Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tioga County Birding:
The Turkey Vultures of Colton Point

So, about birding today. After feeding the cats and picking up the mail at the post office, I headed west down Route 6. The weather just drew me out of the house and into the field. (Although I could have stayed home to rake the yard and turn over one of the garden beds. Nah. No fun in that!)

I planned to head up to Colton Point State Park on the west side of the Grand Canyon of PA (aka Pine Creek Gorge). The sun hits that side of the gorge first and I was hoping to catch some Turkey Vultures soaring right in front of me. This (and Leonard Harris State Park on the opposite side of the gorge) is a great place to go birding. Later in the spring there will be hordes of warblers and other song birds making a stop here for a day or two. Get the time right and you can have a ball getting a crick in your neck! This is also a great place to look down on Turkey Vultures. Often they begin to soar right off the steep slopes of the gorge and you can watch them gain altitude until they are at eye level and then above your head.

They didn't disappoint me today. At first there didn't seem to be any activity but then the hemlock branches down the slope from the lookout point shook and two vultures launched themselves into the air. They were having a difficult time with the lack of an updraft and had to flap their wings often--something a Turkey Vulture seldom does. They even gave up at one point and landed in the trees again, but not in a spot where I could get a good photo of them.

I snapped a couple of dozen photos before they and I opted to move on. Here are some of the best:

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

There wasn't much else happening at Colton Point. Looking down toward Pine Creek I saw some Common Mergansers fly up river. Along the paved road to the point I saw American Robins, Blue Jays, Dark-eyed Juncos and White-breasted Nuthatches. But that was it. In late April or May a list of twenty species will be a disappointment. But today it would have been a God-send. So I moved on to other sites in search of birds.

1 comment:

JDP said...

Great photos of an ugly bird!