There is magic at the Great Swamp Wildlife Observation Center on Long Hill Road, Harding Township. On Saturday, April 13, 2019, Adrian Smith scanned the skies and found a high, distant shape that could be nothing else but an Anhinga. It was in the vicinity of three Black Vultures, eventually drifting off in an east-northeast direction, and was gone soon after it appeared.
If accepted by the New Jersey Bird Record Committee this will be the eighteenth New Jersey state record and the first for Morris County.
Anhinga is appropriately known by its scientific genus/species label as Anhinga anhinga. Why call it anything else when its name “is derived from a Tupi (Brazilian) Indian name, anhingá or anhangá, for the devil bird, an evil spirit of the woods”, as described in Cornell’s Birds of North America.
The Wildlife Observation Center is the scene of some other extraordinary sightings for Morris County in recent years.
On May 21, 2011 a group led by Mike Anderson saw and photographed a Swallow-tailed Kite at the Friends Blind. The significance of this sighting is that it is the first Swallow-tailed Kite reported in Morris County in one hundred and twenty-four years, or since 1887 in other words (see Thurber’s list).
On June 16, 2017, a group of birders watched and documented a Gull-billed Tern also at the Friends Blind, the first and only record of this species in Morris County.
These are the records that immediately come to mind. Something must be in the air at that location for such extraordinary local sightings. Keep them coming, and with photographic documentation, please!
Pete Bacinski, a New Jersey birding giant for decades, left us too soon on Thursday, April 11, 2019. Upon news of his passing, the genuine outpouring of love and affection for Pete on social media and mailing lists was extraordinary and is a testament to the positive effect he had on so many people. This writer knew him for over thirty years and can’t think of a warmer, more generous and giving person. He will be greatly missed but remembered by everyone he touched. Good birding, Pete.
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