Butterflies and random field notes, July 4, 2015

Red-spotted Purple, Wildcat Ridge, NJ, July 2, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Red-spotted Purple, Wildcat Ridge, NJ, July 2, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)


Butterflies are stealing the local nature news lately. An abundance of Great Spangled Fritillaries, Hairstreak spp. and other species are covering appropriate habitats during the past few weeks. Compton Tortoiseshells, Coral Hairstreaks and Tawny Emperors highlight the 20-plus species of butterflies seen at Wildcat Ridge WMA on July 2.

Not all is rosy in the butterfly world in 2015. This observer can count the number of Monarchs he has seen this year on the fingers of one hand. Swallowtails do not seem to be faring much better.

Compton Tortoiseshell, Wildcat Ridge, NJ, July 2, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Compton Tortoiseshell, Wildcat Ridge, NJ, July 2, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Coral Hairstreak, Wildcat Ridge, NJ, July 2, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Coral Hairstreak, Wildcat Ridge, NJ, July 2, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Tawny Emperor, Wildcat Ridge, NJ, July 2, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Tawny Emperor, Wildcat Ridge, NJ, July 2, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The best reference for New Jersey butterflies is the web page for the North Jersey Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association. The link for species accounts is here.


Take a walk to the Friends Blind at the Great Swamp NWR Wildlife Observation Center and be greeted at the bridge by a robustly vocal Marsh Wren.

Marsh Wren, Great Swamp NWR, July 4, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Marsh Wren, Great Swamp NWR, July 4, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted throughout the day. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


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56th Supplement to the AOU Check-list of North American Birds – July 3, 2015

Published on July 1, 2015, the Fifty-sixth Supplement to the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-list of North American Birds can be read in its entirety, here.

Of note to the New Jersey birding public is that American Tree Sparrow is removed from the Spizella genus, Spizella arborea, and made the sole member of the Spizelloides genus as Spizelloides arborea. Please hold your applause.

American Tree Sparrow, Lincoln Park, NJ, Mar. 29, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

American Tree Sparrow, Lincoln Park, NJ, Mar. 29, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Read Rick Wright’s excellent synopsis of the AOU’s supplement at his blog, Birding New Jersey and the World. The link is here .

The AOU Checklist of North and Middle American Birds (7th Edition and Supplements, although not yet including the latest supplement) is here.


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted throughout the day. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


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Gypsy Moths; Field Notes – July 2, 2015

Wildcat Ridge, Rockaway Twp.,  July 2, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Wildcat Ridge, Rockaway Twp., July 2, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

“We’re not anticipating any great swaths of defoliation,” said Douglas Fisher, secretary of the state Department of Agriculture (Bugs regroup for attack on North Jersey trees – NorthJersey.com, May 24, 2015).

An interesting statement if you frequent the highlands of Morris County or talk to the people who do. Possibly, a moderate swath doesn’t deserve the same attention. Even if this year’s Gypsy Moth outbreak doesn’t approach the 339,240 acres of New Jersey Highlands trees defoliated in 2008, 2015 is something to contend with.

The photo at the top of the page is a tiny sample of the devastation to trees in Rockaway Township. Disorienting sun-drenched forest floors are a common sight in what are usually familiar tracts of shaded summer forest.

A combination of a dry spring and municipalities with tight purse strings has helped the Gypsy Moth make a noticeable appearance in the northern counties of New Jersey this summer, more so than most naturalists anticipated.

Gypsy Moths, Wildcat Ridge, July 2, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Gypsy Moths, Wildcat Ridge, July 2, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

There are a good number of Hairstreaks and Fritillaries so far this summer but if you are in the the natural areas of the New Jersey Highlands, there is a very strong possibility that the dominant member of the Lepidoptera order seen flying will be Gypsy Moths.


Field Notes

Double-digit Grasshopper Sparrows and 3 Blue Grosbeaks were observed at Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve (Dan Brill via eBird)


Mike Newlon reports from Glenhurst Meadows, June 30:
At Wagner Farm a pair of Bobolinks plus a fledgling, and two agitated Eastern Meadowlarks. The grass in the meadows is in fine shape.

