Sunday, March 23, 2014

Waterfowl and More

Walked in the Big Woods on a pretty morning as a gentle breeze rocked the treetops. High above, the clouds were being pushed rapidly eastward by a wind out of the west-northwest. Below the clouds a steady stream of Canada geese headed north at a very rapid rate – from the speed at which they were traveling, the wind at that elevation must have been from almost due south. Along with the flocks of geese were several flocks of northbound tundra swans. The swans’ calls always seem particularly haunting, speaking of far away places that few of us will ever see.
Several days ago I went to State Game Land #252, created from the old Pennsylvania Ordinance Works where TNT was manufactured for a short time during World War II. Of the roughly 8,000 acres taken for the Ordinance Works, roughly half was eventually transferred to the Pennsylvania Game Commission and became SGL #252, where the flat terrain and poorly drained soils facilitated construction of a number of wetlands. I had gone to the Game Land earlier this week expecting to find a lot of migrating waterfowl in the wetlands, but with one exception they were still covered with solid ice. There the sounds of waterfowl came from behind some thick vegetation, the birds out of sight until they flushed – pintails along with one black duck.
The next day on the river there were more waterfowl: Red-breasted mergansers
Ring-necked ducks –
Including one pair that was fairly close to shore –
Wood ducks –
Buffleheads –
And lesser scaup accompanied by a horned grebe –
Also on the river and on the shore was a large number of ring-billed gulls –

In a riverside tree, the same tree in which the local breeding pair of peregrine falcons has frequently been seen, was an immature peregrine – One fledged from the nearest nest, or a wandering bird looking to establish its own territory? And, is there something particular about that tree that makes it particularly attractive to the falcons? 

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