull roost just as I arrived and they all moved across the lake.  I was still able to scope a juvie Iceland Gull when they settled back down.

I also checked the Square Lake Road…probably the last time till next spring (not plowed).  No woodpeckers but had a bunch of Common Redpolls, some Pine Siskins, Gray Jays and a few Boreal Chickadees.

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From Bill Sheehan, November 25, 2011  (via MaineBirds.net)
I found a juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake at Trafton Lake in Limestone yesterday.  It was my first inland and a new county bird.

I posted a few gloomy documentation photos on the Northern Maine Birds blog if you’d like to check em out.

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From Bill Sheehan on NorthernMaine Birds, 11/21/11:

On the 20th, Judy Roe emailed that she had seen a gull with green patches on its wing at Collins Pond.  I stopped in the next afternoon to see if I could spot it.

There was a good sized flock (~200) gulls bathing and drinking on the pond and the turnover seemed pretty steady with lots of birds arriving and other departing regularly.  Over half of the crowd was Great Black-backed Gulls with most of the remainder being Herring Gulls.  It didn’t take long for a first cycle (hatched this year) Iceland Gull to appear and then a second!  These young gulls were ghostly cream white without a speck of black on them.  They had dark eyes and black bills that were substantially thinner and lighter looking than the bills on the Herring and Black-backed Gulls.   A third Iceland Gull with a bi-colored bill was a second-cycle bird and a bit lighter than the younger gulls.

                                                       
There were also a dozen or so Ring-billed Gulls in the mix.  Most of these were hanging together in one part of the flock.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t long before a green winged gull appeared among them!  A closer look at the bird showed that both wings had plastic tags on them.  The green tags had numbers…”111″.  Got a couple passable photos just before the sun set and whole flock departed westward.

We’ve had a couple other marked Ring-billed Gulls in northern Maine and these were marked as part of  project to monitor gulls that roost on drinking water supplies in Massachusetts.  I wrote to them to inquire about this new bird.   Senior Biologist Ken MacKenzie was quick to confirm the green marked bird was one of his.

Here’s the details provided by Ken:

Here is some specific information on K111:
Captured 3/15/11 at Price Chopper Plaza, Rt. 20, Worcester, MA
Capture location (GPS): 42.21324, -71.79617
Captured using a rocket net baited with crackers and bread
Sub-adult ring-billed gull
Green wing-tags: K111
Orange leg band: 48
Federal leg band: 1146-31731
Released on site

This morning I returned to Collins Pond to find the single digit temperatures had predictably frozen the pond solid.  So much for waterbird watching here for a while!
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From Bill Sheehan, 11/15/11:

Just wanted to pass along the exciting news of a rare Cattle Egret that is being seen in a cow pasture in Mapleton.

The bird has been seen and photographed feeding with the cattle at the Chase Organic Dairyat 84 Creasey Ridge Road.  The pasture where the bird has been seen is at the intersection of the Pease and Creasey Ridge Roads.

Laura Chase says birders are welcome to come and view the bird from the roadside but stay out of the pasture.  There is apparently a bull there that could be hard on your optics!

Cattle Egrets are a rare bird in Maine with only a few sightings most years.  I am only aware of 5 or 6 recent records for Aroostook County.  Interestingly, another Cattle Egret was also discovered today down in southern Maine at Sabattus!

Probably the quickest route to the bird (from Presque Isle) is to take the Mapleton Road (Route 163) west for about 3.5 miles to “Sleepy Hollow” and then take a right on to the Pease Road just before the RR tracks cross 163.  Follow the Pease Road out to the farm in a couple miles.  The pasture is on the left but look for the cows and I’m told that’s usually where it’ll be!

The bird is all white with black legs and a orangey yellow bill.  Please report back if you see it!

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From Bill Sheehan, November 13, 2011  (via MaineBirds.net)

 

Best bird of the day was the continuing Greater White-fronted Goose at the pond in down town Mars Hill.  This bird was reported over a week ago by Don Smith.  The goose was snoozing, this afternoon, with a couple hundred Canada Geese in the middle of the pond.

Both Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield and Lake Josephine in Easton held rafts of Black Scoters and a Long-tailed Duck.  Lake Jo also had Greater and Lesser Scaup and a few Ruddy Ducks.

Puddledock Pond in Fort Fairfield had several Buffleheads.  Monson Pond in the southern end of Fort Fairfield held only a few mergansers but a first-of-season Rough-legged Hawk hovering over the shore was a highlight.  Further north in Limestone, a pair of Northern Pintails at Malabeam Lake were a bit of a surprise, since this pond is generally a preferred hangout for diving ducks.

