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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Birding Week in Review, July 4, 2014

Black-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, July 3, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Black-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, July 3, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

The Night-Herons of Parsippany are the main attraction in Morris County. Both the Yellow and Black-crowned Night-Herons are near the bridges at Jefferson Road Pond. Finding enough Crayfish and other food to satiate them (two Black-crowned Night-Herons spent the entire spring at the pond), these birds may stay into October as did 2013’s Night-Herons.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, July 3, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, July 3, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


A Yellow-breasted Chat and Acadian Flycatcher continue in the Great Swamp along White Bridge Road (Simon Lane).


A pair of singing Kentucky Warblers is present in Long Valley (Alison Goesling).


The Summer Tanagers of Lord Stirling Park appear to be officially gone as they have not been positively reported since June 21 despite several attempts at finding them. A nest was built but abandoned.


Swallow numbers are growing. Be careful with identification especially Tree and Bank Swallows. Traditionally, Bank Swallows do not nest anywhere in Somerset County or southern Morris County (based on the NJ Breeding Bird Atlas data of the 1990s and current knowledge). Conversely, Bank Swallows are early fall migrants, “…with a peak from mid-July to Mid-August” (The Birds of New Jersey: Status and Distribution, William J. Boyle, Jr. Princeton Univ. Press, 2011).

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Young birds; Night-Heron photos, July 1, 2014

Family Photos from the Great Swamp NWR

July is a month of transition. Bird song will diminish as the month progresses and south bound migration will start heating up. Right now is a great time to get out and view all of the growing avian families. This morning, a drive on Pleasant Plains Road in the Great Swamp NWR from the Fenske Visitor’s center to the overlook displayed a family of 5 Orchard Orioles, 4 Eastern Kingbirds on a wire, 4 Brown Thrashers on the gravel road near the overlook, a parent Yellow Warbler feeding a newly fledged but still downy feathered HY (Hatchling Year) individual by Great Brook and freshly fledged members of every species everywhere one looked.

Brown Thrashers, Great Swamp NWR, July 1 ,2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Brown Thrashers, Great Swamp NWR, July 1 ,2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Eastern Kingbirds, Great Swamp NWR, July 1 ,2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Eastern Kingbirds, Great Swamp NWR, July 1 ,2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


The Night-Herons of Parsippany

Photos by Chuck Hantis.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron eating a crayfish at Jefferson Road Pond.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, July 1, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, July 1, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

One of the Black-crowned Night-Herons present at Jefferson Road Pond all spring and into the summer.

Black-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, July 1, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Black-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, July 1, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

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Prothonotary Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat at Great Swamp NWR, June 30, 2014

From Marc Chelemer:
There was a lone Prothonotary Warbler at Great Swamp NWR in the small pond on the right side of the road after you’ve crossed the bridge if you’ve walked from the Overlook. It was sitting on low branches right over the water, flycatching. Yellow head and breast (not the orangey-yellow of a full adult male), grey wings and back, white belly. The bird did not sing. Very active. In the same area was a White-eyed Vireo dueling with a Warbling Vireo.

Also along Pleasant Plains Road in the woods just east of the Overlook, a very young (unable to fly) American Woodcock hopped across the road.

In the brushy field north and west of the intersection of Pleasant Plains and Whitebridge, way back behind the trees, the singing Yellow-breasted Chat continued.

All these birds and 43 other species were seen or heard between 7:30 and 8:45 AM this morning.

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Winter Wrens and other field notes, June 29, 2014

Yesterday, June 28, a Winter Wren was recorded singing along the Timberbrook Trail north of its intersection with the Four Birds Trail in Rockaway Twp. (David Bernstein). A snippet of its song is below:
Winter Wren, Rockaway Twp., NJ, June 28, 2014, recorded by David Bernstein. An Acadian Flycatcher was in the same area, as well.

Today, another Winter Wren was found on Berkshire Valley Road near Taylor Road in Rockaway Twp. (Tim Vogel).

