After yesterday’s spotting of a Northern Flicker (I know they’re common around here, but we haven’t seen one in the yard in a long time) I was interested in seeking out more interesting birds. We hadn’t hiked at the new Archbald Regional Park in a few months so we headed there to check out the trail conditions for possible mountain biking later in the week. It just so happens that the park’s small ponds are also typically good spots for bird watching.
We stayed cool and dry while hiking the short wooded trails near the parking lot, but even out in the open conditions were picture-perfect, sunny and dry. The trails are mostly dry too, and will be excellent for biking after a few more dry days. As soon as we reached the twin ponds, Rich noticed a duck and some other birds along the shoreline that turned out to be killdeer and a green heron. We watched the heron for at least half an hour as he waded into the water and then popped back onto shore. We got close enough to see him snatch and then wrestle with a fish that must have been a large meal for him. It took him ten minutes of maneuvering before he could finally swallow the slippery critter! Perched atop a little wooden birdhouse on the far shore we spotted a dull-blue and white bird that resembled a small kingfisher, but we still haven’t identified it. And a great blue heron soared over the other birds before disappearing into a marsh to the north. I see them frequently and it always amazes me that such a large, graceful bird is so common here. We also found a red-winged blackbird atop a tree near the pond as we resumed our hike around the park.
Our evening hours were spent at Lackawanna State Park, where we found and hiked a short portion of the North Woods Trail. It was new to both of us. With daylight leaving quickly and having gotten a sense of how the trail would be for mountain biking, we bushwhacked straight up the hill to emerge at the old amphitheater near the campgrounds. I wanted to search for the spot where my father and I discovered entire thickets of huge, sweet blackberries, many years ago. We found the spot but sadly, very few blackberries. They must have been choked out by the surrounding weeds. Near the campground we found several more fruitful bushes, the nearby grass already trampled by berry pickers (or, as Rich suggested and I preferred to imagine it, bears). It was a beautiful, peaceful walk in the park, as they always are, followed by ice cream (again, as usual). And another great blue heron flew over us while we walked near the dam.