The Aroostook NWR in Limestone was quite finchy with flocks of Purple Finches, Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches flying by regularly.  A single flyby Evening Grosbeak was the first for me in a while.


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From Nancy Hudak, November 13, 2011  (via MaineBirds.net):

A Red-breasted nuthatch and American goldfinches at the feeders on Saturday.

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From Bill Sheehan, November 7, 2011  (via MaineBirds.net)

Yesterday, I scoped a huge flock of migrant gulls in Easton and was able to find one Iceland Gull among the undulating mass that was following a tractor plowing the sod.

Christina Reservoir in Fort Fairfield was mighty quiet with only a Bald Eagle and a Long-tailed Duck as notables.  Lake Jo in Easton didn’t have much more.  Some Lesser Scaup and another Long-tailed Duck were consorting with a bunch of Hooded Mergansers here.

This early AM I found a juvenile White-winged Scoter feeding on Hanson Lake in Mapleton.  A small flock of Common Redpolls were a bit of a surprise too.  First of the season.

I put a picture of the gulls and documentation image of the scoter up on the blog.

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From Bill Sheehan, October 25, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net)

Found a bunch of interesting waterbirds today at Portage Lake.  Most interesting was a high-count flock of seven Horned Grebes feeding together in the lake.  Three Surf Scoters, four Red-breasted Mergansers and a Black Scoter made for a nice assortment of migrant seaducks at this decidedly inland location.

A visit to Lake Josephine (Easton) and Christina Reservoir (Fort Fairfield) after work produced even more good finds.

Lake Jo had three Red-necked Grebes right by the shore and yet another Surf Scoter.  A couple Buffleheads, and both kinds of scaups were also good birds for this spot.  Two Snow Buntings feeding on the dike were my first this season.

Over at Christina the big surprise was a flock of 15 American Coots stealing food from Ring-necked Ducks.  One more Surf Scoter and a few Pied-billed Grebes rounded out the day!

For pictures, go to Bill’s blog here.

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Red-necked phalarope spotted in New Sweden,
October 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm:
According to Bill Sheehan, “This is a Red-necked Phalarope in winter plumage.  Possibly a juvenile…  Very rare away from the coast.   Great find…  I only know of a couple other records of this species in Aroostook County
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Another picture of the Barnacle Goose at Collins Pond, 10-12-11:
From Bill Sheehan, via MaineBirds.net: on 10/12/11:
The Barnacle Goose was seen leaving Collins Pond today at 7 AM and returned again at 11:15.   It was still there and snoozing when we left at noon.  Also there were at least three (and maybe a fourth) Cackling Geese with the flocks of Canada Geese.  The goose flock continues to grow in Caribou and now numbers well over 4 thousand at midday.

Six late Northern Shovelers, seven Wilson’s Snipe, two Greater Yellowlegs and an adult Bald Eagle were also seen there today.

Impressive numbers of gulls are now staging at Collins in the hour before sunset.  Last night there were ~1,800 Herring Gulls, about 450 Great Black-backed Gulls and a handful of Ring-billed Gulls that massed here before departing for their night roosting spot somewhere to the west.  Interestingly 90%+ of the gull crowd are adult birds.

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UPDATE From Bill Sheehan, October 4 and 5, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net)
10/4 – Spotted an adult Greater White-fronted Goose at Collins Pond in Caribou this AM.  The goose flock has built to about 3500 birds.

The Challenge: spot the Greater White-fronted goose in the right-hand picture! If you can’t see it, look at about 9 o’clock in the left-hand picture.

10/5 – There were about 3,600 Canada Geese at Collin Pond this AM.  The Greater White-fronted Goose found yesterday was still with the flock at 7:30.  When I returned at lunch time for the Aroostook Birders bird walk, aBarnacle Goose was front and center.

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From Bill Sheehan, October 1, 2011:

                                                         
At the Limestone Mill Pond.

Cackling Geese were split into a separate species from Canada Goose about 5 years ago.  They breed in the western high arctic and winter in Texas and further west.  Quite rare in the east!

I know this seems like a real tough bird to identify but there are several characteristics that make it a lot easier than it would seem:

Very small…just about the size of a Mallard or Black Duck

Short necked

Stubby bill

Steep forehead… almost seems to have a heavy brow

Silvery (rather than brown) tone to the back and sides.

