Peace Valley Park 12/2/10

I’m just going to start off with this.  Peace Valley Park is VERY big.

Peace Valley Park is located just west of the center of Doylestown, Pennsylvania.  Visit their website: http://www.peacevalleynaturecenter.org/ for more information.  Birding this place is amazing…. just on a warmer day than when I went.

When we pulled into the Nature Center parking lot, we headed straight to the bird blind, but were stopped by some birds on the way (including Titmice, Chickadees, Juncos, and White-Crowned Sparrows).  We entered the bird blind an were immediately greeted by an overwhelming amount of birds.  It was amazing, the bird blind was like an aviary filled with hundreds of birds.  As we looked at every single bird, there was nothing uncommon to be noted…until when we were about to leave.  We stayed at the blind for so long staring in awe at the sheer number of species that we didn’t realize what time it was.  We were at the blind for about an hour and a half, and right as we were about to leave, there was an odd looking bird that we hadn’t noticed before.  I took a closer look, and it was a Pine Siskin!  The first lifer for the day!

Unfortunately, I couldn't get a better picture of my first lifer of the day, a Pine Siskin.

It was a shame, but I didn’t really get any good pictures before he flew away.  Pine Siskins look much like female House Finches when you compare both of their patterns, but have many things easily distinguishable about them too.  Some things that differentiate them from other species are their pointed bill, and the yellowish bars on their wings and tail.  They can be seen in this area in winter, but not at any other time of the year.  After we left the bird blind, we continued on a trail around the other side of the visitor center bordering a private property.  It’s a huge lake, but there proved to be no ducks, or any bird species on the lake for that matter, but then, in the distance on the other side of the lake, we saw gulls diving into the lake obviously for food.  And if there is food, there is probably other bird species there.  We took a drive to the area that we saw the gulls diving.  There were no birds to be seen, other than a HUGE flock of Canada Geese and a flock of about 30 Ring-Billed Gulls.

He (a Ring-Billed Gull) came very close to the car, a sign that he has probably been fed by people in the past.

As we scanned the water out towards the middle of the lake we noticed a flock of about 6 unusual looking ducks.  I took a closer look and got a couple of shots of them, and identified them as Common Mergansers.  Common Mergansers do not look anything like the Hooded Mergansers that I wrote about in a previous post.  The male Common Mergansers have a green head with a red bill, as well as a white neck, chest, and stomach, and a black back.  The females (which is the only gender that I saw) have a rust colored head with a pinkish bill, white neck, and gray on most other parts of their bodies.  Both genders have prominent, red feet.

Here are the female Common Mergansers, my second lifer of the day.

Again, this place is very large.  With so much space, there are bound to be rarities around every corner.  But that is for another time.

Yet another trail at Peace Valley Park.

A scenic overlook of the lake at Peace Valley.

A trail at Peace Valley on this lovely December day.

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