Greater White-fronted Goose, Red-throated Loon, Dec. 4, 2014

Greater White-fronted Goose at Duke Island Park

Last seen on Monday, Dec. 1 (see that post here), the Greater White-fronted Goose of Duke Island Park returned today along with 1 Cackling Goose and 1,140 Canada Geese (Jeff Ellerbusch).

Canada Goose numbers are on the rise in Somerset County. 1,270 were counted at North Branch Park today (J. Ellerbusch) and 1,500 were on the grass fields of the Selody Sod Farm and Skillman Park area in Montgomery Township (J. Klizas).


Red-throated Loon at Boonton Reservoir

Distant Red-throated Loon, Boonton Reservoir, NJ, Dec. 4, 2014 (heavily cropped photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Distant Red-throated Loon, Boonton Reservoir, NJ, Dec. 4, 2014 (heavily cropped photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The season’s only Red-Throated Loon reported so far in Morris County was found at the north end of Boonton Reservoir this afternoon (J. Klizas). Other birds present were 1 Common Loon and 4 Horned Grebes, probably the same group that has been at the reservoir for weeks.


Up to 8 Sandhill Cranes continue to be seen daily on Randolph Road, Franklin Township reported by numerous observers.



View eBird checklists and other data at the following links.
Click on the Checklists tab of the BirdTrax applet to display the most recent checklists. Click on this icon, checklist-nobox ,to view the contents of the checklist:


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Wednesday Bird Notes, eBird Hotspots, Dec. 3, 2014

The word dreary was invented for a day like today: cold, damp and foggy – perfect for a fallout of waterbirds.

The best that was observed in Morris County were 14 Common Loons at Lake Hopatcong and another 6 at Lake Musconetcong (Alan Boyd).


160 Common Mergansers are at Lake Parsippany along with Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks and 130+ Ring-billed Gulls (J. Klizas).


Up to 8 Sandhill Cranes continue to be seen daily in the corn stubble along Randolph Road, Franklin Township reported by many observers.


Hotspots is an exceptional feature of eBird that mocosocoBirds will be promoting more of in the near future. For an example, click on Lake Parsippany hotspot to see the eBird data for Lake Parsippany. Recent sightings, historical high counts, a bar graph and other items are available for viewing. Obviously, this is only a partial birding history of this location. The hotspot data is only as good as the observers entering it. Most records are recent. If you have old or new records sitting on a computer or in a notebook, get a free eBird account and start entering them into eBird for posterity and become a part of the birding data of the present and future.

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Greater White-fronted and Cackling Geese in Somerset Co., Dec. 1, 2014

Greater White-fronted Goose and 9 Cackling Geese

Greater White-fronted Goose, Duke Island Park, NJ, Dec. 1, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Greater White-fronted Goose, Duke Island Park, NJ, Dec. 1, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

The front lawn of Duke Island Park (Old York Road and the main entrance to the park) played host to a Greater White-fronted Goose and 9 Cackling Geese this afternoon found by Jeff Ellerbusch. They and the 450-500 Canada Geese were still present at 3:00 p.m. 11 American Pipits were feeding in a puddle along the entrance drive.

Greater White-fronted Goose is annual at Duke Island Park since at least 2011.

9 Cackling Geese is a healthy number but doesn’t come close to the 33 Cackling Geese that Jeff Ellerbusch counted at Duke Island on January 2, 2012. This remains the highest single count in the state of New Jersey according to the eBird database.

A Ross’s Goose spent the day of December 5, 2011 on the same front lawn as today’s geese.

9 Cackling Geese, Duke Island Park, NJ, Dec. 1, 2014 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

9 Cackling Geese, Duke Island Park, NJ, Dec. 1, 2014 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)


Other Field Notes

Neither the Snow Buntings seen yesterday nor the Vesper Sparrow seen the previous two days were found today at Melanie Lane Wetlands (Roger Johnson).


View eBird checklists and other data at the following links.
Click on the Checklists tab of the BirdTrax applet to display the most recent checklists. Click on this
icon, checklist-nobox ,to view the contents of the checklist:


@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 , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sunday Bird Notes, Nov. 30, 2014

Common Redpolls at Great Swamp NWR

Common Redpoll flyovers were heard this morning at the Friends Blind of the Wildlife Observation center, Great Swamp NWR (Jeff Ellerbusch, Simon Lane). Common Redpolls are forecast to move south this winter according to Ron Pittaway’s 2014-15 Winter Finch Forecast.