Butterfiles at Glenhurst Meadows: Canada Thistle on the sparrow mound is attracting skippers and hairstreaks (many Banded, two Hickory, one Striped). More thistle near the gazebo was not attracting much.


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted throughout the day. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


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Monday Bird Notes, etc. – June 29, 2015

Bobolink, Harding Twp., NJ, June 29, 2015 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Bobolink, Harding Twp., NJ, June 29, 2015 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)


Cliff Swallows have vacated former nesting sites on two I-287 bridges in Franklin Township. The only known remaining colony in Somerset County is on the Queens Bridge in South Bound Brook (Jeff Ellerbusch).


An Alder Flycatcher was reported June 28 from Tilcon Lake (Tom Smith). This individual is present for most of June.


Butterflies

Great Spangled Fritillaries, Banded Hairstreaks and other butterfly species have exploded in numbers during the past two weeks. Not so with the beleagured Monarch. Seeing two in Harding Twp. this afternoon was a season high count for this observer.

Monarch, Harding Twp., NJ, June 29, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Monarch, Harding Twp., NJ, June 29, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Painted Lady, Harding Twp., NJ, June 29, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Painted Lady, Harding Twp., NJ, June 29, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted throughout the day. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


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NJAS All Things Birds Trip at Mahlon Dickerson Reservation – June 27, 2015

A light and increasingly steady rain did not deter 11 birders led by yours truly on a New Jersey Audubon All Things Birds trip to Mahlon Dickerson Reservation and Weldon Brook WMA today.

The Ogden Mine Railroad Trail had Least and Acadian Flycatchers, Scarlet Tanagers, American Redstarts and the usual thrushes and vireos.

A side trip to Weldon Brook WMA, actually in Sussex County, was highlighted by a Yellow-breasted Chat – a very skulking Chat that called incessantly, but offered only fleeting views as it hopped behind a cover of young trees and bushes.

A recording of the call of the Yellow-breasted Chat made on June 23 (and which was heard for 30-45 minutes today) is here.

Below are photos of the same Yellow-breasted Chat taken earlier in the week from the same location:

On your mark, get set, Go!
(Yellow-breasted Chat, Weldon Brook WMA, June 23, 2015 – photo by Jonathan Klizas).

Good looks at Chestnut-sided Warblers, Prairie Warblers and numerous Indigo Buntings were also had along the power line at Weldon Brook WMA.

Back at Mahlon Dickerson, Saffin Rock Rill was quieter than hoped for but all participants were enthralled watching a pair of American Redstart parents feeding their youngsters at an eye-level nest.

A rainy walk on the Pine Swamp Trail produced another 2 Acadian Flycatchers before all decided to call it a day.

A calendar of All Things Birds events is found here.


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted throughout the day. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


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Rockaway River WMA, Wednesday Bird Notes – June 24, 2015

Purple Martins of the Great Swamp

Purple Martins, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, June 24, 2015 (photo by Jonathan  Klizas)

Purple Martins, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, June 24, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

The successful colony of Purple Martins at the headquarters of the Great Swamp NWR are busy tending to their young. This adds to the local population of Purple Martins using man-made structures in Mendham, Basking Ridge and now, the Great Swamp.


Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area

Below is a picture of the pond in the sandpit area off of Compton Gobel Road.

Rockaway River WMA, NJ, Jefferson Twp., NJ, June 24, 2015 (iPhone photo by Jonathan  Klizas)

Rockaway River WMA, NJ, Jefferson Twp., NJ, June 24, 2015 (iPhone photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The Beaver Brook trail section of the 3,600 acre Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area is discussed at these previous posts:

The western section of the WMA is accessed via the Compton Gobel Road from Rt. 15. Don’t expect to travel on this dirt road for very long unless you have a monster truck. Park as soon as you see the first water-filled crater and walk in. The wetland in the picture above was the target this morning. Typical bird species of the wooded highlands were encountered with no unusual specialties found.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Rockaway River WMA, NJ, June 24, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Rockaway River WMA, NJ, June 24, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The 3,200 acres of the Mahlon Dickerson Reservation and the adjacent 3,600 acres of the Rockaway Wildlife Management Area form the centerpiece of the highlands in Morris County. Fortunately, enough people value this territory and helped to preserve it from being developed.


