PA in April

Last April vacation my family took an amazing trip to Florida, where I saw birds such as Swainson’s Warbler, Crested Caracara, and Wilson’s Plover.  Unfortunately, this year our venture was not as far, nor as birdy- we spent a few days on my uncle’s lake house in Harvey’s Lake, PA.  This is in north-central Penn.  The birding was slow, as expected – spring had only barely started to creep in. I’m  back on the CT coastline, and there is far more spring color and vegetation here.

Nevertheless, the days on the lake we’re spent really learning the birds that we’re present.  And birds we’re around – Common Loon, American Coot, Horned Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Wood Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Spotted Sandpiper and 3 species of swallow- Barn, Tree, and Northern Rough-winged were all there in numbers.  Most of the birds were in breeding plumage and courting, most obviously the Loons, which were decked out in their gorgeous breeding plumage and calling, that ghostly sound of the wilderness.  However, the lake is mostly developed, so wilderness it was not.

We took two great hikes during our time in PA, a circumnavigation of the lake at Frances Slocum State Park, and the 7.2 mile, strenuous, Falls Trail at Rickett’s Glen State Park.  The Falls Trail meanders through 21 spectacular waterfalls along its length, the highest being the 94 foot Ganoga Falls.  The hike was spectacular, only coming second to hikes done in Yellowstone and Grand-teton National Parks.  At this time of year, in this area, songbirds had barely began to trickle in, so both woodland hikes were not very birdy, but I picked up  year birds at both- Bald Eagle and Chipping Sparrow at Slocum and American Kestrel at Rickett’s.

Common Loons on Harvey's Lake

Common Loons on Harvey’s Lake

The resident flock of Coots on the lake.  In total, the flock included about 60 birds who stayed in an area with lots of submerged vegetation.

The resident flock of Coots on the lake. In total, the flock included about 60 birds who stayed in an area with lots of submerged vegetation.

Bald Eagle, seen through the trees, at Frances Slocum State Park, PA.

Bald Eagle, seen through the trees, at Frances Slocum State Park, PA.

Crayfish sp. flipped from a stream at Frances Slocum.

Crayfish sp. flipped from a stream at Frances Slocum.

A tiny snippet of one of the waterfalls at Rickett's Glen.

A tiny snippet of one of the waterfalls at Rickett’s Glen.

A pair of Common Mergansers on Lake Jean, in Rickett's Glen State Park

A pair of Common Mergansers on Lake Jean, in Rickett’s Glen State Park

An Eastern Garter Snake at Rickett's.  The temperature stayed in the 50's all throughout our trip, so this was the only snake we saw, unfortunately.  It was really sluggish too.

An Eastern Garter Snake at Rickett’s. The temperature stayed in the 50’s all throughout our trip, so this was the only snake we saw, unfortunately. It was really sluggish too.

Not exactly Florida, :P, but still a fun trip in a really nice area of PA.  Now, for some migration!

– Brendan

 

 

 

 

 

 

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