Barn Swallow at the Great Swamp NWR – Mar. 5, 2017

The following frigid temperature greeted north New Jersey this morning:

This was after a gusty, blustery, brutally cold Saturday with the temperature never getting above the freezing mark and feeling much colder. Despite the cold, and besides getting a photograph of a gorgeous adult Red-shouldered Hawk, John Bloomfield spotted a Tree Swallow at the Great Swamp NWR, a hardy swallow indeed.  The previous weekend saw early Tree Swallows in Morris County but the weather was balmy compared with March 4.

Red-shouldered Hawk, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, Mar. 4, 2017 (photo by John Bloomfield)

Red-shouldered Hawk, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, Mar. 4, 2017 (photo by John Bloomfield)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

We are not done with swallows yet.

Take a look at this screenshot of an eBird species map of reported Barn Swallows generated on the afternoon of March 5, 2017. You can click on it to get a larger image.

Barn Swallows reported in 2017 as of March 5, 2017 (eBird species map)

Barn Swallows reported in 2017 as of March 5, 2017 (eBird species map)

Other than Florida, the Gulf Coast and Texas, Barn Swallows have not been reported in the eastern United States. The lone Indiana report is from Feb. 19 and the observer did not consider it worthy of any written comments raising the eyebrow of this eBird reviewer.

Below is an eBird species map of reported Barn Swallows generated at approximately 8:15 PM on March 5, 2017. Note the New Jersey pinpoint as well as sightings in Tennessee and Arkansas. New Jersey is not alone finding Barn Swallows today.

Barn Swallows reported in 2017 as of March 5, 2017 (eBird species map)

Barn Swallows reported in 2017 as of March 5, 2017 (eBird species map)

Jeff Ellerbusch documents the occasion with photographs and was told other people saw it during the day but were unsure of the identification. March 5 and a Barn Swallow in New Jersey? And not even in Cape May?

Barn Swallow, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, Mar. 5, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

Barn Swallow, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, Mar. 5, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

Following is a bar chart and frequency graph from the eBird database specifically based on records from Morris and Somerset Counties.

Barn Swallow in Morris and Somerset Counties

Barn Swallow in Morris and Somerset Counties

(Click on the image for a larger rendering.)

The earliest known Barn Swallow arrival dates in north New Jersey are during the last few days of March and even these are represented by a small handful of records. The bar graph and frequency chart show that the majority of Barn Swallows arrive in Morris and Somerset Counties from mid-April into May. A sighting on March 5 in Morris County is simply extraordinary and an absurdity of nature!

Barn Swallow, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, Mar. 5, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

Barn Swallow, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, Mar. 5, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)


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

February Birds Wrap-up – Feb. 28, 2017

The vanguard of Double-crested Cormorants has returned to the island at Boonton Reservoir. 12 were seen on the north side this afternoon. This is approximately 7-14 days earlier at this location than the trend of recent years. Great Blue Herons are already inhabiting their nests on the island with at least 14 visible today.

On Saturday, February 25, three Tree Swallows appeared at Deerhaven Lake in Jefferson Township. This is the earliest recorded date in Morris County for this species in the eBird database.

The Eurasian Wigeon of Lake Hopatcong continues as of  Feb. 25. At least two of the Tundra Swans remain as of February 26. In general, most of the large gulls seem to have left with the melting ice.

In a mild winter with much open water, duck species diversity is poor this season and seems to have dissipated further in the past week. A private pond in Roxbury held five Aythya species on the weekend of Feb. 18 with 1,200 Ring-necked Ducks, 4-10 Redheads (10 on the weekend of Feb. 11), 3 Canvasbacks, Lesser Scaup and 2 Greater Scaup in company with American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, etc. On Feb. 26, only 200+ Ring-necked Ducks remained with a smattering of Green-winged Teal and Gadwall.

Many of the local resident Bald Eagles are in nesting mode. Other young Bald Eagles can be found at many locations.

Bald Eagles, Split Rock Reservoir, Morris Co., NJ, Feb. 25, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Bald Eagles, Split Rock Reservoir, Morris Co., NJ, Feb. 25, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image)

Bald Eagle, Deerhaven Lake, Morris Co., NJ, Feb. 25, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Bald Eagle, Deerhaven Lake, Morris Co., NJ, Feb. 25, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

It is a lean season for Rough-legged Hawks in Morris and Somerset Counties. The only reliable reports are of a sighting on Feb. 17 at the Great Swamp NWR and several from Duke Farms, with the last at that location on Feb. 15.

