Forster’s Tern and Shorebirds at the Pits, Aug. 26, 2013

Lincoln Park Gravel Pits, NJ, Aug. 26, 2013 (photo by Jonathan Klizas).

Lincoln Park Gravel Pits, NJ, Aug. 26, 2013 (photo by Jonathan Klizas).

This space has mentioned many times how Morris County lacks shorebird habitat. It is an annual game of catch-as-catch-can. In the spring of 2012, Melanie Lane Wetlands was a good provider. Post Hurricane Irene in 2011 showcased McCarter Park, a.k.a. St. Clare’s Fields, in Denville as the flooded area hosted a goodly number of shorebird species. History from decades ago mentions Roxbury Pond in Succasunna and Boonton Reservoir, when it was drawn down and accessible, as viable shorebird locations.

2013 focuses on another historical venue in Morris County, the Lincoln Park Gravel Pits. Thanks to Roger Johnson’s exploration into the Pits yesterday, I set out to enjoy some Morris County shorebird action this morning. The water levels are excellent right now, which is not usually the case for the Pits in recent years.

Here is the list:
Semipalmated Plover – 1 juvenile
Killdeer – 20
Spotted Sandpiper – 1 juvenile
Solitary Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs – 2
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper – 17, a mix of juveniles and adults.
Pectoral Sandpiper – 2
Modest by coastal standards, but a bounty for shorebird-starved inland Morris County.

Semipalmated Plover, Lincoln Park Gravel Pits, NJ, Aug. 26, 2013 (digiscoped by Jonathan Klizas).

Semipalmated Plover, Lincoln Park Gravel Pits, NJ, Aug. 26, 2013 (digiscoped by Jonathan Klizas).

Pectoral Sandpiper, Lincoln Park Gravel Pits, NJ, Aug. 26, 2013 (digiscoped by Jonathan Klizas).

Pectoral Sandpiper, Lincoln Park Gravel Pits, NJ, Aug. 26, 2013 (digiscoped by Jonathan Klizas).

The highlight of the morning was a Forster’s Tern which flew around the lake for 10 minutes before vanishing. This is only the fifth documented record of Forster’s Tern in Morris County. And, yes, digiscoping a flying Forster’s Tern is futile.

Forster's Tern (honestly), Lincoln Park Gravel Pits, NJ, Aug. 26, 2013 (an attempt at digiscoping by Jonathan Klizas).

Forster’s Tern (honestly), Lincoln Park Gravel Pits, NJ, Aug. 26, 2013 (an attempt at digiscoping by Jonathan Klizas).

Also present were a first year Bald Eagle, an Osprey, 3 Great Blue Herons, 1 Great Egret, 7 Green-winged Teal and double digit numbers of Wood Ducks.

Note: There is one known legitimate entry into the Gravel Pits from the northwest end. You are on your own if you enter elsewhere.

Other Field Notes

From Tom Halliwell, Aug. 25, 2013:
Alerted by a couple of “quok” calls, Connie and I noted 2 Night-Herons (presumably Black-crowned) flying along the Netcong edge of Lake Musconetcong at dusk this evening. We were without bins and did not get more than a silhouette look at them.  All the best, Tom.

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