Snow Buntings in Hanover Township

Snow Buntings, Hanover Twp., NJ, Nov. 30, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Snow Buntings, Hanover Twp., NJ, Nov. 30, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

There are years when no Snow Buntings are reported in the Morris/Somerset region. This year is not one of them. Three Snow Buntings spent most of a week at Budd Lake earlier this month (see one of those posts here).

This morning Tom Gorman found 49 Snow Buntings at the mound (“Mt. Melanie” – assumed to be a grassed-over landfill) at Melanie Lane Wetlands. The Vesper Sparrow found yesterday by Chuck Hantis was present the edge of the driveway. See Tom’s Flickr photostream for photos of the Vesper Sparrow and Snow Buntings.

Thousands of European Starlings roosted in the neighboring trees. The following photograph shows a Northern Harrier “Gray Ghost” stirring up a small fraction of the E. Starlings in atendance.

European Starlings and Northern Harrier, Hanover Twp., NJ, Nov. 30, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

European Starlings and Northern Harrier, Hanover Twp., NJ, Nov. 30, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)


Other Field Notes

4 Sandhill Cranes were seen today at Randolph Road, Franklin Township (eBirded by Vicki Schwartz, Anthony Chodan).


Boonton Reservoir had a surface as smooth as glass this afternoon. Here are today’s numbers: 13 Gadwall, 6 American Black Ducks, 14 Mallards, 110 Ring-necked Ducks, 2 Bufflehead, 50 Hooded and 25 Common Mergansers, 1 Common Loon, 1 Pied-billed Grebe, 3 Horned Grebes. American Pipits, present on the east shore for the entire month of November, are dwindled to 3.


View eBird checklists and other data at the following links.
Click on the Checklists tab of the BirdTrax applet to display the most recent checklists. Click on this icon, checklist-nobox ,to view the contents of the checklist:


@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.

Posted in Morris County, Somerset County | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bonaparte’s Gull, Vesper Sparrow and other bird notes, Nov. 29, 2014

Bonaparte’s Gull at Lake Hopatcong

Bonaparte's Gull, Lk. Hopatcong, NJ, Nov. 29, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Bonaparte’s Gull, Lk. Hopatcong, NJ, Nov. 29, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

The outside temperature on the Prius dashboard read 16 degrees Fahrenheit at 7:30 this morning at the north end of Lake Hopatcong. It felt colder. The lake is frozen again from slightly south of the Brady Rd. bridge going north. A Bonaparte’s Gull at Nolan’s Point was the highlight of the morning. There are no Tundra Swan reports from Lake Hopatcong this season but the many Mute Swans should be searched more thoroughly than this writer’s frozen body was willing to.

Here are the numbers:
Canada Goose – 109
Mute Swan – 83
Gadwall – 2
Mallard – 32
Bufflehead – 77
Hooded Merganser – 18
Ruddy Duck – 132
Bald Eagle – 1
American Coot – 13
Bonaparte’s Gull – 1
Ring-billed Gull- 156
Herring Gull – 101
Great Black-backed Gull – 2

eBird users note: Most of Lake Hopatcong lies in Morris County – from Lake Forest and Liffy Island in the north all the way to Hopatcong State Park in the south where the source of the Musconetcong River defines the Morris/Sussex border. Bertrand’s, Halsey and Raccoon Islands are all within Morris County Borders. The entire eastern shore and all the coves that go with it are in Morris County. The western shore is Sussex County. The Lake Hopatcong hotpspot in eBird lies in Sussex County. There are many issues with eBird’s geography but, so far, any rants about this have not been heeded. Be careful when submitting eBird checklists and make sure you know the correct borders. Google maps and eBird map county borders cannot be entirely trusted.


Hooded Mergansers at Lake Musconetcong

Approx. half of the Hooded Mergansers at Lk. Musconetcong, NJ,  Nov. 29, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas).

Approx. half of the Hooded Mergansers at Lk. Musconetcong, NJ, Nov. 29, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas).

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Lake Musconetcong is frozen except for the section in the northeast part of the lake pictured above. Approximately 105 Hooded Mergansers and 5 Buffleheads were actively diving in this small section of open water this morning.


