Saturday, February 16, 2013

Flocking in the Delco, part 2

Previously I talked about the struggle to even find some common birds. Now, the struggle is part of the fun, it makes the journey a journey, and if common birds were easy then I would have a whole bunch of things to write about in the first week of the year and a bunch of boring nothingness after that. With them spread out, I can take my time writing about different birds as I see them and still have hope that I will spot something in mid-March that doesn’t have to be a rare or unique sighting.

But I still want to see the hard to find birds.

I’ve started digging around to find resources, like eBird, and saw that there are a few spots around Delaware County that might have more diversity or rarities than where I look. Sure, it is nice to go to the Taylor and Tyler Arboreta, but there is a Hawk Watch in Rose Tree Park. There are water birds found in the Heinz Wildlife Refuge and Springton Reservoir, including a bald eagle last year.

Now bald eagles are not that huge of a deal; I know I’ll see one. I never saw one (really, never) growing up, but I’ve seen them quite reliably over the last half year here, including one flying over my older children’s elementary school. But I would like to get one, especially because it will allow me to make a Schleich Theater post with my oldest son’s Schleich bald eagle (don’t worry, Paul will be prominently included, though not quite like last time).

So it was my goal to get to Springton Reservoir.

I took advantage of a recent nice day to go look around the reservoir. My youngest son was napping and my older children were at school, so I was free for a couple hours and dammit, I was determined to get at least a couple more water birds. So I drove up to the dam that formed the reservoir.

I’ve driven over the dam before (no, it isn’t nearly as impressive as it sounds) and I know they have a little walkway thing that juts out into the water looking sort of like a pier. All I had to do was get to that and I would have a great view of lots of ‘lake’ and plenty of wooded shore. I would be guaranteed at least four or five new birds, right? So I drove up the road to the dam.

Ok, I can deal with the “no trespassing” signs around the reservoir. No problem. I can deal with the traffic on the dam and on the road to and from it if I wanted to walk along the side. All I needed to do was find a place to park and just walk along the footpath on the dam. Except there was no place to park.


There is no place to park or pull over or even a freaking shoulder on the road anywhere within a mile of the damn dam. Even if I could pull over and walk, the lack of shoulder or sidewalk makes it impossible to actually safely walk to the dam (which does have a walkway, strangely enough). I drove back and forth over that dam multiple times trying to find an angle (and I saw a whole bunch of waterfowl on the reservoir while driving!), but there was no way I could stop to go birding.

The rest of the lake is surrounded by residential areas and the other roads that go around it have signs that say “do not enter” or “bridge out ahead”.

I know there is a way to see birds there because they mention Springton Reservoir on one of the local birding club sights.

I’m not the type that relies on other birders, but I thought seeing what the local birding groups have to offer wouldn’t hurt. There are a couple main groups here: the Birding Club of Delaware County and the Delaware Valley Ornithology Club. They both offer lots of resources and interactions to fellow birders, but I decided to start smaller and went to the BCDC (it covers a smaller area, the DVOC covers the whole Philly region, which is huge).

The BCDC has a meeting once a month, so I went there to investigate. I saw a nice presentation and just hung out (it was nice to feel like I am young comparatively). I also talked to a couple people and, since one lived nearby to it, I asked about how to get access to Springton Reservoir. It is these little tricks on how to get to places that I, as someone who has only lived here for about four and a half months, do not know but local birders do. So apparently birding on Springton Reservoir is easy, and all I needed to do was know where to go.

Damn, this means I am going to have to join these clubs now.

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