There are many who will recount 2011 as a year of weather in Morris County like no other. Snow cover hampered land birding in Morris throughout the winter and the lakes of the county remained icebound into March. Spring migration was mediocre. Summer rains and and Hurricane Irene followed by Tropical Storm Lee flooded areas already saturated from record snows and spring and summer rains. Topping it off, an unprecedented October Nor’easter dumped heavy snow on leaf-laden trees causing widespread downed branches and fallen trees, creating power outages that lasted up to a week for many and longer for others. November and December were mercifully mild. Despite the dramatic climate, 225 species were recorded in Morris County in 2011 according to eBird data as of this date.
Morris County is not rich in shorebird habitat. Tim Vogel was able to find a flooded field in Denville along the Rockaway River that provided the best, if not only, shorebirding of the year in the county. Numerous Pectoral Sandpipers were supplemented with Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Killdeer and a Stilt Sandpiper. Without this location the Morris County shorebird list for 2011 would have been meager.
The 2011 Morris County Bird of the Year is the Say’s Phoebe found by Jamie Glydon and seen by many observers at Bee Meadow Parkway, Whippany on September 19. The bird stayed for one day. It is the first record of this species for Morris County. Other highlights were a Rufous Hummingbird at a private residence in Landing. Photographs helped determine the identity of the bird and if accepted by the New Jersey Bird Record Committee will be the second record for the county. Likewise, a Le Conte’s Sparrow found in the Great Swamp on November 1 was photographed and will be the second county record if accepted.
GSNWR = Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
Boonton CBC = Boonton Christmas Bird Count, 26 Dec.
Denville = Shorebirds context: refers to the St. Clare’s Fields which is labeled as McCarter Park on Google Maps.
Dates are in the standard UK format of Date followed by the abbreviated month, e.g. 1 Jan for January 1st. Observers are listed at the end of the report, their initials used for the body of the report.
Anseriformes (Ducks, Geese and Waterfowl)
Snow Goose – Up until December 17 there were only two sightings for the year: one for 132 individuals on 18 Mar at GSNWR (FS) and a single bird on 26 Mar in Florham Park (JK). The Great Swamp CBC changed all of that. What may be a record number for Morris County, 9,296 Snow Geese were counted from the Overlook at GSNWR (JE, SL). Another single bird was on Lake Parsippany 22 Dec (JG).
The high count for Mute Swan was 135 at Mt. Hope Lake 19 Jul (JK). It declined to 12 by 3 Dec before increasing to 30 by year’s end.
Tundra Swan – 1 Mar, Whippany (MW); 4 on 5 Mar, GSNWR (JE), with one lingering through 19 May (KB, JK). 2 on 22 Nov, GSNWR (SL.)
Wood Duck – 150 at GSNWR on 7 Nov (RW).
Gadwall – 40 on Mt. Hope Lake, 3 Dec (JK).
American Wigeon – 60 at GSNWR, 14 Nov (JE).
Blue-winged Teal – 7 at GSNWR on 22 Sep (MN).
Northern Shoveler – sparsely reported; high counts at GSNWR of 3 on 18 Mar (DC) and 2 Apr (SL). 3 at Chatham Sewage Ponds on 30 Dec (TC, AL).
Northern Pintail – 178 at GSNWR on 7 Mar (JE).
Green-winged Teal – 210 at Mt. Hope Lake, 2 Apr (JK).
Canvasback – Mt. Hope Lake on 12 Mar (TJ); 1 on Boonton CBC, 26 Dec (CK).
Redhead – 1 drake on 2 Apr, Mt. Hope Lake (JK); 2 drakes 20-28 Nov, Mt. Hope Lake (JK, JG, MD); 3 on Arrowhead Lake, Denville, 26 Dec (GM, Boonton CBC).
Ring-necked Duck – 150 at Arrowhead Lake, Denville on 28 Dec (JK).
Greater Scaup – 7 at Lake Musconetcong on 6 Apr (AB).
Lesser Scaup – 15 at Budd Lake on 19 Mar (JK).
White-winged Scoter – 4 at Lake Musconetcong on 23 April (JK, TH); 1 at Lake Parsippany on 1 Dec (JG, SL); 1 at Budd Lake on 3 Dec, (TH).
Long-tailed Duck – 2 at Lake Musconetcong on 23 Apr, (TH, JK); 1 at Lake Parsippany 0n 18 Dec (JG).
Bufflehead – 41 on Lake Musconetcong on 6 Mar (JG).
Common Goldeneye – 8 at Troy Meadows on 3 Mar (BP).
Hooded Merganser – 66 at Lake Musconetcong on 10 Dec, (JK).
