Centre County birds 184-185: Mute Swan and Merlin, Dec 1st 2009

On the afternoon of December 1st, I checked Colyer Lake for any late migrating or wintering waterfowl. I didn’t find too much, so I drove through some of the farm roads north of Tusseyville to look for field birds such as larks and raptors. At a small pond just off of US 322 in Tusseyville, I found two Mute Swans. These birds were probably not wild and I think they were fed and sheltered to an extent by someone who lived near the pond. I won’t get into listing philosophy just yet.

At a stop sign, I noticed what I thought was a Kestrel on a utility pole. But instead of a rusty back, I saw a dark gray back as well as dark streaking on the breast and a darker head and face without the distinctive double stripe of a Kestrel. A Merlin! It flew off towards a conifer near a farmhouse and I got some decent looks through my binoculars. This bird was an unexpected sighting and a bonus for my growing list.

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