Bird Migration in Earnest – Mar. 30, 2018

The doors of migration opened wide today.

Adult Iceland Gull with Herring Gulls, Boonton Reservoir, NJ, Mar. 30, 2018 (photo by Simon Lane)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Let us begin at Boonton Reservoir.

4 Red-throated Loons, approximately 30 Common Loons, 3 Long-tailed Ducks, Horned Grebe, the continuing 2 Red-necked Grebes, at least 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, Tree and Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Eastern Phoebes, Golden-crowned Kinglets in the woods with Yellow-rumped Warblers, and an adult Iceland Gull found by Simon Lane at the south end of the reservoir viewed from Waterview Plaza on Route 46 East. Also seen by Simon was a migrating light morph Rough-legged Hawk.

Red-necked Grebe, Boonton Reservoir, NJ, Mar. 30, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Budd Lake:
7 Long-tailed Ducks, a Red-throated Loon, Horned Grebe, and ~13 Common Loons (Alan Boyd).

Elsewhere:
– Palm Warbler and numerous Golden-crowned Kinglets at Troy Meadows (Rob Fanning).
– Palm Warbler at Lord Stirling Park (Dave Fantina).
– Lesser Black-backed Gull at Lake Parsippany (Roger Johnson)
– 50+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Norz Farm Fields in Hillsborough (Jeff Ellerbusch).

Other species on the move include Osprey, Turkey Vultures, raptors in general, Eastern Phoebes, Tree and Northern Rough-winged Swallows, etc., etc.

Migration for some, breeding time for others. The following spectacular Great Blue Heron photo is courtesy of Mike Newlon. Click on the photo for a larger image.

Great Blue Heron, Great Swamp NWR, NJ, Mar. 29, 2018 (photo by Mike Newlon)


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 mocosocoBirds.com 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.


Finis


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Red-throated Loon, Red-necked Grebes at Boonton Reservoir – Mar. 27, 2018

Birds on the move

Bird activity is warming up after a dreary and endless winter. Joe Barbieri found a Red-throated Loon at Boonton Reservoir, March 26. It was seen by several observers today, March 27. Ray Duffy reports two Red-throated Loons today, as well. A very heavily cropped photo is below.

Red-throated Loon, Boonton Reservoir, NJ, Mar. 27, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Also today, Roger Johnson located two Red-necked Grebes at the reservoir. A Red-breasted Merganser drake and Common Loon in alternate plumage are also present along with Ring-necked Ducks and a small handful of other duck species.

Red-necked Grebes, Boonton Reservoir, NJ, Mar. 27, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The rookery on the island is busy with at least 24 Great Blue Herons and 70+ Double-crested Cormorants.

Great Blue Heron, Boonton Reservoir, NJ, Mar. 27, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Boonton Reservoir is not just for water birds.

Pileated Woodpecker, Boonton Reservoir, NJ, Mar. 27, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


Sandhill Cranes at Finderne Wetlands

For years, the Somerset County wintering Sandhill Cranes are typically viewed in Franklin Township near Weston Canal Road and other locations nearby. In the past two days, groups of two and four Sandhill Cranes have been seen flying over Finderne Wetlands. This is getting to be a late date for the cranes in the county.


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 mocosocoBirds.com 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.


Finis


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Birds After the Storms – Mar. 10, 2018

Condolences to all who have endured hardship over the past nine days as two epic storms battered the northeastern United States. Seriously, enough is enough.

A few highlight birds of late winter are currently in Morris County. Alex Bernzweig relocated the White-winged Scoter today at Budd Lake. This was first found on February 26 by Alan Boyd but has gone unreported recently.

A Red-necked Grebe found March 9 by Rob Fanning continues at the Lake Forest section, or north end, of Lake Hopatcong. Viewing is from the partially plowed Lake Forest Yacht Club parking area.

Red-necked Grebe, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Mar. 10, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Lesser Black-backed Gull with Herring Gulls, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Mar. 10, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Single Lesser Black-backed Gulls are being seen at Budd Lake and Lake Hopatcong.

Some may remember March 2 as the day the first Nor’easter pummeled our area this month. The annals of local bird records will remember March 2, 2018 as the day that 216 (!) Lesser Black-backed Gulls were tallied at Norz Farm Fields in Hillsborough Township (Frank Sencher, Jr.).This area has hosted large numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls in recent years. These gulls are likely the same ones seen at the Hunterdon County reservoirs.

