Monday, March 08, 2010

Migration underway!

Waterfowl migration is underway! Snow geese are amassing at Lancaster County’s Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, as are tundra swans. I managed a too-short trip to Middle Creek on Sunday morning and guess that well over 50,000 snow geese are currently on the site.

For me, this kind of waterfowl migration is one of the wonders of this world. I think there are more than the traditional 7, but I would still rank this in the top 2 or 3. The sound that so many geese make is deafening, so it’s a good thing they aren’t always calling. But when they do start calling, I know another flock is coming in to join the thousands already there. The geese can hear their fellows before I can, but it usually doesn’t take longer than 30 seconds or so before I can hear and see the new arrivals coming, too.

This year, the ice and snow cover have delayed this migration spectacle. In an average year, the geese and swans are moving north around the end of February. A weekend ago, only about 2500 geese were at the site. Yesterday it was roughly 50,000. Tomorrow it may well be 100,000. Because the arrival is later this year, I don’t think it will be spread out over as many days as usual, but that will mean more geese at once at Middle Creek. The photo shows only a very small portion of the geese.  But even if I'd had a wide-angle lens, it wouldn't begin to capture the whole span of snow geese.

In a normal year, this upcoming weekend would be spectacular, too. This year I am not sure of that, and the forecast for rainy weather ahead may also play a part. But if you can make the trip, either this year or in some future year, don’t miss it. Once you’ve seen it, you’ll want to come back every year to see it again. I’ve been coming for more than 20 years now, and I never get tired of this amazing spectacle.


The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

That must be an amazing sight! I would so love to see it for myself. I'm going to put the approximate dates in my "must do" calendar and maybe next year block out time to make the trip. I hope weather and flight conditions come together this time around to put that 100,000 number in place for the weekend—that would be even more spectacular.

Carolyn H said...

Griz: There are other spots that are excellent, too. I seem to recall hearing about Crane Creek in Ohio that's a great migration spot--not sure what the "specialties" are there. Middle Creek is so good because it's just a one day flight north of Chesapeake Bay, where the birds usually overwinter. Bombay Hook--just a few miles from Dover AFB in DE--is superb, too.

Carolyn H

Pablo said...

Send some of those swans my way.

We're in the flyway as well, and a couple of sites north of Kansas City are known for their congregations as well.

Anonymous said...

I really need to learn more about birds. I've tried, but I just don't retain the names or characteristics. But. I DO know what I hear - dang musicians! LOL I've noticed the crows calling back and forth, and new chirps that have been absent since September. Looks like the season in on its way!