Winter Wren is a traditional nester in northern Morris County as illustrated by breeding bird atlas data from the 1990s where breeding was confirmed in two separate blocks and possible or probable in five other blocks. All of these records are from the Morris Highlands. In 2013, a Winter Wren was heard singing throughout June on Snake Hill Road in Rockaway Twp.


From Tim Vogel:
A 4 wren day

  • Winter Wren – Bershire Valley Rd., Jefferson
  • House Wren – Denville
  • Carolina Wren – Denville
  • Marsh Wren – Troy Meadows boardwalk

Also:

  • Blue-headed Vireo – Berkshire Valley Rd.
  • Blue-winged Warbler – Berkshire Valley Rd.
  • Bald Eagle (1 adult) at Whippany River, very close, calling, as well as 3 Great Egrets, Great Blue Heron and Green Heron.

Tim Vogel – Denville


The Yellow-crowned Night-Heron of Parsippany continues today at Jefferson Road Pond. The photo below is by Chris Thomas.

Yellow-crowned Night-heron


Bobolinks are enjoying a better than usual season in Morris County in 2014. At least 7 Bobolinks are at Margetts Field in Harding Township (J. Klizas).

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Friday Bird Notes, June 27, 2014

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, June 26, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, June 26, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

The return of the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron to Jefferson Road Pond caused the biggest stir this week in Morris County. Thought to be a juvenile at first look, it is a 2nd year bird undergoing a molt (thanks to Julie Buechner’s sharp eyes for pointing this out). This means that it is possibly a returnee from last year when it was a juvenile.

Here is one of the two juveniles at Jefferson Road Pond in 2013. This photo is taken at the exact same location as the one above, on the rocks in between the Jefferson Road bridge and the foot bridge:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, Sep. 14, 2013 (digiscoped by Jonathan Klizas).

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, Sep. 14, 2013 (digiscoped by Jonathan Klizas).

Thanks to all who changed their eBird location to the Jefferson Road hotspot. Please do so if you haven’t yet done so. Here are the instructions on how to accomplish this.


The Summer Tanagers of Lord Stirling Park are last reported on June 21. They were not seen yesterday despite searching. The Yellow-breasted Chats of Lord Stirling Park and the Great Swamp NWR are not reported since June 8 and 14 respectively.

Eastern Wood-Pewee feeding, Lord Stirling Park, June 26, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

Eastern Wood-Pewee feeding, Lord Stirling Park, June 26, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

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eBird Hotspot notice; Birds of West Morris Greenway, June 25, 2014

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron – Jefferson Rd. Pond is now an eBird Hotspot

The Parsippany Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (YCNH) of Jefferson Road Pond is seen either on branches near the pond or under the Jefferson Road bridge. Alan Boyd photographed the YCNH today. Some of his photos are here and here. Alan’s flickr photostream is here.

From Mike Ostrow:
“You never know what you’ll see out of this little corporate pond. The juve Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was in the water between the footbridge and road bridge. When I crossed over the road to look on the other side, a deer came out of thickets, from where I have no idea, crossed under the bridge in the water, and eventually came back. When I went back to the other side, it was clear the deer had flushed the heron out of its hiding area between the bridges and out onto the pond!”

Important note to eBirders: Jefferson Road Pond is now an eBird Hotspot. Please change your personal location to this Hotspot.

Here are the instructions in case you do not know how:

  1. From your eBird account, go to My eBird.
  2. Select Manage My Locations from the My Observations sidebar.
  3. Search for whatever-you-labeled-Jefferson-Road-Pond-as and select it. This will load the Edit Location page.
  4. Select Merge. You will see a red Hotspot marker for Jefferson Road Pond. Select that Hotspot. Select the Merge button and your checklists from that spot will now be associated with the Hotspot. Your personal location is removed.

This allows anyone to view ALL of the records out of the database for this location in one fell swoop. Please do this as soon as possible. The eBird range map for Jefferson Road Pond is currently a big mess and quickly growing into a bigger mess.