The only Horned Larks reported in Morris County this winter were one in Chester Twp. on Feb. 18 (Jeff Ellerbusch) and 7 at the Montville Community Gardens on Feb. 15 (Garry Annibal) with at least one remaining until Feb. 19.

Horned Lark, Montville Twp., NJ, Feb. 19, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Horned Lark, Montville Twp., NJ, Feb. 19, 2017 (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. Field reports and links of interest are tweeted throughout the day, occasionally. 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

Ducks and Gulls at Lake Hopatcong – Feb. 12, 2017

Eurasian Wigeon, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Feb. 7, 2017 (documentation photo by Alan Boyd)

Eurasian Wigeon, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Feb. 7, 2017 (documentation photo by Alan Boyd)

A Eurasian Wigeon drake at the Lake Forest section of Lake Hopatcong has attracted more birders than the usual two or three enthusiasts that frequent New Jersey’s largest freshwater lake. This is a positive development as the lake deserves closer scrutiny in the winter months. Depending on weather and water conditions, the lake can have impressive numbers of gulls and a healthy variety of waterfowl.

(Using mocosocoBirds’ custom search with Lake Hopatcong as the search query will present a glimpse of the bird life at the lake during the previous six years.)

More than likely, this is the same Eurasian Wigeon found by David Harrison in Roxbury Twp. during the Southwest Morris Bird Count on January 15. Possibly it is the same fellow that visited Lake Musconetcong in October 2016.

Prior to the Lake Musconetcong sighting, the most recent documented occurrence of Eurasian Wigeon in Morris County was in February and October of 2010, making the Lake Hopatcong event especially welcome to birders new to the area.

Lake Hopatcong is hosting a growing number of ducks as the season moves into late winter. Over 150 Ring-necked Ducks are at the lake along with varying numbers of Gadwall, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Mergansers and hundreds of Common Mergansers. A Red-breasted Merganser female was south of Nolan’s Point on Feb. 11.

Common Goldeneye, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Feb. 11, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Common Goldeneye, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Feb. 11, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

The wintering Tundra Swans continue to be viewed at the Lake Forest area. Tundra Swans are annual winter visitors to the lake in varying numbers. Practically all of Morris County’s Mute Swans are wintering at the lake as well.

Tundra Swans, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Feb. 8, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Tundra Swans, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Feb. 8, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Gulls at the north end of the lake continue to provide interest. A Glaucous Gull was seen Feb. 11 (Alex Bernzweig, et al) and on Feb. 5 (Jeff Ellerbusch).

Glaucous Gull, Lk. Hopatcong, NJ, Feb. 5, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

Glaucous Gull, Lk. Hopatcong, NJ, Feb. 5, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

An Iceland Gull was roosting on the ice the morning of Feb. 11 and is one of 2-3 different individuals of this species at the lake recently.

Iceland Gull with Herring Gulls, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Feb. 11, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Iceland Gull with Herring Gulls, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Feb. 11, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Iceland Gull with Herring Gulls, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Feb. 11, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Iceland Gull with Herring Gulls, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Feb. 11, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

A Lesser Black-backed Gull or two is occasionally seen. 1,000+ Herring Gulls in a few large groups is not unusual. Great Black-backed Gulls are at the lake in larger than usual numbers this winter. 56 were counted on January 29. Hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls are scattered throughout the lake. Bonaparte’s Gulls are annual visitors.

Lake Hopatcong is an interesting place to bird in the late fall, winter and early spring seasons; that is before the boats come out of drydock. There is absolutely no reason to visit the lake during the warmer months unless you enjoy viewing thousands of people riding every watercraft imaginable on all 2,500 acres of the lake. Hardy boaters are in the water as late into the fall and early winter as possible. When thickly frozen, the lake is populated with ice fishermen (not this year).

This hyperlink, Lake Hopatcong, offers viewing options. A 15-20 point route gets covered by this writer most weekends during the winter depending on the availability of open water and birds. The huge rim of Lake Hopatcong is entirely developed with residences and commercial establishments, except for very small sections here and there. This makes for difficult viewing although, with creativity and respect for private property, the entire lake from the Morris side can be viewed during the off-season.