The icing on the cake that day was an adult Iceland Gull seen with 500 Ring-billed Gulls and 25 Herring Gulls.

216 Lesser Black-backed Gulls is a Somerset County record for exactly one location. On May 30, 2017, Jeff Ellerbusch had 145 at Norz and another 96 a few miles away on Opie Road.

For your information, the state record for Lesser Black-backed Gulls is 713 at Spruce Run Reservoir, Hunterdon Co., on March 29, 2013. Mr. Sencher also tallied these. This is the known high count for North America, as well.


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 mocosocoBirds.com 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.


Finis


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Eurasian Wigeon, Tundra Swans – Feb. 25, 2018

Eurasian Wigeon at Silas Condict County Park

Eurasian Wigeon, Silas Condict County Park, Kinnelon, NJ, Feb. 25, 2018 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Silas Condict County Park in Kinnelon is not known as a birding destination spot. This is no fault of its own, but there are so many well-known and documented birding locations in the county and surrounding area that Silas Condict gets left out.

That changed on Friday afternoon, February 23 when Jorge Mascaro reported a drake Eurasian Wigeon at Canty’s Lake. This was repeated Saturday and by today, Sunday, other people came and saw this very cooperative and photogenic duck.

Chuck Hantis braved the wet weather today and together with patience and his photographic technique produced the excellent images adorning this post. Click on the photos for a larger image. They are beautiful to view.

With only five Morris County records through 2010, Eurasian Wigeon has become a county regular since October 2016. A drake was also reported from Lake Hopatcong on the morning of Feb. 23. Two drakes in Morris County at the same time is unprecedented.

Eurasian Wigeon, Silas Condict County Park, Kinnelon, NJ, Feb. 25, 2018 (photo by Chuck Hantis)


Tundra Swans

Tundra Swans, Boonton Reservoir, NJ, Feb. 25, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Here is the latest on the historic fallout of Tundra Swans yesterday.

202 Tundra Swans were counted at Boonton Reservoir today. This basically matches the 207 figure from yesterday. The swans were floating south of the island in a line running north to south making it fairly easy to count if you were standing in the right place.

The one lone Mute Swan in the reservoir was staying as far away from the Tundra Swans as possible.

The above photo is a partial representation of the line of swans, which extends to the right and left of the image.

75 Tundra Swans were tallied today at Budd Lake (Silas Hernandez).

Not be left out, Somerset County had 47 Tundra Swans at Beekman Lane, Hillsborough Twp., before moving on (Vicki Schwartz).


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 mocosocoBirds.com 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.


Finis


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Tundra Swan Fallout – Feb. 24, 2018

Tundra Swans, Boonton Reservoir, NJ, Feb. 24, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

You need a magnifier to see the Tundra Swans near the south shore of the island at Boonton Reservoir in the above photo. The group of swans extends both left and right out of the range of the image. More were located on the north side of the island.

The south end of Boonton Reservoir is viewed from the high point of the Waterview Plaza parking lot accessed via Rt. 46 east. It is anything but ideal. A scope is required. A step stool is helpful to view over the wall that sits on top of the berm. In keeping with the many viewing locations at Boonton Reservoir, everything is relatively far away.

This afternoon, Simon Lane texted that 135+ Tundra Swans were at Boonton Reservoir. After comprehending the magnitude of this statement and catching one’s breath, this observer drove to the south end of the reservoir to view this historic event. A light rain did not deter. By the time the counting was done and then tallied again, 185 Tundra Swans were accounted for. Later, another 22 were seen along the north shore of the island bringing the grand total to 207.

The previous known high count for Tundra Swan in Morris County was 18 (as in eighteen) at Lake Musconetcong in 1990. 207 obliterates that number. This event was echoed in other parts of northern New Jersey, namely Hunterdon County, where Tundra Swans in the hundreds were also reported.

Otherwise, ducks are starting to file into the reservoir. A drake Red-breasted Merganser made it a merganser sweep at the north end of the reservoir joining both Common and Hooded Mergansers.


Other birds

With the recent thawing of the major Morris County bodies of water, waterfowl are beginning to flood the region.