West Morris Greenway – North

Field Sparrow Family Tree, West Morris Greenway, June 25, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Field Sparrow Family Tree, West Morris Greenway, June 25, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The West Morris Greenway starts at Horseshoe Lake in Roxbury Township, goes south across Righter Road through an easement of the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority’s (MCMUA’s) property, crosses Pleasant Hill Road in Randolph Twp. and continues, eventually joining the Black River WMA portion of the trail all the way to Pleasant Hill Road in Chester Twp. The northern, or Roxbury/Randolph, section was dedicated in June of 2012.

This post chronicles the northern section through the MCMUA easement. The trail is quite wide (auto road width) and covered with fine gravel. It is completely flat and bordered on both sides by an attractive bottomland deciduous woodland with numerous ferns and other understory plants. There are a few MCMUA dirt roads interrupting the woodland. There is a powerline cut at approximately .75 miles from Righter Road. It is a popular jogging and biking trail so going there early in the morning is best, but there is enough room for everyone.

Bird highlights include 2 singing Northern Waterthrushes (NOWA), one on the south side of the trail opposite the first dirt road on the north side; the second, past the power line near mile marker 4.5. Both NOWA were silent by 8:00 a.m. At least 1 Pine Warbler was trilling in the White Pine grove at the power line. Other species include a flyover Green Heron, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, numerous Red-eyed Vireos, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Veerys, Wood Thrushes, Ovenbirds, American Redstart, Eastern Towhees, Field Sparrows, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, and other typical species.

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Night-Herons, June 24, 2014

The juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron of Jefferson Road Pond continues today either under the Jefferson Road bridge or roosting on tree branches near the pond (m.obs.). Two adult Black-crowned Night-Herons are on the island as they have been all spring. A juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron joined the party last evening (Chris Thomas) but has not been seen today, as far as is known.


4 Black-crowned Night-Herons, 3 adults and 1 juvenile, were seen around the pond today on the Somerset County side of Green Brook Park (Walter Blenderman). A Green Heron was also in attendance.


Split Rock Reservoir

Blue Trail, Split Rock Reservoir, NJ, June 24, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Blue Trail, Split Rock Reservoir, NJ, June 24, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

A 5-mile trek on the east side of Split Rock Reservoir produced Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Pileated Woodpeckers, Eastern Wood-Pewees, Great Crested Flycatchers, Yellow-throated Vireo, Warbling Vireo and 22 Red-eyed Vireos, Common Raven, 20 Ovenbirds, 2 Louisiana Waterthrushes, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Prairie Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Buntings, and other species typical of the Morris Highlands.

The route started at the parking lot near the dam (the road over the dam is closed indefinitely while being resurfaced and renovated) picked up the blue trail by the power-line cut, followed the trail up and over Buck Mountain (an especially lovely section) and hooked up with a woods road for the return trip. This is a route that reminds one how rugged and rocky Morris County can be.

Leaf Lichen species, Split Rock Reservoir, NJ, June 24, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

Leaf Lichen species, Split Rock Reservoir, NJ, June 24, 2014 (photo by J. Klizas)

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Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in Parsippany, June 23, 2014

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in Parsippany

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, June 23, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Parsippany, NJ, June 23, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

A juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (YCNH) was found under the Jefferson Road bridge at Jefferson Road Pond this afternoon by Julie Buechner. This is the second summer that YCNH is known to be at this location. One was found on September 9, 2013. It was soon joined by second YCNH, and later, a juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron. They stayed at the pond into the first week of November.

At least two adult-like Black-crowned Night-Herons are currently using the island in the pond for a roost in 2014.

Where are the YCNHs coming from? It is not known for certain whether the 2013 YCNHs were present before September. Regarding 2014, isn’t it early for post breeding dispersal? Is it possible YCNHs are nesting locally in the corporate park? Why haven’t we seen adult YCNHs? There is more to come.

(The photo above may look like flash was employed but no artificial lighting was used. The YCNH was under a bridge. It was simply a Canon EOS 7D with a 400mm f/5.6 lens, 2500 ISO, 5.6 aperture and 1/200 of a second shutter speed.)


Other field notes

Lincoln Park Gravel Pits has 4 Great Blue Herons, 2 Great Egrets, 2 Green Herons, 7 Killdeer and an Osprey (J. Klizas).

