The 83rd Boonton Christmas Bird Count Report – 2018

Peregrine Falcon, Bee Meadow Park, NJ, Dec. 23, 2018 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

The 83rd annual Boonton Christmas Bird Count (CBC) occurred on Sunday, December 23rd, 2018. The day had sunny skies, temperatures above freezing, and a gentle breeze if any wind at all and was the meteorological opposite of the soggy 2017 count.

Before continuing with the summary:

Congratulations to Tim Vogel for participating in his 50th Boonton CBC!

All bodies of water were ice-free although sub-freezing temperatures in the autumn froze many ponds and lakes, chasing the waterfowl away at that time. The major natural event affecting this year’s count was flooding. Did the rains ever let up in 2018? Many low-lying areas were flooded and inaccessible. Knee-high boots were de rigueur in many locations.

86 species were tallied plus two count week additions. This is becoming the relative average in recent years of the Boonton CBC.

2 count-week species, Pine Siskin, and Hermit Thrush are part of the record although not included in the actual totals for the count day (count-week is defined as three days prior to and three days after the actual count date).

11,291 is the total number of individual birds tallied and is the lowest number since 6,344 were totaled in 1972. It is even lower than last year’s 12,596. 2017’s count day had wet, miserable weather which helps explain low totals. But what of 2018? It was a beautiful day albeit with many flooded conditions. A few other New Jersey CBCs also comment on the low number of individuals this year. Only the future will know whether this is a trend or a blip in the course of time. We should be concerned if this becomes the normal state of the Boonton CBC and CBCs in general.

Low numbers have many contributing factors. One could be a lack of coverage in certain areas where comprehensive censusing was the norm in prior years. It is accurate to say that all regions of the Boonton count circle are not covered as thoroughly as they once were and some are not covered at all anymore. The continuing habitat degradation throughout the region is a major factor as well. If an area isn’t officially preserved, it will be developed.

Another alarming factor is how participants in the field describe the day’s birding. A common assessment gleaned from participants was that the day’s count was “slow”. This is two years in a row with opposite weather conditions but with the same observational remark: Slow. 

Highlights and lowlights for this year’s CBC are below.

  • A Barn Owl was the first since 2003 and the 15th occurrence on the count.
  • An Eastern Phoebe was the 13th appearance on the count and the fourth in the 21st century (2001, ‘09, ‘16, ‘18).
  • One Peregrine Falcon is always nice to report. Two is even better in 2018. Peregrines were reported only three times in the first sixty-one years of the count (1936-96); none from 1955 through 1996; Peregrine Falcon is recorded 14 times in the past twenty-two years plus two years as a count week record.
  • 9 Red-headed Woodpeckers at Troy Meadows; none in 2017.
  • Red-bellied Woodpeckers – the 21st-century average is 141. All of the woodpeckers dipped in 2017 due to the miserable weather more than likely, but rebounded in 2018. Red-bellieds went from 51 in 2017 to 142 in 2018.
  • European Starling – interesting numbers in 2018. More Starlings have been tallied in the history of the Boonton CBC than any other species, 207,447. Only 1,118 were counted in 2018. This is the lowest total since 1970.
  • 32 American Tree Sparrows is the lowest total in the history of the Boonton CBC where the 83-year average is 640(!). The 21st-century average is 318; the past 10-year average is 192. See a pattern? 2017 and 2018 have totals less than 100. The only other year that occurred was the first year of the Boonton CBC in 1936 when five observers in one party birded for eight hours and counted 75 Am. Tree Sparrows.
  • 13 species were above their 21st Century average:
    • Northern Shoveler, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck.
    • Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture.
    • Red-shouldered Hawk, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon
    • Eastern Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl
    • Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker
    • Eastern Phoebe
  • Of course, this means 73 species were at or below their 21st Century Average. A sampling of regularly occurring species with precipitous average drops follows. Averages are based on 21st-century totals:
    • Canada Goose – down 36%. 2,816 is the fifth lowest total since 1983.
    • Gadwall – 84% off the average; 14 is the lowest total since 7 in 1995.
    • Am. Black Duck – down 80%. Read this: 43 is the lowest total since 1944, 74 years ago.
    • Mallard – down 68%. 307 is the lowest total since 1967.
    • Great Blue Heron – 53% off ave. 13 in 2018 and 2016 are the two lowest totals since 1989.
    • Red-tailed Hawk – 29% off ave. Although 2018’s total of 54 is much improved over 2017’s 22, the 21st-century pattern of overall decline continues.
    • Ring-billed and Herring Gulls were 63% and 69% off of their 21st-century averages, respectively.
    • Rock Pigeon – 206 in 2018 is the lowest total since counting for this species began in 1973. 2017’s 237 is the second lowest.
    • Mourning Dove – 35% off ave. 304 is the second lowest total since 1988 with 254 in 2009 the lowest.
    • Although improved from 2017’s soggy numbers, most woodpecker species were off of their 21st-century averages.
    • Am. Crows and Fish Crows were off by 78% and 34% respectively, continuing a trend for Am. Crow.
    • Black-capped Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse totals were off 63% and 65% respectively. 111 Tufted Titmouse is the lowest total since 1969. For perspective, the average total of Tufted Titmouse from 1991-2001 was 518.
    • Am. Robins were down 81%, but totals of this species vary greatly from year to year.
    • No. Mockingbird down 54% – a continuing trend. 40 is the second lowest total since 1972 with 2017’s 27 the first lowest.
    • European Starling and Am. Tree Sparrow are mentioned earlier in this article.
    • Sparrow species were down between 35-50%.
    • No. Cardinal – down 44%, 119 is the lowest total since 1972; 2017’s 122 is the second lowest.
    • Red-winged Blackbird – down 86%; 72 is the lowest total since 1970.
    • Rusty Blackbird and Common Grackle were down 93% and 83% respectively, but their numbers fluctuate greatly from year to year.
    • House Sparrow – down 58% continuing a recent decline. 2017 and 2018 represent the two lowest totals since 1971.

