Red-necked Grebe, Rough-legged Hawk, Feb. 23, 2014

Birding and just getting around in general is arduous in Morris and Somerset Counties this winter. Walking trails is exhausting and out of the question in many cases. Most lakes and ponds have been frozen all winter. Field notes are slim these days and any noteworthy species will certainly gain many admirers.

For instance, the Red-necked Grebe found yesterday continues at Clyde Potts Reservoir in Mendham Township where a few dedicated county birders ventured today. An adult Bald Eagle was at the reservoir early in the morning when this observer was there. It is gratifying to see this little known body of water getting attention. This is an interesting natural section of Morris County. After all, the mighty Passaic River, the North Branch of the Raritan River and the modest Whippany River have their sources in the immediate area. The South Branch of the Raritan River’s source is Budd Lake and Lake Hopatcong is the beginning of the Musconetcong River.  Morris County is the fountainhead of northern New Jersey’s major rivers.

Last evening, February 22nd, Simon Lane observed a dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk at the overlook on Pleasant Plains Road, Great Swamp NWR.  Simon also witnessed hundreds of Common Grackles, which were chased occasionally by a Peregrine Falcon. Great Horned and Barred Owls were also present.

The Rough-legged Hawk remained at the overlook today as eBirded by Chris Thomas and Joe Pescatore.

In Morris Township, aroused either from torpor, snow burial, or both, the first Eastern Chipmunks that this observer has seen in 2014 were out and about gathering seed that was scattered over the snow.

The brief thaw we have enjoyed the past few days is coming to a close. The forecast published by various weather sources does not show the temperature reaching 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the next 10 days [sigh].

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