American Coot, Pied-billed Grebes, Common Gallinule
(Click on the photo for a larger image.)
Five pioneer birders blazed a route to the eastern shore of Deerhaven Lake this morning in search of the marsh birds of this section of the Newark Watershed (David and A.J. Bernstein, Louis Bizzarro, Roger Johnson, and this writer). A permit is required for entry.
Common Gallinules nest here, the only known Morris County location other than the Great Swamp NWR. They are found here in recent, successive years. Two adults and one juvenile were seen earlier in the season (see the post here). The juvenile has grown to full size and was the only Common Gallinule found today.
A surprise find was an American Coot (see the photo above). A search of the eBird database reveals this to be the only eBird-reported American Coot in July and August of 2016 in the entire state of New Jersey. Going back to June, the only other America Coot sightings on eBird are a pair of reports from Kearny Marsh.
Going back 10 years on eBird, today’s is the only American Coot reported in August in NJ except for a De Korte record and some from Forsythe NWR, Cape May and Mannington Marsh – and those reports are sparse. There are not many more for July during that same period and none in the interior part of the state.
As for nesting records in NJ, the Breeding Bird Atlas of the 1990s (Birds of New Jersey The NJ Breeding Bird Atlas, New Jersey Audubon, 1999) has only four confirmed nests for American Coot: what appear to be Wallkill NWR, Mannington Marsh (2) and Kearny Marsh.
The following American Coot entry is excerpted from The Birds of New Jersey: Status and Distribution (William J. Boyle, Jr., Princeton University Press, 2011):
“A population explosion in the 1950s and 1960s produced 300 nesting pairs in 1962 (Bull 1964) and similar numbers persisted into the 1980s (RNJB 9:82). By the time of the Atlas, however, statewide breeding numbers had been reduced to a remnant few pairs, a situation that continues today.”
Suspected of nesting here for years, breeding confirmation was ascertained today as a family of six Pied-billed Grebes was seen swimming through Sweet-scented Water Lilies, Spatterdock and the open water.
A Virginia Rail was heard by some of the observers today. Seven Lesser Yellowlegs flew in and around the marsh area. A side trip to the north side of the lake produced a pair of Common Ravens, former and maybe current nesters on the Green Pond Mountain escarpment. A Red-breasted Nuthatch was seen and singing in the mature Norway Spruces where Green Pond Road crosses over the marsh.
Olive-sided Flycatchers in Bernards Township and Roxbury Twp.
A late afternoon report today from Mike Hiotis:
“I had an Olive-sided Flycatcher in the scope at Mountain Park, Bernards Township around 2 PM this afternoon.This is a mixed use park just north of the Pingry School on Martinsville Rd. Both the dark vest about the chest and flanks and the white side rump patches were visible as it sallied about and landed on different dead branches. This was in the northwest end of the park beyond the ball fields.(MH)”
After this post was published, it was learned that another Olive-side Flycatcher was also seen this afternoon in Roxbury Township, Morris County (Alan Boyd).
Other summer birds
A pair of Black-crowned Night-Herons have been at Jefferson Rd. Pond since the spring. Rob Fanning reports seeing one of the pair carrying sticks some time ago.
An adult Red-headed Woodpecker was at Troy Meadows, Aug. 1 (Rob Fanning). They are apparently nesting at Troy Meadows this year.
Somerset County produced a collection of shorebirds during the past week. On July 31, Selody Sod Farm had 8 Semipalmated Plovers, 42 Killdeer, 1 Upland Sandpiper, 5 Least and 2 Semipalmated Sandpipers (Jeff Ellerbusch).
Duke Island Park has had Killdeer, Spotted, Solitary and Least Sandpipers, and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs (many obs.)
A Common Loon, assuming it is the same one, has spent the summer at the north end of Boonton Reservoir.
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