Lake Hopatcong forms part of the Morris and Sussex County border. The lake serves as the source of the Musconetcong River which begins at Hopatcong State Park, the southwestern end of the lake. West of the river is Sussex County. The far western shore of the lake from the State Park all the way up to Nolan’s Point is Sussex County. According to maps, the county line splits Henderson Cove in half between Sussex and Morris.

The entire southern and eastern shore along with Bertrand, Raccoon and Halsey Islands (and the eastern half of Henderson Cove) are in Morris County. North of Nolan’s Point, the entirety of the lake including both shores, as well as the Brady Rd. Bridge area, all of Lake Forest and Prospect Point, as well as Prospect Point Preserve and Liffy Island (both opposite the Lake Forest Yacht Club), are in Jefferson Township, Morris County.

The rich history of Lake Hopatcong is documented in many sources on the Internet, the inevitable Wikipedia entry being one. Mining, the Morris Canal and the lake’s development as a vacation hotspot in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are fascinating elements in the story of Lake Hopatcong. Yours truly visited the former Bertrand Island Amusement Park on a class field trip many decades ago. The park is now a condo development and residential area.

Lake Hopatcong is the largest freshwater body in New Jersey but not by natural means. Nearby Budd Lake in Morris County holds the distinction of being the largest naturally formed lake in New Jersey.


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 website.

@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 on Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


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

Winter Birds – Feb. 2, 2017

It seems like ages ago that a Pink-footed Goose, a Rock Wren and a Mew Gull were dominating the local birding news. By February, the focus has turned to more typical winter birds.

Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Jan. 29, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Jan. 29, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

At this time, Gull Central in Morris County is pinpointed on Lake Hopatcong. The north end of the lake has played host to well over 1,000 gulls including Herring (dominant), Ring-billed (overwhelmed by Herring Gulls at the north end; scattered throughout the lake, otherwise), an unusually large number of Great Black-backed Gulls for the county (56 tallied in one scan Sunday, Jan. 30 at Lake Forest), 3 different Iceland Gulls seen in the past two weeks and a Lesser Black-backed Gull (Jeff Ellerbusch).

Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Jan. 29, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Jan. 29, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The gulls, 225 Common Mergansers, the continuing 4 adult Tundra Swans and the usual 116 or so Mute Swans are at the north end.  Common Goldeneye and Gadwall were spotted last week by Jeff Ellerbusch.

The entire concentration of birds is from Lake Forest north to the Prospect Point boatyard. Just as remarkable, the rest of the lake is almost barren of birds. The lake is thawed, an unusual occurrence in early February. In most recent years, finding approximately 100 Buffleheads throughout the lake was fairly common when icy conditions existed. On Jan. 29, 1 lone Bufflehead was spotted.


Other Birds

Today, February 2, Rob Fanning found a Eurasian Wigeon drake in the Lake Forest area of Lake Hopatcong. This could be the same duck found on Jan. 15 at a private pond in Roxbury Twp.

Two Canvasbacks were at a private pond in Roxbury Twp., Sunday, Jan.29.

A Rough-legged Hawk was at Duke Farms on Jan. 31 (Jeff Ellerbusch).

Rough-legged Hawk, Duke Farms, NJ, Jan. 31, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

Rough-legged Hawk, Duke Farms, NJ, Jan. 31, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

Sandhill Cranes continue in the Randolph Road area of Franklin Township.

2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls were floating on Budd Lake, Jan. 29 (Alan Boyd).


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 , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mid-January Birds – Jan. 13, 2017

Sandhill Cranes, Franklin Twp., NJ, Jan. 12, 2017 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Sandhill Cranes, Franklin Twp., NJ, Jan. 12, 2017 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

This is a mid-month wrap up for Morris and Somerset Counties. Thanks to Chuck Hantis for the wonderful Sandhill Crane photos from yesterday, January 12.

Yes, the Sandhill Cranes continue in Franklin Township, lately seen near the American Water Company corn field on Randolph Road, Franklin Township.

The Rock Wren was last reported on January 7. eBird has reports of people searching through January 11 without success. Did what is probably the most photographed Rock Wren in history succumb to the bitter cold?

