Two adult Bald Eagles, probably the local residents, were active at Mt. Hope Lake in Rockaway Township on this cold, blustery afternoon. At one point one of the Eagles was dive-bombing a small group of Ruddy Ducks. The Ruddys dove quickly underwater to elude the Eagle. It was during this drama that a whitish bird with tern-like acrobatic flight caught this observer’s attention. The bird dropped into the water, oblivious to the Bald Eagle nearby, and revealed itself as a Bonaparte’s Gull. It sat on the water offering a definitive profile view. After counting the roughly 650 Ruddy Ducks on the lake I turned to look for the Bonaparte’s Gull…and it was gone – nowhere to be found. This represents the only Bonaparte’s Gull reported in Morris County for 2012. Morris missed the Bonaparte’s extravaganza in Somerset County on the Raritan River during April 2012 where at one time the count of Bonaparte’s Gulls was 327.
Species on Mt. Hope Lake included:
Mute Swan – 10
Gadwall – 2 (probably more flew away)
American Wigeon – Only a few on the lake. Most were airborne when the Bald Eagle started cruising the duck flocks.
Ring-necked Ducks – 50
Lesser Scaup – 5
Bufflehead – 8
Ruddy Duck – 650
Bald Eagle – 2 adults
American Coot – 50, at least.
Bonaparte’s Gull – 1