The following species were reported by one party only. The species column is followed by the amount reported. The third column represents the percentage of occurrences in the 83-year history of the count:

Seen by only one party
Species Tot. % on CBC Comment
Northern Pintail 2 68.7 Varying totals over the years.
Green-winged Teal 2 67.5 Same as 2017 and the lowest total since 2 in 2000.
Redhead 11 47.0 scattered over the years.
Common Goldeneye 2 73.5 Was nearly annual through 2010; reported only twice since.
Wild Turkey 1 38.6 Where did they go? The average for the 21st century is 66.2!
Pied-billed Grebe 2 75.9 Typical; usually seen but very low in numbers.
Northern Harrier 1 81.9 Has been missed only three times since 1977.
American Kestrel 1 89.2 Despite the record count this fall at Cape May, local wintering numbers continue to decline. Missed in 2015 and 2017. Only one in 2016 and 2018. Despite the 89.2% occurrence rate for eighty-three years of the count, numbers in the 21st century are very poor.
Great Black-backed Gull 1 65.1 Was rare prior to 1969; Including a count week record, it has not missed since, barely.
Barn Owl 1 18.1 First record since 2003; only the 15th count it has been recorded.
Barred Owl 1 60.2 At least one is usually found somewhere.
Red-headed Woodpecker 9 45.8 Missed in 2017, this cyclical species is a Troy Meadows specialty.
Eastern Phoebe 1 14.5 The twelfth occurrence on the count.
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1 72.3 A feeder visitor kept this from being missed two years in a row.
Gray Catbird 1 59.0 First since 2015; was nearly annual for many years before that.
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 66.3 You read that number correctly; not missed since 1983…barely.
Savannah Sparrow 2 72.3 Typical for this species.

As one can see from the previous table, every route is important to the overall count circle; every bird counts. 17 species were seen by one party only, showing how fragile the total species count is.

The following table shows notable species missed in 2018. The three different criteria for this table is species that were seen the previous year and not in 2018, or species having a >50% occurrence rate and missed, and other species of special interest. While this certainly can signal a decline in the species occurring in the count circle, keep in mind that the number of participants and parties has also decreased slightly over the years as well as an increase in property development and habitat degradation.

