Winter Finch Forecast for 2019-20 – Sept. 14, 2019

Ron Pittaway’s annual winter finch forecast is published. Bumper crops of spruce cone, Mountain-ash, etc. foretell the probable absence of winter finches in New Jersey this coming fall and winter seasons.

Read the report at Ron Pittaway’s Winter Finch Forecast for 2019-20


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.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted as they occur. 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 | 2 Comments

White Ibis in Somerset County; Herons and Egrets – July 17, 2019

White Ibis, Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve, Somerset Co., NJ, July 17, 2019 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve in Franklin Twp. continues to attract locally rare bird species. A juvenile White Ibis was found yesterday, July 16, by Christopher Daly and observed by many others late in the day. The White Ibis continues today, July 17.

The other avian celebrity of Negri-Nepote, the Henslow’s Sparrow originally documented on June 6, also continues.

An annual breeding location for Grasshopper Sparrows, Blue Grosbeaks, etc., Negri-Nepote is creating an impressive ledger of rare species, as well. The Negri-Nepote eBird hotspot species list can be found here.

Scott Barnes recently penned a tribute to Negri-Nepote at the New Jersey Audubon Blog. That post can be read here.

White Ibis, Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve, Somerset Co., NJ, July 17, 2019 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Reports of White Ibis in New Jersey in recent years have increased to the point where it was removed from the state review list in 2018 by the New Jersey Bird Records Committee.

Prior to 2018, there are scant purported records of White Ibis in Somerset County, but the only historical record accepted by the NJ Bird Record Committee is from Far Hills in 1968, a White Ibis present from July 27 to August 10 and seen by many observers.


An influx of Herons and Egrets

On July 9, zero herons and egrets were found at the Lincoln Park Gravel Pits. One week later, July 16, 41 Great Egrets, 21 Great Blue Herons (both species undercounted), a juvenile Little Blue Heron, an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron, and 11 southbound Least Sandpipers were at the same location.

Today, July 17, across the Pompton River from The Pits (and in Passaic County), David Bernstein found 6 Little Blue Herons, and 21 Great Egrets at neighboring Walker Avenue Wetlands.

Also today, July 17, Roger Johnson tallied 21 Great Egrets, 19 Great Blue Herons 2 juvenile Little Blue Herons, and a Black-crowned Night-Heron at Troy Meadows.


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.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted as they occur. 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 | Leave a comment

Morris Co. Breeders in 2019: Kentucky Warbler and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – July 7, 2019

Confirmed: Kentucky Warblers nesting at Lewis Morris Park, Morris County

Kentucky Warbler, Lewis Morris Park, Morris Co., NJ, July 2, 2019 (photo by Ryan Doherty)

(Clicking on the image brings you to the Macaulay Library listing of the photo.)

On May 16, 2018, a Kentucky Warbler was found at Lewis Morris County Park. It was observed by a few people through at least May 18 and then either forgotten about or simply not found again.

Fast forward to May 17, 2019. This writer visits Lewis Morris Park to see what if on a similar date one year later, a Kentucky Warbler would again visit the park. Nothing.

On a whim ten days later on May 27, another visit was made to Lewis Morris Park. The Kentucky Warbler was loudly singing at the same location as in 2018, near the end of Doe Meadow Road, close to the driveway of the Delbarton School’s property. It was reported almost daily through June 17 with more than seventy eBird checklists recorded. Easily one hundred or more people came to pay a visit.

During that period reports of two Kentucky Warblers being sighted were described and possibly two being heard. These were tantalizing records. Breeding was a possibility but nothing was confirmed…until July 2.

June 17 was the last record of Kentucky Warbler even though people had looked after that date. On July 2, Ryan Doherty of Massachusettes came to Doe Meadow Rd. and reported a Kentucky Warbler, possibly a juvenile. The photos of his sighting arrived on his checklist three days later and very interesting photos they are (see the eBird checklist, here).

Veteran bander and researcher, Tom Brown, reviewed the photos and concluded it was a hatchling year Kentucky Warbler. The esteemed Paul Buckley concurred with Tom’s assessment.

Kentucky Warblers bred sporadically and very locally in the Morris and Somerset County areas throughout the 1990s. During that period, it was not unusual to find Kentucky Warblers somewhere between Jockey Hollow in Morris County (Morristown National Historical Park) and Scherman Hoffman Sanctuary in Bernardsville. Kentucky Warblers were present in suitable time periods to suggest breeding, even if visible confirmation was not available.

