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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lancaster Field Trip - Feb 2013

Some of the participant's looking over Struble Lake
       World renowned field trip leader, nature instructor and all around nice person Holly Merker led a trip today to Lancaster's Amish country. We set off in search of Rough-legged Hawks and field birds, but the hawks didn't know we were coming so they didn't make an appearance today. Not that we didn't try. We drove all through the back roads and put in a good hour of searching to no avail.
        Field birds were even difficult to come by but we eventually found a few small flocks of Horned Larks.

Horned Lark

     We then headed to Hess Rd, the traditional spot where Wilson's Snipe overwinter along a small streambed. We did find the Snipe but to our surprise, we flushed up an amazing 52 snipe, that would circle around and keep flying right over our heads as they were giving their call notes. Pretty cool!

Wilson's Snipe

     After giving up on the hawks we headed back to Chester County in search of more field birds. We stopped at Pleasant View Rd and found more Horned Larks and started scanning for Lapland Longspurs, but luck wasn't with us at this point. But it was about to change. 
     As we pulled up a little farther over the ridge on Pleasant View Rd a huge flock of blackbirds came into view feeding in the corn field. We started scanning the group for any strangers tagging along with the 5000 or so Red-winded Blackbirds and Common Grackles. Almost immediately Holly and I saw a flash of yellow among the flock and knew it was a Yellow-headed Blackbird. 

Hard to find but it's there - Yellow-headed Blackbird
        Holly ran back to the other cars that were still over the ridge and told everyone to move forward and set up the scopes. We were fortunate to get all the group on the bird for extended looks. For many in the group this was a life bird.
        As we were viewing the bird, an Amish teenage boy came along and was interested to see what was happening. So I offered him a look through my scope and he was quite excited.

Photo by George Wrangham
      So the trip was a success even without the Rough-legged Hawk. We did manage to see dozens of Red-tails, one Cooper's, one Bald Eagle and both Vultures.

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