Notable Species Missed
Species % on CBC Comment
American Wigeon 81.9 3rd miss in 4 years after not being missed since 1989.
Greater Scaup 48.2 1 in 2017; sporadic through the years.
Red-breasted Merganser 13.3 1 in 2017. Most likely to be seen in spring.
Ruffed Grouse 61.4 Not reported since 2006. Nearly annual from the 1960s to the early ’90s.
Horned Grebe 28.9 3 in 2017; sporadic through the years.
Rough-legged Hawk 56.6 Last recorded in 2010. Rare since the 1990s despite its 56.6% occurrence rate.
Killdeer 63.9 Missed for the second year in a row, but numbers are small when it is recorded.
Wilson’s Snipe 62.7 Not recorded since 2014. Four years is the longest stretch without a record since the 1940s.
Long-eared Owl 61.4 Not since 2014.
Horned Lark 48.2 Not quite at 50% but mentioned here to illustrate the changes to a species occurrence; was nearly annual from the 1940s through the ‘70s. Recorded only five times since 1981.
American Pipit 32.5 30 in 2017; typically unpredictable.
Marsh Wren 38.6 1 in 2017; rare in the 21st century.
Hermit Thrush 67.5 A count week entry in 2018; missed in 2015 for the second time since 1972.
Eastern Towhee 79.5 Missed in 2012, as well, the only misses since 1966.
Chipping Sparrow 26.5 1 in 2017; one is reported every few years.
White-crowned Sparrow 36.1 Missed 4 out of 5 years; was annual from 1994 to 2013.
Eastern Meadowlark 49.4 Recorded in half of the Boonton CBCs but not since 2001 and only three times since 1985. How have times changed? 68 were recorded in 1953.
Brown-headed Cowbird 81.9 And this observer raked through the numerous Starlings at the Parsippany Transfer Station (Sharky’s Dump to old timers) trying to find one. This miss defies reason. Only one other miss since 1971 and that was in 1990.

Historical Tidbits

Below is the list of species occurring on all 83 years of the Boonton CBC.

  • American Black Duck
  • Mallard
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Blue Jay
  • American Crow
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Brown Creeper
  • European Starling
  • American Tree Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco
  • Northern Cardinal
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Sparrow

Here is the top ten of the total number of individuals for all 83 years of the count:

Species Total Individuals (83 years)
1 European Starling 207,447
2 Canada Goose 162,853
3 Common Grackle 126,085
4 American Crow 125,059
5 Mallard 63,907
6 Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco 55,489
7 American Tree Sparrow 53,172
8 Red-winged Blackbird 43,503
9 Ring-billed Gull 39,161
10 House Sparrow 38,274

Mark your calendars. Next year’s count will be on Sunday, December 22, 2019.

This report is also at the following location on the mocosocoBirds.com website:

https://mocosocobirds.com/birds-of-morris-county-n-j/boontoncbc/2018-2/

A list of the species found on this CBC is at the following link:

https://mocosocobirds.com/birds-of-morris-county-n-j/boontoncbc/species-list/

You can also access these pages through the Birds of Morris County > Boonton Christmas Bird Count menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.

A wonderful 2019 to all!

Nature: respect, protect, preserve, and nurture it. Always be awed by its beauty.

Jonathan Klizas, Compiler

Boonton Christmas Bird Count

Posted in Christmas Bird Count, Morris County | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The White Red-tailed Hawk of Watnong Mtn.; Woody Guthrie and Greystone – Dec. 9, 2018

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk, Watnong Mtn., Parsippany-Troy Hills, Morris Co., NJ, Dec. 9, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photos for either larger images or links to other websites.)

Watnong Mountain’s White (leucistic) Red-tailed Hawk is back for another winter, roosting along Old Dover Road in Parsippany-Troy Hills, just around the corner from Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital. This Red-tailed Hawk is hard to miss after the leaves have dropped. Look for a white mass among the brown and gray tones in the woods edge while cruising along Old Dover Road.

2018-19 represents the fifth year, at least, that this hawk has used the base of Watnong Mountain as a roost. It was last seen in the spring on May 4, 2018, soaring with an apparent female before reappearing in November. Sightings of the hawk during the summer months are undocumented and simply unknown.

One can fantasize that this raptor embodies the spirit of Woody Guthrie, soaring over the area where he was hospitalized at Greystone Park from 1953-58 due to Huntington’s Disease. For those unfamiliar with Woody Guthrie: look him up, study his work, appreciate how we are all beneficiaries of his legacy, and be grateful he existed for the short time that he did.

