Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Middle Creek 2018-Part 1

Snow Geese At Willow Point
Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area on the Lebanon/Lancaster County line near Kleinfeltersville, Pennsylvania is a premier spot for birding enthusiasts and outdoor photographers during the spring waterfowl migration. Of special interest is the peak of the Snow Geese and Tundra Swan migration as it is a stunning sight to watch a massive flock of Snow Geese lift off.

This year the peak of the migration was sometime in late February. I usually wait until the tour road opens on March 1st before going to Middle Creek so the peak of the migration was over when I got there on Friday afternoon March 2nd, with an estimated 20,000 Snow Geese, 5,000 Tundra Swans, and 2,000 Canada Geese remaining according to the March 1st estimate.

Tour Road Opened From Dawn-Dusk on March 1st
While the website states the road is closed from dusk until dawn it did not open until after 7:30 on the mornings I was there and one morning it was almost 8:00 until it opened .As you enter the tour road there is a sign that tells  you to tune to 1620 AM for a brief history of Middle Creek and what to expect to see at this time of year.

As one continues along the tour road they find signs encouraging you to  respect the small creatures that may be crossing the road and avoid hitting them.

Middle creek seemed empty of people compared to what I was used to in other years. It was amazing that only a few vehicles were on the tour road in mid-afternoon on March 3rd. This may be because the peak of the migration was past, but it also was likely influenced by the brutal winds that were still blowing after a strong front passed through on Thursday night.

Tour Road-Mid-Afternoon Saturday March 3rd
Things changed a bit shortly after 4:00 p.m. when geese began landing in and along a plot of standing corn, but even then most of the flock landed over the brow of the bank where they could not be seen.

Snow Geese Near Road
I continued around the tour road and returned at 5:00. The late evening sun made dramatic lighting  for photography as some geese arrived while others left.

Snow Geese In Late Evening Sun
Snow Geese Landing
The lighting makes it seem the weather would have been pleasant when these photos were taken, but the wind was so cold and brutal that it was hard to remain out of the vehicle for long. The weather improved over the next few days making it easier to photograph the waterfowl.

In the next post we will look at some photos from Willow Point as well as more taken along the tour road and other areas of Middle Creek.


Donna said...

Great post, Willard! I visited Middlecreek some years ago before the audio tour etc. Your photos and description make me want to go back!

Woody Meristem said...

We were there earlier when there were 50,000 snow geese and dense fog so only a few of the 50,000 could be seen.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Great captures my friend.

Ruth Hiebert said...

To see so many geese in one field must be amazing.I imagine he sound would also be awesome, since geese seem to like to communicate.

Willard said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments. Middle Creek is a special place to me and it March would not be complete for me without a trip there. I should have mentioned that Coy and I did drive there for a 1/2 day trip on February 21st as by following the Game Commission website it looked like I was going to miss the peak migration for my main trip. Our experience was like Woody's. We hit fog somewhere between Carlisle and Harrisburg and it just kept getting heavier. We saw a lot of geese, but it was very hard to get any good material. The video camera was continually losing focus in the fog, etc. Still it was enjoyable to hear all of the geese chattering. Thanks again for reading and always good to hear from all of you.