The Beaver Brook Trail in Jefferson Township is 6.5 miles of grueling terrain running from Saffin Pond in Mahlon Dickerson Reservation to Berkshire Valley Road near the terminus of Taylor Road. This writer trekked from the southern end at Berkshire Valley Road north to the power line and back this morning, a 5+ mile hike. Morris County does not get any more rugged than this.
The bird life was as expected although 8-10 Worm-eating Warblers (WEWA) crowns this section of the trail as the WEWA capital of Morris County. The WEWA were found approximately every .2-.25 miles from the base of the trail to the overlook south of the power line.
Squawroot (pictured above), a parasite of tree roots especially oaks, was found in a few places along the trail. While placing a backpack on the the ground in preparation of creating the above photograph, a small olivaceous bird flew in front of me landing on the ground to my right, five feet away. Expecting to look and find an Ovenbird as if its nest was disturbed being in close proximity to where the backpack was placed, a Worm-eating Warbler was seen instead, spreading its wings flat on the ground as if in a diversion display. It was joined by another and for the next 15 minutes both WEWAs jumped and flew from branch to branch catching food and responding to gentle human hissing sounds. The mediocre image at the head of this post was all that was barely usable as the WEWAs were usually too close for a 400mm lens in a shaded understory.
Two American Chestnut saplings were along the trail, echoes of another era.
Here are some avian highlights of the Beaver Brook Trail:
2 Pileated Woodpecker
9 Eastern Wood-Pewee
1 Acadian Flycatcher
3 Great Crested Flycatcher
2 Yellow-throated Vireo
12 Red-eyed Vireo
4 Wood Thrush
5 Cedar Waxwing
8 Worm-eating Warbler
3 Blue-winged Warbler
3 Common Yellowthroat
3 Hooded Warbler – 2 counter-singing
5 American Redstart
3 Yellow Warbler
4 Scarlet Tanager
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
3 Indigo Bunting
From Mike Newlon:
This morning at Morris County Outdoor Education Center off Southern Boulevard, Chatham Township, a Red-shouldered Hawk was screaming near the entrance road. On the White Trail in the Great Swamp NWR, a singing Northern Waterthrush was near the most northerly of the three plank bridges. I found Northerns in this area during the Breeding Bird Atlas years but never came up with definitive proof of nesting.
Somerset County Specialties
The following species are all currently being seen in Somerset County:
- Summer Tanager – both an immature male and a female – Lord Stirling Park. Photos of both Summer Tanagers can be viewed at Alan Boyd’s Flickr photostream here.
- Prothonotary Warbler – along the Lamington River and Black River Road just south of Long Lane in Bedminster Twp. Acadian Flycatcher is a bonus species here. Of course, the Lord Stirling Prothonotaries of the Passaic River are assumed to be busy rearing young, as well.
- Yellow-breasted Chat – Bullfrog Pond, Lord Stirling Park – seems to be heard more than seen.
Thanks to Alan Boyd and Tom Smith for relaying information about the Somerset species by correspondence and/or listing them on eBird.