The Pink-footed Goose of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Lyons was last reported on January 6. It is not known whether any attempts have been made since then to view the goose.

If searching through hundreds of Canada Geese for Cackling Geese is your thing, North Branch Park, Duke Island Park and Selody Sod Farm in Somerset County are good bets. Up to 7 Cackling Geese were at North Branch Park earlier in the week. A Greater White-fronted Goose and a Cackling Goose were at Selody on Jan. 8 (Jeff Ellerbusch).

The Mew Gull of January 3 proved to be a one-day wonder. This is only the second record of this species in New Jersey if accepted by the New Jersey Bird Record Committee.

A Canvasback drake and a Redhead hen continue at the Bernardsville Quarry throughout the week.

A Redhead hen and two Greater Scaup hens were at Nolans Point, Lake Hopatcong on Jan. 7.

Alan Boyd found a Lesser Black-backed Gull at Lake Musconetcong today, Jan. 13.

Multiple Red-headed Woodpeckers continue at the usual locations at both Glenhurst Meadows and Troy Meadows.

Sandhill Cranes, Franklin Twp., NJ, Jan. 12, 2017 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Sandhill Cranes, Franklin Twp., NJ, Jan. 12, 2017 (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 , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mew Gull in Somerset County not refound – Jan. 4, 2017

January 3rd’s Mew Gull may prove to be the proverbial one-day wonder of the birding world. Despite searching, the Mew Gull was not found today among the many Ring-billed Gulls at Opie Road this morning and early afternoon.

By 1 PM, not a singe gull or goose was on the fields where foraging took place yesterday and earlier today. Groups of Ring-billed Gulls were seen soaring and riding the increased afternoon wind along the South Branch in the vicinity of Norz’s fields along River Road. in Hillsborough Twp. This is more typical behavior of Ring-billed Gulls in this area.

Consolation prizes for those who searched for the Mew Gull, or not, are the continuing Rock Wren in Franklin Twp. and the Pink-footed Goose in Lyons. Ho-hum.


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 Somerset County | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mew Gull in Somerset Co. – Jan. 3, 2017

Mew Gull, Somerset Co., NJ, Jan. 3, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

Mew Gull, Somerset Co., NJ, Jan. 3, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

When you’re hot, you’re hot. Somerset County is sizzling right now with Rock Wren, Pink-footed Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose, Sandhill Cranes and today: a Mew Gull, Larus canus.

Jeff Ellerbusch observed the gull and captured photos of what should be the second record of Mew Gull in New Jersey if accepted by the New Jersey Bird Record Committee. This is a stunning find among 900 Ring-billed Gulls on a rainy afternoon on Opie Road in Hillsborough Township.

Mew Gull, Somerset Co., NJ, Jan. 3, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

Mew Gull, Somerset Co., NJ, Jan. 3, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

The Mew Gull was observed from 4:26-4:30 PM when all the gulls, including single Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, flew off towards the northeast to an unknown roost site. The sighting happened so quickly that flight shots were unable to be obtained. This means identifying this gull to sub-species may prove difficult if not impossible.

Gulls are known to form concentrations on Opie Road. This one was in the western fields. The wet weather may also account for the large number of gulls seen here the past few days. There is no guarantee the same number of gulls, including the Mew Gull, will return Wednesday or any other day as their appearances here are unpredictable.

Mew Gull, Somerset Co., NJ, Jan. 3, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)

Mew Gull, Somerset Co., NJ, Jan. 3, 2017 (photo by Jeff Ellerbusch)


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 , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Geese, Cranes and a Wren – Jan. 1, 2017

Same birds; different year.

Pink-footed Goose, Lyons, NJ, Jan. 1, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Pink-footed Goose, Lyons, NJ, Jan. 1, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photos for a larger image.)

New Year’s Day excitement took hold over birders today, especially with prime target species so close in proximity in Somerset County.

Early in the morning, a Greater White-fronted Goose was with Canada Geese on a lawn behind Axis Global on Randolph Road, Franklin Township near its terminus with Schoolhouse Road. The geese flew  off to points unknown some time around 9 AM.

This is probably the same Greater White-fronted Goose found on Dec. 31’s Somerset County Christmas Bird Count when it was at a nearby pond on Rutgers Boulevard.