Common Merganser – High count of 500 on 10 Mar, Lake Parsippany (JK).
Red-breasted Merganser – 4 were reported all year. 2 on 12 Mar, Lake Musconetcong (JE, JK); 1 on 10 Apr, Budd Lake (KG); 1 on 3 Dec, Budd Lake (TH); Dec. 20, Mt. Hope Lake, JK; 3 on Lake Parsippany, 26 Dec (GM, Boonton CBC).
Ruddy Duck – 300 at Split Rock Reservoir on 25 Nov (JK).
Hooded Merganser –62 at Taylortown Reservoir on 11 Nov (JK).
Red-throated Loon – Morris’s only 2011 record: 2 on 1 Dec, Lake Musconetcong (TH, JK).
Common Loon – 35 on 5 Apr, Boonton Reservoir (JK). Reported sparingly in March, April and December from Lake Parsippany, Boonton Reservoir and Budd Lake. Reports are of singletons except for Boonton Res.
Horned Grebe – 12 at Lake Parsippany on 23 Nov (JG).
Great Cormorant – Juvenile on 6 Nov at Mt. Hope Lake (JK).
Pelicaniformes (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
Snowy Egret – the only records were 1 individual on 11-12 May, Florham Park (JK, JG).
Black-crowned Night-heron – The only report: 14 May, GSNWR (JP).
Accipitriformes (Osprey, Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
Osprey – at Lake Musconetcong through 25 Nov (AB, et al).
Swallow-tailed Kite – 21 May, GSNWR (MAn, et al). This is the first record in the county since 1887. Photo by Mike Anderson
Northern Goshawk – 5 Nov, Wildcat Ridge Hawkwatch (only one of the season). 2 on the Boonton CBC, 26 Dec, Troy Meadows (JK) and Florham Park (DD).
Broad-winged Hawk – The high count was 7,431 on 17 Sep at the Wildcat Ridge Hawk Watch; 6,201 on the same date at Picatinny Peak.
Rough-legged Hawk – only one reported all year at GSNWR, 30 Jan (KB.)
Golden Eagle – 10/28 at Wildcat Ridge Hawkwatch; 2 Nov, GSNWR (SL)
Peregrine Falcon – 2 at GSNWR on 22 Sep (MN); few reports otherwise, the latest at Troy Meadows for the Boonton CBC on 26 Dec (JE).
Gruiformes (Rails, Gallinules, Coots and Cranes)
Common Gallinule – 6 reports from GSNWR during 6-14 May (SL, MW, et al).
American Coot – 75 at Mt. Hope Lake, 18 Dec (JK).
Charadriiformes (Shorebirds, Gulls and Terns)
Semipalmated Plover – 3 at Denville on 3 Sep (JK).
Killdeer – 45 in Denville on 5 Oct (TV).
Greater Yellowlegs – a modest 4 in Denville on 15 Sep is the high count (JK).
Lesser Yellowlegs – 6 in Denville on 11 Sep (TV).
Semipalmated Sandpiper – 35 in Denville on 3 Sep (JK, TV).
Least Sandpiper – 25 in Denville on 11 Sep (TV).
Pectoral Sandpiper – 14 in Denville on 14 Sep (TV).
Wilson’s Snipe – 55 at GSNWR on 24 Mar (JE).
Bonaparte’s Gull – 35-40 on 11 Nov at Lake Musconetcong. “This is, by far, the largest group of Bonies I have seen in northwest NJ.” (TH).
Lesser Black-backed Gull – although practically locally abundant in neighboring Warren and Hunterdon Counties and present in Somerset County during the winter there were only two separate sightings in 2011 in Morris: 28 Feb at Lake Musconetcong (AB); 2 on 12 Mar at Budd Lake (JE, JK).
Caspian Tern – 5 at Budd Lake, 24 Sep (AB). 2 of probably the same group were seen later in the day at Lake Musconetcong (TH).
Black Tern – 2 at GSNWR on 28 Aug (SL).
Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 10 May at GSNWR (JK).
Black-billed Cuckoo – 6 May at Jockey Hollow (JH); scarce with very few reports.
Short-eared Owl – 19 Nov, GSNWR (SL).
Common Nighthawk – a flight occurred on 4 Sep with 12 in Chatham Township (SL) and 10 at Jockey Hollow (JK).
Eastern Whip-poor-will – Hibernia Mine, Rockaway Township, 12 May (RR); 18 May, Wildcat Ridge (JK); Lake Denmark, 29 May (SL), 14 Jun (FS, MW).