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From Bill Sheehan,September 17, 2011 (viaMaineBirds.net)
Saturday was gorgeous and crisp, with light north winds, but we saw no sign of the big raptor migration up here in northern Maine.  It sounds like the concentrated Broadwing flow was a coastal event.There were some waterfowl were taking advantage of the tailwinds.

Canada Goose numbers are climbing rapidly in the area.  I tallied 870 at Collins Pond.  The pond also had a spiffy assortment of ducks including 19 Northern Shovelers, American Wigeon, teal and a season-first Northern Pintail.  The Pintail dropped in from the stratosphere around 10 AM.

A couple juvie Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are still tending my feeders.  Late for up here.

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From Craig Kesselheim (from Southwest Harbor), September 10, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net):

Had to attend a meeting in Limestone yesterday, so made the very long round-trip to and from with very short stops to bird en route. Some highlights…

5 Turkey Vultures above I-95 at Mile 286 (Oakfield) seemed a decent count for the County
Am. Kestrels on the wires in Fort Fairfield, Limestone, and Easton (1 per town, so considerate)

1 Great Egret in Mars Hill (intown reservoir at the 1 / 1A junction)

Bonaparte’s (3), Ring-bills, GBB Gull and Herrings at Lake Jo in a severe n. wind
Also Lesser (9) and Greater Yellowlegs (4) on an algal mat (NW corner) and a Spotty (SE corner) at Lake Josephine

1 Lesser Scaup (Lake Jo), G-w Teal, Am. Wigeon, Hoodies, Canada Geese, Ring-necks and a Belted Kingfisher.

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From Bill Sheehan, September 6, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net):

I visited Lake Josephine and Christina Reservoir and a couple other spots before the rain arrived yesterday and found 63 species.  Best among them was a female Greater Scaup with an older juvenile and an adult Peregrine Falcon.

The scaup was a tough ID (molting bird, located on the far shore, across the pond) but the low-profile, rounded head and big lips eventually left me at Greater.  The juvie with it offered a slightly different profile, but I labeled it a Greater mostly because it was following the female so closely.  If anyone has juvenile scaup sorting tips, I’d love to hear from you.  The observation leaves me wondering if this is a local breeder…  Will be following up on this for sure.

The Peregrine Falcon was an adult, perched up on the grain silo near the Huber mill.  The bird soon stooped off the “cliff” down toward the lower sludge ponds and out of sight.  A couple of Merlins were stirring things up on Lake Jo proper.

The summer of rain continues unabated here in the north and water levels remain very high.  With the lack of “shore”, shorebirds are hard to come by.

The lists are below:

Lake Josephine, Aroostook, US-ME
Sep 4, 2011 9:20 AM – 10:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.6 mile(s)
38 species

Canada Goose  14     flock flyover
Wood Duck  18     mostly males molting back into bright plumage
Gadwall  28     several barely capable of flight
American Wigeon  80     Many (mostly) males in bright orange eclipse plumage. One brood of 8 older juvs
Mallard  78
Blue-winged Teal  44     feeding on algal mat
Green-winged Teal  22
Ring-necked Duck  42     mostly molting adults.  Juvies seem to have vanished…
Greater Scaup  2     adult female and apparent older juvenile.  Local breeder?
Common Goldeneye  11     flight capable all appeared to be juvies
Ruddy Duck  4     all Juvies.  three in south pond one in east pond
Common Loon  1
Pied-billed Grebe  11     seven were juveniles
Double-crested Cormorant  8
Great Blue Heron  1
Osprey  1
Northern Harrier  2     one adult female one bright orange juvie
Merlin  2     harassing the yellowlegs
Peregrine Falcon  1     adult perched on grain silo by Huber mill,  Flew east and dove towards ponds
Virginia Rail  1     vocalized when merlin flew by
Semipalmated Plover  2     flyovers
Greater Yellowlegs  4
Lesser Yellowlegs  16
Least Sandpiper  1     flyover
Ring-billed Gull  9     two juvies rest adult
Herring Gull  3
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1     getting late but still expected considering no frost yet
Belted Kingfisher  4
Eastern Phoebe  1     hawking insects over east pond
American Crow  12
American Robin  2
Gray Catbird  2
Cedar Waxwing  20     multiple flocks hawking insects around the pond
Common Yellowthroat  4
Yellow-rumped Warbler  4
Song Sparrow  4     one sang
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Red-winged Blackbird  1     flyby

Christina Res., Aroostook, US-ME
Sep 4, 2011 10:00 AM – 10:20 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.5 mile(s)
13 species

