This image of Great Brook and the Great Swamp NWR sums up February in Morris County:
Cold, snow, ice – the temperature in Fahrenheit degrees will be in the single digits by Friday morning. Feeder watching is the main birding activity at the moment. Scant numbers of Pine Siskins, in the ones and twos, are reported. Common Redpolls have yet to make an incursion into Morris and Somerset counties this year, other than two sightings at feeders in Morris; none in Somerset. Two Gray Catbirds were in a yard at Brookside (Mendham Twp.) on Feb. 2 (Kriss Replogle).
Rob Gallucci photographed the following non-passerine during the week at his bird feeder.
Somerset County has pockets of bird activity although the rare geese of January have apparently moved on. The last known date for the Barnacle Goose is January 10; January 16 for the Greater White-fronted Goose; January 22 for the Cackling Goose. Groups of Canada Geese remain in and around the Raritan River.
Many parts of the Raritan River are open despite the frigid temperatures of late. A walk down the Delaware and Raritan Canal Towpath south of Demott Lane is worthwhile for waterfowl and a variety of other species. Up to 3 Bald Eagles have been seen in this area recently.
River Road south of South Branch Road in Hillsborough Township continues to be a manure-mecca with anywhere between 100-200 Horned Larks enjoying the re-repast. A Snow Bunting was with the Horned Larks last week but has not been seen since. American and Fish crows are abundant. Savannah Sparrows work the road’s edge. Hundreds of Starlings hang out in the area. Turkey and Black Vultures are usually seen floating in the sky if not partaking of the banquet. The many Rock Pigeons roosting on the power-line wires make good target practice for a pair of Peregrine Falcons seen in the vicinity. Practically every regularly occurring diurnal raptor in New Jersey made an appearance at River Road during the past week. Why not – a veritable bird buffet awaits the hungry falcons and hawks.
Gulls are noticeably absent in Hillsborough this winter. Glaucous, Iceland, Lesser Black-backed, Great Black-backed, Herring and Ring-billed Gulls are found here in recent winters near the pig farm on Homestead Road. Other than a single Ring-billed Gull now and then, there are none this year.
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