Apodiformes (Swifts and Hummingbirds)
Chimney Swift – 17 Apr, Loantaka Brook Reservation (JK).
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – 21 Apr, GSNWR (JE).
Rufous Hummingbird – private residence in Landing, 6 Oct for at least two weeks (HT, SG, et al). This is the second record of this species for Morris County.
Olive-sided Flycatcher – GSNWR, 14 May (HD) through 24 May (JK).
Eastern Wood-pewee – 7 May at GSNWR (SL).
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher – Only two reports all year: 30 May, GSNWR (SL); 3 Sep, Morris Township (JK).
Acadian Flycatcher – 12 May, GSNWR (MN); 4 reports all year.
Alder Flycatcher – 21 May, GSNWR (SL).
Willow Flycatcher – 13 May, GSNWR (SL).
Least Flycatcher – 9 May, Bee Meadow Park (JG); 31 May, Mahlon Dickerson (JK); 22 Aug, GSNWR (SL) are the only reports.
Eastern Phoebe – 17 Mar, GSNWR (JK).
Great Crested Flycatcher – 24 Apr, GSNWR (MA).
Eastern Kingbird – 24 Apr, GSNWR (JE).
White-eyed Vireo – 8 May, MiddleValley (AG). At least two individuals were present in Washington Valley, Morris Township in May and June. No nesting behavior was observed . Another was present at Sayre’s Farm in Morris Township on 3 Sep (JK).
Yellow-throated Vireo – 25 Apr, GSNWR (JK).
Blue-headed Vireo – 22 Apr, Bee Meadow Park (MW).
Warbling Vireo – 30 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
Red-eyed Vireo – 30 Apr, GSNWR (MA).
N. Rough-winged Swallow – 31 Mar, Montville Township (JK).
Purple Martin – 13 Apr, Morris Township (JK); 20 at Lake Musconetcong on 23 Apr (JK).
Tree Swallow – 17 Mar, GSNWR (JE).
Bank Swallow – 14 May, Split Rock Reservoir (JK).
Barn Swallow – 5 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
Cliff Swallow – The only report: 23 Apr, Lake Musconetcong (JK).
Red-breasted Nuthatch – 3 records for the entire year: 1 Jan (OB); 20 April, Flanders (MB); 26 Dec (CK, Boonton CBC).
House Wren – 10 Apr, Cedar Knolls (JG).
Winter Wren – April had two reports: 16 Apr, Bamboo Brook (JB); 19 Apr, Jockey Hollow (JK). Fall: 24 Oct, 12 Nov, Lincoln Park (DP) and 2 Nov, GSNWR(SL), 13 Nov, GSNWR (JG); 20 Nov, Middle Valley (AG); 26 Dec (RR, Boonton CBC).
Marsh Wren – 21 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 9 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
Veery – 26 Apr, GSNWR (MN).
Gray-cheeked Thrush – Only two reports: 14 May, GSNWR (MJ); 14 May, Wildcat Ridge (JK).
Swainson’s Thrush – 1 May, Tourne; not a good spring for Catharus sp. (JK).
Wood Thrush – 25 Apr, Tourne (JK).
Gray Catbird – 21 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
Brown Thrasher – 11 Apr, GSNWR (JK).
American Pipit – 70 in Denville on 23 Oct (JK).
Snow Bunting – from 1 to 3 seen in the “Bluebird Lot” of Pleasant Plains Road, GSNWR, 6-8 Nov (m.obs.).
Warbler Arrival Dates:
- Ovenbird – 24 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
- Worm-eating Warbler – 24 Apr, Middle Valley (AG).
- Louisiana Waterthrush – 19 Apr, Jockey Hollow (JK).
- Northern Waterthrush - 24 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
- Blue-winged Warbler – 24 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
- Lawrence’s Warbler – 27 Apr, Kay Center (PM) – 5th year in a row.
- Black-and-white Warbler – 16 Apr, GSNWR (TC).
- Prothonotary Warbler – 13 May, GSNWR (PB, JE).
- Tennessee Warbler – 4 May, GSNWR (JK).
- Nashville Warbler – 24 Apr, Middle Valley (AG).
- Kentucky Warbler – 8 May, Middle Valley (AG).
- Common Yellowthroat – 16 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
- Hooded Warbler – 28 Apr, Middle Valley (AG).
- American Redstart – 22 Apr, Middle Valley (AG).
- Cerulean Warbler – 30 Apr, GSNWR (MA).
- Northern Parula – 24 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
- Magnolia Warbler – 18 Apr, Middle Valley (AG).
- Blackburnian Warbler – 30 Apr, GSNWR (MA).
- Yellow Warbler – 16 Apr, GSNWR (TC).
