Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Middle Creek Snow Day

Thursday of last week was a beautiful late winter day, but snow was in the forecast for Friday March 20th, the first day of spring. I decided that if it was snowing heavily in the morning I would not got to Middle Creek, but only an occasional flake was in the air at 5:30 Friday morning so I hit the road for the 45 minute drive from southern York County.  There was a light coating of snow when I arrived and light snowfall continued most of the day.

Tour Road: Canon 70D-Canon 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 EF STM@18mm-ISO 200-1/500sec. f 10.0
 It seemed that most of the snow geese and tundra swans on the lake were at Willow Point, which is some distance from the road and I did not walk there so on the whole today was not a good day for filming or photographing these species, but enough wildlife was visible to still make for an interesting day.

In mid-morning I sighted a flock of turkeys between Hopeland Road and the PGC maintenance  buildings. It was a mixed flock of hens and gobblers and several of the mature birds were strutting.  I failed to notice that the 7D MK II was set on ISO 1000 and this and the flat quality of the light resulted in poor detail in the photos from that sighting.

Wild Turkeys: Canon 7D MK II-Canon 100-400mm IS II L f4.5-5.6 @300mm-ISO 1000-1/2000sec. f 5.0
A short time later I found two pheasants feeding in corn stubble along the tour road.  They were a bit shy and began moving away as soon as I stopped , but I captured a few frames before they moved too deep in the corn to photography them.

Ring-necked Pheasants: Canon 7D MK II-Canon 100-400mm IS II L  f4.5-5.6 @400mm-ISO -400-1/500sec.f5.0
Two Canada Geese were standing in the meadow by the roadside, a bit further along the tour road.

Canada Geese: Canon 7D MK II-Canon 100-400mm IS II L  f4.5-5.6 @400mm-ISO -400-1/500sec.f5.0
 Later in the morning I found a small flock of snow geese along Chapel Road.  In fact they were in the field directly in front of the Chapel.  I stopped in the parking lot and sat there with the window lowered and the camera and lens resting on the window-sill.  At one point another vehicle drove past and the flock lifted into the air and then dropped back down to feed.

Snow Geese In Flight: Canon 7D MK II-Canon 100-400mm IS II L  f4.5-5.6  @176mm-ISO -400-1/1250 sec. f 6.3
Snow Geese : Canon 7D MK II-Canon 100-400mm IS II L  f4.5-5.6 @400mm-ISO -400-1/500 sec.f 8.0
Snow Geese Feeding: Canon 7D MK II-Canon 100-400mm IS II L  f4.5-5.6 @400mm-ISO -400-1/1000 sec.f  5.6
Almost any day afield is a good day and while this one was far from exceptional it was still a day well spent. The weather forecast for the remainder of the trip was promising, but the main concern was if substantial numbers of snow geese would still be there. On March 16th the Pennsylvania Game Commission had reported 110,000 snow geese and by the day before the snow numbers were down to 65,000. That was still enough geese for exceptional filming and photography, but the situation can change quickly and it was possible that the best activity was over.  The events of the next few day s would provide the answer.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.