Wednesday Bird Notes, July 23, 2014

Parsippany’s Yellow-crowned Night-Heron is seen sporadically lately. It is probably in the dense foliage of the island at Jefferson Road Pond if it is not in the two bridges area of the south end of the pond. Chuck Hantis caught it taking a dip on July 20 in the following photos.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, July 20, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, July 20, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, July 20, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, July 20, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)


Bird reports are slowing down as we get deeper into summer. mocosocoBirds posts will be sporadic for the next few weeks.

Two White-eyed Vireos are summering in the Washington Valley section of Morris Township. This is a trend for the past few years. One is at the Moody Farm along the asphalt trail. The second is along the Patriots Path section of Whitehead Road.

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Sunday Bird Notes, July 20, 2014

Congratulations to neighboring Hunterdon County for hosting a European Golden-Plover the past two days.


The number of birds in the non-public areas of Duke Farms in Hillsborough Township shows what happens when habitat is administered in a proper fashion. Field surveys this weekend tallied 40+ Grasshopper Sparrows, 250+ Bobolinks and ~30 Eastern Meadowlarks. For some diversity, throw in Blue Grosbeaks and American Kestrels.


The Dickcissels of Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve are reported throughout the weekend (m.obs.).


Summer is slowly transitioning into the next season. 200 Double-crested Cormorants and 123 Ring-billed Gulls along with 145 Canada Geese, 16 Great Blue Herons and 5 Great Egrets were at Boonton Reservoir this afternoon. The majority of the Cormorants are on the south side of the island. 435 were counted on July 17, 2013 at the reservoir, the highest count for Morris County. That task was made easy because most of the Cormorants were floating in two distinct rafts with the remainder loafing on the island.


The Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was seen at Jefferson Road Pond, Parsippany on July 19 (Tom Gorman). This is the first report of the YCNH in Parsippany since July 6.

2 Black-crowned Night-Herons continue at Green Brook Park on the North Plainfield side as they have in varying numbers through the spring and summer (Walter Blenderman).


Perhaps it is the low point of a cycle but butterflies are low in numbers in the mocosocoBirds area according to many observers. The following Pipevine Swallowtail was found at Willowwood Arboretum in Chester Township this week.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor), Willowwood Arboretum, NJ, July 17, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor), Willowwood Arboretum, NJ, July 17, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

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Franklin Twp. Cliff Swallows update, July 15, 2014

The June 17 mocosocoBirds post describes the lack of Cliff Swallows at the formerly productive site on the I-287 bridge on the D&R Towpath along Easton Avenue in Franklin Township. The post mentions that a second nesting location on another I-287 bridge along Weston Canal Road had yet to be surveyed. That changed yesterday.

Jeff Ellerbusch visited the Weston Canal site on July 14 and found a total of 24 nests, 23 on the east side of the bridge and 1 on the west. Of these, 21 on the east side are active; the rest are not. The tally of Cliff Swallows is 35. Apparently, the Cliff Swallows abandoned the Easton Avenue site.


The Dickcissels of Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve are reported daily. 2 individuals were seen and listed on eBird today (Jeff Dale).


3 adult Black-crowned Night-Herons were at Jefferson Road Pond
in Parsippany, July 14 (Julie Buechner). The Yellow-crowned Night-Heron is not reported since July 6.

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Cattle Egrets at Duke Farms, July 13, 2014

A pair of Cattle Egrets flew south over Duke Farms in Hillsborough Township this morning. They were photographed in flight (Jeff Ellerbusch). This is only the second record for Duke Farms and the third known record in Somerset County. Other highlights at Duke Farms are: 35 Grasshopper Sparrows, Blue Grosbeak, 133 Bobolinks and 21 Eastern Meadowlarks. These reports are on Duke’s private lands, not the core estate open to the public.


The Dickcissels at Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve continue with many reports today.


Fish Tract in Florham Park has 19 Killdeer, 2 Spotted Sandpipers and 10 Least Sandpipers.

Least Sandpiper, Lincoln Park, NJ, July 13, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Least Sandpiper, Lincoln Park, NJ, July 13, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Lincoln Park Gravel Pits has 4 Great Blue Herons, 12 Great Egrets, 2 Green Herons, Red-shouldered Hawk, 10 Killdeer, 1 Spotted Sandpiper and 1 lone Least Sandpiper. Water levels remain high. The Water Chestnut (Trapa natans) invasion threatens to completely overtake the main body of water in the next few years. Interestingly, the smaller second pond has none (J. Klizas).

