Thanks to everyone for the information on Middle Creek! It sounds like
we should be able to park and see the geese at Willow Point. I'll be
checking the website for the latest reports and hoping for a bit of a
break in the rain so we won't get drenched on the walk! As for the
questions on the geese taking off together, I've wondered too if that is
like the murmurations of starlings and how the starlings are reacting
only to their nearest neighbors but it results in the murmuration.
Cumberland County, PA
On 02/21/2018 11:42 PM, Anne Annibali wrote:
> My experience is that there's no predicting when & where to see geese and when they'll head north. But we've always had good luck seeing flocks in the fields on the tour road in early March and sometimes even next to Hopeland Rd, the main road in. Best spot by far though is Willow Point, which is much improved. They expanded the parking area and paved the 1/4-mile path, plus there's lots of picnic table seating in the pavilion. However, large crowds are a given, especially on weekends. Even last Thursday in mid-afternoon, the warm weather brought out many and cars were parked all along the lot's lane and out onto the road. But everyone was very courteous and we had great views of a lake nearly covered in geese. But the next evening they were all out in a distant field and didn't come back until nearly dark. It was much cooler and a little windy and we finally gave up and started to head out. Wouldn't you know it? Two minutes later they lifted off the field en masse and the entire flock (I heard an estimate of 100,000) swirled right in front of Willow Point before settling. It was spectacular even from a little distance and I can't imagine what it was like at the Point. We're going to try again tomorrow evening.
> And that raises a question I'd like to ask the experts. Does anyone know how they do that coordinated lift-off? I understand how the flock can fly so close without colliding and I've seen how a startle moves through the flock like a wave, but what triggered them to all return to the lake together? There are way too many for one leader to make the decision, and before they left the field, many small groups kept lifting to feed in a different spot and the others paid no attention. But then suddenly, every single one of them lifted off nearly together in only a few seconds. The only possibility I can think of might be light levels, but that still doesn't explain the near instantaneous reaction.
> Anne Annibali, Mt. Gretna, Lebanon County
> From: Bird discussion list for Pennsylvania <PABIRDS...> on behalf of reeser <reeser...>
> Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 10:09 PM
> To: <PABIRDS...>
> Subject: [PABIRDS] Middle Creek - Snow Geese viewing questions
> I haven't been to Middle Creek for several years. I had planned to go
> this year after the road opened but as I understand it, that won't occur
> until March 1. With the warm weather we've been having, will March 1 be
> too late to see the snow geese this year?
> If I go now, where can you go to see the geese? Is it just the road
> below the visitor center and the parking area for Willow Point? Can you
> at least walk out to Willow Point? And the last time I was as Willow
> Point the walk was really slippery and muddy, is it like that now?
> Also, is Middle Creek much more crowded than it was several years ago?
> Thanks for any information.
> Cumberland County, PA