Woody Guthrie at Greystone Park, 1958

Woody’s family, including his son Arlo, paid weekly visits to him at Greystone. A Minnesota folksinger named Bob Dylan visited Woody at Greystone as did Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, and many other troubadours of a new and engaged generation, receiving the torch of social consciousness through music passed to them from the master.

Kirkbride Building, Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, Morris Co., NJ, June 24, 2015 (iPhone photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Woody resided in what he called Wardy Forty in the Kirkbride Building at Greystone. Unfortunately, this magnificent building, albeit in major disrepair, was demolished in October 2015 despite a passionate grassroots appeal for its survival. Those holding the pursestrings said it was not economically feasible to save it.

And so, along with much of the original Greystone Park grounds, another piece of history is laid to waste and replaced by a park with soccer and other playing fields and (gasp) two outdoor hockey rinks this observer has never seen used as well as field habitat desecrated by an unnecessary waste of asphalt named “Gov. Chris Christie Way”. Enough said.

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk, Morris Co., NJ, Apr. 8, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


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 Historical, Morris County, Somerset County | 3 Comments

Evening Grosbeaks, Vesper Sparrow, Boonton CBC – Dec. 1, 2018

Evening Grosbeak, Scherman Hoffman Sanctuary, Bernardsville, Somerset Co., NJ, Dec. 1, 2018 (Photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Three female Evening Grosbeaks were the featured guests today at the feeding station of New Jersey Audubon’s Scherman Hoffman Sanctuary in Bernardsville. When the birds arrived, Susan Garretson-Friedman spread the word via various media outlets so that other people were able to watch the birds feed, preen, fly around, perch, call, etc.

Evening Grosbeak, Scherman Hoffman Sanctuary, Bernardsville, Somerset Co., NJ, Dec. 1, 2018 (Photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Entering a query for Evening Grosbeaks in the eBird Species Map will display other reports from New Jersey in this season of winter finches.

Evening Grosbeak, Scherman Hoffman Sanctuary, Bernardsville, Somerset Co., NJ, Dec. 1, 2018 (Photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The Evening Grosbeaks visiting New Jersey this season, are most likely of Type 3, the eastern population. Five different sub-species of Evening Grosbeaks are thought to exist. Here is a link describing the different sub-species’ vocalizations from the Earbirding website:
Evening Grosbeak Call Types.

Following is a map showing the range of the five sub-species of Evening Grosbeak, created by Kei Sochi. See Birding, November 2012, pp. 34–40, for full details.

Here is a size comparison between an Evening Grosbeak on the left and an American Goldfinch on the right. Both species are in the Fringillidae family. (Click on the photos for larger images.)

Evening Grosbeak with American Goldfinch, Scherman Hoffman Sanctuary, Bernardsville, Somerset Co., NJ, Dec. 1, 2018 (Photo by Jonathan Klizas)

While observers viewed from the upper deck at Scherman Hoffman Sanctuary the Evening Grosbeaks displayed an effective camouflage against the stones.

Evening Grosbeaks, Scherman Hoffman Sanctuary, Bernardsville, Somerset Co., NJ, Dec. 1, 2018 (Photo by Jonathan Klizas)


Dave Blinder created a video today of the lingering Troy Meadows Vesper Sparrow.


The 83rd annual Boonton Christmas Bird Count is on Sunday, December 23, 2018. Contact the compiler, Jonathan Klizas, at boontoncbc at gmail dot com if you are interested in participating.


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


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The Orange-crowned Warbler of Troy Meadows; Bob Perkins; other news – Nov. 3, 2018

Orange-crowned Warbler, Troy Meadows, Morris Co., NJ, Oct. 4, 2018 (photo by Warren Van Varick)

(Click on the photo for a larger image)

An Orange-crowned Warbler has been captured in beautiful photographs by Warren Van Varick on Oct. 4 and Dave Blinder on Oct. 23. Both sightings were found near the same area of Patriots Path at the southern end of Troy Meadows, accessed near the power and gas lines along South Beverwyck Rd. The Orange-crowned Warbler was usually seen along Patriots Path between the gravel parking lot and the gas line (see the South Beverwyck Road entry on the Troy Meadows map). Roger Johnson saw the bird in a similar area on October 10.