Greater White-fronted Goose, Franklin Twp., NJ, Jan. 1, 2017

Greater White-fronted Goose, Franklin Twp., NJ, Jan. 1, 2017


Somerset County’s first ever Rock Wren, and New Jersey’s second, was viewed by many at the back end of the construction zone off of Rutgers Boulevard. It was tricky relocating this mega-star after being reported earlier in the morning, but by mid morning it was easy to view if for no other reason than it was the only bird flying in the area.

Rock Wren, Franklin Twp., Somerset Co., NJ, Jan. 1, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Rock Wren, Franklin Twp., Somerset Co., NJ, Jan. 1, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

What is likely the most photographed Rock Wren in history may stay at this location for awhile based on the patterns of previous Rock Wren vagrants in the east.

Rock Wren, Franklin Twp., Somerset Co., NJ, Jan. 1, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Rock Wren, Franklin Twp., Somerset Co., NJ, Jan. 1, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

eBirders note: the hotspot for stakeout Rock Wren, Rutgers Blvd, Franklin Township (2016-17) is a huge success. Almost all observers have used it. Thank you! Those who have not submitted their checklist with the hotspot will be notified by email to do so. Checklists that fail to comply with this request will eventually be invalidated.

The eBird database is simply getting too polluted with personal locations. Please use a hotspot, if appropriate, when submitting a checklist.


The popular Somerset Sandhill Cranes, 7 in number this year, were found along Randolph Road, Franklin Township this morning in the American Water cornfield.

Sandhill Cranes, Franklin Twp., NJ, Jan. 1, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Sandhill Cranes, Franklin Twp., NJ, Jan. 1, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


Somerset County’s 1st record Pink-footed Goose found on Dec. 30 by Jeff Ellerbusch continues at the VA Hospital in Lyons. At 7:30 this morning, not a single goose was on the VA property. When the geese flocks finally showed up, the Pink-footed Goose was seen with the Canada Geese at the eastern most field. At one point, it flew over to the west side of Knollcroft Road where it has been seen by many observers since the day it was discovered.

Pink-footed Goose, Lyons, NJ, Jan. 1, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Pink-footed Goose, Lyons, NJ, Jan. 1, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Please note: park and stay in the golf course parking lot. Do not go wandering off on the golf course. Do not drive anywhere else on the VA property other than Knollcroft Road and the golf course parking lot.

eBirders note: there is a hotspot for VA Hospital, Lyons. You can view the hotspot, here. Please use this for the VA location. Please go back over any historical data you have for that location and change it to the hotspot. Personal Locations are taking over way too much of the eBird database, especially with the species maps. For any location that you submit a checklist, please see if their is a hotspot first. The eBird community thanks you.


Other Birds

Cackling Geese are being found in some of the Somerset County geese flocks. Use care in identifying this species.

Lake Parsippany has a patch of open water at its north end. Hundreds of Canada Geese, approximately 30 Ring-billed and 60 Herring Gulls were there this afternoon.

The only ducks at the lake were 1 Northern Shoveler drake and 2 Ruddy Ducks along with Mallards.

Boonton Reservoir is ice-free. Approximately 300 gulls were near the dam, predominantly Ring-billed Gulls with 50+ Herring Gulls.

5 Gadwall, numerous Mallards, Am. Black Ducks, 2 Northern Pintail, 2 Common Goldeneye drakes, 1 Hooded and 143 Common Mergansers represent the duck count at the reservoir. A Horned Grebe was along the east shore at the north end.

The following photo taken after sunset, is of the reservoir facing east towards the dam at the north end.

Boonton Reservoir, Morris Co., NJ, Jan.1, 2016 (iPhone photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Boonton Reservoir, Morris Co., NJ, Jan.1, 2016 (iPhone 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 , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pink-footed Goose, Rock Wren in Somerset Co. – Dec. 30, 2016

A first Somerset County record Pink-footed Goose is reported by Jeff Ellerbusch this afternoon from the fields of the VA Hospital in Lyons, Bernards Township. Here is screenshot of  a map:

VA Hospital, Lyons, NJ

VA Hospital, Lyons, NJ

A Google map of the location is here

The Pink-footed Goose was last seen with Canada Geese on the west side of Knollcroft Rd.

