Monday, April 26, 2010

Alna, Maine 4/23-4/25

Karin and I visited our friends Thom and Sue in Alna, Maine this past weekend, for good food, drink, a little hiking, birding and mostly good company. Upon arrival, the dinner fixings were ready for the pan, margaritas ready for the blender and the clouds were clearing for some late day sunshine. Fajita ingredients ready to go!
The bird feeders were busy with Chickadees, Titmice, Red-winged Blackbirds, Purple and Goldfinches. In the backyard a pair of Eastern Phoebes were busy nest building, Tree Swallows were sorting out nest box occupancy rights and an American Woodcock was calling after dusk.

A handsome Purple Finch

Eastern Phoebe
Saturday Morning we took a walk to visit a Bald Eagle nest just up the road. Thom and Sue had visited this nest a few days earlier and had seen the adult pair mating near the nest site, it was uncertain as to whether the pair was late in starting nest activities or not. Apparently the "top" bird in the mating ritual, the assumed male, was in the mist of some degree of molt. It had a few new flight feathers that had not grown in yet, making future separation within the pair fairly easy.

On the walk to the eagle's nest we past many dozens of Trout Lilly.
The presumed male was in the air near the nest but did not land, we were about 200 yards away and under cover, only a few feet from the road and a nearby house. Eventually some movement was detected and small eaglet lifted its head for just a moment. Shortly we after we left, planning a a return later in the day.
The eagle's nest is in the right hand large White Pine Tree in the center.
Later in the day, we returned to view the nest and again had a nice look at the eaglet, but the adults were not in sight. We had seen the male (in partial molt) a few times from Thom and Sue's and also had seen a number of other adults with "clean" plumage.

A digi-scope shot of the eaglet taken through the scope set at 32.5X, plus ~2x on the camera zoom and some cropping on the computer. We only saw one eaglet in the nest, the "object" behind the eaglet was its wing.
Shortly after arrival the male flew overhead and eventually settled on the nest, but without food.
The adult arriving to the nest area.

The empty taloned adult about to land near what must have been a very disappointed youngster.

While the eaglet looked on, the adult seemed entirely indifferent to the young eagle, perhaps both were hoping "mom" had a better day fishing.
Sunday, we had a great hike through the mixed forest visiting a different section of the Sheepscott River and birded a bit as we walked the forest. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, Blue-headed Vireo along with Pine and Yellow-rumped Warblers were all heard singing. After visiting a small, but very picturesque waterfall, I heard a Winter Wren calling along the steam.

Tree Swallow surveys the area from "its" nest box

Tree Swallows having an animated "discussion"
We kept a close eye on the nearby Kestrel box Thom had setup a some years back, recently a pair had been showing interest in it. Last year, the pair had failed, however the previous year they had raised 3 young. Last year's heavy June rains likely affected their success, but hopefully they will fair better this year.

A distance digi-bin shot of the male American Kestrel perched a few hundred feet from the nest box.
One last mental image from Sunday afternoon was watching an Osprey fly overhead with a fish (a herring) in its talons. A young Bald Eagle, a good distance from the Osprey, spotted the "OS" and caught up. It harassed the "OS" repeatedly for a few minutes until the "OS" caught a thermal and was able to get better lift than the eagle and rose above it and on to safety.

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