Listing in PA and the run to see the AWPE

To start off with, I want to say that my Pennsylvania list is not really that impressive. Yet. I have been making great strides now that I have been spending more time in PA. I believe I was at around 240 about this time last year, and I am currently sitting at 257, with about 13 that I should be able to see with just a little bit of luck and a whole lot of stuff that will require a little bit more than luck.

To make it easier on myself, I have created a spreadsheet with all the birds that I would very much like to see in Pennsylvania. My biggest holes are waterbirds, sea ducks and shorebirds. I am missing both bitterns, maybe seven species of shorebirds and 2 of the scoters. Some of these birds just require visiting the Conejohela Flats with a little more regularity in the fall. Other species I want to see will require the perfectly aligned tropical storm to sweep out of the Atlantic and blow some storm-petrels, shearwaters, or terns my way. One, Whip-poor-will, only requires that I can drag myself out of bed before my bird surveys start (5am) to listen in some good habitat.

The one enjoyable thing about state listing is that it adds more excitement to seeing birds that are strays and vagrants from other parts of the country. I may have seen 50 Lazuli Buntings in the Dakotas and Montana, but seeing one in Pennsylvania was somehow even more special.

A bird I just recently added to my list for PA is American White Pelican. One individual was spotted a few days ago along the Susquehanna River north of Harrisburg. When it was relocated the next morning, I received a phone call that I should come and see it. At this time it was sitting calmly in the way, providing distant looks. I immediately started the 40 min drive to the river. Not more than 5 minutes into my drive I got a call that the pelican was taking off, circling up in a thermal and giving every impression that it was going to keep going up and leave. Well, I decided I might as well head to the river anyway and see what was there. I continued driving and a little later I received another phone call, this time telling me that it was still in the air, hurry! I picked up the pace a little once I was on a major route and had almost reached the rendezvous point when I got another call telling me to turn around, it was now south of their. I whipped my little car around and started heading south, pulling off the side of the busy 322 as Tom frantically pointed up at the circling bird. I leaped out and got to watch it for maybe ten minutes as it lazily circled up and down the river and finally disappeared from view. The pelican had been in the air for almost an hour total, an amazingly long time. I had really lucked out.

An excellent shot is available at Tom’s photo site.