A drake Eurasian Wigeon found at the Lake Forest area of Lake Hopatcong on Feb. 23 by Rob Fanning was missed today. The Eurasian Wigeon was probably there but the water was thick with 434 Ring-necked Ducks, at least 32 American Wigeon and 7 Redhead along with Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Scaup spp. and Common and Hooded Mergansers in marginal viewing conditions (i.e., distance, wind, and a light rain). Nonetheless, this was an impressive sight after a winter of ice at the lake.

Interestingly, a drake Eurasian Wigeon was described from Silas Condict Park, Kinnelon on Feb. 23 (Jorge Mascaro).

Tom Justesen found 4 Redhead and 4 Common Goldeneye at Mt. Hope Lake along with other typical waterfowl of that site.

Horned Grebes, Lake Parsippany, NJ, Feb. 24, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Lake Parsippany had two Horned Grebes today, one day after Rob Fanning found the first Horned Grebe of 2018 for Morris County. Likewise, the first Pied-billed Grebe of 2018 in Morris was also seen today. Tom Justesen found 2 Canvasbacks which became 3 a short time later. A Double-crested Cormorant was unexpected. Simon Lane found 3 Redheads later in the afternoon. The Common Merganser numbers have leveled off after a high count of 545 on Feb. 16.

Canvasbacks (Common Mergansers in the background), Lake Parsippany, NJ, Feb. 24, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The Somerset County Sandhill Cranes are favoring the Zaraphath corn fields along Weston Canal Road lately.

Up to 2 Red-headed Woodpeckers are regularly seen along the nature trail at Colonial Park, Franklin Township.


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 mocosocoBirds.com 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.


Finis


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Greater White-fronted Goose, Eurasian Wigeon in Morris – Feb. 4, 2018

Greater White-fronted Goose with Canada Geese, Clyde Potts Reservoir, NJ, Feb. 4, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Thousands of Canada Geese and a small number of ducks are using Clyde Potts Reservoir in Mendham Twp. this winter. It is one of the few bodies of water in the area that has a sizable section of ice-free water.

This morning, a Greater White-fronted Goose was found among the throng of waterfowl. This is a rare sighting in Morris County. Whereas neighboring Somerset County has nearly annual records of Greater White-fronted Goose, Morris has only scattered records over the years. The last documented record is December 2014 from Budd Lake.

These distant, heavily cropped, low-light photos will have to serve as documentation for today’s sighting. Frankly, it is about time a Greater White-fronted Goose showed up in Morris County this year. Sightings of this species are spread around the state with as many as six(!) found last week at Merrill Creek Reservoir in Warren County.

Greater White-fronted Goose with Canada Geese, Clyde Potts Reservoir, NJ, Feb. 4, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Adult Bald Eagles are regularly seen in recent winters at Clyde Potts Reservoir. It is anyone’s guess where they originate as no known nests are in the immediate area. The Great Swamp NWR eagle nest is approximately ten miles away. The Troy Meadows eagles are a bit further. These are the two nests in closest proximity to the reservoir. The many geese in the water clung together in a large raft as this Bald Eagle repeatedly swooped down on the waterfowl, although never catching any prey.

Bald Eagle, Clyde Potts Reservoir, NJ, Feb. 4, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


Other Birds

Eurasian Wigeon, Waterloo Lakes, NJ, Feb. 3, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

A drake Eurasian Wigeon is frequenting an area known as Waterloo Lakes in Mt. Olive Township. It was found on January 28 by Tom Halliwell and photographed by Alan Boyd. It was seen Feb. 3 as well. This is probably the same individual at nearby Clark Drive in November, 2017 and possibly the same duck that was in Morris County during the winter of 2016-17.

Waterloo Lakes is an overflow of the Musconetcong River near Waterloo Village. Creative geographical bookkeeping is necessary to list the duck(s) for Morris County as you are actually standing in Sussex County while viewing the lakes, which are in Morris County.

Musconetcong River is the border between Morris and Sussex Counties at this location. Adding to the convergence of borders in this area, Warren County is a short distance down the road, just south of the I-80 overpass.

There is a gated dirt road near the lakes which leads to the old Indian village. This is where one can view the Morris side of the lakes.

If one is so inclined, it may be possible to double-dip this duck and list it for Sussex County by viewing it on the Sussex side of the river from Waterloo Village if the main gate for the village is open.

