Only A Few Snow Geese, And People, On Another Rainy Saturday Visit To Middle Creek

Only A Few Snow Geese, And People, On Another Rainy Saturday Visit To Middle Creek

Middle Creek (11 of 41)
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I returned to the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster and Lebanon Counties last Saturday. This time I drove down from my home in Luzerne County with my brother Mike and my nephew Mikey. We have been visiting Middle Creek to see  the migrating snow geese for the last  18 years. We have experienced all kind of weather conditions in those 18 years. It was cloudy Saturday and the forecast was for rain later in the day.

We knew their wouldn’t be a lot of snow geese this year.  It was one of the warmest February’s on record. Most of the snow geese had  migrated north already. But you never know so we made the trip, It was cloudy when we arrived at the Willow Point parking lot  just around sunrise. And the parking lot was almost empty, very unusual for our visits. Most years the parking lot is full and we have to park along the road.

We were the only ones walking on the 1/2 mile paved trail to Willow Point.

As we approached the lake we heard the roar of a flock of snow geese and saw them leaving the lake through the trees. It was the only flock on the lake and we missed there magical flight from the lake. The usual wait for until  after the sunrise but not this year. We saw only a few of the geese flying overhead.

We walked to the lake and discovered it wasn’t only the snow geese that were missing. The viewing area was almost deserted. Only one Amish family and a few other photographers were huddled under the pavilion since a light rain began to fall.

There were just a few snow geese on the water and a few feeding on the grass in the fields along the shore of the lake.

It was disappointing to not see the snow geese but the Middle Creek and surrounding wildlife management area also attract many species of migrating ducks and other water fowl. We saw a few common mergansers swimming on the lake, this is a female. There were also some great blue herons,

and a few flocks of Canada geese flew overhead.

And we saw a few juvenile bald eagles fly overhead. It was difficult getting photos in the cloudy c0nditions. 

A song sparrow was singing on a branch along the lake. Some of these sparrows migrate short distances but most remain in  Pennsylvania year round.

I had left my iPhone in the car so I walked back to the parking lot to get it. On the way I saw a few male red-winged blackbirds filling the cloudy morning air with their unmistakable raspy songs. Like the song sparrows some remain in Pennsylvania in the Winter but many migrate south, and return in large flocks in the Spring.

It was a dreary morning with an occasional drizzle and raw easterly wind.  The fields  were brown and drab with the withered remains of last years wildflowers.

But I  noticed the red maple trees and the buds that were emerging a sure sign Spring was approaching.

Near the parking lot I saw a few eastern bluebirds perched in some more red maple trees,

and, like me not looking too happy in the windy and wet  weather.

I walked back to Willow Point seeing a few ,white throated sparrows

and this gray squirrel on the way.

When I returned to Willow Point I found that  the small group of people had left and only my brother and nephew remained.

It was so different to see the pavilion deserted. Some years there are hundreds of  people crowded  under the pavilion and the surrounding viewing area.

Although we had the viewing area all to ourselves there wasn’t much to view on the cool, wet and dreary morning. The snow geese were gone, there were none of the usual tundra swans and only a few more Canada geese and common merganser ducks. My brother and nephew told me I missed a bald eagle diving and capturing a fish while I was gone. They tried to figure out how to use the viewing stands before deciding to head back to the parking lot.

On the way we saw a few more birds including this male northern cardinal,

a white breasted nuthatch,

trying to fly with a large acorn,

a downy woodpecker, and

a few American robins,

A light rain started to fall as we neared the parking lot. We decided to take the  four mile Wildlife Drive through the surrounding woodlands and fields.

There wasn’t much wildlife on this rainy Saturday morning. We often see hawks, bald eagles and many other birds on the drive.

This year all we saw were  some red-winged crows singing in the rain  in the fields

As we neared the end of the drive we saw four juvenile bald eagles that flew onto the branches of a tree in the distance, to far to get and photos.  The road took us back to the lack and the outflow dam, where we saw a few common mergansers and this great blue heron.

The Wildlife Drive ended and we were back on the main highway. We drove back toward the Willow Point parking lot but first stopped along the lake where we saw some ruddy ducks on the water,

and one hooded merganser.

and another juvenile bald eagle fly overhead.

We next drove to a pond  across from the lake.  We almost always see some migrating ducks on this pond. .First, we looked at the lake and saw some American black ducks swimming on the water,

and on the pond there were about a dozen northern  shoveler ducks swimming in the light rain.

These long distance migrants use their bills to filter out and feed on aquatic invertebrates and seeds in the water. It was nice to see tis long distance visitors but they were the only ducks on the pond.   

I had hoped to see more species of ducks but they just weren’t around this year.  A light rain was falling so we drove to the Visitor Center/Museum.

My brother and nephew went inside  to see the exhibits but I wanted to take a quick walk on the Conservation Trail and look for more birds and wildlife.

I followed the trail for about a 1/2 mile in a light rain.

The trail followed an old hedgerow where I saw some intermediate wood ferns,

and garlic mustard  growing along the trail.

When I was out about a 1/2 mile it started pouring rain , so I quickly walked back to the Visitor Center/Museum, but I was still drenched. .

There are many displays and exhibits here which I had di8scussed in previous blogs( you can find them using the search tool below)

and  there are bird feeders out front . I was able to get a photos of one last red-winged blackbird on our visit to Middle Creek, Here is a link to a gallery with some  more photos of the birds I saw on my visit to Middle Creek. Middle Creek birds March 9 2024.

There was also a new, informative exhibit,

on the history of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.  After a quick look at the exhibit we decided to end our annual visit to Middle Creek early.  It was still raining and so we decided to head home stopping on the way at the Country Fare Restaurant in Myerstown for our traditional Amish breakfast. It was delicious and the portions are always generous. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my visit to Middle Creek. Middle Creek  March 9 2024.

Although we only saw a few snow geese this year it was still a great visit. Even in the rain we saw some bald eagles, migrating ducks and some year long resident birds. The Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area is an oasis for our migrating water fowl and is a wonderful place to see nature. I never have visited during the Spring song bird migration but I plan to do so this year. I am sure I won’t be disappointed.

“To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

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