Tundra Swans and Red-necked Grebe at Lake Hopatcong
Tundra Swans have returned to Lake Hopatcong. Local bird observers have come to know this as an annual wintering location for this species. The swans may be found in varying numbers during the waterfowl season as long as the lake is not entirely frozen.
Today’s location was the Lake Forest area at the north end of the lake in Morris County – north of Brady Road Bridge. The Tundra Swans were not alone. 238 Mute Swans were tallied throughout the entirety of the lake with most of them north of Brady Road Bridge between the Lake Forest Yacht Club and the marina on Rt. 181. This represents the highest count ever of Mute Swans in one location of Morris County in the age of eBird. The previous high count was 185 at Mt. Hope Lake in 2013.
The swans will not be at Lake Forest for long. Much, if not most, of the lake north of Brady Road Bridge is already frozen. More than likely, that section will be entirely frozen by next weekend. This means the swans can relocate anywhere on New Jersey’s largest lake.
Exercise care in identifying black-billed swans in New Jersey. Trumpeter Swan is now an accepted species in New Jersey, meaning it is a review species for the New Jersey Bird Record Committee. One Trumpeter Swan record from this past winter and spring is accepted as valid for Sussex and Morris Counties. David Sibley has an online guide for separating Tundra and Trumpeter Swans. The link is here.
Culver’s Lake in Sussex County has the reputation for being the coldest spot in New Jersey. This observer’s contention is that Lake Hopatcong is not far behind!
A Red-Necked Grebe was found west of Nolans Point and was closer to Elba Point and Davis Cove on the Sussex County side of the lake. It was too distant, and too cold, for a documentation photo.
Three Common Loons were in Great Cove and Van Every Cove. Hundreds of Herring and Ring-billed Gulls were scattered throughout the lake. The densest clusters were in the northern section of the lake.
The female Surf Scoter of Kenvil Lake continues as of today. She was resting with the Ruddy Ducks and Lesser Scaup in the southern part of the lake late this morning. The following photo of Alan Boyd’s is from Thursday, Dec. 8.
The Franklin Township Sandhill Cranes, 7 in number so far, are favoring the corn fields of Mettlers and Weston Roads, north of Colonial Park as of Dec. 8 (Jeff Ellerbusch, m.obs.).
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