It is a shame to see the old homes and buildings of Waterloo Village falling into disrepair. It is a long time since its glory days as a historic site in the 1970s and ’80s. It was also the summer home of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for a period.


Other birds

The two Ross’s Geese were last seen at the VA Hospital in Lyons on Jan. 28. It is not known if anyone has looked for them since.

Rough-legged Hawks were last reported Jan. 25 from the Great Swamp NWR.

Most lakes, ponds and still water remain frozen in Morris County.


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 mocosocoBirds.com 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.


Finis


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Snowy Owl and other birds – Jan. 22, 2017

Snowy Owl in Dover (Jan. 16)

Snowy Owl, Dover, NJ, Jan. 16, 2018 (photo by Allan Favino)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

A guy walks into a bus depot…

On Tuesday, January, 16, Allan Favino was at his job at the Lakeland Bus Terminal in Dover, NJ when he noticed a non-paying customer on top of a bus. Although not a bird watcher per se, Allan had the presence of mind to know that he was looking at a Snowy Owl and documented it with a photo. Bravo, Allan!

On Sunday, Jan. 21, this news reached Dave Blinder who forwarded the information and photos to mocosocoBirds. The bus depot is next to a Shop-Rite and a private industrial area. There are no sightings of the Snowy Owl since.

Snowy Owl, Dover, NJ, Jan. 16, 2018 (photo by Allan Favino)


Other Birds

Ross’s Geese with Canada Geese, Lyons, NJ, Jan. 13, 2018 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Two Ross’s Geese continue in the Bernards Twp./Bedminster/Far Hills area. The geese were found by Gary Celeste at the VA Hospital in Lyons on Jan. 12 and seen by many observers in the ensuing days. Recently, sightings from the US Golf Association grounds in Far Hills and the neighboring New Jersey National Golf Club are reported.

A juvenile Great Cormorant continues in the Raritan River in the vicinity of the Queen’s Bridge and I-287 overpass in South Bound Brook. A young Double-crested Cormorant is also in the area. Use caution in separating the two species for identification purposes.

Rough-legged Hawks are reported from various places including the Great Swamp NWR, Rattlesnake Bridge Rd., Bedminster and Duke Farms, Hillsborough.


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 mocosocoBirds.com 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.


Finis


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Birds of the New Year – Jan. 7, 2018

Sandhill Crane, Somerset Co., NJ, Jan. 1, 2018 (photo by John Bloomfield)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Arctic conditions have frozen most of the water in Morris County. Somerset County does not have many bodies of water to freeze although the Raritan River is open enough to host thousands of Canada Geese as well as a variety of waterfowl species.

The annual wintering Sandhill Cranes total 15 this year. They are viewed at various cornfields in the Franklin Township area as well as seen near the Raritan River.

The Pink-footed Goose first reported on December 29, 2017 was last reported January 3 at Duke Island Park. Cackling Geese are also at the park.

Beware of a mixed-up Canada Goose x Domestic x Greater White-fronted Goose that has been at Duke Island Park recently. This goose seems to consist of various lineage streams and is best listed as goose sp., if at all.

Jeff Ellerbusch has found many interesting species in Somerset County the past few days. A Lapland Longspur at Bernardsville Quarry put in a brief appearance before disappearing, January 6. Later that day, a Lincoln’s Sparrow was well photographed at Fairview Farm. This is a very rare wintering species in the mocosocoBirds area.

Today, Jeff found another local rarity along the Delaware and Raritan Towpath near the Queen’s Bridge in South Bound Brook. An immature Great Cormorant was on a gravel bar, east of the I-287 bridge (west of the Queen’s Bridge).

Frozen Morris County is much more modest in its avian treasures so far this year. The highlights are both light morph and dark morph Rough-legged Hawks that are seen daily at the overlook on Pleasant Plains Rd., Great Swamp NWR.

A pair of Horned Larks were foraging on the bare ground this afternoon at Florham Park Fields along with Dark-eyed Juncos, Song, White-throated, and American Tree Sparrows. While often found in certain farm fields in Somerset County, Horned Larks are relatively rare in Morris County.

Horned Larks, Florham Park, NJ, Jan. 7, 2018 (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 mocosocoBirds.com 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.


