A Birding Hike At Leaser Lake In Lehigh County

A Birding Hike At Leaser Lake In Lehigh County

Lesser Lake (15 of 29)
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I returned  to a new favorite hiking spot,  Leaser Lake in Lehigh County,  on Sunday. It was a last minute decision. A friend invited me to join a local birding  group hike at the lake early Sunday morning.

It was sunny and cool when I arrived at the north boat launch parking lot and met my friend and the 18 folks in the group at 8 a.m. 

It was a nice group of  folks led  by  a local birder named Frank   I like to hike alone and have never participated in a birding hike, not here in the United  States anyway.  I have been on birding walks before but only when I traveled to Africa, South America and New Zealand. It was a new experience and I enjoyed it. The birding hike was very informal as we set out looking for birds along the blue waters of Leaser Lake.  

As we began our hike  my friend, Donna,  immediately spotted a tundra swan with here “eagle eyesight” . 

It is late in the season to still see these beautiful birds in our area. It was swimming in the deep  blue waters of the lake with a pair of Canada geese. 

Canada geese are very common in our area now as many stay here to breed. 

Our group walked along the lake seeing eastern bluebirds, downy woodpeckers, American robins, a phoebe and red-winged blackbirds,  this is a male , in the tree along the lake. 

We also saw a pied billed grebe, ring neck ducks, common mergansers, a belted  kingfisher and mallard ducks on the waters of a wooded cove.  We discussed the birds we saw and learned a lot about the  from our guide and each other, 

There were signs of  Spring near the lake. I was surprised,

and delighted to see daffodils already blooming. 

The red maple trees were also budding. It was cool but a beautiful Spring morning. 

After about a mile hike we left the north boat launch and we all  drove to the south boat launch  parking lot. The views of the lake an  the Blue Mountain in the distance are spectacular here. 

We walked into the nearby fields

were we saw turkey vultures,  red tailed hawks and we were treated to a bald eagle sighting. 

It was soaring high  above us but everyone and binoculars or  cameras with long lenses and we all were able to see this magnificent bird.We then walked along the shore of the lake, where  a row of pine trees shaded the trail, 

and saw a black-capped chickadee feeding on, what  I always thought was cattail seeds. Editing this photo at home it appears the chickadees aren’t after seeds but rather grubs or worms that live  in the cattails stalks during the Winter. 

After about another mile hike we drove to the west boat launch parking lot . I was one of the  last cars to leave and missed the opportunity to see a kestrel  perched on a utility wire. 

At the parking lot we again walked along the lake looking for birds.  I got to meet and chat with many of  the fellow birders in our group.   We had enjoyable discussions on our  bird watching adventures and travels. As we walked, and chatted, we  saw many of the same birds we saw earlier on our hikes. . Some folks in our group saw a harrier hawk. I missed this one too. I have never seen one . We walked along a cove that ends in a wetlands. The willow trees were starting to bud. 

I love seeing willow trees in the Spring.  And I love hiking along the shores of this scenic lake. 

We saw more geese and some green winged  teals.  This is a male. These beautiful ducks are less common then their cousins the blue winged  teals. 

Walking along the cove and the wetlands we saw a lot more red-winged blackbirds,  eastern bluebirds, some already settling  in the many birdhouses around the lake, 

song sparrows, 

and another one of my favorite birds, a northern mocking bird. 

My dad loved this birds and their beautiful songs. 

As we walked I noticed this garter snake slithering on the ground. 

It must just have awakened from it’s long Winter hibernation. They are harmless and beautiful creatures. 

After another mile or so of hiking our birding tour ended and our group disbanded.  We met a lot of wonderful folks who shared our love of nature. 

My friend and I decided to stay at the lake and look for a horned lark that some  park maintenance  workers  told  us they saw in a nearby Winter wheat field. We hiked  back along the lake, seeing some pretty blue  birdeye speedwell flowers blooming in the grass. 

We walked to the fields and looked for the horned lark. Neither of us have seen one before. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

The stubble of last years crops were perfect camouflage for a bird . However, eagle eyed Donna finally spotted it, 

and here is my first photo of a horned lark. It is  a pretty bird  which I have now learned is common in the farm fields of North America. 

We were both pleased to see this bird, the first time for both of us. We now headed back to the parking lot. On the way we saw, then heard a belted kingfisher flying over the wetlands.

and landing in one of the willow trees.  Seeing, and photographing these elusive birds  was a great way to end a great  birding hike.  Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Leaser Lake birds March 26 2023.

I am sure had  taken my  usual solo hike in the Susquehanna Wetlands or here I may have seen more  birds and wildlife. I am very quiet and patient on my hikes and this allows me to get close to the critters But I really enjoyed this group hike and may do it again.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike. Leaser Lake March 26 2023. 

To be standing together in a frosty field, looking up into the sky, marvelling at birds and revelling in the natural world around us, was a simple miracle. And I wondered why we were so rarely able to appreciate it.”
― Lynn Thomson

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