Tag Archives: Branta canadensis

Cackling Goose at Shenango Reservoir

This morning I finally ventured outside of Grove City to do a bit of exploring in Mercer County. I had a few spots in mind to visit, including Buhl Park and Shenango Reservoir. A short, cold stop at Buhl Park (eBird Checklist) yielded a number of Canada Geese and Mallards along with a lone Mute Swan and female Green-winged Teal.

Buhl Park in Hermitage, PA on January 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Buhl Park in Hermitage, PA on January 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

I then drove to Shenango Reservoir (eBird Checklist) to check for ducks and geese using open water. I arrived to find most of the reservoir to be frozen, but Mallards and Hooded Mergansers were taking advantage of the “small” opening in the water.

Hooded Mergansers at Shenango Reservoir, Mercer County, PA on January 5, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60x85 & Phone Skope Adapter.

Hooded Mergansers at Shenango Reservoir, Mercer County, PA on January 5, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter.

I drove along the reservoir with little success at finding any more open water. Just as I was about to leave, I noticed a decent-sized flock of geese off Rt. 846. I found an open parking lot and, fortunately, a trail leading to the edge of the reservoir with a clear line of sight to the flock. Most of the birds were sleeping, but would occasionally lift their heads. I counted 258 Canada Geese and managed to pick out one Cackling Goose (eBird Checklist). Although distant, I was able to get photos and video using my iPhone 6 Plus and Phone Skope Adapter.

Cackling Goose at Shenango Reservoir, Mercer County, PA on January 5, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60x85 & Phone Skope Adapter.

Cackling Goose at Shenango Reservoir, Mercer County, PA on January 5, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter.

Wordless Wednesday – December 23, 2015

Bellevue State Park - Tim Schreckengost - 22880559625_e19f3c9afc_k

Wordless Wednesday - wordless2

December Highlights – A Glorious Day of Birding in New Castle County

The plan for the day was to check out the Ashton Tract of Augustine Wildlife Area and then to chum for gulls at Augustine Beach. That all changed when Alan Kneidel, Tim Frieday, and I crossed Reedy Point Bridge to find a large flock of geese in a corn stubble field. Every time we see a flock of geese, we have to check it out. It’s like a game of “Where’s Waldo.” There is usually a “waldo” in the flock, but it may take some time to find it. Anyway, we searched and scanned, but came up empty on the goose front. We did, however, hear two Sandhill Cranes calling from somewhere within or around Thousand Acre Marsh!

Canada Geese at C&D Canal Wildlife Area on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Canada Geese at C&D Canal Wildlife Area on December 12, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

The effort was not “empty,” and actually paid off as we discovered the landbird activity was phenomenal in the thickets adjacent to the road, which was part of the C&D Canal Wildlife Area (eBird Checklist). Along the edge, we encountered a number of uncommon birds for December, including Eastern Phoebe, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Gray Catbird, Fox Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, and Baltimore Oriole.

We worked the roadside thickets for a while, then proceeded down a trail that lead to what we call “The Salina.”

C&D Canal Wildlife Area on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

C&D Canal Wildlife Area on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

We pushed birds the entire length of the trail, encountering Ruby-crowned Kinglet and many, many White-throated, Song, and Savannah Sparrows. Brown Thrasher and White-crowned Sparrow were also good ticks.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet at C&D Canal Wildlife Area on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet at C&D Canal Wildlife Area on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

At the end of that trail, we stumbled upon a massive mixed-species flock of sparrows. Mixed in were a handful of American Tree and White-crowned Sparrows (uncommon for the most part in the state), numerous White-throated and Song, and a bunch of Savannah Sparrows.

American Tree Sparrow at C&D Canal Wildlife Area on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

American Tree Sparrow at C&D Canal Wildlife Area on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

We progressed towards the Delaware River, picking through the flock of sparrows. Eventually, the flock dissipated, allowing us to make a run for the river with few(er) distractions.

