12 Tundra Swans at Lake Hopatcong; Field Notes, Dec. 15, 2013

The north and south ends of Lake Hopatcong are frozen but the main body of New Jersey’s largest lake remains ice-free. A sliver of open water between Brady Bridge Road and the open water of Great Cove held 12 Tundra Swans today – 11 adults and 1 juvenile. The Tundra Swans outnumbered the Mute Swans in this little section. Immediately south of the swans in the frozen section north of Nolan’s Point, 4 Bald Eagles, 2 adults, a sub-adult and a juvenile, standing on the ice, enjoyed the remains of what looked like a duck carcass.

Bald Eagles, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Dec. 15, 2013 (digiscoped by Jonathan Klizas).

Bald Eagles, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Dec. 15, 2013 (digiscoped by Jonathan Klizas).

There is currently an impressive number of gulls at Lake Hopatcong. 1,000+ could be seen in the water from Nolan’s Point looking west into Byram Bay on the Sussex County side of the lake. Another large group, mostly in the air was in the River Styx area, again in Sussex County. Most of the gulls are out of scope viewing range to get certain identification. A raft of well over 1,500 gulls was north of Bertrand’s Island late in the day. Most are probably Herring Gulls with a strong showing of Ring-billed Gulls, as well. 12 adult Great Black-backed Gulls were easily picked out in the distance. A Lesser Black-backed Gull was found here Thursday. A Bonaparte’s Gull was in Great Cove one week ago. It is inevitable that someone will discover a species other than those previously mentioned.

Other Field Notes

Boonton Reservoir is mostly ice-free. 92 Ring-necked Ducks were at the north end with 4 Gadwall, 1 Northern Pintail, 5 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Ruddy Ducks, Mallards and American Black Ducks.

Lake Parsippany is almost completely frozen. A mix of Ring-billed, Herring and 1 Great Black-backed Gull joined a Mute Swan, 1 Great Blue Heron and 100+ Canada Geese. It is assumed most of the many smaller lakes in Morris are also frozen.

Bernardsville Quarry (Old Quarry Rd, Bernardsville) had a female Common Goldeneye this afternoon (Mike Hiotis). This is a regular species for Somerset County on the Raritan River in Franklin Township but finding one on an inland lake in Somerset is special.

4 Savannah Sparrows were at the edge of the recently snow-plowed road at Florham Park Fields today.

Savannah Sparrow, Florham Park,  NJ, Dec. 15, 2013 (photo by Chuck Hantis).

Savannah Sparrow, Florham Park, NJ, Dec. 15, 2013 (photo by Chuck Hantis).

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