Groff's Plant Farm Images

Where the Birds Are

Published: Thu Mar 23rd 2017

As the false hopes of spring offered by February fizzled, I continued to watch. Several days ago, while trumping through the receding snow, I think I found it. It wasn’t in the garden but in a damp field surrounded by trees where I was looking for birds. The birds were in symphony, and I heard them.

Somewhere about fall last year, I got my old farmer abused ears fitted with decent aides. Spring birds are going to be a pleasure, and the ones I still can’t hear just a minor disappointment. It will be a big enough challenge to learn the songs of the ones I can now hear.

So, when I’m not in the garden or helping at the farm I will be wondering the area looking for birds. Of course, I frequent my own yard and feeders and the swampy meadow, woods and stream on the farm. I will offer my favorite sites beyond those.

Top of my list is the Octoraro Reservoir, off Route 472, on the Lancaster /Chester County line. It’s big and usually good for ducks, waders and birds in general. Good views of water can be had from the boat launch on Spruce Grove Road, the gravel section of Mt. Eden east of 472 and turning on Blue Gill Road from Spruce Grove just west of the boat launch. To the west of Liberty Lane just north of the soon to be replaced bridge are large fields great for sparrows and raptors. Another great trail is found on the right just past the water on the dirt section of Mt. Eden.

Another good spot is Muddy Run Reservoir. Good for waterfowl and more. If you drive into the park and keep right you find parking just before a large lake. Beyond that you can walk forever. There is an osprey tower on the other side of the hill. If not back they should be here soon. Behind the large pavilion back of the nature center is a good spot for woodpeckers. Walking behind the visitor’s center is another good route to take. Whissler Park, along the river, a right turn on River Road going south is good for black vultures, ducks and often eagles. Don’t go on weekends.

Susquehanna State Park now has a much-improved entrance road and overall maintenance. I find it is the best place in the southern end to find a raven. Interestingly, ravens are expanding their range south so they are recent additions in Lancaster County. I also catch the Enola Rail Trail at a number of different points frequently.

Moving beyond, but still close, the Conowingo Dam is also a must for gulls, ducks, cormorants, herons and raptors. A few days ago I counted 53 eagles. The last half of November is the usual peak. A word of warning, black vultures love scratching vehicles and eating rubber out of windshield wipers. Take a cover with you if you care.

Other favorite spots include Nottingham County Park back of Herr’s Foods (Pine warblers); Susquehanna State Park (along the river in Hartford County for spring migrants); Swan Harbor Farms off Oakington Rd, south of Rt. 40 several miles west of Havre de Grace, Maryland for a bay view, open fields and productive ponds; Perryville Community Park, a peninsula jutting out into the bay offers most everything.

Between this, the gardens, and the farm there is too much to do. Besides, I hope I dropped the hint that the birds have their favorite places, too.