Finis


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Pink-footed Goose, Rough-legged Hawks – Dec. 29, 2017

A brief report from the road: a Pink-footed Goose found yesterday by Jageshwar Benimadho at North Branch Park, Bridgewater, continues today.

A white morph Rough-legged Hawk found yesterday by Patrick DeMarco at the Overlook on Pleasant Plains Road, Great Swamp NWR is joined today by a dark morph Rough-legged Hawk.

Frigid weather conditions continue.

Posted in Morris County | 1 Comment

The 82nd Boonton Christmas Bird Count Report – 2017

The 82nd annual Boonton Christmas Bird Count (CBC) occurred on Saturday, December 23, 2017.

How can one describe the conditions in the field on that day: miserable, gloomy, wretched, dreadful, soggy, yucky. One can go on and on. A few decades-long veterans of the Boonton CBC felt this was the worst weather for the count they could remember.

Surely, wet and fogged binoculars caused a few species to be missed. More birding than usual from a car was necessary. The temperature ranged from 34 F degrees at dawn to a high of 39 F degrees in the afternoon. Winds were calm. A steady, obnoxious rain of varying intensities finally ceased at approximately 2 PM. And then the fog rolled in. What a day!

Many lakes and ponds in the count circle were frozen to some degree. The major exception was Boonton Reservoir which was entirely ice-free. A few other bodies of water managed to escape the freeze of previous weeks. Rivers and brooks were apparently free-flowing.

In spite of the atrocious weather, twenty-nine dedicated volunteers traveling solo or in groups worked their routes and uncovered 84 species, the lowest total for the Boonton CBC since 83 species were tallied in 1989. Interestingly, the weather on that date twenty-eight years earlier was difficult in a different fashion: the temperature ranged from a low of 6 F degrees to a high of 17 F degrees.

The previous two years have total species counts of 85 in 2015 and 90 in 2016. Considering the abysmal weather conditions, 84 for 2017 is a respectable total.

Three count-week species, Common Loon, Peregrine Falcon and Purple Finch, are also part of the record but not included in the total species count (count-week is defined as three days prior to and three days after the actual count date although count-week species are not in the official numeric tally submitted to the National Audubon Society).

The total number of individual birds tallied, 12,596, is the lowest since 6,344 were counted in 1972. Historical records show that although the temperature ranged from 35 F to 41 F degrees on that date forty-five years ago, 0.21 inches of precipitation fell, as well. Twenty-eight observers in eight parties worked that count.

Heartfelt thanks to all the participants who braved the nasty elements.

Highlights for this year’s CBC are modest; lowlights are understandably numerous.

The following table lists the species seen by only one party or individual. The species column is followed by the amount reported. The third column represents the percentage of occurrences in the 82-year history of the count:

Species Tot. % on CBC Comment
Wood Duck 1 84.1 lowest number since 0 in 2004.
Green-winged Teal 2 67.1 lowest total since 2 in 2000.
Greater Scaup 1 48.8 scattered over the years.
Red-breasted Merganser 1 13.4 Unusual but increasing in the last 10 years.
Ruddy Duck 6 82.9 Lowest total since 0 in 1989. The 21st-century average is 135.1 individuals.
Pied-billed Grebe 6 75.6 Missed in 2016 for the first time since 2002
Horned Grebe 3 29.3 Only the 3rd time plus one count-week entry in the 21st century.
Black Vulture 6 34.1 Has not been missed since 1999. The rain certainly kept Vultures hidden.
Turkey Vulture 3 53.7 Has not been missed since 1981.
Red-shouldered Hawk 1 87.8 Missed in 2007; the average for the 21st century is 2.1.
Merlin 1 19.5 Fairly steady this century with 2016’s remarkable 9 as the record high count.
American Coot 1 72.0 Fluctuates greatly. 465 were counted in 2011.
Great Black-backed Gull 2 64.6 A sharp decrease in recent years. The record high is 173 in 1985.
Barred Owl 1 59.8 The 82-year average is 1.1.
Common Raven 1 13.4 2002 was the 1st year on the CBC. Annual since 2011.
Brown Creeper 2 100.0 Found on all 82 counts…barely.
Marsh Wren 1 39.0 Always nice to find. Only the 2nd since 2007.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1 72.0 Not missed since 1997…barely.
American Pipit 30 32.9 Highest count since 35 in 1999.
Chipping Sparrow 1 26.8 One is found every few years. This one was at the back end of the Montville Community Gardens.
Savannah Sparrow 1 72.0 Missed only once since 1987.
Rusty Blackbird 16 95.1 Missed only 4 times in 82 years.
Common Grackle 82 80.5 Only one party reported Co. Grackles from one location. The Grackle factor played into 2017’s low individual total for all species. The 21st century average for Co. Grackle is 3,963.
Brown-headed Cowbird 30 82.9 Not missed since 1990, although only 1 was reported in 2016.

