Clouds, Rain And Not Many Snow Geese At Middle Creek

Clouds, Rain And Not Many Snow Geese At Middle Creek

Middle Creek (16 of 40)
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March  arrived with mild weather here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And, as has been my custom for the past 18 years,  this meant a visit to the  Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area .  This 5000 acre wildlife preserve is located on the Lebanon/Lancaster County border about 65 miles from my home in Luzerne County, It has been managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission since it’s creation in 1973. The 500 acre lake in the preserve is a stopover for migrating snow geese, Canada geese, tundra swans and many species of ducks.

It was raining last Saturday in eastern Pennsylvania, both at my home in Luzerne County and at Middle Creek. However, the forecast called for  the rain to end around 4 p.m. So I decided to drive to Middle Creek and look for  migrating snow geese and other water fowl.  Some years as many as 100,000 snow geese are on the lake in early March.  I usually visit Middle Creek with my brother and nephew but they  couldn’t go this weekend so I drove down myself.  A light rain was still falling when I arrived at the Willow Point parking lot at Middle Creek around 3:30 p.m.

Usually the parking lot is full when we arrive in he morning  and many times we have had to park along the road.  Not on Saturday. There were plenty parking  spots available.  There were none of the Amish or Mennonite horse drawn carriages parked on the lot, as there are in the mornings.

I began my walk  on the paved trail to Willow Point in the light rain.

There is a wetlands with large oak, maple and willow trees on the left side of the trail,  with open fields on the other side. It is about a half mile walk to Willow Point. Usually the  path is crowded with tourists and locals coming to see the snow geese, Not on Saturday, just a few tourists with umbrellas were ahead of me on the trail.

I was soon greeted by a pair of Canada geese honking loudly  as they flew overhead.

There were benches along the trail and I  often follow the advice on this one.

I soon saw the large willow trees for which this viewing area was named,

and I heard the honking of the snow geese on the water of the shallow lake.

The usual crowded   observation area had only a sparse number of visitors on this rainy afternoon.

And there were not the large flocks of snow geese either. There were only a couple thousand of them, by far the least amount that I have seen in 18 visits.

I wasn’t  expecting a large numbers of snow geese this visit but it was still disappointing. Even more disappointing was  the rain was still falling.

It was after 4 p.m. and there were no signs it was clearing up.

The geese on the lake weren’t going anywhere in the rain, and no new flocks joined them either. I did get to see a few snow geese up close, feeding on the grass in front of the observation area.

And there were a few common mergansers swimming on the lake, these are a pair of males,

and these females.

There were no tundra swans or other ducks on the lake. So I decided to get out of the rain and  take a ride on the Wildlife Drive. I left the snow geese and willow trees,

and walked back to the parking lot noticing a few signs of Spring on the way, the buds on the red maple trees,

some green garlic mustard leavers,

and some blackberry canes getting some red color, an indication that their leaves will soon be sprouting.

A light rain continued to fall as returned to the parking lot.

I drove my Jeep to the entrance of the six mile Wildlife Drive. The road first passes through some woodlands,

then through some large areas of open fields. Many years we see Canada geese, snow geese  hawks, bald eagles, and other birds on this drive through the fields.

On Saturday I only saw a few red-winged blackbirds, 

and a couple of song sparrows in the fields.

The road circles the lake, and after passing the fields  continues through some older wooded areas before returning to the lake ,and ending near the dam that creates Middle Creek Lake . The waters  of the lake exit  here and continue on as Middle Creek.

We usually see bald eagles, many species of ducks and great blue herons here, but again, there was not much to see on this rainy Saturday afternoon, just this great blue heron on the side of the dam.

I continued to follow the forecast on my iPhone. I  was hoping for the predicted clearing to occur before the sunset at around 6 p.m.   But there was no clearing  so I decided to drive to the Visitor Center and Museum and spend some time. I enjoy  looking at the many wonderful and informative exhibits and displays on the local wildlife and habitat. However, I had more bad luck when I learned it closed at 4 p.m.

I had one more chance to see some wildlife a pond on the main road where we always see many species of ducks, including mallards, buffleheads, pintails, ruddy, black ducks and wigeons.

On Saturday I only saw a pair of shoveler  ducks one on the pond .

There was only a large flock of Canada geese ,on the lake,

and some  flying overhead.

I watched the Canada geese enjoying the foggy and wet conditions, hoping the rain would end. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the few birds I saw  on  my  rainy visit to Middle Creek. Middle Creek  birds March 2 2024.

Instead of easing up the the rain came down harder, I was cold and wet and tired (I had walked 6 miles in the rain earlier in the day, and added one more on my hike to Willow Point. I had a dinner reservation at the historic Franklin House  for 6:30 p.m. I know it gets crowded but I called the restaurant to see if I could come in earlier. It was around 5 p.m. and the friendly hostess told me to come right over. I was soon at this former inn and restaurant in Schaefferstown  that dates back to 1746.

I have eaten here a few times before and the food was always delicious. I was one of the first customers when I arrived shortly after 5 p.m. and had the historic old dinning room all to myself, for about 5 minutes. Every seat at every table was soon occupied.

I had a delicious meal starting with a grilled Caesars salad, 

then pecan crusted salmon with rice pilaf and mixed vegetables.

And, after walking over 7 miles I treated myself too a wonderful dessert of cannoli cheesecake. 

It was an enjoyable meal. Even though  I was disappointed in the rainy visit to the Middle Creek Wildlife Preserve I always enjoy this scenic. historic and  quiet part of our Commonwealth. where one encounters horse drawn carriages,

one rural farm roads.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from   my  rainy visit to Middle Creek. Middle Creek   March 2 2024.

I had decided I was going to stay overnight in the area. I had hoped to see some wildlife in the evening , then return to Willow Point at dawn to watch the snow geese leave the lake after sunrise. My evening plans went astray, but the forecast was for clear skies in the morning. I drove to the Holiday Inn in nearby Lebanon  looking forward to the morning magic at Middle Creek.

“I think fine dining is dying out everywhere… but I think there will be – and there has to always be – room for at least a small number of really fine, old-school fine-dining restaurants.”  Anthony Bourdain

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