A few blocks of the New Jersey Breeding Bird Atlas in Morris and Somerset Counties had breeding confirmations in the 1990s. There are no known records since. Kentucky Warblers are reported for many years in the Middle Valley area of Washington Twp. near the Hunterdon County border, but breeding there is in the possible/probable category and not confirmed as far as is known.

Lewis Morris Park was not known as a birding destination before the arrival of the Kentucky Warbler in 2018. The possibility exists that this species has been present at this location longer than we know. Yet another reason to check locations other than the typical, trendy, glamour spots.

Confirmed: Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers breeding in Morris County

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Mount Paul, Morris Co., NJ, July 7, 2019 (photo by Matt Skalla)

From Bill Boyle’s The Birds of New Jersey, Status and Distribution:
“Prior to 1998, there was only one confirmed nesting record for Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in New Jersey. In June 1998, a pair was found feeding young along the Kittatinny Ridge in High Point SP.”

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have expanded their breeding range since that time but most reports are from Sussex County and recently from Passaic County. Louis Bizzarro reported the species on the Morris side of Holland Mtn. Road earlier in June. It seems inevitable that they will breed in northern Morris County at some point in time. That time is now.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Mount Paul, Morris Co., NJ, July 7, 2019 (photo by Matt Skalla)

Matt Skalla visits Mount Paul in Jefferson Twp. and has seen Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers throughout the spring and into summer. Mount Paul is a former Paulist monastery purchased by the state in 2009. Much of it is administered by Kittatinny Valley State Park. Read about the state’s purchase of the property, here.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Mount Paul, Morris Co., NJ, July 7, 2019 (photo by Matt Skalla)

This morning, July 7, Matt photographed a nestling and a parent at the nest. Interestingly, Matt says: “These must be a different pair than I have been seeing over the last few weeks, they are about a half mile from where I have previously been seeing them.”

Congratulations to Matt for locating the first confirmed nesting of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in Morris County.


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.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted as they occur. 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

Henslow’s Sparrow, Somerset County – June 23, 2019

Henslow’s Sparrow, Somerset Co., NJ, June 22, 2019 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

What’s the big deal? It’s just another Henslow’s Sparrow in Somerset County. They are practically annual summer visitors albeit on inaccessible private property and in tiny numbers. They have nested in the county so the Negri-Nepote bird could find a mate.

However, this is 2019. Since approximately the 1950s, the Henslow’s Sparrow population has dropped precipitously in the northeast to the point where they are virtually absent.

Here is a screenshot of the June 23, 2019 eBird distribution map for Henslow’s Sparrow. This gives an accurate picture of the current status of this species (click on the picture for a larger image):

eBird species map, Henslow’s Sparrow, June 23, 2019

Fortunately for birders, the current Henslow’s Sparrow is using publicly-accessible Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve in Franklin Township for a possible nesting situation.

This individual was found and correctly identified yesterday, June 22 by Jeff Ellerbusch and seen yesterday and today by a multitude of eager observers looking for a post-spring-migration-early-summer adrenaline rush. Interestingly, this Henslow’s was probably present on June 6 based on photos that have come to light in the past twenty-four hours.

Here is an indication of how times have changed. This is the Henslow’s Sparrow account in A List of Birds of Morris County written by E. Carleton Thurber and published by the True Democratic Banner newspaper in 1887 (NOTE: recent taxonomic updates change Henslow’s genus from Ammodramus to Centronyx):

(Ammodramus henslowii) Henslow’s Sparrow. Rather common summer resident, but very local. The only places that I know of its being found are, a large meadow near Horse Hill, and in Wheeler Swamp near Littleton.

Horse Hill is present-day heavily developed Cedar Knolls. Littleton is swallowed up by Parsippany-Troy Hills.

Here is an excerpt from Bill Boyle’s The Birds of New Jersey, Status and Distribution:

Stone (1937) called Henslow’s Sparrow a “common summer resident” of the Cape May Peninsula at that time, and even at mid-century they were still uncommon and local breeding birds throughout New Jersey (Fables 1955, Bull 1964).

The Henslow’s Sparrow of today invokes the ghosts of Henslow’s Sparrows’ past. Even more of a motivation to protect what’s left of this critical habitat before it’s gone.


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.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@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 | 1 Comment

Mourning and Kentucky Warblers – May 30, 2019

Mourning Warbler

Mourning Warbler, Troy Meadows, Morris Co., NJ, May 30, 2019 (photo by Warren Van Varick)

(Thanks to Warren Van Varick for the use of his photo. Clicking on the photo brings you to his Flickr photo where you can browse his other Mourning Warbler images.)

