Saturday Field Notes, Winter Solstice, Dec. 21, 2013

The Winter Solstice occurred at 12:11 p.m. this afternoon. The temperature was in the low 50’s Fahrenheit. Tomorrow, the day of the 78th Boonton Christmas Bird Count, calls for a high of 66 F degrees and a low of 55 F degrees – a Christmas count without wearing a parka.

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An American Kestrel (AMKE) was at Florham Park Fields today (Jamie Glydon). This is news because AMKE has been hard to get on the Boonton CBC for the past 20 years. 1 or 2 are tallied and it has been missed a few years. Prior to 1993 it was counted in the double digits for a long stretch of years, reaching a high count of 32 in 1976. 17 years later it was down to 1 and has stayed near that level since.

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An interesting leucistic Red-tailed Hawk was seen along Old Dover Road in Parsippany, near Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital.

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk, Parsippany, NJ, Dec. 21, 2013 (digiscoped by Jonathan Klizas).

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk, Parsippany, NJ, Dec. 21, 2013 (digiscoped by Jonathan Klizas).

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6 Sandhill Cranes were seen in the cornfield at the corner of Pierce and Randolph Road, Franklin Township (Susan Treesh).

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628 Mallards, 116 Am. Black Ducks, 41 Common Goldeneye, 5 No. Pintail, 3 Ring-necked Ducks, 1 Lesser Scaup, 42 Bufflehead, 7 Hooded Mergansers, 68 Common Mergansers were on the Raritan River today, viewed from the D&R Towpath in Franklin Township (Jeff Ellerbusch).

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From Jennifer Books:
I went to Loantaka Brook Reservation early this afternoon to search for the Pintails reported two days ago, but I was only able to locate the female bird. In addition, I noted 7 Green-winged Teal, 5 Gadwalls, Belted Kingfisher, a Great Blue Heron, and 4 Red-tailed Hawks along with the usual local resident ducks, Canada Geese, and songbirds.

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