Although this week marks the beginning of astronomical Spring, you sure can’t tell it from the weather. The temperatures in Northeastern Pennsylvania have been a good 10-15 degrees below normal for the daytime high, with the nights correspondingly colder than normal. To add insult to injury, most days are largely cloudy and windy, more reminiscent of late January than the third week of March.
Still, the radiant heat of the sun grows stronger every day (whether you actually see sunlight or not) because the angle the sun traverses across the sky increases every day. A fortunate result has been that the ice on many of the regional lakes has begun to open up, bringing some of the birds that occupy those lakes back. I spent this week with frequent stops at Ford’s Pond and the Estes Wilson Lake at Abington Park, both a short distance from my home. Most of the fowl I observed seemed to share the same quizzical expression I had, as in “Where the hell is Spring?”
Although I wasn’t able to get close enough for a really decent shot, I found this bald eagle patrolling the open water at Ford’s Pond. Brent and I had been told that there were multiple eagles at Ford’s last summer, but until this shot — taken March 14 — neither of us had actually seen any. In addition to this adult, I saw another adult and two juveniles. So the reports of eagles here are true and we’re looking forward to Spring — when it really gets here — and who knows when that will be.
This fellow appears to be a ring billed gull; part of a flock that has settled into Ford’s, at least for the time being. The gulls have been aggressively circling the open portion of the lake in search of food, but in all the time I observed the gulls over the last week, I haven’t seen any dive for the surface. This picture, taken March 22, was set against an extremely dull background that has been the norm for most of the week, making it difficult to get a good color balance. Ford’s Pond is a long way from the seashore, but these birds have migrated to Northeastern Pennsylvania by virtue of a fleet of garbage trucks that brings refuse from New York City and New Jersey daily to a local landfill. I can’t help but wonder if the presence of the gulls isn’t upsetting the natural balance of the local bird populations.
This next image is of a pair of common mergansers, male in the lead, female trailing. This was a one-and-done shot as they flew directly overhead before heading deeper into the center of the lake. I had not seen any mergansers at Ford’s before, so I don’t know if these are “natural” residents of the pond or “imports” like the gulls. This was one of the few days in the past week where there was actually some blue sky behind the subject. I’m getting a lot of practice in capturing birds on the wing — it’s a tough challenge for me since it is not something I have done frequently.
Finally, a pair of smaller birds round out my observations for the week: a song sparrow at Ford’s and a Killdeer at Estes Wilson Lake.
I can’t say for sure, but every time I made a shot, it seemed like the birds were saying, “Where the hell is spring?”
Where indeed? Hope it comes soon.