Monroe County is situated in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, and although there are many rural and natural places left in the county, it is also the second fastest-growing county (in terms of human population) in the state. While there are a lot of people, there are very few who seem to avidly bird the area, including the two major conservation areas, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge. So far this year, only 11 birders have submitted checklists to eBird, which is very low compared to the 43 eBirders in nearby Lehigh County.
Earlier this year, I challenged myself to do a semi-serious Monroe County big year. There will definitely be times in 2012 when I will not be able to get out, but I hope to find some good birds and some new good birding spots. Since January 1, I have been looking for any open water to add some waterfowl to my list, which seem to be difficult to find in this county. Here are a few waterfowl spots I have found that are likely to become even more active as we hit duck migration!
Weir Lake is a small, fairly developed lake right next to Route 209 near the towns of Gilbert and Brodheadsville. Even during the coldest winters, some of the lake tends to stay open. There are always Canada Geese here, often numbering in the hundreds. Numerous duck species can be found here, although the occurrence of different species can be sporadic. I have occasionally stopped at the lake two days in a row and have found completely different species each day! In the winter months, the usual inhabitants of Weir Lake include Canada Geese, Mallards, Hooded Mergansers, Ring-billed Gulls, Herring Gulls, and Belted Kingfishers. On several occasions I have seen several Wood Ducks, American Black Ducks, and Ring-necked Ducks mixed in with the more common species. Rarely something unusual shows up, such as Snow Goose, Lesser Scaup, Redhead, and American Coot. During the summer, some Canada Geese and Mallards stay, and are occasionally joined by Double-crested Cormorants.
This small lake is about five minutes away from Weir Lake. I just recently discovered this little body of water, so I have not had much time to bird it. I have seen Ring-necked Ducks here.
Saylor’s Lake is a medium-sized lake that is bordered by private property and houses on most sides. There is a parking lot to an out-of-business restaurant that allows good a good view of the lake. Although I have never seen anything particularly unusual here, there is always a large group of Common Mergansers (100+). Several birders have also seen Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the lake. I am sure that other waterfowl species use this lake in migration, but I have never birded it during those months.
Pond at Intersection of Turkey Hill and Cherry Valley Roads
Stephen Kloiber told me about this pond earlier this year. He had seen a Gadwall and an American Wigeon hanging out with a small group of Mallard and Canada Geese. Situated in the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge, I was interested in this little pond, as I had never really birded in this NWR in my home county! I’ve checked this pond several times this year and so far the two unusual ducks have been present, often with Mallards and a Wood Duck! This pond goes to show how a small farm pond can attract interesting species. There are hundreds of small ponds like this throughout southern Monroe County, so I am sure there are other great duck locations elsewhere in the county.
All of the above-mentioned locations are on this map:
View Monroe Birding Spots map.