More Middle Creek Magic: Less Snow Geese But Plenty Of Ducks And A Juvenile Bald Eagle
Last Sunday I drove to the Lebanon Lancaster County line in southeastern Pennsylvania to experience the Middle Creek magic show put on by the migrating snow geese. This weekend I returned, with my brother Mike and his son Mike Jr. It was the 14th straight year we have made the 75 mile drive to the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area to enjoy the show put on by the snow geese.
The weather was almost identical to my visit last week. Clear blue skies and temperatures in the low 20’s. Like my visit last weekend, we arrived in the morning twilight just as the sun was appearing over the lake.
However this week the flock of snow geese had dwindled. Last week there were over 120,000 geese on the lake at dawn. The show was spectacular. This past Sunday there were only about 25,000 snow geese on the lake. The large flocks had rested and moved north on their long journey to the arctic and subarctic regions.
We watched a few flocks take off into the clear blue skies as the newcomers to Willow Point gasped at the awe-inspiring sight, even with the much reduced numbers. Goose watching is fun. They are so graceful in flight.
There were a lot fewer visitors this week too, but still some of the local Amish folks who came on their horse-drawn buggies which they left in the parking lot. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs of the snow geese in the morning. Middle Creek snow geese March 1 2020.
Some years there are flocks of snow geese feeding in the fields, but not this year. We drove to the north side of the lake and spotted some common mergansers, this is a male,
and this beautiful male hooded merganser, on the lake.
What a beautiful sight. I am sure it was looking for a wounded duck or goose on the lake. We watched it soar overhead and hoped to find the parents. But no such luck. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs of this juvenile bald eagle. Middle Creek bald eagle March 1 2020.
We continued our drive along the tour road and came to some small ponds along the road. Some were frozen but others had open water and attracted many species of beautifully colored ducks, including these pretty male red-headed ducks.
I am not a bird or duck expert so I appreciated the help in identifying these beautiful water birds from my brother and nephew. This is a lesser scaup.
We saw a group of northern shoveler ducks on the lake. They were swimming in a circle using their large spoon-shaped bill to filter seeds and small insects and mollusks in the water.
There were a few ring-necked ducks on the pond. They seemed to enjoy mingling with the other species of ducks.
A few black ducks hugged the far shore of the pond.
And finally there were a few of the more common male mallard ducks fighting for the attentions of the only female. Some of the males would engage in skirmishes with the other males while other would pursue the female. Duck watching is fun.
In addition to the eight species of ducks we also saw some more Canada geese, blue herons and a flock of tundra swans. The tundra swans are so graceful and elegant when in flight. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs of the colorful ducks and other birds we observed in the morning. Middle Creek ducks March 1 2020.
After about an hour or two of driving the tour road and observing the colorful ducks we reluctantly had to leave. Although some of the ducks may and Canada geese may remain the snow geese will be gone until next Spring.
Of course we had to stop to eat and made a good choice in deciding on Robert’s diner in Richland. It was good. Here is a link to some more photographs from our journey home. Middle Creek drive home March 1 2020.
“It’s a bird of some sort. It’s like a duck, only I never saw a duck have so many colors.” The bird swam swiftly and gracefully toward the Magic Isle, and as it drew nearer its gorgeously colored plumage astonished them. The feathers were of many hues of glistening greens and blues and purples, and it had a yellow head with a red plume, and pink, white and violet in its tail.”
― The Magic of Oz