American Wigeon  19     all molting adults
Ring-necked Duck  340     mostly loafing on logs and stumps on east end
Pied-billed Grebe  21     3 adults the rest were juveniles
Double-crested Cormorant  14
Bald Eagle  2     one adult one first year
Spotted Sandpiper  2
Ring-billed Gull  6
Belted Kingfisher  3
American Crow  3
Tree Swallow  2     late
Hermit Thrush  1
Common Yellowthroat  1
American Goldfinch  5

Barren Pond, Caribou, Aroostook, US-ME
Sep 4, 2011 8:40 AM – 8:50 AM
Protocol: Area
4.0 ac
12 species

Wood Duck  2     juveniles
American Wigeon  4     adults
American Black Duck  7
Mallard  34
Green-winged Teal  6
Ring-necked Duck  3
Great Blue Heron  1
Green Heron  2     adult and juvenile.  Juvie eating a large green frog.
Belted Kingfisher  1
Gray Catbird  1
Common Yellowthroat  1
Song Sparrow  2

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From Bill Sheehan, August 29, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net):

Steady rain and occasional warm breezes was the extent of the “wrath” of Irene in northern Maine…  We’ve seen worse several times this summer.I poked around a bit this afternoon as the rain changed to showers.  Like most birders reporting here in Maine, I saw only the expected birds of late summer….  Will keep an eye out for anything unusual over the next couple days.

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From Bill Sheehan on July 30, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net)
After yet another inch of rain, the area [around Lake Josephine and Christina Reservoir in Easton] was quite soggy but the birds were out in force.

Highlights at Christina Reservoir was a high count of 55 Pied-billed Grebes, many zebra-headed juveniles, scattered about the lake.  An impressive mass of molting Ring-necked Ducks and American Wigeon has assembled in the northwest cove.

A thick, green algal mat is forming around the perimeter of Lake Jo.  Nasty to look at, but the shorebirds love it since it holds them up and they can pick up emerging aquatic insects from between their toes.  So far, a small flock of peeps (Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers) and Lesser Yellowlegs have arrived and are taking advantage of the scum.

I counted almost 500 ducks here today with just about half being juveniles.  Had my second highest count ever of Gadwall with 91 ducks seen.  The Mallard horde is as ratty as they come, but its still a great opportunity to study their molt and challenging to pick out the molt male Gadwalls, Blue-winged Teal and Northern Shovelers among them.  A single juvie Redhead was the only representative of that species.  The Willow Flycatcher is still calling intermittently.  The Blue-winged Teals have magically just begun to re-appear.

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From Bill Sheehan on July 27, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net)
Just passing on a report posted on the New Brunswick Naturalist listserve yesterday.  Thought this would be appropriate for “Maine-birds” considering these observations are from waters adjacent to Maine and of interest considering the numbers reported.Date:    Tue, 26 Jul 2011 09:46:41 -0300
From:    Durlan and Sally
Subject: Calm Seas

On our morning whale watch yesterday the seas were very calm leaving people to believe the world is flat. Our journey took us outside the Old Proprietor Ledge and eventually into the Grand Manan Basin. Watched 6 humpbacks. Birds were another story.

Shearwaters  20,000 plus (mostly Great)
Petrels          Maybe the most I have seen   ( tens of thousands)
Phalaropes   Numbers appear to be building steadily  10,000 give or take a few

I always try to estimate low.

Durlan Ingersoll
Grand Manan
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Posted July 22, 2011:

Great pictures of an relatively-rare-for-northern-Maine Immature Black-crowned Night Heron taken by Paul Cyr at Lake Josephine in Easton can be found in our Gallery and homepage.

Bill Sheehan says, “They are pretty difficult to see since they are active mainly at night and roost in the bushes during the daylight hours.

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From Doug Hitchcox on July 21, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net)

A friend and I went up to Aroostook County and spent Thursday with Bill Sheehan testing how well
my civic could handle the soggy logging roads – we spent a little time looking for birds too…

For a rainy day in the end of July we did pretty well with 81 species including 15 warblers.

Highlights included a calling Black-billed Cuckoo, singing
White-winged Crossbill, and finally getting to SEE a Mourning Warbler. The duck
show on Lake Josephine was impressive even though we got 100% of the 90% chance
of rain. Redheads made us work but showed beautifully with their chicks.

On the way back south, we swung by the Sunkhaze Meadows NWR in Milford and
were treated to two Common Nighthawks flying around and calling.

