Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Our annual Poconos girls’ weekend occurred in July this year. On short notice, my friend was able to find a great weekly rental at Lake Naomi. I also take this time to do some exploring around the Poconos. I set out to view some lake communities I hadn’t visited before. I will leave the rest of the weekend to your imagination.

The most photogenic was the Emerald Lakes area.
Boats lined up near a swimming beach.
A nice private dock in need of a boat.
This looks like a great family day out.
A deer came out to say hello.
The clubhouse beach at Stillwater Lake has seen better days. The waterfowl have taken over.
Something different: Checking out the shooting range at State Game Lands 127.

A Lake and a Pond

Prompton State Park and the Varden Conservation Area are located near each other in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Wayne County. Prompton State Park provides boat launching and picnicking facilities for the 290-acre Prompton Lake, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There are twenty-six miles of hiking trails which surround the lake and a disc golf course.

Morning mists on Prompton Lake ….
A little disc golf by the lake.
A view of the substantial dam.
The west branch of Lackawanna Creek.
Half mast for Memorial Day.

A gift from veterinarian Dr. Mead Shaffer, the 444-acre Varden Conservation Area is in an area that was once a remote section of the state, but which is now beginning to feel pressure from development. The land is conserved as open space with opportunities for low impact recreation and educational use. It is a great place to learn about Pennsylvania’s natural history. There is picnicking by and fishing in the pond. There is also hiking in the two tracts which constitute this conservation area. I visited the Tannery Road Tract.

The lovely pond can be used for fishing.
Morning mists on an unseasonably cool day.
Beautiful irises are indicative of the seasonal flora of this area.

Once More Into Delaware

April and May are prime times for birding at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware. The weather was beautiful on a recent trip. Here are a few photos of what I saw.

This egret had the Beaver Pond to itself.
Two avocets at cross purposes.
Looking like a school master with errant pupils – great and snowy egrets.
A relaxing bask in Finnis Pool.
A beautiful redbud in bloom.
Finally, the worst picture of the cutest pied billed grebe ever.

A Little Piece of Paradise

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.

A view of Dixon Meadow Preserve,
A stream wanders through the Preserve and under the boardwalk.
Redbud in bloom.
Erdenheim Farm Black Angus at twilight.

Pennsylvania’s Fruit Basket

Western Adams County, along the slopes of South Mountain, hosts a large number of orchards. I was on my way to Gettysburg from Pine Grove Furnace and happened on this area by chance. It was a nice surprise.

A look down a row of new trees.
A mature orchard,
I loved this farm peeking out from behind the pond.

I had to visit the Historic Round Barn and Farm Market in Biglerville, PA. The family-owned market has fresh fruits and vegetables, jams, jellies, honey, canned fruits and vegetables, snacks, candy, and gift items. It is well worth a visit if you are near Gettysburg.

A very interesting building and well-maintained.
A signature painted horse out front.
Some adorable residents.

The Harbingers of Spring

Some people identify the American robin with the coming of Spring. For me, it’s the late winter passing of hordes of snow geese through Pennsylvania that foretells of Spring right around the corner. In late February, hundreds of thousands of snow geese can be present at the same time at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster and Lebanon Counties. I didn’t make it to Middle Creek this year, opting instead to view geese, along with some other rarer species, that had been reported at Woods Edge Park in Lancaster County.

You may remember Woods Edge Park as they place I went to view the black-bellied whistling duck. This time around, a pink-footed goose, Ross’s goose, cackling goose and Virginia rail had been reported at the pond in the park. These are all species I had never seen before. By the time I arrived the next Saturday, large numbers of snow geese were present. I was able to see the Ross’s goose and the cackling goose, but not the pink-footed or the rail. Still, two “lifers” in one day is pretty good.

There was a steady stream of birders through the park that day. None that I spoke to had success spotting the rare pink-footed goose. I did learn how to identify two other species of goose and something new about the snow goose.

This is a Ross’s goose. Note how it looks like a small snow goose with a shorter bill.
Here’s a cackling goose. This one looks like a smaller Canada goose with shorter neck and bill.
Some snow geese – the “blue morph” snow goose is in front. Behind is an adult white snow goose and a juvenile in the rear. I did not realize the blue morph existed.
Are you talking about me?
Lots ‘o geese.
A partial view of the throng.

A nice, short and sweet day out. This location seems pretty productive for birding despite its small size. I will probably be back again at some point.