Orange-crowned Warbler, Troy Meadows, Morris Co., NJ, Oct. 23, 2018 (photo by Dave Blinder)

This writer saw it on the afternoon of October 25 after Warren photographed an Orange-crowned Warbler (OCWA) along the power-line in the morning. An OCWA was seen in the same area on Oct. 28 and Nov. 1 by Alex Bernzweig and Rob Fanning respectively.

Orange-crowned Warbler sightings in the Morris area are annual in autumn but not common. Are these coincidental sightings of different Orange-crowned Warblers by numerous people in a similar location? Or the same individual liking a certain area and hanging around for a month? The latter idea is reasonable although long staying Orange-crowned Warblers are rare in the Morris area. Cape May and points south are more likely.


Commemorative Ceremony for Robert L. Perkins, founder of Wildlife Preserves, Inc.

Perkins plaque, Troy Meadows, Oct. 27, 2018

You may not be familiar with the name, but Bob Perkins (1927-2017) is the reason we have Troy Meadows in Morris Co. and Great Piece Meadows in Essex and Morris Counties. On October 27, 2018, Wildlife Preserves hosted a ceremony commemorating a memorial plaque in honor of Bob Perkins at Troy Meadows. Dave Blinder wrote a blog post about the event. You can read that here. To find out more about this forward-thinking conservationist, read the interview conducted by An American River author Mary Bruno, here.


Landscapes of New Jersey at Frelinghuysen Arboretum

Frequent mocosocoBirds contributor and peripatetic New Jersey nature photographer, conservationist, and Wildlife Preserves Land Steward, Dave Blinder, has a showing of his photographs in the Haggerty Education Center of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum entitled Landscapes of New Jersey in Morris Township during the month of November. The show’s opening is Saturday, November 10, 2 PM to 3:15 PM. Dave has a blog post about the exhibit, here.


83rd Annual Boonton Christmas Bird Count, Sunday, December 23, 2018

A post about the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will be published shortly. Meanwhile, anyone interested in participating for a part of the day, a full day or just feeder watching, can contact the compiler at boontoncbc@gmail.com.


Gulls Simplified: A Comparative Approach to Identification by Pete Dunne and Kevin Karlson

A new field guide is available or about to be released. Pete Dunne and Kevin Karlson have teamed up for Gulls Simplified: A Comparative Approach to Identification published by Princeton University Press. Amazon has it available Nov. 13. Both authors talk about their new venture on BirdCallsRadio episode #144.


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 , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bird migration as September ends – Sep. 30, 2018

Southbound bird migration is transitioning into the season of sparrows, finches, and short distance migrants. The past two days saw favorable conditions for birds on the move. View overnight migration radar maps at Cornell’s BirdCast web site, here.

A Connecticut Warbler was seen at Troy Meadows this morning along Patriots Path near the parking area accessed from South Beverwyck Rd. Five Lincoln’s Sparrows were scattered in the southern part of the meadows.

Connecticut Warbler, Troy Meadows, Morris Co., NJ, Sep. 30, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Purple Finches and Red-breasted Nuthatches continue their irruption into New Jersey and elsewhere.

Purple Finch, Troy Meadows, NJ, Sep. 30, 2018 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Blue-headed Vireos, Blackpoll Warblers, Lincoln’s Sparrows, Eastern Phoebes, Northern Flickers, Blue Jays, even a few remaining Broad-winged Hawks are adding to the rich migration fabric of early Autumn as September gives way to October.

Blue-headed Vireo, Oak Meadows, Rockaway Twp., NJ, Sep. 29, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The previous week saw activity at North Branch Park, Bridgewater. The highlight was a Glossy Ibis (F. Durso) which remained throughout Friday, Sep. 28. Also visiting the flooded fields of the park that day were a White-rumped Sandpiper (D. Bernstein), a Blue-winged Teal and the continuing Pectoral, Semipalmated, and Least Sandpipers, and Lesser Yellowlegs.

