Rough-legged Hawks, Horned Larks, Jan. 25, 2014

Horned Larks, Mt. Olive Twp., NJ, Jan. 25, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Horned Larks, Mt. Olive Twp., NJ, Jan. 25, 2014 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

2 Rough-legged Hawks (RLHA) spent time near the overlook on Pleasant Plains Road, Great Swamp NWR late this morning. A light-morphed individual was viewed by many. Ted Lurker reports a dark-morphed RLHA earlier in the same area, presumably the same individual seen earlier in the week. A few Red-tailed Hawks in the same vicinity thickened the plot as well as a fly-by Bald Eagle.

One of the few positive results of snow is that seed-eating songbirds congregate at whatever snowless ground habitat they can find. Notice the Song and White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos on the edges of roads this week in appropriate places. Yesterday, Steve Fasciana filed an eBird report with 5 Horned Larks in the parking lot near the Mt. Olive Township Dog Park in Turkey Brook Park. This morning, 15 Horned Larks and 20 Dark-eyed Juncos were inside of the fenced-in dog park, that is, until the dogs came. The Horned Larks are probably still in the area. There are many patches of uncovered grass in the park in which to feed. 2 Common Ravens were flying around and croaking in the park, as well.

Where Horned Lark is regular in Somerset County, the species is rarely recorded in Morris County. Somerset County certainly has more suitable Horned Lark habitat, by far, but the west and southwestern sections of Morris have farmland and short-cropped flat sections, which have the right conditions for Horned Lark, Lapland Longspur and Snow Bunting. These areas simply need to be checked more often.

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