My first stop on Wednesday, April 2nd, was at the Hammond-Tioga Lakes overlook in Tioga, PA. Hammond Lake was still heavily iced up but there was some open water on both sides of the connecting weir. As I stood at the overlook, I saw numerous immature and mature Bald Eagles flying overhead but getting a good photo of them was nearly impossible. There were a few Common Mergansers, Horned Grebes, Canada Geese and Ring-necked Ducks on the water far below, but, again, the 300mm lens just wasn't enough.
One bird that I was pleased to see, was an Osprey. It was perched on the nesting pole along the drive up to the overlook. I managed to get a couple of decent pictures from the road. While I was at the overlook, two of these birds flew overhead, so it's likely they will be breeding on that pole this spring.
Osprey on nesting pole.
From the overlook, I drove to the west end of Hammond Lake and the Ive's Run day use area where Crooked Creek flows into the lake. The ice was pushed back a bit and the creek was completely clear of ice. Dozens of Red-Winged Blackbirds, Canada Geese and Mallards were taking advantage of the open, but quite high water. All the Mallards flushed and left for more distant waters before I could get a photo. The Geese and Red-wings stuck around to scold the hell out of me.
Canada Geese on Crooked Creek
Red-winged Blackbird lets me know it is not pleased with my presence.
The grassy areas around the parking lot played host to Grackles and Robins searching for worms and the shrubs served as perches to Song Sparrows which seemed to be every 10 feet or so apart. The large rock near the boat ramp provided a warm place fr a pair of Killdeer to do their courting.
Killdeer at the Ive's Run day use area.
Hopefully they will find a more level site on which to lay their eggs.
My final stop of the day was at Hills Creek State Park. The Audubon Society bird walks were to begin on Saturday the fifth and I wanted to do a little scouting. The entire northeast side of the lake (viewed from the beach area) was still ice covered but there was a sizable open area in front of the beach and around to the southwest. And there were quite a few different species of water fowl taking advantage of that open water.
There were Mallards and Ring-necked Ducks...
Male Mallard and both male and female Ring-necked Ducks.
Male and female Ring-necked Ducks. The ring on the bill is easier to spot
than the "ring" (actually more a dirty collar) on the neck.
...many Horned Grebes with the males sporting their yellow-gold sideburns...
...Canada Geese and Red-necked Grebes.
Canada Goose and three Red-necked Grebes.
I had some trouble IDing the grebes because, well, their necks just didn't seem red enough. But, unbeknownst to me at the time, a couple of birding friends were out that same day on the other side of the lake nearer to these birds and they said they were Red-necked Grebes. Upon reviewing the photographic evidence--their's and mine--I could see that we were looking at the same birds and that they were, indeed, Red-necked Grebes.
eBird will tell you that the Red-necked Grebe is an unusual sighting for this particular place and/or time but talking things over with my friends they say they appear in this area almost every year as they migrate northward. I suppose they follow the Chesapeake Bay to its northern end and then cut north heading for either Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence or points north.
With that Hills Creek SP stop I ended my morning and headed home to do some chores. I did, however plan to do more birding the next day. The photos from Thursday's outings will be posted tomorrow.