Here are two views of the lake at Lincoln Park Gravel Pits with the spreading mat of Water Chestnut: the first looking south, the second looking north.

Water Chestnut, Lincoln Park Gravel Pits,  July 13, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

Water Chestnut, Lincoln Park Gravel Pits, July 13, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

Water Chestnut, Lincoln Park Gravel Pits,  July 13, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

Water Chestnut, Lincoln Park Gravel Pits, July 13, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

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Proposal to open Griggstown Grasslands for bikers, July 12, 2014

mocosocoBirds is presenting the following letter as a public notice to make people aware of a proposal to open the Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve in Franklin Township for mountain bikers. Mark Grieco wrote the following note and sent it to Chris Duffek who passed it on to mocosocoBirds. Here is the contents of the message:

From Mark Grieco:
“On July 10, the Franklin Township Trails Advisory Committee voted to open the orange, yellow, purple, and brown trails to mountain bicyclists.  The issue will now go to the Open Space Advisory Committee.  I’m totally opposed to the bikers for several reasons:

  1. The preserve is a wildlife sanctuary.  My experience at Six Mile Run is that bikers frighten wildlife.  I can only imagine what this will do to birding at the site.
  2. The bikes will destroy the trails, by rutting, as they did at Six Mile Run.
  3. While the Trails Committee recommended prohibiting bikes on the red and blue trails for environmental reasons, the fact is from the preserve parking lot you can only get to the upper four trails by going through the red and blue trails.  This is a de facto opening up of the entire trails system, including those parts deemed sensitive, to the bikes. Both wildlife and the quality of the trail surfaces will suffer.
  4. The township has no policing of its open space.  It is irresponsible to invite more people to an area – a Geo Caching system was recently opened up at the preserve – that can not be policed.  That only increases the likelihood of vandalism and conflicts between various users of the preserve.
  5. The trail etiquette of many bikers is questionable.  Again, based on my years of experience, bicyclists travel at a high rate of speed on trails and rarely yield to hikers, as trail policy states at most sites.  Frankly, I find their approach to the natural environment, one that seems to value conquering nature as opposed to observing and learning from it as birders and hikers do, as incompatible to a wildlife sanctuary.

Simply put, bicycles are an incongruity, and at times a destructive force, in the natural environment and their presence should be greatly limited.  There are plenty of riding trails just down Canal Road at Six Mile Run; the bicyclists should use that site.

I’m hoping you can spread the word about this unfortunate recommendation by the Franklin Township Trails Advisory Committee to the birding community and they can make their concerns known to the township.  As I indicated above, the issue will now go to the Open Space Committee. The Franklin Township Council liaison to the Open Space Committee is Councilman Theodore Chase. His email is Councilman.Chase@twp.franklin.nj.us.  Thanks for your time and concern.  See you on the trails.”

Note from the editor: Any intelligently written opinions regarding this issue are welcome and will be added to this post as comments.

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Dickcissels, Little Blue Heron, July 12, 2014

Dickcissels at Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve

Enough visual evidence by multiple observers confirms that at least three Dickcissels are in summer residence at Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve in Franklin Township. Chris Thomas managed a few photos of bashful Dickcissels hiding behind leaves. It appears that a female is attending to two juveniles. The photos take some imagination but the birds were seen under better conditions and are verified as Dickcissels.

Click on the photos for a larger image.

Dickcissels at Negri-Nepote Grasslands, NJ, July 12, 2014 (photo by Chris Thomas)

Dickcissels at Negri-Nepote Grasslands, NJ, July 12, 2014 (photo by Chris Thomas)

Dickcissels at Negri-Nepote Grasslands, NJ, July 12, 2014 (photo by Chris Thomas)

Dickcissels at Negri-Nepote Grasslands, NJ, July 12, 2014 (photo by Chris Thomas)


Little Blue Heron at Finderne Wetlands

A Little Blue Heron found yesterday, July 11, at Finderne Wetlands by Jeff Ellerbusch continues today (Chris Thomas).