View from Knollcroft or Valley Roads only. Do not block the roads. Do not walk onto the golf course. Security has been friendly in the past. Please, let us keep it that way.

Somerset County is blazing hot right now with three county firsts in December:

  1. Townsend’s Warbler at Duke Farms, Dec. 12-13.
  2. The continuing Rock Wren in Franklin Township, Dec. 25-current.
  3. Pink-footed Goose in Lyons, Dec. 30.

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 Somerset County | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 81st Boonton Christmas Bird Count Report – 2016

The 81st Boonton Christmas Bird Count (CBC going forward) was conducted on Monday, December 26, 2016. Mostly cloudy skies gave way to a light drizzle by the early afternoon. Temperatures ranged from 28 F degrees at dawn to 34 F degrees with mist and rain by sunset. Leftover snow from a light storm on December 17th covered sections of ground. Most ponds and smaller lakes were frozen enough to be almost birdless. Rivers and larger bodies of water had open water and varying numbers of waterfowl.

Highlights of the count day include an Eastern Phoebe at Loantaka Brook Reservation reported by Kevin Lapsey and Florence Klecha, a Lincoln’s Sparrow for the second consecutive year near the south end of Troy Meadows, found again by Jeff Ellerbusch. Record numbers of Merlins, Cooper’s Hawks and Pileated Woodpeckers were tallied.

As of this writing, 90 species and two count week species were observed during the count. 19,612 individual birds were tallied. This is a lower amount than the recent average, but annually fluctuating numbers of Icterids and American Robins greatly contributes to that.

The Numbers

The term count in the following summary usually refers to the history of the Boonton CBC.