Thanks Bill!

Good birding,

Doug Hitchcox

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From Craig Kesselheim and Bob Duchesne on July 17, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net)

Hi Bob and all — my wife and I were in The County this weekend likewise. We began our weekend loop with Bill’s wonderful showcase of Ashland area locales (see Bill’s list from yesterday), then headed up on our own for Ft. Kent & St. Agatha. At Fort Kent, a family of Common Mergs were under the bridge crossing to NB from Mile 0. In St. Agatha, Common Terns and Ring-bills were expected. 3 – 4 Great Black-blacked Gulls were nice. Another COME family seen off of the Sportsman’s Club shore of Long Lake (Sinclair).

This morning we took Flat Mountain Road across to Rte 161, then attempted to bird a bit on the approach to Square Lake. Our tiny car is a limiting factor for sure. Little success for us there.

The road that we thought was the Muscovic Road (and might be yet), just north of the turn to Stockholm off of Rte 161, yielded a singing Pine Warbler (a goodie for this far north, according to Bill S), Nashville, Maggie, Parula, and 2 – 3 Gray Jays. Also what we think are bobcat tracks. Happy to send photos to any track expert if you want to weigh in.

At Collins Pond in Caribou, tons of duck families (mostly Mallards and at least one American Black Duck family), but 8 G-w Teal, 2 Solitary Sands, 1 Lesser Yellowlegs, and Hoodies.

At Mars Hill’s intown reservoir (Prestile Stream), Least Sands, Lesser Yellowlegs.

More later if I find anything important in my notes.
[Added 7/18/11 via MaineBirds.net:
Chimney Swift 1 over Collins Pond (Caribou)
R-t Hawk 1 along roadside Rte 1 between Caribou and Presque Isle]

Cheers,
Craig Kesselheim

In response to:
On Sun, Jul 17, 2011 at 5:32 PM, Bob Duchesne:

If it’s 85 degrees in Fort Kent, what is the rest of Maine suffering through? Birding was a little slow over the weekend in Aroostook County, though there were highlights. After guiding yesterday, I stayed in the area to do some exploring around the back side of Square Lake and Eagle Lake. Eagle Lake Sporting Camps is working hard to become more attractive to birders, so it was a good chance for me to check it out today.

I started the morning at dawn on the Caribou (Route 161) side of the logging roads that lead to the camp. This is Irving land and they do love their spruce plantations. While the miles of thick spruce are not particularly diverse, it is Boreal Chickadee heaven. I could hear them every few minutes out the car window. Also picked up Blackpoll in the thick spruce along the road. The habitat gets more mature and diverse as you get closer to Eagle Lake from that side, and the four mile entrance road to the camp is diverse and birdy. I picked up Wilson’s Warbler and singing White-winged Crossbill not far from the camps.

On the drive  back out, I took the Pennington Pond Road to Route 11. This is more diverse, and I scored Tennessee and Mourning Warblers along the way. Altogether, just driving the roads, I grabbed 17 warbler species out the car window or during brief stops. I can’t wait to try it again when it’s not midsummer, not windy, and not scorching hot. Maybe next June.

Bob Duchesne

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From Bob Duchesne on July 11, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net):

Over the weekend, a trio of birders explored a wide swatch of Aroostook County, starting Friday afternoon at Lake Josephine. We encountered all the same species previously reported by others, with good cooperation from the Redheads and the nesting Pied-billed Grebe. Although we were there in mid-afternoon, the Sora were particularly lively. We saw two cross the railroad tracks near us, which means that we saw…

Wait for it.

…rails on rails.

We spent much of Saturday scouring Bill Sheehan’s favorite boreal birding spots around Route 161. Along the Burnt Landing Road to Square Lake, we had Bay-breasted, Tennessee, and Mourning Warblers. Both crossbills were present and the White-winged Crossbills were singing up a storm. As usual, we also had Boreal Chickadees there. On the Moscovic Road, the highlight was a pair of dueling Wilson’s Warblers, singing on territory – close enough to each other that they needed to constantly remind each other where their territories began and ended. A family of three Gray Jays and a family of  Boreal Chickadees were also encountered along the walk. Surprisingly, a very distant Olive-sided Flycatcher was the only one we heard all weekend. Besides the birds, the day included seven moose.

