Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pennsylvania Memorial Day Birding Weekend 2017

It's our annual tradition to spend the Memorial Day weekend camping/birding in Pennsylvania's great outdoors. Spring migration is gradually dying down so it's a perfect time to visit birds in their breeding grounds in Pennsylvania's state parks.

MAY 27, 2017

Our first stop was McDade Trail in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, an area known for breeding Cerulean Warblers. A Cerulean Warbler is a small songbird, as the name suggests, whose upper body is covered in beautiful pale cerulean blue with white patches. It is usually difficult to spot as it likes to stay on top of tall forest trees. Unfortunately, due to habitat destruction, the population of this little migratory songbird has declined by staggering 70 percent in the last 40 years, making it one of the most threatened wood warbler species in the country. You can read more about Cerulean Warblers and its recovery effort at the American Birding Association's site.

As soon as we got out of the car, we were inundated with the wonderful buzzy sounds of CERULEAN WARBLER songs. They were literally everywhere and it was hard to contain our excitement.

After spending good amount of time admiring our main attraction, we proceeded to explore the rest of the trail which was filled with many exciting avian species. We saw gorgeous WORM EATING WARBLERS, BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, HOODED WARBLERBLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, YELLOW WARBLERs, AMERICAN REDSTARTs, YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, VEERYBLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERsRED-EYED VIREOs, ROSE-BREATED GROSBEAKs, GRAY CATBIRDs and NORTHERN CARDINALs.

After the very satisfying birding hours at McDade Trail, we were on our way to Frances Slocum State Park where we will be camping for the next two nights. We'd been so busy birding that we had not had a chance to eat so we decided to grab a quick bite at a local cafe, KB's Coffeehouse, in Shavertown. By sheer luck, MOURNING DOVEs were nesting right on their front porch and we got to see two scrawny baby doves.

With our bellies full and re-energized, we arrived at Frances Slocum State Park and immediately proceeded to bird around the park. Though the park was filled with birds, they were mostly the usual suspects (YELLOW WARBLERs, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDs, EASTERN BLUEBIRDs, CEDAR WAXWINGs, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERs, CHIPPING SPARROWsSONG SPARROWs, GRAY CATBIRDs and AMERICAN ROBINs) so our plan for tomorrow is to visit Ricketts Glen State Park where we know for sure we could find breeding Prairie Warblers.

MAY 28, 2017

There is no better feeling than being woken up by the sound of Wood Thrushes. They were the last ones to be heard late last night and the first ones to start our day. We say Americans work hard but how about them Wood Thrushes! Thanks to the hard-working Wood Thrushes, we were up before 6am and shortly after headed to the Hayfield area in Ricketts Glen State Park 30 miles away. Just like the Ceruleans at McDade Trail, we heard PRAIRIE WARBLERs singing as soon as we got out of the car. Unlike the Ceruleans, Prairie Warblers generally like to hang out in shrubby areas with low trees so one would think it would be easy to spot them, especially when they are singing their hearts out. Well not so fast. It took us good half an hour of searching to finally take a good look at one and boy was the wait worth it!


Our next stop was State Game Lands 57 adjacent to Ricketts Glen State Park. We always had good luck there with BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLERs as well as CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERs and this year was no exception. We also saw ALDER FLYCATCHERs, LEAST FLYCATCHERs, EASTERN PHOEBEs, YELLOW WARBLERs, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDs, CEDAR WAXWINGs and ,as an added bonus, a BEAVER swimming in the lake,

We had been birding for almost 7 hours non-stop and it was time for our late lunch. We stopped by Strevig's Family Restaurant in Benton for a satisfying meal then headed back to Frances Slocum State Park. We even managed to play some tennis at Dallas Sr High School. We ended this wonderful day with nice campfire in the spirit of Memorial Day.

MAY 29, 2017

Instead of waking up to the lovely calls of Wood Thrushes, we were woken up by the sound of rain drops hitting our tent this morning. As you can imagine, it's much harder to bird in the rain, as most birds seek refuge under the trees and stay inactive. The forecast was to rain all day so under the circumstance, we decided to go for quality over quantity and to visit McDade Trail once again for more Ceruleans. Expectedly, it was much harder than 2 days ago to find any birds but we miraculously managed to get best-ever looks of Cerulean Warblers. What do we always say? 'Perseverance is king' or was it more like 'the luck of the Irish'!

No comments:

Post a Comment