NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife: Piping Plover/Beach Nesting Birds 2019 Management Reports – Nov. 7, 2019

NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife: Piping Plover/Beach Nesting Birds 2019 Management Reports

Not a typical Morris and Somerset County blog post, but in case you do not subscribe to New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife newsletters, here are the following reports:

And other links regarding this topic:


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.


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

Yellow Rail at Great Swamp NWR on Oct. 25, 2019

Yellow Rail Found (deceased) at Great Swamp NWR

Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis) is a rare visitor to New Jersey with approximately forty accepted records going back to circa 1877 (see the New Jersey Bird Records Committee’s Accepted Records list here). There are zero records since 2014.

As Bill Boyle states in  The Birds of New Jersey, Status and Distribution published in 2011: “There have been almost forty accepted records of Yellow Rail in New Jersey, including twenty-one specimens, but many encounters are not reported to the Records Committee.”

As of October 2019, make that twenty-two specimens and this one will be reported to the New Jersey Bird Records Committee.

Yellow Rail, Great Swamp NWR, Morris Co., NJ, Oct. 25, 2019 (photo by Richard Hiserodt)

This is John Berry’s account from October 25, 2019, of finding a deceased Yellow Rail in the Great Swamp on the headquarters driveway: “I almost drove by the rail. We were in a UTV [Utility Task Vehicle, editor], driving to a worksite (we’re volunteers on the swamp strike team, which does habitat restoration/protection projects). I saw it was a dead bird and, from its color, assumed it was a sparrow, drove 30 more yards, then realized it wasn’t a sparrow, so stopped.”

The rail was not collected, but Richard Hiserodt documented the find with a photograph taken with an iPhone. The rail appeared to be recently expired so the October 25 date seems accurate and will be the date of the sighting in the eBird database.

Historically in New Jersey, Yellow Rail records from the autumn are visual records. Spring migration records should be vetted carefully as Yellow Rail nocturnal vocalizations can easily be confused with Cricket Frogs in cool spring weather.

Here is the range of Yellow Rails. As you can see, New Jersey is not on their radar.

Courtesy of Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s Birds of North America Online


Reporting Dead Birds on eBird

The Yellow Rail report raises an interesting dilemma regarding the entering of dead species on eBird checklists.

According to the eBird file What Data are Appropriate? found here:
“Only include living birds count. In the long run (eBird) hopes to gather information on dead birds, but at this point eBird is intended only for living birds.”

What about extraordinary dead birds? Yellow Rail is a very significant bird in New Jersey, dead or alive. A search through the eBird reviewer’s forum regarding this issue returned the following comments by Marshall Iliff, the eBird Project Leader at Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

From Marshall Iliff, the caps are Marshall’s:
“So, for those who have NOTEWORTHY dead birds to enter, these are the considerations that need to be factored in:

1) Dead birds must not be entered on complete checklists. The best protocol is to have live birds on a complete checklist and dead birds on a separate one.

2) Dead birds should not be entered as the date is not likely to be correct. Beach-washed birds or very old roadkill may not have any association with the date it was found. As Chris Wood wrote in a 2010 (!) exchange on this topic “there is really no way that a mummified Long-tailed Jaeger found in Ithaca in February should ever be entered and validated in eBird because we have no idea on the date the bird really showed up” [this is a real example]

3) Dead birds should not be included in your personal count *unless* you have opted out of Top 100 and plan to remain that way. Dead birds quite simply do not “count” on bird lists when they are featured in competitive fora like the Top100

4) the best way to avoid #3 is to have a separate account, such as “Wisconsin Historical Data” that can enter the dead bird information.”

That sums it up. If you find a NOTEWORTHY dead bird, use intelligent judgment when listing it on eBird. eBird reviewers, please be consistent with the aforementioned guidelines.


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.


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Posted in Historical, Morris County, Somerset County | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

eBird tidying up and a request – Sept. 26, 2019

This is a quick post to report that a pair of Troy Meadows eBird hotspots are merged into one: Troy Meadows Natural Area–So. Beverwyck Rd. and Troy Meadows Natural Area–Patriots Path.

Both former hotspots are the same habitat and in the same area causing unnecessary confusion and potential duplication of data. The new hotspot name is Troy Meadows Natural Area–So. Beverwyck Rd./Patriots Path but may take a day or two to reach all of the eBird interfaces. All data from the former hotspots are merged into the new one. This hotspot is in addition to the primary Troy Meadows hotspot labeled Troy Meadows Natural Area which encompasses most of the north and eastern sections of this valuable and historic area.


While on the subject of eBird, allow this reviewer to ask for cooperation from the many eBird users in Morris and Somerset Counties and everywhere in general.

Many observers are already thorough about using the details section of an eBird listing to describe what they saw or heard and making a solid case for the species they are listing. Of course, photos, and audio files take the place of many words, but these media are not always close at hand or practical.

When a species is listed as rare, whether using the eBird mobile app or a browser, saying that one simply “saw the bird”, or giving scant details is not sufficient for a valid record. This reviewer will most likely reject it as “Unconfirmed”, meaning that it will not be included in any public eBird output. Unfortunately, and a major flaw with eBird in this writer’s point of view, is that it will still show in the observer’s personal list and add to his/her tally in those ridiculous eBird scoreboards, known as the Top 100.

Please add details when a species is flagged as rare in whatever eBird interface you use.
– Mention all visible field marks, behaviors, vocalizations, etc. that are apparent.
– A very brief mention of habitat type is appreciated.
– Describe how other species were eliminated.

Enter details about an interesting species even if it isn’t flagged as rare. eBird is an incredible record of avian activity worldwide. Creating a record of bird sightings with the previous criteria helps everyone become better naturalists.


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.


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

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


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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.


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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.


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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




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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