Raritan River, Franklin Township
(Click on the photo for a larger image.)
Unlike most waterways to the north and west, the Raritan River in Franklin Township remains ice-free this winter. Always a winter haven for Common Goldeneye (and hundreds of Mallards), this stretch of river along the Delaware and Raritan Canal Towpath, accessed by the repaired footbridge at the end of Demott Lane, offers one of the best spots to view wintering waterfowl in Somerset County. In some years, it is the only location to view wintering waterfowl in Somerset. The river in this area forms the border between Somerset and Middlesex Counties.
Waterfowl concentrations tend to be anywhere from the footbridge to approximately .75 miles south along the towpath. 28 Common Goldeneye were counted this afternoon. The high count at this location is 116 on March 11, 2014 (Jeff Ellerbusch).
Three Merganser species may be found here. Buffleheads, Ring-necked Ducks, Gadwall, Greater and Lesser Scaup, etc. can also be viewed on the river, although Scaup were absent today. on April 12, 2012, 327 Bonaparte’s Gulls were along varying parts of the river along the towpath (J. Ellerbusch). Viewing can be a challenge with trees and tangled vegetation. Do not bother trying to get close for a photo opportunity – the ducks are wary and will move away.
Passerines are in the trees and brush along the path. The swallow counts in spring are easily the highest in the county. It is a good place to dream of rarities as Raritan Bay is not that far down stream.
Other Field Notes
This afternoon, 8 Sandhill Cranes were in the corn field along Mettlers Road southeast of its intersection with Weston Road.
Although thousands of geese remain in the Bridgewater-Hillsborough-Branchburg area, the Barnacle Goose is missing in action this week.
The Greater White-fronted Goose was seen on the Raritan River at Duke Island Park, Jan. 14 (George and Gail Eschenbach).
Cackling Geese are found by combing through the large Canada Goose throngs at North Branch Park and Duke Island Park (roosting on the Raritan River).
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FYI, Gail and I saw the Greater White-fronted Goose at Duke Island Park yesterday, 1/14. The bird flew into the river with hundreds of Canada Geese around 4:00 PM. Also present were Common Mergansers, Black Ducks, Mallards and a Great Blue Heron.
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Thank you for the update, George. It’s great to hear from you.