(Click on the photo for a larger image.)
At 3:30 this afternoon, all air space over Budd Lake in Mt. Olive Township was filled with gulls. 1,000 Gulls would land on the ice at the south end, stay for a few minutes, and then get up en masse creating another flurry of zig-zagging flight patterns and improvised kettles. This pattern was repeated at various sections of the lake at different times by different gulls. It was an astonishing spectacle to witness for an inland lake in Morris County. At the same time, it was overwhelming and fruitless trying to pick out a white-winged gull in this mass. The final tally was a total of nearly 5,000 gulls…at least. Keep in mind my reputation among friends is of being conservative in numbers. Of this total, 4,000 were Herring Gulls, 500 Ring-billed Gulls, 15 Great Black-backed Gulls and only 1 adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. Oh yes, not too forget, there were also at least 8,000 Canada Geese in the lake as well. 1 female Red-breasted Merganser contrasted beautifully with the Common Mergansers in her company. The northern and southern ends of Budd Lake remain frozen. The entire central portion of the lake is mostly thawed.
Here are the numbers:
Canada Geese – 8,000 – conservative count, birds were still arriving when I left.
Mallard – 15
Lesser Scaup – 35
Bufflehead – 1
Common Merganser – 175
Red-breasted Merganser – 1 female
Ring-billed Gull – 500
Herring Gull – 4,000
Lesser Black-backed Gull – 1
Great Black-backed Gull – 15
American and Fish Crows
Red-winged Blackbird – 1,000 in one fly-by group.
Common Grackle – 1,500 in two fly-by groups.
A stop at Lake Musconetcong, which continues to be mostly frozen, produced another 500 Herring Gulls and 75 Ring-billed Gulls at the southwest end of the lake near Water Street. Gulls were still flying in from Sussex County after sunset. The northeast section near Davis Street had 12 Bufflehead, 4 Lesser Scaup, 3 Ring-necked Ducks, 1 Hooded Merganser and 2 Common Merganser.