An unusually bright and sunny day greeted me in late September in Lancaster county. The sky was so blue and the white so white that it almost hurts my eyes. I’m not used to this here in Pennsylvania. As it was a Sunday, the buggy traffic was out in force, and the field horses were grazing in the fields.
I made two recent trips to Dixon Meadow Preserve in Montgomery County to see a sora (seen) and a yellow crowned night heron (not seen), This Preserve provides some great bird habitat in the suburbs, especially in connection with the adjacent Erdenheim Farm. With its 14 acres rand boardwalk measuring nearly two-thirds of a mile, the Preserve is a haven for birders, walkers and those who simply enjoy the area’s natural beauty
Purchased by the McCausland family in 2009, Erdenheim farm is home to prize winning Cheviot Sheep, Black Angus cattle, and elegant Morgan Horses. Situated on close to 450 acres, Erdenheim Farm remains one of the last sanctuaries of pastoral life within the greater Philadelphia area.
This Winter I traveled to northwestern Chester County in search of a snowy owl and some horned larks. I didn’t find either. However, I did find some pretty farms, interesting buildings and charismatic farm animals along the way.
Adrossan Farms and the Ardrossan Estate were once part of a 800 plus acre estate in Radnor Township, Delaware County. The estate was built by banker Robert Leaming Montgomery and features 50 room Georgian revival mansion designed by architect Horace Trombauer in 1911. Parts of Ardrossan have been subdivided over the years, and now the bulk of the estate is in the process of succumbing to this fate. The play and film The Philadelphia Story was inspired by the stories of the Montgomerys.
Part of the estate was, and still is for now, a working farm with cattle and hay and corn fields. The farm was also was set this section of Radnor Township apart from surrounding suburbia. It made travel along Darby Paoli Road a treat, rather than a chore.
Black vultures have been making their way north in recent years and appear to be here to stay in Pennsylvania. Primarily a resident of the American south and parts of the southwest down into South America, they have been slowly extending their range north. Similar to the larger turkey vulture, they have a black, rather than red, head, and distinctive white patches at the tips of their wings.
They are a species of concern because they are more aggressive than the turkey vulture. They eat carrion, but they will also attack young or infirm live animals. They also can be quite destructive, pulling the seals off of car windows, for example. I witnessed this behavior at the Conowingo Dam Fisherman’s Park a few years ago. A hapless SUV parked off by itself was never going to be the same.
Southerners have learned to adapt and live with this bird, so expect we can too. I would hate to see the turkey vulture displaced, as they are now such a common sight, especially in rural areas. A flock of black vultures can also drive the native turkey vulture off carrion. The vultures photographed here were in southern Chester County.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in a photo tour of Chenoa Manor in Avondale, Pennsylvania and visit with its many wonderful animal residents. Chenoa is an accredited animal sanctuary taking in the neediest of animals with a focus on farm and exotic animals. You can visit the sanctuary by becoming a volunteer, intern or benefactor or by participating in a scheduled workshop or event.
With the help of a guide, our small group was able to enter the pastures for some up close and personal time with the animals. It is clear from the atmosphere that the animals and their welfare are the focus here. You can read more about Chenoa at their website.
It was great to meet some of the animals.
The property is available for events a has some lovely gardens.
I love Fall. Not just because I hate hot weather but because I love all the other things that go with the season – colorful leaves, cozy fabrics, hot beverages, and fairs. I had to check out the Unionville Community Fair in Chester County. The fair was set on a old farm property adjacent to the high school.
It was well worth a visit. It is rare in this area to find a festival with livestock. This aspect makes this fair unique. The lamas and goats were adorable. There was an opportunity for kids to get to milk a goat. I just wish there had been more dairy cows in the large tent.
There were the usual fair food trucks, vendors, and activities for the kids. Polish food followed by funnel cake is a win in my book any day. While I was eating, the kids participated in a sing a long with Elsa from “Frozen.” I also bought some awesome local honey at one of the vendors. I don’t don’t normally love honey, but this stuff was great.