Many Morris lakes were frozen last weekend and then thawed on November 24-25 during a warm period. They are freezing once again as the calendar turns into December and Christmas Bird Count season is in the near future.

Mt. Hope Lake is 80-90% frozen with a Gadwall, 4 Hooded Mergansers, 13 Ruddy Ducks and 12 American Coot keeping company with the 28 Canada Geese and 2 Mute Swans in the remaining open water. The two resident Bald Eagles were roosting in the nest tree this morning.

The southern third of Budd Lake is ice-free but this morning there were no birds on it other than 8 Ring-billed Gulls and a Herring Gull.

At dusk, the gull and goose roosts are building at Budd Lake. By 4:20 p.m. 190 Ring-billed and 180 Herring Gulls gathered on the ice at the middle of the lake. 84 Canada Geese, 2 Common Mergansers and 3 Horned Grebes were in the available open water.

Lake Parsippany is almost entirely frozen. A few gulls are on the ice. Mute Swans congregated in the open water near the west beach.


Vesper Sparrow in Hanover Twp.

Also today, Chuck Hantis found and photographed a Vesper Sparrow at Melanie Lane Wetlands. This is a late record for the Morris and Somerset County region. Click on the photo for a larger image.

Vesper Sparrow, Hanover Twp., NJ, Nov. 29, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Vesper Sparrow, Hanover Twp., NJ, Nov. 29, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Vesper Sparrow, Hanover Twp., NJ, Nov. 29, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Vesper Sparrow, Hanover Twp., NJ, Nov. 29, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Vesper Sparrow, Hanover Twp., NJ, Nov. 29, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Vesper Sparrow, Hanover Twp., NJ, Nov. 29, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)


Somerset County via eBird

6 Sandhill Cranes are reported today from Randolph Road, Franklin Township (Rod MacKenzie).

9 Horned Larks and 55 American Pipits are at Glenhurst Meadows (Jeff Ellerbusch).


View eBird checklists and other data at the following links.
Click on the Checklists tab of the BirdTrax applet to display the most recent checklists. Click on this icon, checklist-nobox ,to view the contents of the checklist:


@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.

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Snow Geese, Nov. 28, 2014

An apparent day-long overhead movement of Snow Geese occurred through Morris and Somerset Counties today. Here are the morning and afternoon numbers gleaned from eBird:

  • 140 – Scherman Hoffman Sanctuary, Bernardsville, 8:00 a.m.
  • 510 – Loantaka Brook Reservation 9:35 a.m. – Flyovers in three groups: 150, 300, 60. Very high. Flying SE. (Leslie Webster)
  • 233 – Warren Twp., 4:00 p.m.  – single southbound flock (Jeff Ellerbusch).
  • 340 – Great Swamp NWR, 4:10 p.m. – three flyover groups seen from the overlook (Simon Lane).

8 Sandhill Cranes continue daily in the corn stubble of Randolph Road, Franklin Township.


Chuck Hantis photographed the following Horned Lark in the parking area of the Melanie Lane Wetlands.

Horned Lark, Hanover Twp., NJ, Nov. 28, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Horned Lark, Hanover Twp., NJ, Nov. 28, 2014 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Posted in Morris County, Somerset County | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Horned Grebes and other bird notes, Nov. 25, 2014

Horned Grebes at Budd Lake, NJ, Nov. 25, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Horned Grebes at Budd Lake, NJ, Nov. 25, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Most of the 33 Horned Grebes found by Alan Boyd today at Budd Lake can be counted if one looks at the above photo closely enough. As is typical with the “Budd Lake look” the Grebes were distant from any vantage point of the lake.

Budd Lake was frozen as of this past Saturday (see this post) and birds were absent, except for a few Ring-billed Gulls. Yesterday’s unseasonable warmth melted the ice and look what happened. Along with the 33 Horned Grebes were 850 Canada Geese, 5 Bufflehead, 4 Common Mergansers, 7 Ruddy Ducks, 60 Ring-billed Gulls and 38 Herring Gulls.

Two other lakes frozen on Saturday which thawed yesterday are Lake Musconetcong and Mt. Hope Lake (Mill Pond on Google maps). Lake Musconetcong regained some birds with 6 Bufflehead, 47 Hooded Mergansers, 12 Common Mergansers and 5 Ruddy Ducks (Alan Boyd).

