Budd Lake in Mt. Olive Township, Morris County is frozen. This afternoon, Friday, there were approximately 600 gulls on the ice, most towards the middle of the lake. One group of 80 Ring-billed Gulls and 30 Herring Gulls were towards the south end of the lake and easily viewable from the beach. With them was an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. While neighboring counties, Warren, Hunterdon and to a lesser extent Somerset are rich in Lesser Black-backed Gulls during the appropriate seasons, Morris gets few. 2011 saw only two sightings the entire year, one in February at Lake Musconetcong and the other at Budd Lake in March (2011 Morris Birds). Most of the gulls were distant and difficult to view although the number of Herring Gulls was impressive, close to 150. Great Black-backed Gulls seemed to be absent. A more thorough search is needed to determine whether any white-winged gulls are present. Pictures of the Lesser Black-backed Gull are at the end of this post.
Out-of-County Note: Hunterdon’s Common Chaffinch was NOT seen at all today, Friday, despite vigilant birders staying the entire day.
Other local sightings:
Common Goldeneyes were reported in both Morris and Somerset Counties this week: 2 drakes were seen at Lake Hopatcong (Jefferson Township) on Jan. 2 by Valerie Nixon and two were seen on the Raritan River from River Rd. across from Duke Island Park by Frank Sencher Jr., on Jan. 5.
10 Horned Larks are in the field along Schoolhouse Rd. in Franklin Township. The Sandhill Cranes and Greater White-fronted Geese have been reported this week. A new state record for Cackling Geese was set on Jan. 2 where Jeff Ellerbusch found 33 at Duke Island Park.
A Common Raven continues towards the eastern end of White Bridge Road in the Great Swamp N.W.R. Two eagles (one adult; one immature) were seen on Pleasant Plains Road on Thursday, Jan. 5.