Glossy Ibis, North Branch Park, Bridgewater, NJ, Sep. 28, 2018 (documentation photo by David Bernstein)


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 , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

September Birds, Autumnal Equinox – Sep. 22, 2018

Red-headed Woodpecker, Troy Meadows, Morris Co., NJ, Sep. 22, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

At least six Red-headed Woodpeckers are in the snag forest of Troy Meadows. This is accessed via the relatively new green trail north of Troy Brook. A deer exclosure, still under construction, restricts access to the snags but the woodpeckers are viewable if one walks close to the fence.

As of today, Flickers, Red-bellied, Red-headed, Hairy, and Downy Woodpeckers were all utilizing the numerous dead trees. This is a traditional wintering location for numerous Red-headed Woodpeckers. 2018-19 may bring a healthy number of Red-headed Woodpeckers to Troy Meadows. We are due for one of the cyclical irruptions of Red-headed Woodpeckers in Morris County.

Red-headed Woodpecker, Troy Meadows, Morris Co., NJ, Sep. 22, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


1,129 Broad-winged Hawks were tallied today at the Wildcat Ridge Hawkwatch in Rockaway Township. Read the report here. Early reports from around the north New Jersey area echo similar results.


Connecticut Warbler, Sasso Tract, Rockaway Twp., NJ, Sep. 16, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Connecticut Warblers are reported from three locations in Morris and Somerset Counties so far this month.

Connecticut Warbler, Sasso Tract, Rockaway Twp., NJ, Sep. 16, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


Dark-eyed Junco, Chimney Rock, NJ, Sep. 16, 2018 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

New Jersey’s first Dark-eyed Junco of the season was found on the early date of Sept. 16 at Chimney Rock (J. Ellerbusch). This was repeated at The Rock on Sept. 19. Along with a Garret Mountain report from that same date, these remain the only reports of Dark-eyed Junco in the entire state of New Jersey so far this fall migration season.


Red-breasted Nuthatches and Purple Finches are widely reported recently. The forecast is for a winter finch irruption this year. Read Ron Pittaway’s annual Winter Finch Forecast here.


The Autumnal Equinox occurs at 9:54 PM eastern time, September 22, 2018.


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

Cory’s Shearwater in Madison (Aug. 1, not since) – Aug. 4, 2018

You read the title of this post correctly.

Robert Blair of The Raptor Trust informed mocosocoBirds a short time ago that on August 1, 2018: “a bird was left in our admit office that was found on Lorraine Ave. at the Route 24 overpass in Madison (Morris County). The bird turned out to be a Cory’s Shearwater. The bird was found on the side of the road and survived the night. It was transferred to Toms River Avian Care for further rehab and hopefully release.”

Amazing! And one more reason (not that any more are needed) to help support The Raptor Trust.


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 Historical, Morris County, Somerset County | Leave a comment

Birds at Boonton Reservoir – July 15, 2018

This is a quick note to document the number of birds seen at Boonton Reservoir this afternoon.

24 Great Egrets were all around the island which is by far, the most recorded at this location. The previous high total was 10.

49 Great Blue Herons were on the island and on the east shore of the reservoir. Most appear to be juveniles. 51 were tallied here on July 8.

382 Double-crested Cormorants were counted and it is quite possible 50+ were inadvertently left out of the total.

2 juvenile Black-crowned Night-Herons were seen on the north shore of the island.

Ring-billed Gulls are returning with approximately 70 reported today, the highest total since the middle of March.

Up to four Cliff Swallows were seen at one time. These are the nesting birds under the Route 202 bridge.


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 | Leave a comment

Cliff Swallows; Elegy for a Mute Swan – July 14, 2018

Cliff Swallow, Hillsborough Twp., NJ, June 22, 2018 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

During the 1980s, the center of Cliff Swallow breeding in New Jersey was at colonies on the Delaware River at Bull’s Island and Lambertville in Hunterdon County as well as several locations in Sussex and Warren Counties. The New Jersey Breeding Bird Atlas of the 1990s added scattered locations in northern New Jersey.

Since that time, Cliff Swallows have colonized bridges spanning the Raritan River from Middlesex to Somerset Counties. A new location was found this year at the Rt. 206 bridge viewable from Peters Brook Greenway, accessed from S. Bridge Street, Somerville.