Mt. Hope Lake held 2 Mute Swans, 5 Gadwall, 11 Mallards, 12 Ring-necked Ducks, 2 Bufflehead, 12 Hooded Mergansers, 36 Ruddy Ducks and 38 American Coot (J. Klizas).

Lake Parsippany, frozen on Sunday but ice-free today, had 70 Canada Geese, 13 Mute Swans, 27 Gadwall, 5 Mallards, 5 Hooded Mergansers, 7 Common Mergansers, 11 Ruddy Ducks, 4 American Coot, 66 Ring-billed Gulls and 6 Herring Gulls (J. Klizas).

Kenvil Lake (Dell Avenue Park) had 44 Lesser Scaup, 78 Ruddy Ducks, 3 Killdeer and 2 Common Ravens (Alan Boyd).


In Somerset County, 8 Sandhill Cranes continue daily at Randolph Road, Franklin Township, usually in the corn stubble opposite Apgar Road.

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Sunday Bird Notes, Nov. 23, 2014

In the continuing series of frozen Morris lakes images, here is an illuminated, and frozen, Lake Parsippany this morning as the sun rises.

Frozen Lake Parsippany, NJ, Nov. 23, 2014 (iPhone pano by Jonathan Klizas)

Frozen Lake Parsippany, NJ, Nov. 23, 2014 (iPhone pano by Jonathan Klizas)

Lake Parsippany is frozen except for a small section on the western shore where 339 Canada Geese, 16 Mute Swans and a handful of Gadwalls and Mallards were jammed together, possibly wondering what happened to the open water that was here two days ago.


6 Sandhill Cranes were seen on Randolph Road, Franklin Township. at approximately 3:55 this afternoon (Glenn Mahler via eBird). (This originally read: No reports have been read today of the Sandhill Cranes of Randolph Road, Franklin Township.)


From Mike Newlon:
“Carol and I made a brief trip to the Great Swamp this afternoon – two Cackling Geese at Lord Stirling (equestrian field), too far away for decent photos; White Bridge Road produced a flock of Wild Turkeys; an Eastern Screech-Owl was in a Wood Duck box on Pleasant Plains Road.”

Wild Turkey, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, Nov. 23, 2014 (photo by Mike Newlon)

Wild Turkey, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, Nov. 23, 2014 (photo by Mike Newlon)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Eastern Screech-Owl, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, Nov. 23, 2014 (photo by Mike Newlon)

Eastern Screech-Owl, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, Nov. 23, 2014 (photo by Mike Newlon)


Today, Glenhurst Meadows had Common Raven, Horned Lark (vocal flyover), Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, 9 Pine Siskins, etc. (Jeff Ellerbusch). A coyote has also been frequenting Glenhurst (i.e. seen twice) in recent weeks.


From Margo D. Beller yesterday at Colonial Park, Franklin Twp.:
“A Black-and-white Warbler was poking around at the base of a shrub near the bathrooms at Colonial Park near the rose garden.”

Interestingly, another extraordinarily late Black-and-white Warbler was reported in Cape May yesterday [editor].


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Troy Meadows, NJ, Nov. 23, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Troy Meadows, NJ, Nov. 23, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Fox Sparrow, Troy Meadows, NJ, Nov. 23, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Fox Sparrow, Troy Meadows, NJ, Nov. 23, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Posted in Morris County, Somerset County | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Morris Lakes, Sandhill Cranes, Rough-legged Hawk, AOU Proposals, Nov. 22, 2014

Morris Lakes

Frozen Budd Lake, NJ, Nov. 22, 2014 (iPhone photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Frozen Budd Lake, NJ, Nov. 22, 2014 (iPhone photo by Jonathan Klizas)

A survey of most of the larger lakes of Morris County today proved that this has been a cold week, especially for November. The northwestern lakes of Mt. Hope, Musconetcong and Budd are 100% frozen. The ice is strong enough to support a goose and is effective in chasing away all of the waterfowl that should be here on this date. Other than a few gulls and stray Mute Swans, these lakes are barren of birds.

Lake Hopatcong has picked up some of the victims of the ice. North of Nolan’s Point is frozen as well as south of Bertrand’s Island to Hopatcong State Park. The major portion of water remains ice free as well as pockets of water along certain parts of the shore. This is where the majority of birds are.

