Photographing Migratory Birds at Middle Creek Wildlife Sanctuary Pennsylvania

3/26/2014 05:22:00 AM

"A flock of geese leave their lake and take wing, turning to poems in the sky." 
~ Dr. SunWolf

Bird photography is work of patience and a long lens (or not ?), The first I have acquired since my first trip to Ranganathittu in Karnataka, India back in 2010, latter, however, I haven't as yet. My kit is already heavy enough and I have no plans of expanding it, atleast for sometime now. Whether or not, I am an expert in knowing birds, or photographing 'em, I love Bird watching, also known as Birding these days. So when I got an invite from a friend to visit Middle creek wildlife management area, near Lancaster Pennsylvania, I thought why not. My long trip plan for this month was already cancelled. and this seemed like a great opportunity to go back in the wild and spend some quality time with mother nature.

Middle Creek WMA, i.e. Wildlife Management Area is a 5000 acre tract, a sanctuary maintained by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The 400 acre lake and 70 acre of smaller pond and wetlands are the home to many songbirds and water fowl. WMA also supports a network of trekking / hiking and horse-riding trails, including a 140miles one, The area however is more famous for Migratory birds. During the months of February and March, hundreds of thousands of Tundra Swan and Snow Geese gather over here, and that sight is one to behold.

It is about half day long, about 300 miles round trip, from New York City (map below) via Fogelsville near Allentown and Hamburg in the Berks County adjacent to Lancaster. This place sure has the old world charm, I noticed, and long history as a matter of fact, that I read only after coming back from the trip. The horse carriage and sleigh rides, people wearing traditional hats, and beautiful houses, An exploration trip to The Amish Country, sometime in near future is surely on my mind, but for now lets talk about the very lovely winged nomads.

This is first time I am reading and writing about the winds perhaps, and eventually learning about it from birds perspective. During the migratory season, the middle creek area sees the arrival and departure of snow geese, tundra swans and canada geese in a numbers that go beyond several thousand each. The Birds move with the winds favorable, and come from south and then leave north. PA Game Commission maintains somewhat approximate status of when and how many birds arrive and leave every season on this page here. You wouldn't get the daily update however, and perhaps got to be lucky to witness the surreal sight, of hundreds of thousands of birds painting the sky white, We of course weren't since many birds left, getting out ahead of an approaching cold front, as updated by GC. Not sure they went back south or headed north. But We were welcomed by a few thousand and they did put quite a show there.

Middle Creek WMA Migratory Birds

When we reached the lake post 5:30PM, there were at least 50 people in attendance and many passing-by, all equipped with camera, and a good number with long lens as well. the main lake has forest on one side and the slope on the other side. the hills that seemed either waiting for spring to go green, had the burnt grass red hue. Most of the birds were resting in the meadow occasionally flocking together towards the setting sun, and landing in the water after a while. I was constantly reminded of starlings and Murmuration with the patterns they created in the sky. Oh, and how can I forget "Winged Migration" You must watch it, would make you fall in love with the birds and the nature, our world.

I am not sure, how much this article would help people who' would want to go there this season, as I am guessing the most of the birds have already left. The temperature here in NYC is 2 right now and its going downhills. the Sky in Penn was clearer though and it was sunny last weekend but you never know. So hop on to the update page and if the weather and number looks promising, do try visiting it this year and I am sure you'd enjoy it. I wanted to quickly post this article and I am afraid, processing photos would have delayed it considerably, So adding two images here, and rest will follow. As you can see, the slight orange in top of the trees indicates the arrival of spring or so I would hope. This winter has been long and harsh, we can all enjoy a break for sure.

Map to Middle Creek from NYC Mid Town. 

While returning, we drove east to Wilmington and then to Philadelphia, and Jersey City via Turnpike. My first time touching Delaware, and Philly as well, couldn't comment on how it was, since we just stopped over for dinner and coffee and it was dark, But the drive post midnight was smooth and fun with a stunning reddish moon for company, Oh I could have shot Ms. Liberty with a Huge Moon in the background, but well missed it. For this weekend I am looking forward to exploring some music scene in New York City, well Its been a year I have been here in east coast, its only apt that I began enjoying what this city is best known for.

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