The Remains of Ardrossan Farms

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.

One of the barns on the property.
Still harvesting hay.
“Progress”
Afternoon light on harvested hay.
A woodpile left to dry.
A pair of redtail hawks enjoys the view.
A small shed nestled against the woods.
Very traditional looking farm equipment.
Corn not yet harvested in November.
Cattle call along Darby Paoli Road.
Grazing peacefully.
Sunset glow on the cattle.
This is a beautiful little pond.

The Roaring Creek Trail … by Car

Sunday, October 13 saw the return of the annual Roaring Creek Trail drive through. The drive through is a unique opportunity to drive on the Roaring Creek Trail in the Weiser State Forest. This multi-use trail is normally restricted to vehicle traffic. The drive-through began at 9:00 AM, starting at the Route 42 parking lot gate. The gate was open until 2:00 PM.  Traffic was restricted to one-way travel on the 8-mile Roaring Creek Trail and exited at the Route 54 parking lot gate.  All vehicles had to exit by 3:00 PM.  Passenger vehicles only (cars, pick-up trucks, SUVs, passenger vans, motorcycles) were permitted to enter.  Enter the trail in Columbia County and leave in Northumberland County.

Kline’s Reservoir at the Route 42 side of the trail.

The Roaring Creek Tract features three large reservoirs currently maintained by Aqua PA. The reservoirs are in a valley surrounded by steep hillsides. The surrounding area is state forest land. Boating is permitted in two of the reservoirs. Fishing is also permitted, and the trail is very popular with hikers and cyclists.

This event was very popular, and traffic proceeded very slowly along the trail, which is actually a very well maintained gravel road. With so much vehicular traffic, it was unlikely you were going to see much wildlife. It was a lovely drive nonetheless. The leaves were probably a week or two short of their best color, due to lingering warm weather in September. There were places along the route to stop for a picnic.

My view for much of the trip.
A peak at the larger McWilliams Reservoir through the trees.
A good day for a family fishing trip.
You could stop along the way for a picnic.

There was a pavilion at McWilliams Picnic Area that could be used for a stop. Boat moorings and a boat launch are available here as well. There were also restrooms and parking in this area for the day.

Portage your boat into the McWilliams Reservoir.
A walk along the lake.
Smokey the Bear made a very conspicuous appearance.
Because one photo of a giant inflatable bear isn’t enough.

More information about the Roaring Creek Tract is here.

Goodbye to the Roaring Creek Trail.

In Search of the Black-bellied Whistling Duck

I recently traveled into Lancaster County to check out reports of the presence of the black-bellied whistling duck. This duck species is generally found in the southern United States and rarely comes into Pennsylvania. However, this summer these ducks seem to be making an appearance in the northeast.

The birds were reported as continuing at Woods Edge Park. When I initially arrived, I couldn’t spot them. Thank goodness for the arrival of some more experienced bird watchers with spotting scopes. The birds were soon easily spotted.

Here is a picture of our quarry:

The elusive black=bellied whistling duck, the star of our show.

I also checked out some of the other wildlife. I, of course, missed the photo of the osprey diving for its lunch. There were some heron opportunities.

Great blue heron. I also missed the shot with a fish in its beak.

There were lots of turtles around the pond.

This one is relaxing solo.
Some prefer a Spring break atmosphere for sunbathing.
This one just seems lost. Maybe it is looking for the ducks.

Woods Edge Park is a lovely compact park and makes a great place for a picnic or a spot of bird watching if you’re ever in Lancaster County.

The pond at Woods Edge Park.
The lovely marshy area opposite the pond.

Like the Spring, I Have Returned

This weekend, I set off to Chester Springs to check out some garden centers in hopes of finding some aquatic plants for a container water garden I have on my balcony. I found a Louisiana iris and spearwort plant to add to the equisetum (horsetail reed) and water hyacinth I already have.

Here’s how it looks so far:

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-17,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y,E-ver:20190214.5310204.002.000

It doesn’t look like much now, but it should fill in nicely. I will try to keep you updated about my little water garden. The sponges are an experiment to see if birds will use them as landing pads to take drink. I hope to add some fish when the water warms up.

While I was out, I ran across the charming Chester Springs Creamery at Milky Way Farm. They make delicious ice cream. Here is an impromptu panorama of part of the property:

The lovely property at Chester Springs Creamery at Milky Way Farm.