Sunday was spent birding along Route 11. On the back side of Lake St. Froid, we stumbled upon the birder’s dilemma: a concentration of singing birds all demanding our immediate attention. We chose the close looks at Tennessee Warbler first, then the Veery, and finally the Scarlet Tanager. (It was a good weekend for photography.) Just south of Masardis, we stopped at one of my favorite Mourning Warbler spots and picked up two more. By the end of the weekend, we had totaled 107 species. Of these, 19 were warblers – a total that could have been better except that somehow we didn’t chance upon any Canada or Blackburnian Warblers. And no Cape Mays.

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July 6, 2011:

Maine Outdoor Journal featured a recent Aroostook County trip in a blog entry by Derek Lovitch of Pownal.

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From Bill Sheehan on July 8, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net)

Work took me to Allagash Plantation yesterday.  The town was abuzz as MDOT began the first real re-paving of the main road since before “the Flood” back in the early 1990’s.

I birded a bit through town during my lunch hour and found the birds quite active despite the midday hour.   Highlights for me were some good looks at a Black-billed Cuckoo on the Frank Mack Road and a vocal Merlin patrolling over the road crews.  The Cliff Swallows seemed well at both the Allagash and St. John River bridge colonies.  A singing Bobolink on the grassy islands just upstream of the bridge on the St. John was a nice surprise.

Later on the return trip, I stopped for a cell call in St. Francis and noticed a pair of Eastern Bluebirds on the phone line near the Kelco Christmas tree farm.

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From Nancy Hudak on July 1, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net)

2 pairs of Evening grosbeaks and a plethora of purple finches attacking the feeders this morning.

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From Bill Sheehan on June 30, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net)

Lake Josephine, Easton:
Highlights were the previously-reported Common Moorhen, a gorgeous and stealthy male Green Heron, the Greater Scaup and an attractive pair of Ruddy Ducks.

I found a Pied-billed Grebe nest still under construction (both birds working on it) and then in another wetland, a juvenile PB Grebe with parent(s).

The Willow Flycatchers were vocal, as were the rails.  I saw both Sora and Virginia Rails (no juvies yet).
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From Bill Sheehan on June 24, 2011 (via MaineBirds.net)

Spent the day checking on some of northern Maine’s breeding terns with Brad Allen and Danielle D’Auria from MDIFW.

At Portage Lake we found two pairs of Common Terns, one pair had already hatched two fuzzy young and the other pair had a nest with single egg perched on the top of a beaver lodge.  While paddling through the “floating islands” we also saw several Pied-billed Grebes, Common Loons and lots of Ring-necked Ducks.  A pair of Northern Shovelers and Bobolinks singing in the sphagnum/shrub bog were cool but the most exciting find was a pair of Black Terns acting decidedly territorial.

Portage Lake historically had breeding Black Terns (60 and 70’s I think) but I hadn’t seen a pair here in the 21 years that I have been visiting the lake.  Considering the endangered status of this species in Maine and the fact it is fading out in many former breeding locations in central Maine, the discovery was a thrill for me.

Upstream at Fish River Lake, we found that the ledge-y island  (where I had found Common Terns nesting last year) was almost completely submerged.  Surprisingly, the terns had moved over to a tiny wooded island nearby and were nesting there.  No young were seen but lots of three-egg clutches were visible on the outcrops.  We counted well over 30 birds here.

The Herring Gull was right in the same spot where she nested last year too.

Other birds spotted in transit included a family of Gray Jays and an American Bittern on the Beaver Brook Road.

Also heard a White-winged Crossbill overfly my yard for the first time in a long while.

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From Bill Sheehan on June 21, 2011
(via MaineBirds.net)

On a tip, I checked Lake Josephine early this AM to look for a Greater Scaup that had been reported.

The bird was easily found dozing with some drake Ring-necked Ducks along the western shore of the pond.  A Greater Scaup is a rare find during migration here and (as far as I know) unprecedented in summer in northern Maine.  Though its probably just an over-summering singleton, I will be looking hard for a hen and chicks here as the summer wears on.   Greaters have nested in Quebec and New Brunswick.

I don’t know of other summer records for Greater Scaup in Maine with the exception of a young bird seen in Back Bay in Portland in August many years ago.  I’d love to hear if other Maine birders have info on these in summer.

Other good birds here were TWO Willow Flycatchers and one drake Redhead and one drake Ruddy Duck.  The pond is now dominated by male ducks beginning their first molt of the year.  34 male Wood Ducks were fun to see.

At Christina Reservoir, a pair of Common Loons were feeding aquatic insect nymphs (dragonflies?) to their newly hatched chick.  They didn’t think much of a low passing Bald Eagle.

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