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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Volunteer, Rick Lawrence and technician, Brittany Currier, making observations from the wetland edge.

Volunteer, Rick Lawrence and technician, Brittany Currier, making observations from the wetland edge.

This Thursday, I had the pleasure of going out in the field with volunteer, Rick Lawrence, and technician, Brittany Currier.  This was my first heron colony visit of the season and it was a rewarding one.  Despite post-holing through snow to get to the colony wetland, the day was relatively warm and more importantly, sunny!  When we reached the colony edge, I immediately noticed one adult great blue heron standing on one of the nests, and a second flying off in the background.

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Snowy egrets perched in apple trees.

This past May, I had the unique opportunity to assist National Audubon Society (NAS) with a wading bird census on Stratton Island in Saco Bay.  Part of NAS’s Phineas W. Sprague Memorial Sanctuary, this 23-acre island is located 1.5 miles south of Prout’s Neck and is home to an immense diversity of wading birds, waterfowl, seabirds, and songbirds, and is an important stopover for all the above during migration.

In fact, Stratton Island hosts the most diverse wading bird colony in Maine, and is the most northerly U.S. breeding location for a few of these species.  On the north side of the island, great and snowy egrets, black-crowned night-herons, little blue herons, and glossy ibis layer their nests in among the branches of choke cherry and apple trees.

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In April 2009 at this colony in downeast Maine, ice-out is not yet complete and the herons have yet to return. Photo by Jonathan Mays.

The snowpack is gradually receding at my house.  A remnant of our first snowman of the winter is poking its head out once more (so that’s where my hat went!).  While I dread the looming mud season that will follow, I am excited that spring is really on its way.  In fact, the Vernal Equinox is just around the corner: March 20th to be exact.  Besides mud season, the arrival of spring also marks the return of great blue herons to Maine.  Have you seen any herons yet?  Feel free to post here or on Facebook to share your first heron observations of the season.

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It is March 2nd, and although I received 3 inches of snow 2 nights ago at my home, it was wet and heavy snow and had melted by noon.  The wind is blowing, but it is relatively warm air, sending me a hint of spring with every gust. 

Birds are starting to move.  Recent observations of FOY (that’s “first of year” in case you’re not a birder) osprey and turkey vultures remind me that great blue herons will return to Maine within a few weeks’ time.  If my memory is correct, the first great blue heron that was reported on the Maine Birds List in 2009 was on March 12th in Brunswick.  Two weeks later on March 27th, one was reported on Mount Desert Island.  During aerial surveys for nesting bald eagles on March 26th, we flew over 8 great blue heron colony sites to find 2 of them already partially occupied. 

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