Little Blue Heron, Finderne Wetlands, July 11, 2014 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)
Little Blue Heron


Blue Grosbeaks in Somerset County

A Blue Grosbeak is on Opie Road in Branchburgh Township today (Chris Thomas). A Blue Grosbeak was reported earlier in June in the same area.

Blue Grosbeak, Branchburg, Twp. (photo by Chris Thomas)
Blue Grosbeak

Another Blue Grosbeak was at Finderne Wetlands yesterday, July 11 (Jeff Ellerbusch).

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Thursday Bird Notes; Morris Deer Management Schedule, July 10, 2014

Young Birds of 2014

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, July  9, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, July 9, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Wild Turkeys, Lord Stirling Park, NJ, July 10, 2014 (photo by Jason Denesevich)

Wild Turkeys, Lord Stirling Park, NJ, July 10, 2014 (photo by Jason Denesevich)

Dickcissel(s?) in Franklin Township

The Dickcissel(s?) continues at Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve in Franklin Twp. It can be viewed in the trees and adjoining grassland by making the first right out of the parking lot and following the trail along the tree line. It is suspected that more than one Dickcissel is present at Negri-Nepote but no concrete, indisputable proof is currently available.

A word of caution: there are NO Alder Flycatchers currently in Somerset County. A few reports of this species at Negri-Nepote have entered this eBird reviewer’s review queue recently. The reviewer is disappointed to say the least. There is a family of Willow Flycatchers in the same area where the Dickcissel is being viewed. They can make vocalizations that sound vaguely like an Alder Flycatcher if one uses their imagination. This issue was addressed early this spring in a post here.

That is only part of the issue. Habitat must be taken into account. Alders prefers habitat that has some component of wetness not to mention a more northerly aspect. Negri-Nepote is as dry as a place can get – perfect for Willow Flycatchers which are abundant in this area. Also, Alder Flycatchers do not nest anywhere near Franklin Township.

The calendar is another issue regarding southbound migration. Alder Flycatchers are late arrivals to the nesting grounds and do not depart until much later in the summer – certainly not the second week of July!

So, please be careful and use the available research tools to make a learned observation.

Shorebirds are on the move

Solitary Sandpiper, Negri-Nepote Grasslands, NJ, July 10, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Solitary Sandpiper, Negri-Nepote Grasslands, NJ, July 10, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

2 Solitary Sandpipers were at Hannah’s Pond at Negri-Nepote this morning (Jeff Ellerbusch, J. Klizas). This is the first summer report of this species in the mocosocoBirds region for 2014.

2 Least Sandpipers were with 13 Killdeer at the Fish Tract in Florham Park (J. Klizas).

Morris Parks Deer Management Schedule

Have you an orange cap or jacket? Morris County Parks released their hunting schedule for 2014. Some of these locations are excellent birding spots in the fall so be aware and be smart. The schedule can be viewed here.

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Yes, there is a Dickcissel at Negri-Nepote, and other field notes, July 7, 2014

In case anyone doubted the accuracy of July 5th’s report of a Dickcissel at Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve, the empirical evidence is forthwith:

Dickcissel, Negri-Nepote Grassland Preserve, NJ, July 7, 2014 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

Dickcissel, Negri-Nepote Grassland Preserve, NJ, July 7, 2014 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

The Dickcissel was seen this afternoon by the original finder, Bobby Skrabal, and Jeff Ellerbusch. It was in the same location as on Saturday: “From the parking lot make the first right, and it was in the patch of trees, where the Woodcocks are usually seen in early spring.”

The usual 6 Grasshopper Sparrows are also at the grasslands (J. Ellerbusch).


Other Field Notes

How flooded is the little known area in Florham Park named the Fish Tract?

Osprey at Fish Tract, Florham Park, NJ,  July 7, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Osprey at Fish Tract, Florham Park, NJ, July 7, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Enough to lure an Osprey for a look. This former farm land on the Passaic River is now a lake after the rain of the past weekend. The habitat at this place is changeable. 18 Killdeer were here last week when the water was nearly drained out. Only 2 were noticed today as all the mud is submerged.


The typical birds of Wildcat Ridge in Rockaway Twp. were evident today. Plants and butterflies may be late in their schedules this year but there is an increasing number and diversity of butterflies including the Hoary Edge Skipper (Achalarus lyciades) below.