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted throughout the day. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


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Great Blue Herons, Monday Bird Notes – June 22, 2015

Feeding time at the heronry

Heronry at Deerhaven Lake, Jefferson Twp. NJ, June 22, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Heronry at Deerhaven Lake, Jefferson Twp. NJ, June 22, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

The heronry at Deerhaven Lake. is productive again this year. 44 Great Blue Herons, juveniles included, were counted this morning. 2015 marks the third consecutive year that yours truly has ventured to this location on exactly the same date. The previous two years, 2013 and 2014 (click the year for the respective posts), turned up a Common Gallinule, but not this year. This is a rugged and remote location to get to as fellow travelers David Bernstein and his son, A.J., can attest to.


Other Bird Notes

Egbert Pond, Rockaway Twp., NJ, June 22, 2013 (iPhoto by Jonathan Klizas)

Egbert Pond, Rockaway Twp., NJ, June 22, 2013 (iPhoto by Jonathan Klizas)

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Egbert Pond, Rockaway Twp., NJ, June 22, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Egbert Pond, Rockaway Twp., NJ, June 22, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The railroad trail at Egbert Pond and Burnt Meadow Brook offers an interesting highland birding diversion. Species include Wood Duck, Red-shouldered Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated and Warbling Vireos, etc. Deer Flies outnumbered the birds this morning. This trail eventually leads into the Lake Denmark area.

One head of Common Milkweed near the lake held many Banded Hairstreaks.

Banded Hairstreaks, Egbert Pond, Rockaway Twp., NJ, June 22, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Banded Hairstreaks, Egbert Pond, Rockaway Twp., NJ, June 22, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


Black River Rd., north of Lamington Road in Lamington, has 2 Grasshopper Sparrows, 8 Bobolinks and 2 Eastern Meadowlarks (Jeff Ellerbusch).


Jim Mulvey informs mocosocoBirds that the Purple Martin gourd condo at the headquarters for the Great Swamp NWR has 2 gourds with chicks. 3 more gourds have eggs.


Below is a photo by Chuck Hantis taken yesterday, June 21, of a Yellow-throated Vireo at the Great Swamp NWR.

Yellow-throated Vireo, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, June 21, 2015 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Yellow-throated Vireo, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, June 21, 2015 (photo by Chuck Hantis)


These are just some of the reports for today. View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted throughout the day. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


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Weekend Bird Notes, Summer Solstice – June 21, 2015

Summer Solstice

The summer solstice occurred today at 12:38 EDT. Can fall migration be far behind? The spring migration of 2015 was lackluster. Here is a wish for a positively eventful summer.


Boonton Reservoir

There were no storm-related birds at Boonton Reservoir this morning, nor were any expected.

The reservoir is a vast aquatic nursery at this time of year. The Island contains numerous Great Blue Heron and Double-crested Cormorant nests. Interestingly, 3 or more Great Egrets are seen flying into the center part of the island for the past few years.

Cliff Swallow nests, Boonton Reservoir, NJ,  June 21, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Cliff Swallow nests, Boonton Reservoir, NJ, June 21, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The Cliff Swallows at the Rt. 202 bridge have a stable nesting population. As many as 20 individuals were counted in May. At least 10 nests are located underneath the bridge as viewed today.

Cliff Swallow nests, Boonton Reservoir, NJ,  June 21, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Cliff Swallow nests, Boonton Reservoir, NJ, June 21, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Cliff Swallow nests, Boonton Reservoir, NJ,  June 21, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Cliff Swallow nests, Boonton Reservoir, NJ, June 21, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


Other Field Notes

The Yellow-breasted Chat of Lord Stirling Park continues as of yesterday (Jeff Ellerbusch).


Elsewhere, the typical nesting birds of the region and of the season are the only other bird news.


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted throughout the day. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


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Black-crowned Night-Herons in Somerset Co.; eBird Mobile – June 18, 2015

Black-crowned Night-Herons at Green Brook Park, North Plainfield

Black-crowned Night-Heron, N. Plainfield, NJ, June 18, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Black-crowned Night-Heron, N. Plainfield, NJ, June 18, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Many people are probably not aware that a town with the name of North Plainfield is actually in Somerset County, not in Union County as is the namesake of Plainfield. Then again, South Plainfield is in Middlesex County, spreading the Plainfield dynasty among three counties.

