Date: 5/26/19 11:41 am
From: Jady <jadyconroy...>
Subject: Re: Swatara Creek Birds - Dauphin County
I really enjoyed your description of your kayak trip, Ian. We have also enjoyed birding by kayak, as it seems you are able to get closer to wildlife while on the water. Thanks for sharing it!
I have a question for you or any others who are good birders by ear.... Have you ever heard or seen a Swainson’s Thrush in the south central PA area? I am in extreme northern York County and twice this past week, I felt like I was listening to the ever-upward-spiraling song of this elusive thrush. It did not match with any of the other thrushes or the veery. We recently saw and heard them in Kentucky and Ohio, otherwise I would have been ignorant of the song. Living in mature woods, I know I have little chance of spotting the bird with the current leaf cover. Looking for either confirmation that this is a possibility or suggestions for what I may be confusing it with. Thanks in advance...
Jady Conroy

> On May 26, 2019, at 9:17 AM, Ian Gardner <gardnie07...> wrote:
> Yesterday afternoon, my girlfriend Jess and I took a double kayak down the
> Swatara Creek from Pine Rd to Sand Beach Rd. It started out as cloudy and
> cool, but eventually opened up to a clear warm day, warm enough to leave my
> knees the color of a male House Finch’s head. Kayaking gives me a different
> perspective because I feel more connected to nature and animals are less
> likely to flee as quickly as when I’m walking. We share the same current.
> The time of year has an impact on what I see as well. May 25th means I’ll
> hear many local breeding birds, some just setting up territories and others
> with fledglings, and a few lingering migrants as well. The leaves are out
> on all the trees. Hickories and Walnuts are just about done blooming.
> Silver Maples and Box Elders are setting seeds. And Northern Catalpas
> haven’t started blooming yet, but their long split seed pods are still
> hanging from last year.
> We started out at Pine Rd, adjacent to an active Blad Eagle nest that has
> been occupied for several years now. One adult flew right over the creek as
> we put in our kayak. That also gave us Baltimore Oriole and American Crow
> as both were in active pursuit in order to defend their nearby nests. Gray
> Catbirds, Northern Cardinals, Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos, Song Sparrows,
> American Robins, and Common Grackles were ubiquitous throughout the
> riparian corridor. As we settled in to the landscape we could see toll the
> heavy spring rains left on the stream banks. After 4-6 days of clear skies
> the water level dropped at least a foot and the tree roots looked like
> knuckles of hands clinging to the soil and rocks to prevent them from
> washing away. We passed a few adult Mallards and a family group of Wood
> Ducks with hatchlings in tow. One great highlight was a mother Hooded
> Merganser with 7 chicks weaving in and out of those exposed tree roots. The
> further we traveled, the more songs started popping out. American Redstarts
> sang in choirs, rarely solo. More of a call and response. Louisiana
> Waterthrushes released a few clear whistles followed by a jumble that
> reminds me of several notes bouncing off rocks as they drop over a
> waterfall. Eastern Wood-pewees and Wood Thrushes let their soothing songs
> drift out from the forest pockets and a migrant Blackpoll Warbler let loose
> its high-pitched staccato number. At our second island split we took the
> lesser channel and ended up in the shade of several surprisingly lush
> Eastern Hemlocks. Not much further we were serenedaded by the tinkling and
> melodious song of a Winter Wren, most likely convinced to stay by the
> Hemlocks and a tumbling spring. They typically breed further north or west
> in steep wooded valleys that prominently feature narrow rushing streams. In
> between his songs we could also hear a Yellow-throated Warbler with a
> descending series of notes that rises at the very end. We rounded a turn
> that swept along a high steep mud bank and suddenly Northern Rough-winged
> Swallows darted out from their burrows. A Belted Kingfisher, likely another
> occupant of the bank, chattered from the far shore. Once out of the side
> channel and into the main current the sun finally came out and the stream
> broadened. Painted and Map Turtles were out sunning themselves on exposed
> rocks, logs, and vine tangles. As we paddled closer to an exposed Map
> Turtle to see its swirling topographic and namesake skin pattern, a
> Yellow-billed Cuckoo sallied out from a grape vine that latched itself in
> the canopy of a Sycamore. Another cuckoo sang about half a mile further
> down the stream. And every so often we would flush a Spotted Sandpiper from
> the bank and watch it flit low across the water with its wings barely
> lifting above its body. Before we knew it we were at the boat take out
> point near Sand Beach Rd. There’s a Great Blue Heron and Great Egret
> rookery just downstream that has hosted Red-headed Woodpeckers and
> Prothonotary Warblers in the recently lifeless Ash Trees. Another trip for
> another day.
> Full ebird checklist:
> Ian Gardner,
> Harrisburg, PA
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