Rt. 206 Bridge, Raritan River, Peters Brook Greenway, Somerville NJ (iPhone photo by Jonathan Klizas

Another newly discovered Cliff Swallow nesting site is the east bridge at Opie Road where 4 adults were seen flying to and from the bridge on June 22 (Jeff Ellerbusch).

The I-287 bridges over the Raritan may still host Cliff Swallow colonies. The Queens Bridge in South Bound Brook appears not to have any this year.

Cliff Swallow, Peters Brook Greenway, Somerset Co., NJ, June 29, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

In Morris County, the Boonton Reservoir colony remains small but stable.

Another nesting site in Morris County is at Two Bridges in Lincoln Park (and Wayne and Fairfield). Cliff Swallows were reported sporadically from here in recent years. The swallows are apparently nesting under the Morris/Essex bridge as are the many Barn Swallows.

For those so inclined, Cliff Swallow can be listed for three counties at Two Bridges as this point is the convergence of Morris, Passaic, and Essex Counties.

Two Bridges, Lincoln Park, NJ, July 14, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Two Bridges can be a productive waterfowl spot in winter. The Pompton River empties into the Passaic River at this location. The current keeps the water open when other bodies of water are frozen.

In memoriam: The Mute Swan of Kitchell Pond

Mute Swan at Loantaka Brook Reservation, Morris Co., NJ, Apr. 1, 2015 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Years ago, two Mute Swans inhabited Kitchell Pond (or Lake, if you prefer) at Loantaka Brook Reservation. Approximately ten years ago, one of the swans was killed. The story this writer heard was that a family let their dog into the pond and it attacked one swan, mortally wounding it.

The lone remaining Mute Swan continued through this decade, a regular and familiar presence at the lake year-round (Kitchell Pond is one of the few bodies of water in the Morristown area that resists freezing as long as it can in the winter ).

This year, the story mocosocoBirds heard is that the swan became entangled in fishing line for a lengthy time, became weak and was in rough shape by the time The Raptor Trust was notified and took it in for rehabilitation. The Trust did the best they could, but the swan took a turn for the worse and was humanely euthanized to end its suffering.


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 | 2 Comments

The White Red-tailed Hawk of Watnong Mountain – May. 4, 2018

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk, Morris Co., NJ, Apri. 8, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

The first time this writer saw the above white raptor was approximately January 2014 on Old Dover Road, Parsippany-Troy Hills, maybe sooner. Yes, I did a double-take, stopped the car and watched as the hawk flew to another tree, ascertaining the bird was not a hallucination. More reports began trickling in regarding the same hawk.

Years have passed and allegedly the same leucistic Red-tailed Hawk still inhabits the same woods edge at the base of Watnong Mountain, right around the corner from Greystone Psychiatric Hospital.

What has noticeably changed is that the hawk now appears to be completely white, whereas this observer remembers some gray blotches on the wings and body and red and gray streaks in the tail.

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk, Morris Co., NJ, Apri. 8, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Based on it’s smaller size, the hawk is probably a male. It creates quite a stirring sight especially once the leaves are off the trees. It can be seen all seasons along Old Dover Road.

Mating is a possibility as the Great White Hawk was seen soaring with an alleged female late this afternoon.

Red-tailed Hawks, Watnong Mtn., Morris Co., NJ, May 4, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Watnong Mountain rises to approximately 965 feet. The eastern side of the mountain is developed with apartments and housing developments. The western and southern side is mostly untouched except for a power line, water tower, water tank, and a few other odds and ends. Mountain Way crosses the mountain.

A popular disk golf course accessed from Old Dover Road is near a pond, called a reservoir on maps, but this activity is relatively benign and birds are in the area, nonetheless. A trailhead is at a parking lot/playground on Mountain Way with various trails covering the mountain.

Watnong Mountain is not a birding destination to go out of your way to visit. It is one of the many locations this website is fond of promoting as a local area worthy of protecting and preserving.

Here is a photo display of some recent birds at Watnong Mountain.

Magnolia Warbler, Watnong Mtn., Morris Co., NJ, May 4, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Veery, Watnong Mtn., Morris Co., NJ, May 4, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Swainson’s Thrush, Watnong Mtn., Morris Co., NJ, May 4, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Wood Ducks, Watnong Mtn., Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ, Apr. 22, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


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