Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at Great Swamp NWR – May 5, 2017

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at Great Swamp NWR

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Great Swamp NWR, May 5, 2017 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Birders know that rainy days often bring more than precipitation. Chuck Hantis, a frequent observer at the Great Swamp NWR and an excellent photographer, was driving towards the overlook on Pleasant Plains Road this rainy afternoon when a duck not known to the Great Swamp was walking down the road. Chuck watched it travel for twenty-five yards, firing off a series of photos before the duck hopped into the woods a few yards before the entrance to the overlook.

The photos confirm the identification of the duck as a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. Many thanks to Chuck Hantis for finding this rarity and for the superb photos.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Great Swamp NWR, May 5, 2017 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

The duck was not relocated despite three individuals searching. Perhaps the duck will be found again with the World Series of Birding on Saturday, May 6 and more people than usual out for spring migration.

If accepted by the New Jersey Bird Record Committee, this will be the 14th state record, the second in northern New Jersey (Wallkill NWR, Sussex County in 2011) and the first for Morris County. All of the state records have occurred since 2000. Other than the Sussex record, all others occurred in southern and coastal counties: Atlantic (2000, ’11, ’12, ’14), Cape May (2004, ’09, ’10, ’11), Ocean (2010), Monmouth (2010), and Salem (2015). Records in May-June 2016 were in Mercer, Salem and Cape May, probably of the same individuals.

The following distribution map, courtesy of Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Birds of North America will give an idea of the typical range of this neotropical duck.

The following screenshot of a map generated from the eBird database shows the locations for records of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in the northeastern United States since 2000. Click on the map for a larger image.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Records since 2000 (eBird)

Other Birds

Also rain related, gulls continue to congregate at the Norz Farm Fields on River Road, Hillsborough Twp. when the weather is favorably wet. 62 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls and an Iceland Gull were all enjoying the moisture during the day (Roger Johnson).

These are exceptional and unprecedented gull records for the month of May in Somerset County.

Shorebirds in Morris County

Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Troy Meadows, NJ, May 3, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

The past week sees an influx of shorebirds in Morris County with Solitary Sandpipers leading the way. At least 18 Solitary Sandpipers were along Troy Brook at Troy Meadows on May 3. Also present were Killdeer, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted, Least, Semipalmated and 2 Pectoral Sandpipers.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Troy Meadows, NJ, May 3, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

21 Solitary Sandpipers that could be seen were at the Fish Tract in Florham Park on May 4. This property offers many hiding places so more Solitary Sandpipers were certainly present than the number reported. Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs and Least Sandpipers fed on the partially flooded fields. A pair of calling Common Ravens flew over the tract while being chased by a screaming American Crow.

If visiting Fish Tract, be aware that the woods are owned by the borough of Florham Park but the flooded fields are privately owned. The area by the pump house going eastward is owned by the East Orange Water Company. None of this seems to phase the ATVs and dirt bikes that course through the area.

Least Sandpipers, Florham Park, NJ, May 4, 2017 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the website.

The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted throughout the day. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


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1 Response to Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at Great Swamp NWR – May 5, 2017

  1. Update to the original post: Mariane Offenloch reminds the editor that there were Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks in May-June 2016. These were in Salem, Mercer and Cape May counties. It is though these were considered the same individuals and therefore one record. The web page reflects this update.

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