Field Notes to date, Mar. 5, 2014

The slow climb out of winter will bring temperatures near seasonable levels this weekend. What is seasonable? The average daily high temperature for this time in March in Morris and Somerset Counties is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. We have a long way to go before the lakes thaw and the snow disappears.

At 5:45 p.m. on March 3, a huge flock of Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds was seen in Hanover Township between Black Meadows and Troy Meadows (Chuck Hantis). Male Red-winged Blackbirds are staking territories regardless of the icy conditions.

The Canvasback hen of Duke Island Park continues as of March 3 (Bobby Skrabal) and March 4. The hen and other species are in the area of the dam at the western end of the bike trail.

Ducks seen on the Raritan River in Hillsborough Township this week include, Wood Duck, American Wigeon, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup and Common, Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers.

The duck count compiled March 4 by Jeff Ellerbusch at the Delaware and Raritan Canal Towpath, Franklin Twp. is as follows:
Canada Goose – 56
Mute Swan – 1
Wood Duck – 3
American Black Duck – 68
Mallard – 279
Northern Pintail – 1
Green-winged Teal – 2
Ring-necked Duck – 149
Greater Scaup – 11
Lesser Scaup – 3
Bufflehead – 31
Common Goldeneye – 78 (probable Somerset Co. record)
Hooded Merganser – 4
Common Merganser – 62
Red-breasted Merganser – 8 (2 drakes, 6 hens)

Jason Denesevich photographed the following Barred Owl at the Great Swamp NWR. An American Kestrel and a Merlin have spent the entire winter along Pleasant Plains Road and were viewed March 3.

Barred Owl, Great Swamp NWR, Mar. 3, 2014 (photo by Jason Desenevich)

Barred Owl, Great Swamp NWR, Mar. 3, 2014 (photo by Jason Desenevich)

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