My first stop was at The Muck on Route 287 just west of Wellsboro. The Boardwalk and blind overlook some marshy areas and a bit of open water. It was a bit blustery and cold, but most of the ice was out of the ponds nearest the blind. Unfortunately, the few birds that were present were on the far end of the water and/or tucked into the marsh grasses.
Pair of Hooded Mergansers at The Muck.
Mallard at The Muck.
After half an hour of blowing on my fingers, I headed down the road a short distance and walked the Pine Creek Rails-to-Trails Bike Path's northern terminus. I found much less wind here and a horde of Red-winged Blackbirds right at the parking lot. Mallards, Canada Geese, Wood Ducks and Killdeer flushed from puddles and Marsh Creek to fly overhead. I also spotted one Belted Kingfisher from an unphotographable distance. Further down there were dozens of Song Sparrows feeding on the verge of the trail. The sparrows blended in with the golden brown of the grass and, even when moving off into the shrubs, were in constant motion. Still there were a few birds that posed long enough for me to get their photos.
Cardinal sitting and singing in the sun.
After going about 3/4 of a mile down the trail, I turned to walk back to the truck and immediately spotted two groups of Downy Woodpeckers working either side of the trail. Each group consisted of one male and two females. I draw no conclusions from this, however.
Male Downy Woodpecker.
Female Downy Woodpecker.
I was watched carefully by an Eastern Chipmunk sunning him/herself on a concrete block along the side of the trail.
Getting back into the Tundra I headed west to Darling Run and another favorite section of the Pine Creek Rails-to-Trails path. I was greeted by an Eastern Phoebe in the parking lot and, as I walked down to the trail, a mature Bald Eagle. There wasn't a lot of activity on Pine Creek, just a few Common Mergansers, Canada Geese and one Great Blue Heron who stayed just out of range ahead of me, but there were Song Sparrows perched on every other shrub and each was singing its little heart out. The highlights of this stop--besides the Bald Eagle who indicated that the nest on the other side of Pine Creek is in use--were a Pileated Woodpecker who was excavating an old hole on the far side of the creek, and a Brown Creeper.
Song Sparrow showing its stripped, rusty cap
Song Sparrow's dotted chest
Bald Eagle along the trail at Darling Run
The Eagle let me walk (almost) underneath him--twice--and seemed totally unconcerned about my presence. The Creeper was singing a little, repetitive,high-pitched, one-note song that I couldn't ID (sounded a bit like a Dark-eyed Junco's trill only an octave higher) and that caused me to pause and actually look for him. Even then, it was only when I spotted a chunk of "bark" moving up the tree 10 feet in front of me that I saw the little bird.
Not a bad day out and about, but the three or four miles I walked--added to the next Saturday's 1.5-2 miles at Hills Creek SP--may have been a bit too much for my knees. *sigh*