Grebes, Gulls and Loons at Boonton Reservoir
The early morning started with two Red-throated Loons in flight spotted by Simon Lane at the north end of Boonton Reservoir. Joining Simon at the Reservoir, he and I watched 7 Horned Grebes float towards the north in a single line. Soon thereafter, Simon located an alternate-plumaged Red-necked Grebe floating towards and then passing the Horned Grebes. While trying for some hopelessly distant and difficult digiscoped photos, a few gulls were seen flying into the reservoir. Interestingly, at least one had a black hood. Before long, 8 Bonaparte’s Gulls were sitting in the water. As they are wont to do, the Bonaparte’s Gulls got up and left the area after a short time (10-15 minutes). Morris County may have one report of Bonaparte’s Gulls a year if it has any at all; likewise with Red-necked Grebe. Getting both species in the same field of view at the same time was very special indeed. At least 4 Common Loons, numerous Bufflehead and a Pied-billed Grebe were also at the Reservoir. The photos at the top of the page are what we call the “Boonton” view, i.e. distant, distorted, difficult but eminently identifiable!
Red-breasted Mergansers at Lake Parsippany
8 Red-breasted Mergansers were on Lake Parsippany this morning. There must be accounts consisting of greater totals somewhere in the annals of Morris County birding, but if so, they remain unknown. According to the contemporary record keeper, eBird, 8 Red-breasted Mergansers represents the highest total in one place at one time recorded in Morris County.
Mt. Hope Lake
Mt. Hope Lake has a deceptively quiet look when you first drive up to the lake’s edge. Perhaps the 54 Mute Swans dwarf everything else on the water. Once you start scanning (a scope is an absolute requirement at Mt. Hope) you realize there was more on the water than initially realized. Case in point: one could have missed the raft of 280 Ruddy Ducks barely above the water line and camouflaged by the tree and shore background behind them. Also present were 3 Wood Ducks, 7 Gadwall, 26 Ring-necked Ducks, 9 Bufflehead, 7 Pied-billed Grebe, 1 Horned Grebe, Northern Rough-winged, Barn and Tree Swallows and the resident Bald Eagle.
Swifts, Swallows, Hawks and Red-throated Loon on the Raritan
Somerset County is fortunate to have Jeff Ellerbusch manning the lookout on the Delaware and Raritan Canal Towpath in Franklin Township. He continuously contributes interesting records to Somerset Counting birding. Following on the heels of yesterday’s impressive swallow and warbler numbers along the Raritan Flyway, Jeff found the mocosocoBirds region’s first Chimney Swift (6), Cliff Swallow (first confirmed), Broad-winged Hawks (6) and Spotted Sandpiper for 2013. Somerset County’s first Red-throated Loon of 2013 was also reported. The 7 Red-breasted Mergansers Jeff recorded represent a Somerset County all-time high according to eBird data. Winter Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, both Kinglets, Palm, Pine and Yellow-rumped Warblers round out the list of 71 species.
The first push of Broad-winged Hawks in 2013 came through the mocosocoBirds region today – from the Raritan River to the Watchung Mountains and Kemble Mountain in Morris Township.
Other Field Notes
110 Wilson’s Snipe were flushed at Melanie Lane Wetlands. All of these occurred in the northern end of the wetlands meaning there are more in other sections of this location that went uncounted. This also represents the highest known tally in Morris County history according to eBird data and the highest count in New Jersey in 2013. A Common Raven seen today is a first for this location. Tree, Northern Rough-winged and Bank Swallows were cruising the pond or roosting on branches.
3 Solitary and 1 Spotted Sandpiper were seen at Loantaka Brook Reservation in the “back” pond. 2 Blue-winged Teal and 6 Green-winged Teal were in the lake (Jonathan Klizas).
Savannah Sparrows and a Vesper Sparrow were reported from Troy Meadows (Tom Smith).
Remember the corporate pond on American Road in Morris Plains that hosted a juvenile Pacific Loon in March? This pond has also had Long-tailed Duck and Horned Grebe in previous years as well as a variety of ducks and even a shorebird or two. Today it added an alternate-plumaged Common Loon to its amazing list (Jamie Glydon).
From Sandra Escala:
At about 5 p.m. today I had one Raven at the Wegman’s parking lot in Bridgewater. I know Ravens can be seen at Chimney Rock, but Wegman’s is on the other side of town. I guess it’s not that far as the Raven flies . . .
From Kristi Reed:
Negri-Nepote highlights: In the evergreen section of the forest my friend Bob and I saw 20 plus Golden-Crowned Kinglets. I also saw 3 White-throated Sparrows in that area. Also: Five Greater Yellowlegs at pond, many Chipping Sparrows and Tree Sparrows, Kestrels, and more.