Date: 3/16/17 3:22 pm From: RALPH ELDRIDGE <lightrae1...> Subject: [Maine-birds] MACHIAS SEAL ISLAND REPORT
I'm not sure why we started Daylight Saving Time. The weather has been distinctly un-spring like. We were fortunate that the storm surge and the largest waves from our recent tempest occurred on low tides and the tides themselves were on the small part of their cycle. We saw sustained winds of 50 knots (57 mph) and peak gusts to 65 knots (75 mph). Seas ran around 24 feet.
Birding is still mainly on the winter cycle, in spite of the earlier minor pulse of migrant wannabes. For the past week the land birds have been limited to one ROBIN and two SONG SPARROWS. The sparrows are most certainly over-wintering birds. As I've mentioned on numerous occasions, Song Sparrows are the only passerines that attempt to stay all winter and many years none survive. Never do all the beginners make it through so if these two make it they are beating the odds.
PURPLE SANDPIPERS are running just shy of 100 and HARLEQUINS are also fairly steady at close to 50.
Gulls, mainly HERRING & GREAT BLACK BACKED, are always around but mainly on the move, foraging.
Other than Harlequins, ducks have been seasonally scarce. GREAT CORMORANTS are showing up as singletons and very small groups. DOUBLE CREASTED CORMORANTS are still rare.
Three CANADA GEESE popped by on Sunday but after checking out various parts of the island's poor habitat, they ventured elsewhere.
ALCIDS are beginning to arrive in modest numbers. Just RAZORBILLS and MURRES so far and quite a few of those still in winter wardrobe.
A few GRAY SEALS are arriving but I haven't noticed any pups yet.
BIRD OF THE DAY: a BLACK CROWNED NIGHT HERON. I encountered an adult this afternoon, hunkered down beside a rocky puddle. A more sterile feeding spot I can't imagine but it likely looked good compared with the rest of the island. So after I nearly bumped into it, the Heron gained altitude and set course for the Maine coast, 10 miles away. I watched its departure and resumed my circuit of the island. Shortly thereafter: a flicker in my peripheral vision and (bet you guessed) there's the departed heron, returned to pass low over my left shoulder, slow against the wind. It was a damn near perfect Bird Butt shot. Anyway; I spotted its landing and could get within reasonable viewing distance. It was still in the intertidal zone at dusk.