Seeing or hearing one Mourning Warbler in spring migration is a special treat. May 2019 is becoming an embarrassment of riches in Morris and Somerset Counties. One, two, and maybe more, Mourning Warblers are reported from Troy Meadows since May 22 through today, May 30. One, in particular, has frequented the same brushy location since May 22 through May 30.

Mourning Warblers are reported from Lord Stirling Park from May 26 through today. North Jerseyans should feel fortunate. Other than one stray report from Burlington County, the eBird database shows no other Mourning Warbler reports for New Jersey in 2019 south of I-195.


Kentucky Warbler, Lewis Morris Park, Morris Co., NJ, May 30, 2019 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

For at least the second year in a row, a Kentucky Warbler is present at Lewis Morris Park. The Kentucky Warbler was found on May 27 near the end of Doe Meadow Road (park at the uppermost Sugarloaf lot), the same location where one was found in 2018.

Kentucky Warbler was a regular spring visitor and occasional nester in the 1980s and early ’90s from Jockey Hollow to Sherman Hoffman Sanctuary but absent in most years since. New Jersey is the northern extreme of this species’ nesting range.

Kentucky Warbler, Lewis Morris Park, Morris Co., NJ, May 28, 2019 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Thanks to Chuck Hantis for the Kentucky Warbler photos. Clicking on the image above will bring you to his Flickr page.

Kentucky Warbler, Lewis Morris Park, Morris Co., NJ, May 28, 2019 (photo by Chuck Hantis)


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.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@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

The Raptor Trust Benefit – May 19, 2019




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

Black-headed Grosbeak Photos – Apr. 21, 2019

Black-headed Grosbeak, Morris Twp., NJ, Apr. 20, 2019 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

The Black-headed Grosbeak of Morris Township continues for the third day. Since the bird was found by Andy Boulcott on April 19, at least 80 single checklists have been submitted to eBird using the eBird hotspot created for this event: stakeout Black-headed Grosbeak, 17 Forest Dr., Morristown (2019). Not everyone uses eBird so it is not a stretch of the imagination to say that well over 100 people have visited 17 Forest Drive.

The birding community cannot thank the Boulcott family enough for their generosity in opening up their yard so that others can view their western wanderer.

Please revise your checklist to use the stakeout hotspot as the location if you haven’t already. Submit a comment at the end of this post if you are not sure how to accomplish that.

Details of this rare visitor are described in these previous two posts:

Black-headed Grosbeak in Morris Twp.
Current Range Map

Chuck Hantis was present at 17 Forest Drive on Saturday, April 20, 2019, and captured stunning images of the Black-headed Grosbeak, one of which is at the top of this post and others which are presented below. Clicking on the photos brings you to Chuck’s Flickr page which is worthwhile checking out. There are lots of great photographs in his collection.

Black-headed Grosbeak, Morris Twp., NJ, Apr. 20, 2019 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Black-headed Grosbeak, Morris Twp., NJ, Apr. 20, 2019 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Black-headed Grosbeak, Morris Twp., NJ, Apr. 20, 2019 (photo by Chuck Hantis)


Finis


Posted in Morris County, Somerset County | 2 Comments

Black-headed Grosbeak, current range map – Apr. 20, 2019

Many observers from near and far are enjoying Morris Township’s Black-headed Grosbeak today. Once again, our deepest thanks to Andy Boulcott and his family for their generosity and graciousness in accommodating all those wishing to view their star yardbird.

Remember, if you go, please follow these directions. Park on the road. Do not block the driveway. Walk up the cobblestone-like driveway. The small tree with the feeder that the BHGR frequents is at the end of the driveway. The Black-headed Grosbeak (BHGR) is easily viewable from there. Be kind; be respectful. There is no need to wander on their property.

How rare is this fellow? It is only the third New Jersey record in the 21st century and those may have been one-day wonders.

Most New Jersey records are from wintertime. Only two records are of long staying individuals that stretched into April.

Maplewood, Essex Co. 4 Feb – 9 Apr, 1960
Gloucester County 10 Feb – 14 Apr, 1965

The Morris Twp. BHGR is the latest spring record for New Jersey known of so far and the first April record in 54 years.

Even more revealing of the magnitude of this rarity is the following eBird range map showing the current status of Black-headed Grosbeaks in much of North America. Yes, that one pinpoint on the right coast is the only current record east of the Mississippi River. Why this bird is here is anyone’s guess.

