Date: 4/1/17 4:43 pm From: RALPH ELDRIDGE <lightrae1...> Subject: [Maine-birds] MACHIAS SEAL ISLAND REPORT
Continued low temperatures, a raw North East wind of over 20 knots and an overcast sky combined to make a day that was uninviting to be outside. So, aside from a couple brief excursions into the out-of-doors, I did my observing from the comfort of the house. Bird-wise there doesn't seem to be a lot of change since yesterday. The number of FOX & SAVANNAH SPARROWS seems to have increased a bit. I'm still seeing lots of IPSWICH type Savannahs and today there are two extremely light red Fox Sparrows.
Yesterday's lawn full of ROBINS has disappeared and I've only seen 1 all day.
COMMON MURRES did arrive last night and quite a few remained throughout the day while the RAZORBILLS departed.
Today, the Razorbills came in fairly early, landing about 3 PM.
I'm not surprised by the total lack of PUFFINS. It is early for them.
An arrival pattern has developed in step with the Razorbill population growth. In the early days of Razorbill colonization on MSI they followed the cycles of the much larger Puffin colony. They would raft and come ashore in a single mixed flock, around mid-April, according to the Puffin's timing. Gradually the Razorbill's arrival around the island became earlier and earlier but the actual island landing still didn't occur until the majority of the Puffins had arrived. (During this time the Murres were on their rapid growth and joined the other Alcids for the mass landing on the island.) In the recent few years the 1st mass landings have been in March and comprised entirely of Razorbills and Murres. Typically, they will only stay for a few days and then pretty much disappear for a variable period. When they return, all 3 Alcid species (Puffin, Razorbill & Murre) make nightly mass landings as a single mixed flock.
Although we refer to THE colony, different parts of the island host separate colonies which follow their own schedules. The most distinct colony is the North East section ( area on your right when you land on the island). The birds that belong to that section are routinely up to a week later coming ashore than the rest of the island. Also, It's only recently that Razorbills started to nest there and they still wait until the Puffins arrive and they all land together; the same scenario as we saw with the main colony.