Snow Geese, Tundra Swans And Ducks: The Magic Of Middle Creek.
It is a little late this year, but every late February or early March, it is time for our annual drive to Middle Creek to observe the migration of the snow geese. These birds stop at the man made lakes of Middle Creek to rest and feed on their annual migration to the Arctic tundra of northern Canada and Greenland where they breed.
Middle Creek is located on the border of Lebanon and Lancaster counties in southern Pennsylvania. My brother Mike, nephew Mikey and I left around 4;45 a.m. to arrive before the sunrise. We weren’t the only ones who come to see the snow geese. The parking lot at the observation area was full and cars lined the highway.
We parked along the crowded highway and walked the half mile path to the observation area along the lake.
The eastern skies turned orange in anticipation of the sunrise. The snow geese could be seen resting on the waters of the lake.
It was cold, one of the coldest mornings we have experienced , with temperatures in the low 20’s when we joined the crowd of visitors who came to see this spectacular gathering of snow geese. It was probably the largest gathering of people since we started coming here 15 years ago.
Everyone was there waiting for that magical moment, usually just after sunrise, when the tens of thousands of snow geese leave the lake and take to the skies.
And, it came, as it always does, that magical moment when the skies are filled with snow geese.
The honking and flapping of their wings echo across the lake.
Some leave the lake to find food in the surrounding corn fields,
and others just stretch their wings, and return to continue their rest on the safe waters of the lake.
Snow geese mate for life so the travel with their mates back to the ponds, shallow lakes and coastal salt marshes of the Arctic tundra.
Snow geese are white with black wingtips.
There are, however, morphs or “blue” snow geese which have a white head but a brownish/bluish body, as seen in this photograph .
We watched a number of large flocks take to the skies, as other circled and returned to the lake.
The crowd dwindled after the first few flight of bird left the lake. It was cold and so we also decided to leave earlier than we usually do.
Most of the lake was still frozen so we didn’t see the many ducks and other water birds that also visit this area during the Spring migration, just snow geese, and
some tundra swans on areas of the open waters on the lake. These large birds also migrate from the Chesapeake Bay to the remote areas of the arctic regions of Canada where they nest.
We saw flocks of these graceful birds,
flying overhead as we walked back to our car.
The loop road around the lake was open and here we saw some red-winged blackbirds in the fields.
However because of the snow cover and cold temperatures we did not see any snow geese or other birds in the fields that surrounded the lake.
It clouded up as we drove around the lake.
When we returned to the main road along the breast of the dam we found it frozen. We usual see ducks and blue herons here. Many of the other small ponds also were covered in ice. We still saw some migrating ducks on the ponds that had open water, such as these American black ducks ,
this shoveler duck,
these lesser scaups and
There were also a lot of Canada geese on the lakes with the snow geese. Some ventured off onto the surrounding ponds. It was estimated there were 0ver 80;000 snow geese on the lake during our visit. And a couple thousand Canada geese.
We usually stop at the visitor center. This building has many informative exhibits about Middle Creek, the snow geese migration and the other wildlife that resides in the area. Unfortunately it was closed due to COVID-19. Since it was cold and there weren’t many ducks and other birds on the ponds and in the fields we decided to head home.
It was a scenic drive on the country roads back to our home in Luzerne County, about 70 miles north of Middle Creek. I look forward to this ride every year. It has been a very mild week this week in Pennsylvania. If the snow geese are still there I may visit Middle Creek again this weekend. Watching the large flocks of geese never gets old. Here is a link to a gallery of more photographs of the snow geese and other birds I saw our visit. Middle Creek migration March 7 2021.
“The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.” Laozi
I had a very nice visit at Middle Creek just a few days ago. (3-12-21) The weather was fantastic. It was the first time I had gone there. I live near Morgantown, PA. It was a nice country drive on rt 897. I took a few photos with my little digital camera and walked down to the lake. There were a lot of people and geese.
I love Middle Creek The snow geese migration is magical