Ring-necked Pheasant
Belted Kingfisher
Broad-winged Hawk
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Hooded Warbler
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Horned Lark
Yellow-throated Warbler
Eastern Meadowlark
Hooded Merganser
American Goldfinch
Black-bellied Plover
Laughing Gull
Northern Harrier
Scarlet Tanager
American Robin
Northern Shoveler
Magnolia Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Bobolink
Northern Saw-whet-owl
Grasshopper Sparrow
Ring-necked Duck
Northern Parula
Snowy Owl
Purple Martin
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Hudsonian Godwit
Black-and-white Warbler
Horned Grebe
Eastern Kingbird
Bay-breasted Warbler

Cameron County Birding Spotlight

 

October 14-17, 2022

 

Back to Spotlight Page

 

Summary of Trip

 


Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (PSO) is promoting counties across the state to explore its hotspots and find as many birds as we can.

 

On October 14-17, join us as we lead a concentrated effort to bird Cameron County!  This is truly one of the state’s most under-birded counties but there is so much to explore. 

 

As a group, we want to document as many birds as possible during this extended weekend. Birders are invited to tag along with trip leaders or explore the county’s game lands, state park and wild areas on their own terms.

 

We will be using the WhatsApp rare bird text group set up for that area to get out the word for rarities and group information, and an eBird Trip Report to document the four-day bird count.  For anyone who is going to be birding during 4-day birding spotlight, we ask you share your ebird checklists with PSO Birding Data then we can keep track easier.  We will also be providing an Ebird Trip Report link where pictures, checklists, etc will be available for everyone to enjoy. 

 

We will be sharing pics and updates on the PA Wilds Birding Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/groups/pawildsbirding

 

Birders of all skill levels are invited to join-in and contribute!  If you just want to learn more about birds or you can help others and our challenge, we want you to be involved!

 

COVID-19 Guidelines: Social distancing will be stressed in group situations and masks will be encouraged in close quarters. The sharing of equipment (i.e., spotting scopes) is discouraged without proper cleaning measures or no touch.

 

 

To add to our county spotlight we have coming up Oct 14-17, we now have 3 days of field trips lined up with local birders and expertise.  Just a reminder if you are able to do any birding in Cameron County during those 4 days, please share your ebird checklists with PSO Birding Data so we can keep track of out this county spotlight does for an underbirded and under appreciated county in PA Wilds.


Scheduled Bird Walks at Sinnemahoning State Park during Cameron County Birding Spotlight

Address is 4843 Park Road, Austin, PA 16720*


Fri, Oct 14 : 2 PM – 3:45 PM. Bird walk at the 40 Maples Day Use Area.  Goes through open field, early successional habitat, and may include conifer forest and mixed deciduous forest, depending on route choice of participants.  Likely species: sparrows, confusing fall warblers, backyard birds. Includes an overview of where to go in the park to see other species.  Distance 1.5-2 miles over slightly uneven gravel and natural trail surfaces. Minimal elevation change, some small hills. Sturdy shoes recommended.  Led by park educator and local birder Barb Gee. Park in main parking lot of 40 Maples Day Use Area, GPS 41.4509, -78.0472. Meet at Pavilion 1.

**

Sat, Oct 15:  7 AM – 9 AM (may run later depending on amount of birds seen). Bird walk on the Lowlands Trail.   Goes through mixed lowland habitat and open fields. Likely species: sparrows, confusing fall warblers, backyard birds. Includes an overview of where to go in Cameron County to see other species.  Distance 1.5-2 miles, slightly uneven gravel and natural trail surfaces and some off-trail meadow walking. Minimal elevation change, some small hills. Sturdy waterproof shoes recommended.  Led by local birder Mark Johnson.  Park at the Wildlife Center (park office) GPS 41.4735, -78.0562.  Meet by the main door of the building.

**

Sun, Oct 16: 7:30 AM – 9 AM. Pontoon boat ride with stops along edges of 145-acre lake.  Viewing habitat includes shoreline, tributaries, mature hardwood forest, meadows, and mixed lowland habitat. Likely species: waterfowl, shorebirds, sparrows, etc.  Includes an overview of where to go in the park to see other species. Dress in warm layers as it is cool on the lake in the morning.  Life vests will be provided.  No walking required; boat is wheelchair accessible.  Led by park educator, with spotting and identification done by participants.  Park at Lake Day Use Area, GPS 41.4226, -78.0296. Meet at the boat launch.



Summary of Trip

 

Our latest edition of the county spotlight took us into the northwest part of the state near the lands of the mighty Elk.

 

We were reminded that not all locations in the state have cell service, so we had to wait to upload many checklists until we could get to wifi or little islands of reception on mountain vistas or small towns. I can personally thank my vehicle GPS for getting me to and fro in my travels. Even my satellite radio faded in and out of some of the valleys while trying tokeep up with PSU football and then baseball playoff scores. Some of my cohorts weren’t so lucky at times with their phone GPS. But in the long run, getting lost in mother nature isn’t the worst thing to happen to someone when you can enjoy the fall foliage, wildlife, and fresh air.

 

Not many places you can go and not see the golden arches or the big box stores for several days and putting many miles on gravel and dirt roads. I felt blessed to enjoy another spot in the PA Wilds. Once again, we were welcomed with open arms by local birders and state park and forest employees who gave up their time and knowledge to help create and lead field trips for this birding challenge. We had 3 days of field trips lined up in the 4-day challenge. We have created these birding adventures to explore new hotspots for many of us, see what kind of numbers we can get in a snapshot over 4 days, add species to people’s county lists and in some cases, life birds for the attendees. We have the field trip leaders or helpers keep the checklists on eBird and ask anyone who birded in the area during the time frame to share with PSO Birding Data. We had 39 eBird checklists that produced 68 species of birds. Some birders were out multiple days and we tallied 26 people over the 4-dayspotlight.

 

Our trip report can be seen here:

https://ebird.org/tripreport/77407<https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Febird.org%2Ftripreport%2F77407%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR3gMyglvCry-4sSPVTV1oV41Hpq2vFL3mGPF8K6f7pIH0cLo__npOp7gf8&h=AT2l64ecCR4LoDr-HqOKiHvgcwP_Ms0YwqiKWxEEWpMECJo3FwolRWuQ1UfLCYilRsg6kXTyOss0kQlpBd5gWgbg5JeJsSZ8nz9xU158xmDm6tbOTWFfuJlJb_IvT5JVRw&__tn__=-UK-R&c[0]=AT3m_MDMyc377HK_kxDxwVDHRAJ3LllBxsjj2PS6dtwlCdxxyZcNj3EnYB6dRolQPr425d201ll1wm2zs_iXAacMHihxfvVunF2-uhFwvpznYSWYu_Qbq129F5elhIzHF1oKaU1He4LGGWyXdJU6HROe5God1PSJTVFaUuLihV3gnnOG-ALq7UbuFTa1XCROfW1aPylt6HPyI9HHZQnEms5-NH2h>

 

Friday, October 14, Barbara Gee led five women birders - one of whom was recruited from the parking lot while her husband grilled lunch - completed a two and a half mile birding walk in Sinnemahoning State Park.

 

They started on the Lowlands Trail at the 40 Maples Day Use Area. Kimberly Lott, Sinnemahoning Park Educator gave them a brief history of the park and was a wealth of information regarding the habitats they went through and the effects of invasive plants on our native birds. The group tallied 14 species, starting with a Bald Eagle soaring down the creek, and ending with an Eastern Towhee calling from the brush.

 

Roger and Marg Higbee came in and did some exploring on their own to visit various hotspots and explore new roads to them to help add to the challenge.

 

Several of us who stayed together near Austin all were coming in Friday evening and after dark, Andy Keister and Joe Gyekis joined me in some owling. We ran down to the George Stevenson Dam to do some owl calls and almost immediately we had Eastern Screech Owls responding to us and we had at least 2 maybe 3. That got 1-2 Northern Saw Whet Owls to respond as well with the toot call and the cat-like response. We couldn’t get any of the bigger owls to respond there, but that seems like such a great spot with so many hills and valleys as well as the lake to hear sounds coming. We did have a Mallard humor me with my bigger owl calls I was doing by mouth.

 

From there we headed down to the boat launch area in pitch black for most of the road going up to the campground and visitors center. We just couldn’t get any big owls like Great Horned or Barred to respond, but did have another Screech Owl and several flying squirrels as well as some sparrow seeps but that was it. A couple of fat Raccoons did scurry across the road near 40 Oaks.

 

Saturday morning October 15, we got to the park at the visitors center to meet Kimberly Lott for the first time and see the Higbee’s as well as trip leader Mark Johnson for the first time in a long while. He led our group of a dozen birders around some trails and we were able to enjoy the morning fog birding and get some really nice species to add to the challenge. It was nice to meet Marks wife, daughter and son-in-law who are all active birders in the area. Our birding focus did take a detour when we saw a young white-tailed deer feeding in the field and it got some special attention from an Eastern Phoebe who landed near it--before long the bird kept landing and hitting it before eventually landing on the deer’s head to pick off something, maybe ticks, from its ears. Some in our group got pictures of all of this unfolding.

 

From there several of us headed up to Sterling Run to visit the strip-mines. Mark could only lead us part of the way due to some prior commitments, but we found the place after one mishap of directions and found the place to be quite windy, but the views were killer. We were able to add Savannah Sparrow as well as Eastern Meadowlark which for this 90% forested county is good.

 

We had to get Andy K back to the visitors center and were able to meet back up with Mark and his wife to go visit some other areas. We hit Hicks Run, got to meet Andy Sidelinger who did some birding of his own for the spotlight and then finished the day at Top of the World, where we had spectacular views at sunset. Again, it was windy at these places, but we did get lucky enough to see others kick up a Ruffed Grouse that flew past us and up over the ridge grasslands. Over this trip, we heard/saw 3-4 of our state bird, a treat for those of us from further south. I am thinking that is about how many I have had in the last 10 years. I am told their numbers are up this year in some areas, which is great news.

 

Sunday morning October 16 brought us some colder temps while we had to pack out of our rental. While loading my car just south of Austin, I was able to hear Great Horned Owl calling which I was able to add to my Potter County list but we didn’t have for the Cameron list yet. We zipped down to the boat launch at the park, careful to avoid any big mammals as well as smaller ones like Skunk, Wild Turkey, Opossum, and Raccoon I had to avoid while driving around the weekend. We pulled into the launch, saw a few vehicles, soon found out that it was just too cold to do the pontoon boat tour to bird like we had hoped. We had almost a dozen show up for the walk. Kimberly was just beside herself apologizing, but we all said it wasn’t her fault and we would bird elsewhere.

 

In the meantime, Kim had said she saw 27 ducks come in by the dam the night before, so while things were still being discussed I zipped down to scope the water. Many of those ducks left but I was able to hear Great Horned Owl calling at dawn to add it for the trip. Once I got back to the launch, Joe G had already taken a few people on a lap around the trails and he jumped a potential rare sparrow that he came back to get better waterproof footwear and pants. We then lead the official trip back around the trails and before too long we heard a different chip in the area he saw it before, then the Nelson's Sparrow hopped up for great looks by all. This ended up being a new county Ebird record as well. It was certainly a lifer for many of us. This has been my nemesis bird for many years now. I was always away or just missed it or it was too windy and I would only see a flash of possible orange or more interesting bird fly ahead of me in several counties. I really didn’t think I would be getting a lifer or state bird on this trip but that is how it happens sometimes. While standing at that same location we heard another chip and a Lincoln's Sparrow showed up in the same grassstand and everyone got to see it as well.

 

After that walk, we headed back up to the top of the dam to do a walk across it and down around to the water again. We got into some more birds and were able to add White-crowned Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, and Pied-billed Grebe for our own lists or the spotlight overall list.

 

After this trip,we decided to hit the Willows for lunch and then head home. Sarah Lindgren and her 2 boys joined for lunch as well. They were spunky and entertaining to have them join us on the walks. I was impressed with their Barred Owl calls and some other bird noises. Sarah is doing a good job raising them for nature adventures, imo.

 

On Monday October 17, some friends from the State College Bird Club as well as PSO were coming to do a day trip to help finish the spotlight. Deb Grove, Susan Braun, and Ro Fuller explored the area. They were following the trip checklists as the weekend unfolded and were hoping to find some of the highlights as well as hoping to find new additions. They weren’t able to refind the Nelson's Sparrow, but did replace it with a Fox Sparrow. Dave Brooke and his wife were able to see and photographa a late Tennessee Warbler to add for the weekend.

 

So that concluded our county spotlight for Cameron and it was enjoyable to meet some new people we have known from facebook, ebird, birdingchats, texts, and emails over the years. These spotlights have been so successful because of the locals stepping up and helping the cause. We have Columbia set for mid-March 2023 and some discussions for April and later in the year.