Adams County Birding Spotlight Summary

April 22-25, 2022

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For our 2nd county spotlight, we picked Adams, which being a southern tier county at the end of April, gave us more options for spring migration than something further north.

The wonderful people of South Mountain Audubon Society were amazing from the get-go. When we approached them, Debra Siefken and Linette Mansberger had to do some discussion with the idea and before we knew it, they had lined up official field trips for each day of the challenge.

On Friday, there were 9 people on the field trip to Long Pine Reservoir in the Michaux State Forest. Mike Bertram led the field trip, and 38 species were recorded.  The big surprise was a Peregrine Falcon. Also on Friday, Julia Plummer took part of the weekend doing her audio recordings while birding and was able to get 14 species on sound which is a great addition to birding challenges like this. She visited a few places on her own to add her data to our challenge. When she does her recordings, it is best to be solo to have less noise from other people talking, moving, etc. We thank her for helping on all of the spotlights so far.

I had to work until noon before I could head down and meet with Vern Gauthier who started a bit earlier in the day than I did. Work does get in the way of birding many times. On the way down to meet Vern, I was excited to cross the Adams County and start my own checklist. Broad-winged Hawk and Eastern Meadowlark were nice to add. I jumped in with him and he led me around on a route that was close to some routes he had run on a Christmas Bird Count. We were saddened to realize a really nice spot he enjoyed and gotten permission to bird around Biglerville had sold and had way too many no trespassing signs, so we birded along the road and still picked up a few goodies on the day. After completing a number of checklists in the afternoon, we had a quick dinner at Tommy’s Pizza, and went back out to do late afternoon/dusk birding. We ran up to end the daylight at Michaux, tried really hard to kickup American Woodcock, Eastern Whip-poor-will and maybe some owls. We did get an Eastern Screech-Owl to respond, but none of the others would show themselves. We did have a bigger owl-like response on the powerline cut on the eastern end of the forest before the campgrounds, leaned towards Barred, but decided not to make the official mark on the checklist. There are times like that in which you have to consider dogs, people and just can’t make the call.

Saturday morning, Vern and I started with a lap around Lake Heritage, where we stayed which was a gated community. We added some birds such as Common Loon, Osprey, Bufflehead and Ring Billed Gull.

We joined the fine people at Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve before the 8am start time. We started seeing and hearing birds all around the parking lot. We had several Blue Headed Vireo right by our cars, several raptors overhead and the bushes were busy. Etienne Kingsley did a great job leading a line of 20 birders around trails while we tallied 42 species. Our biggest highlight was seeing and hearing possibly 2 Hooded Warblers which was the first in the state according to eBird. We also enjoyed seeing a pair of Louisiana Waterthrush hopping around the creek and hearing them a few times on our walk. A single drake Wood Duck on the small pond started off the walk just nicely. Also had a Broad Winged Hawk carrying food and landed on a few perches for looks and pictures.

After a fine lunch at the Thirsty Farmer, we set out for some wetlands on Crooked Creek Rd. and got into many new species for the day and the weekend. Wonderful location to bird and suggested to us by Etienne. From there we went back up to Michaux. As we were pulling into the Reservoir, Vern pulled off and was pointing into the woods edge. I couldn’t see what he was pointing at in the car behind him, so he crept out and said there was an American Woodcock bopping its way up the bank. The girls following us were able to get into the woods to see it, hear it, and then saw it fly off across the road in front of me. It is always a treat to see one of these birds in daylight.

At this point in the afternoon, Vern, Annette Mathes and Tiffany Willow were heading home and I was joined by Brian Byrnes, who helped us pick Adams County because his son had Scout adventures going on in the county. We soon realized his campsite was near Crooked Creek and we went back there while awaiting Joe Gyekis to join us. Three laps past those wetlands just kept giving us good looks and new birds for the day. We were able to add both teal species as well as 5 species of shorebirds. Brian also tallied Grasshopper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark and Greater Yellowlegs from the campsite, and found a Peregrine Falcon and Red-headed Woodpecker while hiking the battlefield with the scout group.

Sunday morning Joe left the rental early to charge his Tesla and I closed it up and made 1 final lap of Lake Heritage, being able to add Bonaparte’s Gull for the weekend. Before I met with Joe, he was able to add many field birds for the weekend including Vesper Sparrow and Grasshopper Sparrow.

The official field trip to SGL 249 was led by Don Gilbert and some of the regulars from the first 2 days. Evan Vaeth volunteered to keep the eBird checklist again as he did on Saturday.12 people joined us, and we ended up with 67 species on that walk. It was a wonderful place to visit and walk on dirt and stone road. We had so many Brown Thrashers moving around us. It seemed like there was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher everywhere. The day warmed up and the raptors and such started getting nice lift to give us several species through the walk as well as a perched Broad-winged Hawk. Six warbler species were great to add on top of 3 vireo species. Joe and I lasted until just after noon, having a birders’ picnic at the parking lot and deciding to call it a day as both of us had some miles to get under us to get home.

On Monday, Deb Siefken led a group of 5 birders in the southern Adams County grasslands.  They looked at various places for a Bobolink, but none were to be found. 48 species were recorded.

So, thanks to all the people who participated; some on their own, some with various field trips, and some birding while at home or work. We ended up with 121 species from 130 checklists. We also were able to provide pictures of 57 species and audio for 14 species in the county. Here is the link for the trip report to see how we fared out.

It seemed like the locals really enjoyed others invading their locale and we really felt welcomed and enjoyed the birding camaraderie you get on birding ventures like this. Many people have shared their emails, phones, joined as Facebook friends, etc. If you want to be social in birding, it is so easy in today’s age. If you want to be on your own, you can do that too, no one judges these things.

I tend to get to Adams County a time or 2 a year and now will enjoy some of the new spots and possibly hook up with some new birding friends.

We have some other counties being discussed but at this time the only one set in stone is Cameron County as the next Birding Spotlight. It will be another 4-day challenge from October 14-17.This is one of our state’s under-birded counties which was originally the goal for these challenges.