As one can see from the previous table, every route is important to the overall count circle; every bird counts. 24 species were seen by one party or individual only, showing how fragile the total species count is.

The following table shows species missed in 2017 that have more than 70% occurrences in the 82 years of the Boonton CBC. While this certainly can signal a decline in the species occurring in the count circle, keep in mind that the number of participants and parties fluctuates over the years affecting totals, as well as an increase in property development and habitat degradation. Also, do not forget how awful the weather was on count day.

Species % on CBC Comment
American Wigeon 82.9 2nd miss in 3 years after not being missed since 1989.
Common Goldeneye 73.2 Annual from 1989-2010; only once since 2013.
American Kestrel 89 Annual, at least during count-week, from 1936 through 1998, often in double digits. Increasingly sporadic since then, with totals only in 1’s and 2’s.
Red-breasted Nuthatch 72 Annual from 1968-2014; missed two of the last three years.

Other species missed in 2017 that were seen in 2016 include:

  • Snow Goose (seen 5 years in a row until 2017).
  • Canvasback and Redhead.
  • Lesser Scaup (was seen 12 out of the previous 13 counts).
  • Killdeer (seen 7 out 8 previous counts).
  • Red-headed Woodpecker – cyclical species seen 13 out of 14 previous counts.
  • Eastern Phoebe – recorded only three times in the 21st century.
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow – was found two years in a row at Troy Meadows.

With the dismal weather, almost all species were drastically down from recent averages. For example, Woodpeckers were approximately one-third of their average totals. Some species were 10% of their averages. 90 American Robins is 1,100 off of the 21st-century average.

  • 116 Red-winged Blackbirds is 433 lower than the 21st-century average.
  • 82 Common Grackles – 3,881 lower than the 21st-century average.

And on and on it goes. It was a bleak day to be counting birds.

Certain species were oblivious to the weather and either came close to or exceeded their 21st-century averages. These include Canada Goose, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, American Pipit, Carolina Wren and Golden-crowned Kinglet. A few of the above species’ totals were at one location so their inclusion in this item is misleading as they are lightly represented most years.

Historical Tidbits

Remember that the wintering Canada Goose in north New Jersey is a recent phenomenon. The first Boonton CBC Canada Goose was found in 1941, one lone goose. 25 were tallied in 1943; 1 in 1946 and then none until 4 were counted in 1956 signaling a string of seven consecutive years. The consecutive string that continues until today started in 1965. At that time the high count between 1965 and 1970 was 32.

Count averages in the hundreds began unabated in 1971 with the high total at that time, 1,045, reached in 1976. Since then, totals always average into the thousands with two exceptions in 1979 and 1980. The record high count for the Boonton CBC is 7,143 in 2009. 2017 was close to average with 4,233.

Here is a graph illustrating the impressive expansion of the Canada Goose on the Boonton CBC. The X, or horizontal, axis is represented as the years of the count: 1 =1936, 81 = 2016, etc. The Y, or vertical, axis is the total amount of geese.


Mark your calendars. Next year’s count will be on Sunday, December 23, 2018.

This report is also at the following location on the mocosocoBirds.com website:
https://mocosocobirds.com/birds-of-morris-county-n-j/boontoncbc/2017-2/

A list of the species found on this CBC is at the following link:
https://mocosocobirds.com/birds-of-morris-county-n-j/boontoncbc/species-list/

You can also access these pages through the Birds of Morris County > Boonton Christmas Bird Count menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.

National Audubon Christmas Bird Count Website

A wonderful 2018 to all!
Nature is all we have. Protect, preserve, respect and nurture it. Always be awed by its beauty.

Jonathan Klizas, Compiler
Boonton Christmas Bird Count

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