- Chestnut-sided Warbler – 25 Apr, Middle Valley (AG).
- Blackpoll Warbler – 2 May, GSNWR (JH).
- Black-throated Blue Warbler – 24 Apr, GSNWR (MA).
- Palm Warbler – 7 Apr, GSNWR (JE).
- Pine Warbler – 9 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
- Yellow-rumped Warbler – 10 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
- Prairie Warbler – 17 Apr, GSNWR (eTT).
- Black-throated Green Warbler – 19 Apr, Whippany (MW).
- Canada Warbler – 3 May,BeeMeadowPark (JG).
- Wilson’s Warbler – 8 May, GSNWR (MA).
- Yellow-breasted Chat – the only: 21 May, GSNWR (SL).
Missing from the spring list: Golden-winged, Mourning,Cape May, Bay-breasted and Yellow-throated Warblers.
Fall (and winter) warblers:
- Orange-crowned Warbler - 9 Oct, Morris Township (JK).
- Connecticut Warbler – 9 Oct, Morris Township (JK).
- Mourning Warbler - 20 Aug, GSNWR (SL).
- Cape May Warbler – 22 Oct, Morris Township (JK).
- Wilson’s Warbler – an astounding sighting, 17 Dec (TH, AL, SS, et al) at the Chatham Sewage Treatment ponds during the Great Swamp CBC. It was seen through 31 Dec (SL).
Vesper Sparrow – Spring: 2 at GSNWR (near Fenske Vistors Center) 13-16 Apr (MH et al). Autumn: again near GSNWR (near Fenske Vistors Center) 14 Oct, (MH) and another from the Overlook on Pleasant Plains Rd. 22 Oct (MO). Tourne, 20 Oct (TV).
Grasshopper Sparrow – the only report: 7 Jun, Black River WMA (AS).
Lincoln’s Sparrow – Spring: 7 May, Troy Meadows (JG); Autumn: 18 Sep, Morris Township (JK).
Scarlet Tanager – 28 Apr, Middle Valley (AG).
Rose-breasted Grosbeak – 20 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
Indigo Bunting – 2 May, GSNWR (MW).
Orchard Oriole – 21 April, GSNWR (SL).
Baltimore Oriole – 24 April, GSNWR (SL).
Blue Grosbeak – An unusual species in MorrisCounty, 2 females were seen in the autumn: MorrisTownship, 18 Oct (JK); Willowwood Arboretum, Chester Township, 26 Nov (TH).
Dickcissel – 28 Oct, at the Overlook at GSNWR (BL).
Bobolink – 6 on 22 Aug at GSNWR (SL). A small number of reports from May-August.
Eastern Meadowlark – continuing decline in the county – only 5 reports all year: 2 in March (JK, SL) and 2 in April (SL, MW) all in GSNWR; 1 record of 2 individuals in October, Whippany (JG).
Rusty Blackbird – High counts – Spring: 50 at Washington Valley, Morris Township on 27 Mar (JK). Autumn: 160 at GSNWR on 17 Dec (JE, Great Swamp CBC) which is also the highest number recorded in the state in 2011.
Purple Finch – fade out after influx of the Autumn of 2010. Good numbers in April; sparse in Autumn 2011.
Common Redpoll – the county’s only report: 50 in Roxbury Township, 14 Mar (AB).
Pine Siskin – 16 Jan and 2 on 30 Apr, GSNWR (SL).
Michael Adams (MA)
Mike Anderson (MAn)
Garry Annibal (GA)
John Beetham (JB)
Michael Bochnik (MB)
Alan Boyd (AB)
Owen Boyle (OB)
Kevin Brown (KB)
Peter Burke (PB)
Terry Carruthers (TC)
Debbie Cusick (DC)
David Dean (DD)
Martin Dellwo (MD)
Holly Dunbar (HD)
Jeff Ellerbusch (JE)
Sam Galick (SG)
Alison Goessling (AG)
Kevin Graff (KG)
Joe Haemmerle (JH)
Tom Halliwell (TH)
Mike Johnson (MJ)
Thomas Justesen (TJ)
Jonathan Klizas (JK)
Carol Knapp (CK)
Andy Lamy (AL)
Bill Lynch (BL)
Raymond Lord (RL)
Glenn Mahler (GM)
Paul Murray (PM)
Marianne Ofenloch (MO)
Brian Palestis (BP)
Rick Radis (RR)
Sean Sime (SS)
Andy Stepniewski (AS)
Harvey Tomlinson (HT)
Tim Vogel (TV)
Mike Wolfe (MW)
Rick Wright (RW)