C&D Canal Wildlife Area on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

C&D Canal Wildlife Area on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

At the river, Alan picked out a Great Cormorant (uncommon in the county) flying upriver and a Marsh Wren sounded off. There was no waterbird movement on the river and landbird activity slowed dramatically on the walk back, so we decided to move on to the next location.

Alan and Tim Frieday scanning the Delaware River at C&D Canal Wildlife Area on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Alan and Tim Frieday scanning the Delaware River at C&D Canal Wildlife Area on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Our next stop was the Ashton Tract of Augustine Wildlife Area (eBird Checklist). Our primary goal here was to study the continuing Glossy Ibis and tick the immature Little Blue Herons that have been hanging around. Alan immediately found the ibis and the herons, which fortunately were close enough for a thorough study session.

Little Blue Herons at Ashton Tract (Augustine Wildlife Area) on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Little Blue Herons at Ashton Tract (Augustine Wildlife Area) on December 12, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Glossy Ibis at Ashton Tract (Augustine Wildlife Area) on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Glossy Ibis at Ashton Tract (Augustine Wildlife Area) on December 12, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Otherwise, Ashton Tract was relatively slow, but we did manage a few new waterbird species for the day, including Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, and American Coot.

American Coots at Ashton Tract (Augustine Wildlife Area) on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

American Coots at Ashton Tract (Augustine Wildlife Area) on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Augustine Beach was next (eBird Checklist). We were extremely pumped to bird at Augustine Beach because we planned on chumming for gulls. We had a trash bag full of freshly-popped popcorn, saltines, and a variety of other goodies. While we roped in almost 200 Ring-billed Gulls, most other species weren’t interested.

Ring-billed Gull at Augustine Beach on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Ring-billed Gull at Augustine Beach on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Ring-billed Gull at Augustine Beach on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Ring-billed Gull at Augustine Beach on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

After nearly 45 minutes of chumming, we drug in a few other species, including Herring, Great Black-backed, and Laughing Gull.

Herring Gull at Augustine Beach on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Herring Gull at Augustine Beach on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Great Black-backed Gull at Augustine Beach on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Great Black-backed Gull at Augustine Beach on December 12, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Laughing Gull at Augustine Beach on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Laughing Gull at Augustine Beach on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Tim (the other Tim) managed to pick out a female-type Black Scoter sitting on the water at a distance. We later saw the same bird flying upriver towards Delaware City.

Augustine Beach was supposed to be our last stop, but we made a last minute decision to check on the continuing Red-headed Woodpeckers at Lums Pond State Park (eBird Checklist). Before we could make it into the park, we found another flock of geese. Of course, we had to spend a few minutes picking through it, but were unable to turn up anything notable.

We then made our way to Area 1, where the woodpeckers have been seen almost daily for a couple of weeks now. The beach at Area 1 is a great place to scan the pond, but today the water was void of avian life.

Lums Pond State Park on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Lums Pond State Park on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

As we were scanning the pond, we heard one Red-headed Woodpecker. The bird was very active, which made documenting difficult. I did manage a few video clips, in which I grabbed this still shot from.

Red-headed Woodpecker at Lums Pond State Park on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Red-headed Woodpecker at Lums Pond State Park on December 12, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

As the bird above was foraging and caching, we heard another bird call behind us. We were able to track this bird down, which was gorgeous in its own right as it had an almost complete, red head.

Red-headed Woodpecker at Lums Pond State Park on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Red-headed Woodpecker at Lums Pond State Park on December 12, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

We watched the two woodpeckers for a while and as we were doing so, a number of other birds joined in a flock-like fashion, including Red-bellied, Downy, and Hairy Woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Dark-eyed Junco, Eastern Bluebird, and more. On the way out, we were graced by the presence of this beautiful Merlin.

Merlin at Lums Pond State Park on December 12, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Merlin at Lums Pond State Park on December 12, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Overall, this ended up being one of my all-time favorite days of birding in Delaware. Unfortunately, this may have been my last day of birding in the First State as I am leaving the state on Tuesday. My wife and I are moving to Grove City, PA, where we’ll start the next “chapter” (more on that later).