Green Brook Park is mostly in Plainfield but a northern sliver of the park is in North Plainfield. A pond in the park lies on the county border so listers can double-dip the Black-crowned Night-Herons that favor this location. Walter Blenderman has kept track of the herons in this park since 2013, at least. He has tallied Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Green Herons and up to 5 Black-crowned Night-Herons at the park.

Black-crowned Night-Heron, N. Plainfield, NJ, June 18, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Black-crowned Night-Heron, N. Plainfield, NJ, June 18, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Today, 3 Black-crowned Night-Herons were using the area of the pond – two are displayed in the photos.

Black-crowned Night-Heron in Watchung

The boro of Watchung is also a Somerset County hot spot for Black-crowned Night-Herons. The dam at Best Lake is a popular spot for herons. Both a Black-crowned Night-Heron and a Great Blue Heron were seen on it this drizzly afternoon. Neighboring Watchung Lake is frequently a Night-Heron hangout although none were seen today.

Black-crowned Night-Heron, Best Lake, Watchung, NJ, June 18 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Black-crowned Night-Heron, Best Lake, Watchung, NJ, June 18 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


eBird Mobile 

Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s eBird continues to grow worldwide. A few years ago, a third party mobile app, BirdLog, was introduced and quickly revolutionized how bird sightings are entered into the eBird database.

Cornell’s eBird team has taken over the development of this app an re-branded it as eBird, also referred to as the eBird mobile app. This writer used the beta version for the past month. It works as well as BirdLog. has a few enhancements with more to come in the future. For one thing, it is global and can be used anywhere on Planet Earth. It has multiple language support. And…it is free. Currently it is available only in an iOS version. The iTunes link for downloading it is here. An Android version will be released in the future.

BirdLog is being phased out. So, if you are a BirdLog user, make the switch to eBird mobile as soon as possible.


These are just some of the reports for today. View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted throughout the day. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


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Cliff Swallows, Monday Bird Notes – June 15, 2015

Cliff Swallows in Somerset County

Bridges spanning the Raritan River are worth checking for nesting swallows, especially Cliff Swallows. Two bridges were checked today with opposite results. The I-287 bridge at Easton Avenue in Franklin Township was a hot bed of Cliff Swallow nesting activity a few years ago. For whatever reasons, the Cliff Swallows abandoned the site in 2014. That status remains the same for 2015.

Queens Bridge, S. Bound Brook, NJ,  June 15, 2015 (iPhone photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Queens Bridge, S. Bound Brook, NJ, June 15, 2015 (iPhone photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Queens Bridge in South Bound Brook has a small group of Cliff Swallows sharing the structure with Barn Swallows. This could be a new location for nesting Cliff Swallows unless someone has information otherwise.

Queens Bridge, S. Bound Brook, NJ,  June 15, 2015 (iPhone photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Queens Bridge, S. Bound Brook, NJ, June 15, 2015 (iPhone photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The I-287 bridge at Weston Canal Road has yet to be checked in 2015. 24 Cliff Swallow nests were here in 2014.


Grasshopper Sparrows at Negri-Nepote

Grasshopper Sparrows, Negri-Nepote Grasslands, NJ, June 15, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Grasshopper Sparrows, Negri-Nepote Grasslands, NJ, June 15, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

A Dickcissel reported Saturday morning at 10:30 on the wire leading to the farm-house at Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve has not been relocated since that time.

Nonetheless, quality time with Grasshopper Sparrows is precious and time well spent. At least 5 were by the bench and surrounding area and paths today.

Grasshopper Sparrow, Negri-Nepote Grasslands, NJ, June 15, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Grasshopper Sparrow, Negri-Nepote Grasslands, NJ, June 15, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Grasshopper Sparrow, Negri-Nepote Grasslands, NJ, June 15, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Grasshopper Sparrow, Negri-Nepote Grasslands, NJ, June 15, 2015 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


These are just some of the reports for today. View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted throughout the day. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


Posted in Morris County, Somerset County | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment