Centre County, PA listing adventure

Fox Sparrow, Red subspecies group; my 183rd species in Centre County, PA; from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Passerella_iliaca-001.jpg

My Centre County listing obsession began on October 30th 2009. On that cloudy, chilly day I went to Colyer Lake off of US 322 southeast of State College. Among other species, I happened to see a Double-crested Cormorant perched on a log far out in the lake and pished up a Fox Sparrow in a small brushy ditch behind the parking lot. That evening after entering my sightings into eBird, I noticed that my Centre County list had gone up by two. I hadn’t known that those two birds were new for me for the county and it had been a while since I saw a new species in the county. The total stood at 183, and I figured that the artificial milestone of 200 should be within reach before I left Pennsylvania. That night, I took a look at the local checklist from the State College Bird Club and marked the species I thought would be possible to see in the next eight or nine months. They were:

  • Mute Swan
  • Greater Scaup (always reported in low numbers during the fall and spring duck migrations, but are very hard to distinguish from the more common Lesser Scaup)
  • Wild Turkey (couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen one yet)
  • American Bittern (annual at Toftrees)
  • Golden Eagle (just a matter of finally getting up to the Tussey Mountain Hawkwatch a few times in mid-March and waiting)
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Sora (intermittently reported from Julian Marsh in the spring, mostly heard. I’d jut have to go there often in the spring)
  • Wilson’s Snipe (reported every spring from Millbrook Marsh but I’d never seen one. This was going to be the year!)
  • Herring Gull
  • Northern Saw-whet Owl
  • Alder Flycatcher (Surely at Bear Meadows)
  • White-eyed Vireo (Joe assured me that White-eyed Vireos were regular at Toftrees on the way to the pond)
  • Bank Swallow
  • American Pipit
  • Worm-eating Warbler (I’d seen all the other common warblers in the county, why not this one?)
  • Vesper Sparrow
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Snow Bunting

If I saw all of those, I’d be up to 201. Easy, right? Well, some of those were more certain than others. In the end, I found 11 of these 18, so I was ok at predicting my future sightings. Some of these I missed but other spectacular birds for the county made up for it and I surpassed my goal of 200.

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2 Responses to Centre County, PA listing adventure

  1. Joe Verica says:

    Nice blog. I signed up for site updates so I can follow your adventures in the SW. I am shooting for 200 birds in the county this year. I am only at 172 now. Not sure if I will make it. If i pick up a few migrants and we have a good winter for ducks, I might have a shot. We’ll see…. I saw on eBird that you are moving up the Bernalillo County list as well. Good luck birding. Looking forward to reading future posts.

  2. abqbirding says:

    Thanks, Joe! Good luck to you–I hope the fall migration is a good one.

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