Great Egret in Hanover Township
The chance of a snowstorm this coming Tuesday into Wednesday be damned, a Great Egret is in town. One showed up at Melanie Lane Wetlands today, a welcome show of white other than snow. This is the first Great Egret of 2014 seen in the mocosocoBirds region. 3 Gadwall, 4 Northern Pintail, 30 Green-winged Teal, 3 Ring-necked Ducks, 5 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Wilson’s Snipe, Canada Geese and Mallards were in the recently thawed wetlands.
Eurasian Wigeon – Day 3 at Finderne Wetlands
The Eurasian Wigeon drake of Finderne Wetlands was observed pre-dawn this morning (Mike Almendinger, Jeff Ellerbusch, Simon Lane). This is the 3rd morning in a row for this species at Finderne. It has a pattern of going elsewhere after dawn so plan an earlier arrival (pre-7:00 a.m.) if you want to see it. It is usually in the company of a drake American Wigeon.
Snow Geese and Greater White-fronted Goose in Long Valley
2,500+ Snow Geese were spilling out of the fenced–in pasture when this observer arrived on Beacon Hill Road, Long Valley at 7:15 a.m. All had flown towards the west by 7:45 making them easy to count as they peeled off in groups of 100-300 individuals. A short time later, the entire flock reversed direction and headed in a northerly direction. It was an impressive sensory experience.
The Greater White-fronted Goose was forgotten in the Snow Goose spectacle but was seen in the flooded field as it was two days ago. It apparently left with a group of Canada Geese at 7:45 a.m.. Hundreds of Canada Geese ended up foraging in the farm field across from 71 Beacon Hill Road, where Alan Boyd saw the Greater White-fronted Goose yesterday. It may have been hiding there but eluded this viewer. In any case, it is probably in the area.
Budd Lake, New Jersey’s largest naturally formed lake, remains completely frozen. 2 Mute Swans, 6 Ring-billed Gulls and a Herring Gull were on the ice this morning.
On the other hand, Lake Musconetcong, a man-made lake, is thawed at its inflow and its outflow. There are approximately 1,000 waterfowl enjoying the open water: 450+ Ring-necked Ducks, 311 Common Mergansers, 50 Bufflehead, 75 Mute Swans and small amounts of Northern Pintail, Lesser Scaup, Common Goldeneye and Hooded Mergansers, etc. One Horned Grebe and one Pied-billed Grebe were also present. The wind was howling at the lake.
Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey’s largest lake, is completely frozen save for some docks that have pumps and the area immediately near the Brady Road Bridge.
Boonton Reservoir is slowly coming back to life. It is thawed from the Rockaway River to beyond the two bridges. Birds at the reservoir include: 14 Northern Pintal, 365 Common Mergansers, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads, 1 Common Goldeneye, Ring-necked Ducks, Double-crested Cormorants, 150 Ring-billed and 75 Herring Gulls. An adult Bald Eagle was on the ice before taking off, getting all the gulls into the air.
A visit to Lake Parsippanny a few days ago showed that thaw is beginning to take hold at the northern end but most of the lake remains ice.
Other Field Notes
A Greater Yellowlegs was an arrival at Duke Farms this morning, the first of 2014 in the mocosocoBirds region. 2 Red-breasted Mergansers were also at Duke Farms. 300+ Snow Geese were flyovers (Jeff Ellerbusch).
The Redhead drake continues at Osborn Pond (Tom Smith).
Tree Swallows were widely reported today.
From Ken Hart:
An Eastern Phoebe is singing outside my house this morning on Black River Rd. in Long Valley.
That is a great picture of the snow geese. It actually gives an idea of the “sensory experience” you mention. Had a big flock heading north over Assunpink yesterday also.
PS: What/where is “Long Valley?” I seem to hear of several different variations as to where it is in NJ.
Continue west on CR 513 out of Chester and you will end up in Washington Twp., Morris County, commonly labeled, Long Valley. Here is a link for the Long Valley map: http://goo.gl/maps/QXrYz. It contains most of the preserved farmland in Morris County, and also Schooley’s Mountain, the South Branch of the Raritan River and various trail systems. It is the southwest corner of Morris County and is an under-birded gem.