  • Snow Geese barely made it on the count for the 5th year in a row with two individuals. This species has appeared on 25% of the counts – all occurring since 1976.
  • 6072 Canada Geese represents the 4th highest total in the count’s 81 year history.
  • 2 Cackling Geese are a count-week report and do not go on the official CBC tally.
  • 5 Mute Swans is by far the lowest total since none were reported in 1989.
  • Wood Ducks average 7.7 individuals in the 81 years of the count. 24 were found in 2016.
  • Most ponds and lakes were frozen, leaving little available habitat for waterfowl other than rivers and larger reservoirs.  One body of water that produced much of the diversity in the count was the reservoir along Eisenhower Parkway in Livingston (yes, the Boonton CBC includes West Essex). 7 Redheads and 1 Canvasback are two of the highlights.
  • Most of the regularly appearing duck species were present. 24 Wood Ducks is the highest count since 2010.
  • Ring-necked Duck numbers remain relatively low. This year’s count of 60 is 21 lower than the 81 year average.
  • Common Mergansers were somewhat average; Hooded Mergansers, way below average. Red-breasted Merganser was a miss as they are in most years.
  • Wild Turkey numbers have dropped in 2015 and 2016 with 30 and 33 respectively. This is 37 below the 21st century average.
  • Pied-billed Grebe was missed for the first time since 2002 and the second time since 1986.
  • 13 Great Blue Herons is the lowest number since 12 in 1989 and 15.5 below the 21st century average.
  • Where did all of the vultures go? The Troy East route failed to locate one for what may be the first time in over 30 years. The entire CBC tallied only 9 Turkey Vultures – 49 below the 21st century average and by far the lowest total since 1990. 24 Black Vultures is close to recent average but far below the 80 Black Vultures that appeared in 2015.
  • Here is a curious number. Cooper’s Hawks had the highest number, 16, in the count’s 81 year history. Sharp-shinned Hawks had the lowest total, 3, since 3 were counted in 1986 – 8.6 below the 21st century average.
  • 55 Red-tailed Hawks is an improvement over the 44 of 2015 but is still in the range of an overall decline – 25.5 off of the 21st century average.
  • An American Kestrel near the Whole Foods in Morristown (thanks, Chris and Linda) kept this declining species on the list. It was missed in 2015.
  • One of the most stunning numbers of this year’s count is the 9 Merlins tallied. This obliterates the previous high count of 3 from 2013. Merlins have appeared on only 18.5% of the counts – all since 1991.
  • 1 Peregrine Falcon represents the first since 2013.
  • 41 American Coot made up for 2015’s miss.
  • 1 Killdeer slipped onto the list after being missed in 2015.
  • Another stunning number but in a negative direction: 188 Ring-billed Gulls is 620 below the 21st century average and the lowest number since 114 in 1983, 33 years ago.
  • Herring Gulls came in at 49 – 69 below the 21st century average. 4 Great Black Backed Gulls is better than 2015’s miss, but 6 below the 21st century average.
  • 23 Eastern Screech-Owls is the highest total since 2004. 5 Great Horned and 2 Barred Owls were also counted.
  • After nearly annual appearances between 1973 and 2007, Long-eared Owls were missed for the 5th year out of the past 7.
  • 8 Red-headed Woodpeckers were counted, all at Troy Meadows.
  • Red-bellied Woodpeckers were strong at 177, 31 above the 21st century average. One must remember that Red-bellied Woodpeckers were not found on the count until a count-week record was added in 1955. The first officially recorded Red-bellied Woodpecker was in 1966. The next was in 1972 – and the rest is history.
  • A fairly average 4 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were found. Other woodpeckers were slightly lower than average – except – Pileated Woodpecker which had a record high of 18. The previous high was 12 in 2003.
  • A highlight of the count was an Eastern Phoebe found at Loantaka Brook Reservation. This is the 11th occurrence of this species in the count’s history and the 3rd in the 21st century (2001, 2010).
  • Blue Jays were above average. American and Fish Crows were way below average.
  • 4 Common Ravens were counted.
  • 9 Brown Creepers may sound like a lot but is 3 below the 81 year average.
  • 8 Winter Wrens is close to average. Not surprisingly, Marsh Wren was missed. It has occurred on 38% of the counts usually in single numbers.
  • Both Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets were average.
  • Eastern Bluebirds were solid at 32.
  • The Boonton Township team found the only Hermit Thrush. It was missed in 2015 for the first time since 1988 and the second time since 1971.
  • American Robins numbers are among the most erratic on CBCs. 2016’s 383 is slightly above the 81 year average but pales in comparison to 2015’s 3,418 and 2013’s all-time high of 8,790.
  • Other than a count-week record in 2007, Gray Catbird was missed for the first time since 1990.
  • 47 Northern  Mockingbirds continues a stabilizing trend since 2010. Prior to 2010, triple digit counts were common with a high count of 196 in 1992 and 1999. This year’s number is 46 below the 21st century average.
  • 8 Cedar Waxwings is the lowest count since none were reported in 1989.
  • 6 Yellow-rumped Warblers were tallied. 5 were at one location in Parsippany near the 2003 Western Kingbird location. Slim totals are becoming the norm for this species although it has not been missed since 1983.
  • Troy Meadows hosted a Lincoln’s Sparrow for the second year in a row and only the 4th time on the count.
  • 1,059 Dark-eyed Juncos is slightly above the 21st century average as is 72 Swamp Sparrows. Otherwise, the other sparrow species numbers are below average.
  • Vesper Sparrow is a count-week species at the Tourne sparrow fields but does not go on the official CBC tally.
  • Speaking of erratic species numbers, 1,116 Common Grackles in 2016 is far below 2015’s 6,124 and 2013’s 16,694 but better than 2014’s 4.
  • Red-winged Blackbirds, also a very erratic species, came in at 224, 270 below the 81 year average.
  • A better than average 132 Rusty Blackbirds were counted.
  • 1 Brown-headed Cowbird slipped in, avoiding the first miss since 1990.
  • 5 Purple Finches makes up for 2015’s first miss since 1965.

Thank you, all participants

A hearty thank you to all the observers who participated in this year’s count. Your hard work is the only reason this count exists. Your dedication and effort is warmly appreciated. The birds thank you.

Mark your calendar for next year’s Boonton CBC: Saturday, December 23, 2017. Hopefully this does not conflict with any other counts you may participate in. It is a necessary departure from the traditional scheduling of the second Sunday of the count period due to the holidays.

This report is also at the following location on the mocosocoBirds.com web site:
https://mocosocobirds.com/birds-of-morris-county-n-j/boontoncbc/2016-2/

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 web site.

A wonderful 2017 to all!
May all of your target species be there when you are.

Jonathan Klizas, Compiler
Boonton Christmas Bird Count

 

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