Date: 5/4/18 9:00 am
From: RALPH ELDRIDGE <lightrae1...>
Subject: [Maine-birds] MACHIAS SEAL ISLAND REPORT
*FINALLY!!!*
Mama Nature has decided that it's time to send her children northward.

After posting early Monday morning we had a bump in Raptors on MSI. I
counted 9 MERLINS and 16 SHARP SHINNED HAWKS at one time.
I also saw (not for the first time) how aggression and competition is often
counter productive.
A Merlin chased a ROBIN to an altitude of 500 feet or more, always careful
to stay under the Robin so it couldn't escape into the ground-cover.
1, 2 & 3 other Merlins took up the chase but very quickly all 4 were
squabbling among themselves. Of course the Robin seized its opportunity,
escaped to the ground and hunkered under the boardwalk for a couple hours.

By Tuesday the heft of the raptors departed but a few times every day
there's a HARRIER or KESTREL buzzing through, as well as an EAGLE surveying
her domain for varying periods every day.
I watched her Highness strafe the rafts of Alcids on several occasions,
usually after sunset, and witnessed her invite a RAZORBILL to be guest of
honor for a fashionably late dinner.
Oddly enough, there's a good seal pup carcass available but the Eagle has
completely ignored it. The RAVENS aren't so fussy.

Songbirds have picked up substantially.
There has been a couple waves of WHITE THROATED SPARROWS: counted 46 a dawn
Thursday scouring the patio for seed and there were lots more on the lawns
and in the vegetation.
SAVANNAH SPARROWS are also at high numbers, with both our residents and
migrants present at the moment. Incidentally, on Thursday, I found my first
Savannah Sparrow nest with one egg.
Other sparrows are more modest in numbers although Thursday was an eight
sparrow day: WHITE THROATED; SAVANNAH; SONG; SWAMP; TREE; CHIPPING; LARK &
JUNCO. There was also at least 3 female TOWHEES consorting with the sparrow
flocks.

There was a fairly steady flow of swallows right from early Wednesday
morning through mid-afternoon. TREE, CLIFF, BARN & ROUGH WINGED SWALLOWS
were identified. Scattered swallows passing since then.

Thrushes were represented by a scattering of ROBINS, VEERYS, WOOD, HERMIT,
SWAINSON'S, GREY CHEEKED and a probable BICKNELL'S.

Warblers have stalled with only PALM & YELLOW RUMPED seen to date.

FLICKERS remain strong but quite diminished compared with the previous few
days.

I spotted a handful of RUBY CROWNED KINGLETS and a couple WINTER WRENS.

The black family was represented by a few COWBIRDS, RED WINGED BLACKBIRDS,
several GRACKLES, a couple STARLINGS and 2 or 3 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS as well as
our "resident RAVENS.

Several CATBIRDS remain evident and I suspect that they are birds lingering
for the past few days.

Wednesday's Bird-Of-The-Day was actually 2 Orioles: a BALTIMORE ORIOLE and
an ORCHARD ORIOLE together and sharing a bit of the grape.

At least 3 BROWN THRASHERS have been sulking about, coming out to till the
soil for insects whenever they believed there was nobody around.
One hit the side of the house while avoiding a raptor, coming away with a
terribly bent neck. It was painful watching it feed on seeds with its head
turned 90 degrees to the ground. It appeared to begin straightening as the
hours passed so perhaps it survived.

Activity has picked up a bit on the water.
The Alcids are well into their breeding season.
EIDERS (presumably residents) are hanging about the island while lots more
are streaming up the bay.
There is still a good batch of HARLEQUINS around and an occasional RED
BREASTED MERGANSER.
No flocks of geese were noted but two separate singletons stopped on the
island to partake of the lush new grass.
Other ducks, both Loons and DOUBLE CRESTED CORMORANTS continue to trickle
up the bay.
Gulls, in particular HERRING & GREAT BLACK BACKED GULLS are increasing
their presence, no doubt drawn by the potential for gleaning a meal in or
around the seabird colony. There's some evidence of pairing but no apparent
nesting effort, so far.

I left MSI yesterday, May 3rd, just ahead of the rain. While making a fuel
stop at South West Head (Grand Manan) I noted that the BLACK GUILLEMOTS at
back at their cliff colonies adjacent to and below the lighthouse.

Also noted across the Grand Manan Channel was the near complete absence of
migrants.

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