From Bob Auster:
“I saw 5 Bobolink at Duke Farms, yesterday, June 22, 2014, around 1:30 PM. I initially saw 2 males in the field past Farm Barn Lane and then a flock of 5 flew from that field to the field behind Farm Barn Orientation Center.”

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Common Gallinule; Indian Cliffs, June 22, 2014

Common Gallinule at Deerhaven Lake

Common Gallinule, Deerhaven Lake, NJ, June 22, 2014 (heavily cropped photo by Jonathan Klizas).

Common Gallinule, Deerhaven Lake, NJ, June 22, 2014 (heavily cropped photo by Jonathan Klizas).

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

On June 22, 2013, a hike and a bushwhack to the eastern side of Deerhaven Lake in Morris County produced a sighting of a Common Gallinule (see that post here).

On June 22, 2014, a hike and a bushwhack to the eastern side of Deerhaven Lake in Morris County produced a sighting of a Common Gallinule in exactly the same location as seen the previous year on exactly the same date. This is the only Common Gallinule recorded in eBird during 2014 for both Morris and Somerset counties. Either none were found in the Great Swamp NWR during the World Series of Birding or they have not been reported.

Deerhaven Lake is in both Jefferson and Rockaway Townships with most of it in Rockaway. It contains one of the most picturesque heronries in New Jersey or anywhere else. The nests are in the tops of towering old White Pine or Norway Spruce snags. Living Pines and Spruces along with the Green Pond Mountain escarpment provide the beautiful background. The lake with a beaver lodge, smaller snags, and a cattail swamp (and Phragmites, of course) add to the complete picture in the foreground. It is not a drive-up location but requires a 3 mile round-trip hike that is sometimes on an established trail (the Four Birds Trail) and often not. There were approximately 40 Great Blue Herons counted today with many juveniles in the nests.

Feeding time at the heronry, Deerhaven Lake, NJ, June 22, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Feeding time at the heronry, Deerhaven Lake, NJ, June 22, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Other species in the area and along the trails are typical of the Morris Highlands. A drake Hooded Merganser was snoozing at the lake. The many Wood Ducks present are currently in eclipse plumage. A Belted Kingfisher was working the water. Green Herons nest at the marshy end of the lake. Pied-billed Grebes were heard earlier in spring but not today. A Common Raven croaked overhead. They have nested on Green Pond Mountain in the past. Trumpeting Pileated Woodpeckers echo through the woodland. A pair of Great Crested Flycatchers sound like ten.

The juvenile bird below is Ovenbird-sized. It was seen again on the return trip in the company of an adult Ovenbird. Unless anyone has a different opinion it is labeled as an Ovenbird.

Juvenile, Jefferson Twp. NJ, June 22, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Juvenile, Jefferson Twp. NJ, June 22, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


Indian Cliffs

Split Rock Reservoir from Indian Cliffs, Rockaway Twp., NJ, June 21, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Split Rock Reservoir from Indian Cliffs, Rockaway Twp., NJ, June 21, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Indian Cliffs is arguably one of the most scenic and spectacular locations in Morris County. An easy scramble up the glacially piled-on boulders on the blue trail brings one to a magnificent view of Split Rock Reservoir to the south and the New Jersey Highlands to the north and west. The stretch along the Four Birds Trail provides an excellent understory of Blueberry, Spicebush, Mountain Laurel, etc.

Starting from the Timberbrook parking lot (next to the entrance for the Winnebago Scout Reservation), go north either by the yellow-blazed trail or the dirt road. The Four Birds Trail (white blazes) intersects at approximately .8 miles. Go east for 1+ miles to the intersection with the blue trail. Take the blue trail past Misty Pond, cross over a woods road and continue on to Indian Cliffs. A New York-New Jersey Trail Conference map is a handy companion. Ovenbirds, Red-eyed Vireos, Great Crested Flycatchers, Eastern Wood-Pewees, Worm-eating Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Titmice, Woodpecker species and more are the accompaniment along the way. Possibly anything can fly-by while standing atop Indian Cliffs.

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