Following is the distribution map of Black-headed Grosbeak courtesy of Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s

Birds of North America.


Finis


Posted in Morris County, Somerset County | 3 Comments

Black-headed Grosbeak in Morris Twp. – April 20, 2019

Black-headed Grosbeak, Morris Twp., Morris Co., NJ, Apr. 19, 2019 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Out all day Friday, April 19, this writer returned home sometime in the afternoon with text messages from friends referring to an alleged Black-headed Grosbeak submitted to eBird that day from a private home in Morris County. Reading the checklist, I opened the map and, by gosh, it’s barely over a mile from my house on Kemble Mountain on the other side of the ridge!

Emails between the homeowner, Sam Galick, and I gave credence to the remarkable report. The homeowner, Andrew (Andy) Boulcott graciously invited me to observe the bird at his house at 17 Forest Drive, Morristown. Alright, a geographical lesson: it is actually in Morris Township, a separate municipality from Morristown, but the township lacks a post office and zip code, so our searchable and mailing addresses are Morristown.

The male Black-headed Grosbeak (BHGR) was also gracious to give a long, continuous appearance. It does so today, Saturday, April 20 as well.

Andy and his wife were asked if it was okay for public notice of the BHGR on the various New Jersey social media venues, and they both agreed. Andy is from Sussex, England, his father is a birder, so he understands birders. The possible consequence of people in their yard was gently explained to them, but they still agreed.

If you go, please follow these directions. Park on the road. Do not block the driveway. Walk up the cobblestone-like driveway. The small tree with the feeder that the BHGR frequents is at the end of the driveway. The BHGR is easily viewable from there. Be kind; be respectful. There is no need to wander on their property.

This represents the 25th New Jersey record of Black-headed Grosbeak and the third for Morris County. It is also the latest in spring that this species is recorded in the state.

eBirders note: a hotspot is created for the BHGR. Please use stakeout Black-headed Grosbeak, (17 Forest Dr., Morristown). The URL is https://ebird.org/hotspot/L9077802

Many thanks to the generosity and kindness of the Boulcotts for allowing people to view this special bird on their property.


Other sightings

An adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron continues at Fairview Farm, Bedminster along with an American Bittern (Apr. 20).

Tim Vogel reports a female Long-tailed Duck at Cook’s Pond, Denville yesterday, April 19. This species has a penchant for showing up in unexpected places.


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.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@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 | 3 Comments

Anhinga over Great Swamp NWR (April 13 only); the passing of Pete Bacinski – Apr. 14, 2019

Anhinga, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, Apr. 13, 2019 (documentation photo by Adrian Smith)

There is magic at the Great Swamp Wildlife Observation Center on Long Hill Road, Harding Township. On Saturday, April 13, 2019, Adrian Smith scanned the skies and found a high, distant shape that could be nothing else but an Anhinga. It was in the vicinity of three Black Vultures, eventually drifting off in an east-northeast direction, and was gone soon after it appeared.

If accepted by the New Jersey Bird Record Committee this will be the eighteenth New Jersey state record and the first for Morris County.

Anhinga is appropriately known by its scientific genus/species label as Anhinga anhinga. Why call it anything else when its name “is derived from a Tupi (Brazilian) Indian name, anhingá or anhangá, for the devil bird, an evil spirit of the woods”, as described in Cornell’s Birds of North America.

The Wildlife Observation Center is the scene of some other extraordinary sightings for Morris County in recent years.

On May 21, 2011 a group led by Mike Anderson saw and photographed a Swallow-tailed Kite at the Friends Blind. The significance of this sighting is that it is the first Swallow-tailed Kite reported in Morris County in one hundred and twenty-four years, or since 1887 in other words (see Thurber’s list).

On June 16, 2017, a group of birders watched and documented a Gull-billed Tern also at the Friends Blind, the first and only record of this species in Morris County.

These are the records that immediately come to mind. Something must be in the air at that location for such extraordinary local sightings. Keep them coming, and with photographic documentation, please!


Pete Bacinski

Pete Bacinski, a New Jersey birding giant for decades, left us too soon on Thursday, April 11, 2019. Upon news of his passing, the genuine outpouring of love and affection for Pete on social media and mailing lists was extraordinary and is a testament to the positive effect he had on so many people. This writer knew him for over thirty years and can’t think of a warmer, more generous and giving person. He will be greatly missed but remembered by everyone he touched. Good birding, Pete.


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.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@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 | 1 Comment