Glenolden CBC Area 3
Glenolden CBC area #3 extends along the Delaware River from the Philadelphia Airport south to Marcus Hook. The area extends west from the riverfront only a few miles and the eastern boundary actually lies in Gloucester Co., NJ. There has been a long-standing agreement with the NW Gloucester Co., NJ CBC that we can count all birds seen on the New Jersey riverfront. My guess is that 85-90% of the count area is comprised of some type of industry including a major international airport, a busy east coast shipping lane, a large power plant, two refineries, a main interstate highway that connects Maine to Florida, two railroad lines and a soccer stadium. What is not industry, is made up of clustered row homes, abandon homes, two cemeteries and a three block long junkyard full of cars and car parts. Oh, did I mention that there is also a Super Fund site within the count area?
To make birding a bit more challenging, this 85-90% is private property or posted as off limits for national security reasons. The area is readily equipped with remote cameras, roving security guards, police and probably water-boarding if we would make a false move. Despite these obstacles, this area has turned out several outstanding species in prior counts including Common Loon, Long-tailed Duck, Surf Scoter, American Woodcock, Wild Turkey, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Orange-crowned, Pine and Nashville Warblers and Common Redpoll. This area produces first-class species because the 10-15% of non-industrial space contains a large river with several good access points and a small but productive public park.
Governor Printz Park near the intersection of Wannamaker Ave. and 2nd Street in Essington is a good place to scan the river and the south end of Tinicum Island.
Moving further south to Chester, one of the best river access points is Fisherman’s Park and the adjacent bike trail at PPL Park (soccer stadium) at the end of Flower St.
|PPL Park. Home of the Philadelphia Union soccer team.|
|Double-crested Cormorants are frequently seen flying along the river or resting on pilings.|
Peregrines frequent the Commodore Barry Bridge and occasionally will make a foray for one of the several pigeons that call many of the nearby abandoned buildings home. Walking along the bike path here can produce songbirds (mostly sparrows and goldfinches) but the area looks like it has the potential to hold a western stray or lingering catbird or thrasher.
|View of the Commodore Barry Bridge from Fisherman's Park. This is a good spot to watch for Peregrines.|
|The area behind PPL Park is a good location to search the river and walking the bike path south to the nearby office complex can be productive for songbirds.|
|Northern Mockingbird along PPL bikepath.|
|Veteran's Park at the foot of Market St. in Marcus Hook a great place for observing the river.|
|Two views from Fisherman's Park shortly after dawn|
|There is a small colony of House Sparrows located in the park and sometimes other species have joined them such as this Pine Warbler (below) in 2009. |
|Ring-billed Gulls are common anywhere along the river.|
The key to finding high-quality birds along the river is patience. A birder has to spend several hours standing, scoping and scanning to be rewarded with an exclusive gull or waterfowl species. This can quickly get wearisome in harsh weather or after you have sucked up your yearly quota of refinery emissions.
|Ring-billed Gulls - 2nd winter (left) and 1st winter (right).|
|Looking east the park contains a creek running through this long power line cut of nice edge habitat.|
|Looking west there is a nice collection of deciduous trees and beyond them, a small second|
|Common Redpolls, American Goldfinches and House Finches at Henry Johnson Park Glenolden CBC 12/15/2007|
When one envisions Christmas Bird Counts the scene usually includes idyllic snow-covered fields teeming with birds or woods quiet with new fallen snow and trees holding cardinals, chickadees and maybe even two turtle doves and a partridge, but in Area #3, it is more fun finding a catbird sitting on a cemetery fence in the shadow of a refinery or coming across a Nashville Warbler feeding with a flock of Palm Warblers on the sunny side of a dilapidated building. There are always a few surprises !!
|I can always count on finding this guy. This penguin species has been present at this same location on this very piling for the past three years. You just never know in area 3.|