Hoary Edge Skipper, Wildcat Ridge, NJ, July 7, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Hoary Edge Skipper, Wildcat Ridge, NJ, July 7, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Odonates are currently abundant at Wildcat Ridge. A female Arrowhead Spiketail (Cordulegaster obliqua) posed for the photo below.

Female Arrowhead Spiketail (Cordulegaster obliqua ), Wildcat Ridge, NJ,  July 7, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Female Arrowhead Spiketail (Cordulegaster obliqua ), Wildcat Ridge, NJ, July 7, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

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Sunday Bird Notes, July 6, 2014

Red-headed Woodpecker in Morris County

Red-headed Woodpecker, Long Hill Twp., NJ, July 6, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Red-headed Woodpecker, Long Hill Twp., NJ, July 6, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Two reports this week of Red-headed Woodpeckers at Glenhurst Meadows, Somerset County (see this post), motivated this writer to check on the bi-county roaming of this species. Sure enough, an adult was seen and heard in the flooded woodlands of the Long Hill Wetlands in Morris County between the Passaic River and the power line. In relation to Glenhurst Meadows this sighting is east of the river trail where the Red-headed Woodpeckers were seen at Glenhurst. Long Hill Wetlands is north of the Passaic River across from Glenhurst Meadows and is described here in a mocosocoBirds post from August 2013.

The wetlands are just that. One can walk the length of the gravel roadway next to the power line, but it is a wet and wild journey north, south and beyond that. In other words, mobility is very limited.

A female Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans) is also a nice find in Morris County. This is an uncommon odonate in northern New Jersey.

Female Great Blue Skimmer, Long Hill Twp., Morris County, NJ, July 6, 2014

Female Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans), Long Hill Twp., NJ, July 6, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)


The Members Only Martins of Mendham

Purple Martin, Lewis Morris Park, NJ, July 5, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

Purple Martin, Lewis Morris Park, NJ, July 5, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

In the recent past, the Mendham Golf and Tennis Club lured Purple Martins to nest on the club’s property. Three years ago, local birders noticed an interesting summer evening pattern at Sunrise Lake at Lewis Morris Park. Barn Swallows will hawk insects over the lake and then occasionally rest on the vacant sandy beach. Except - they weren’t alone. One day Purple Martins showed up and joined the beach party. As many as 13 have been witnessed in attendance over the years although usually the number is 3 to 4. The Martins can be seen flying west towards the Golf and Tennis Club as daylight fades, about 1.4 miles away as the Martin flies.

Purple Martin, Lewis Morris Park, NJ, July 5, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

Purple Martin, Lewis Morris Park, NJ, July 5, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

Purple Martins, Lewis Morris Park, NJ, July 5, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

Purple Martins, Lewis Morris Park, NJ, July 5, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

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Dickcissel, Red-headed Woodpecker, July 5, 2014

Dickcissel at Negri-Nepoti Native Grasslands

From Bobby Skrabal:
“I saw a female Dickcissel at Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve this afternoon. It was calling from the top of a dead tree by the beginning of the trails. From the parking lot make the first right, and it was in the patch of trees, where the Woodcocks are usually seen in early spring.”

Red-headed Woodpecker at Glenhurst Meadows

Red-Headed Woodpecker, Glenhurst Meadows, NJ, July 5, 2014 (photo by Robert Gallucci)

Red-Headed Woodpecker, Glenhurst Meadows, NJ, July 5, 2014 (photo by Robert Gallucci)

Last winter saw one of the largest localized Red-headed Woodpecker irruptions in recent memory. By spring, all seemed to be gone from Morris and Somerset Counties. One was seen and photographed today at Glenhurst Meadows (Robert Gallucci). 3 were reported to eBird from the same location on July 1 (Marc Chelemer).

Celestial Happenings

Conjunction of the moon with Mars and Saturn, July 2014 (courtesy of skyandtelescope.com)

Conjunction of the moon with Mars and Saturn, July 2014 (courtesy of skyandtelescope.com)

The forecast calls for a few clear nights ahead. Here is another function for that spotting scope you are waiting to use on shorebirds. Point it towards the southwest after sunset and look for the Moon on July 5. Mars will be next it as well as the star, Spica. Saturn is to the east. On July 7, the Moon will be close to Saturn from our earthly viewpoint.

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