As inferred in yesterday’s post, we are a humble lot in Morris County when it comes to shorebirds and their habitat as there is little of either. Melanie Lane Wetlands has potential to be a productive location due to its close proximity. Note that close proximity is not the same as ease of access. That is another topic entirely. This evening, 8 Least Sandpipers signaled the beginning of the summer shorebird season in Morris County. A juvenile Spotted Sandpiper and 6 Killdeer were also present. Only one Great Egret was seen unlike the summer of 2012 when 21 Great Egrets at Melanie Lane were the high count for Morris on July 21. What was as much fun as watching shorebirds was the swallow show. The numbers were modest but it is always a treat to see Tree, Barn, N. Rough-winged and Bank Swallows along with Purple Martins and Chimney Swifts in the airspace at the same time.
As stated earlier accessing Melanie Lane Wetlands is not easy. You can view a small portion of the southern section from the fitness center property on Rt. 10 West, west of Ridgedale Avenue. At this time of year, the vegetation obliterates most of the view. Besides, most of the shorebird habitat is only visible from the north end. Entering from the north has become problematical now that a professional soccer team has built their practice facility on what was once a productive and birdy field. The soccer area is private and you WILL be told to leave if you try to enter through the gate where birders and other people using the area used to park. The only option is to park at FedEx, walk across the street, go to the point where the corner of the recycling yard meets the wetland property, crawl through a small gap in the trees and schlep through the tall grass to the pond. At the pond you will be presented with a whole series of other obstacles which is beyond the scope of the current article. This is not a drive up location; this is not for the feint of heart or for those with wobbly ankles. However, it is the best shorebird location known in Morris County.