Here are the numbers: 112 Canada Geese, 145 Mute Swans, 6 Gadwall, 86 Mallards, 3 Lesser Scaup, 95 Bufflehead, 50 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Common Mergansers, 312 Ruddy Ducks (so that’s where some of the Mt. Hope Ruddys went), 2 Common Loons, 1 American Coot.

Heavily cropped photo of a Common Loon at Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Nov. 22, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Heavily cropped photo of a Common Loon at Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Nov. 22, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Taylortown Reservoir (next to Pyramid Mountain) in Montville Twp. is also a victim of 100% icing, yet the other larger bodies of water nearby in Kinnelon and Montville remain mostly ice-free.

Lake Valhala has a modest 29 Ring-necked Ducks, 7 Bufflehead, 12 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Common Mergansers and 6 Ruddy Ducks.

The attractive Butler Reservoir, was interesting with 4 Ring-necked Ducks, 21 Bufflehead, 57 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Ruddy Ducks, an adult Bald Eagle and a lone Snow Bunting on the rocks along the edge of the north causeway on Fayson Lakes Road.

Split Rock Reservoir remains low in water volume due to the dam roadway refurbishing project. Present were: 10 Bufflehead, 6 Hooded Mergansers, 92 Common Mergansers (it is not uncommon to get numbers over a thousand here) and 194 Ruddy Ducks.


8 Sandhill Cranes in Franklin Township

8 Sandhill Cranes, Franklin Twp., NJ, Nov. 22, 2014 (photo by Alan Boyd)

8 Sandhill Cranes, Franklin Twp., NJ, Nov. 22, 2014 (photo by Alan Boyd)

Earlier this month, this space expressed concern that only two Sandhill Cranes were at the Randolph Road fields (usually there are more) and was this low number a forewarning of the demise of the cranes at this location. Fortunately, that concern is withdrawn. Eight Sandhill Cranes were reported yesterday seen in two different groups of four.  This is the highest known count in Somerset County. Today, all eight were together and photographed (Alan and Cheryl Boyd via eBird). The link to Alan’s Flickr photostream where you can enjoy more of his Sandhill Crane photos is here.


Rough-legged Hawk at Troy Meadows

Roger Johnson reports a light-phased Rough-legged Hawk soaring today above the marsh north of Troy Meadows Road. Fox Sparrows are also present there.


AOU Proposals

As posted yesterday at Ornithology Exchange and later tweeted by @mocosocoBirds, the American Ornithologists Union Committee on Classification and Nomenclature of North American Birds (NACC) posted a new set of proposals cataloged as 2015-A.

Three of the proposals are:

  • Split Painted Bunting into Passerina ciris (Eastern Painted Bunting) and P. pallidior, (Western Painted Bunting).
  • Split Le Conte’s Thrasher into Le Conte’s Thrasher and Rosalia Thrasher.
  • Move American Tree Sparrow out of the Spizella genus and into Spizelloides.

These are proposals only and requires a vote of the committee to take effect.

The file describing all of the proposals can be found here


View eBird checklists and other data at the following links.
Click on the Checklists tab of the BirdTrax applet to display the most recent checklists. Click on this icon, checklist-nobox ,to view the contents of the checklist:


@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.

Posted in Morris County, Somerset County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How many Sandhill Cranes?, Nov. 21, 2014

Sandhill Cranes, Franklin Twp., NJ, Nov. 21, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Sandhill Cranes, Franklin Twp., NJ, Nov. 21, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Earlier this week, what were two Sandhill Cranes in the Randolph Road area became four. These birds are a daily visitor to the Randolph Road corn stubble fields. Speculation started to grow that there may be more. Today, Larry West wrote an eBird report of 8 Sandhill Cranes that he witnessed at 4:30 p.m.:”Continuing birds. First there were 4 in the field opposite Apgar Drive. Tall, overall grey, red and white face. (They) Flew off, neck outstretched with legs trailing. 4 more joined the group and flew over the treeline in the waning twilight.”


Elsewhere, it was simply cold and windy today. Ice will continue to form on the area’s lakes and ponds overnight. The forecast for Monday is a high temperature of 66 degrees F – an faint echo of summer and autumn before settling into winter.

The next few days should produce the first full autumn report of waterfowl on some of the many Morris County lakes.


View eBird checklists and other data at the following links.
Click on the Checklists tab of the BirdTrax applet to display the most recent checklists. Click on this icon, checklist-nobox ,to view the contents of the checklist:


@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.

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