Common Gallinule at Deerhaven Lake
(Click on the photo for a larger image.)
On June 22, 2014, a hike and a bushwhack to the eastern side of Deerhaven Lake in Morris County produced a sighting of a Common Gallinule in exactly the same location as seen the previous year on exactly the same date. This is the only Common Gallinule recorded in eBird during 2014 for both Morris and Somerset counties. Either none were found in the Great Swamp NWR during the World Series of Birding or they have not been reported.
Deerhaven Lake is in both Jefferson and Rockaway Townships with most of it in Rockaway. It contains one of the most picturesque heronries in New Jersey or anywhere else. The nests are in the tops of towering old White Pine or Norway Spruce snags. Living Pines and Spruces along with the Green Pond Mountain escarpment provide the beautiful background. The lake with a beaver lodge, smaller snags, and a cattail swamp (and Phragmites, of course) add to the complete picture in the foreground. It is not a drive-up location but requires a 3 mile round-trip hike that is sometimes on an established trail (the Four Birds Trail) and often not. There were approximately 40 Great Blue Herons counted today with many juveniles in the nests.
Other species in the area and along the trails are typical of the Morris Highlands. A drake Hooded Merganser was snoozing at the lake. The many Wood Ducks present are currently in eclipse plumage. A Belted Kingfisher was working the water. Green Herons nest at the marshy end of the lake. Pied-billed Grebes were heard earlier in spring but not today. A Common Raven croaked overhead. They have nested on Green Pond Mountain in the past. Trumpeting Pileated Woodpeckers echo through the woodland. A pair of Great Crested Flycatchers sound like ten.
The juvenile bird below is Ovenbird-sized. It was seen again on the return trip in the company of an adult Ovenbird. Unless anyone has a different opinion it is labeled as an Ovenbird.
Indian Cliffs is arguably one of the most scenic and spectacular locations in Morris County. An easy scramble up the glacially piled-on boulders on the blue trail brings one to a magnificent view of Split Rock Reservoir to the south and the New Jersey Highlands to the north and west. The stretch along the Four Birds Trail provides an excellent understory of Blueberry, Spicebush, Mountain Laurel, etc.
Starting from the Timberbrook parking lot (next to the entrance for the Winnebago Scout Reservation), go north either by the yellow-blazed trail or the dirt road. The Four Birds Trail (white blazes) intersects at approximately .8 miles. Go east for 1+ miles to the intersection with the blue trail. Take the blue trail past Misty Pond, cross over a woods road and continue on to Indian Cliffs. A New York-New Jersey Trail Conference map is a handy companion. Ovenbirds, Red-eyed Vireos, Great Crested Flycatchers, Eastern Wood-Pewees, Worm-eating Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Titmice, Woodpecker species and more are the accompaniment along the way. Possibly anything can fly-by while standing atop Indian Cliffs.