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Greater White-fronted Geese and a Merlin

Alex Lamoreaux|

This morning I decided to try and find a group of nine Greater White-fronted Geese that had been reported at a lake about an hour from my house. My friend Matt McElwee was willing to tag along for the ride, as long as we made a stop at a Farmer’s Market near Lancaster first. So we hit the rode by 8am, went to the Farmer’s Market, and stopped by Midde Creek WMA on our way to Lake Ontelaunee (where the geese were supposed to be).

Middle Creek had hundreds of Canada Geese, American Black Ducks, and Mallards as well as quite a few Tundra Swans and a few other waterfowl species. We made it to Lake Ontelaunee by 11:00am and there were also hundreds of Canada Geese, American Black Ducks, and Mallards swimming or standing around the small area of open water. I scanned through the hundreds of waterfowl over and over, but couldnt spot the Greater White-fronted Geese. Matt and I decided to try nearby Moselem Springs Golf Course, where the geese have also been seen. On our way to the golf course, along Maiden Creek Rd, I spotted a Merlin perched on top of a telephone pole and Matt spotted a female Ring-necked Pheasant standing alongside the road. I pulled up under the falcon and began to take photos though my sunroof and the bird didnt even mind. After taking about 60 photos, we drove away and the Merlin stayed put, scanning for a meal. Based on the dark color of the upperside of the Merlin, this bird is either an adult female or a juvenile.

Merlin

Merlin

We made it to Moselem Springs Golf Course a little after 12pm. There were hundreds of Canada Geese present, but after a quick scan through the flock, Matt spotted the Great White-fronted Geese foraging among the Canada Geese. There were also 31 Gadwall and 2 Mute Swans at the golf course. The geese were a decent distance from the road, but we were able to get great looks through my scope.

Greater White-fronted Goose (cell phone/scope pic)

Greater White-fronted Geese

About the Author

Alex Lamoreaux

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Alex Lamoreaux has been an avid birder and naturalist since he was a youngster, growing up exploring the farmland and Appalachian ridges near Hershey, Pennsylvania. He attended Penn State University, studying wildlife biology. Alex has traveled extensively throughout North America, Central America, and South Africa and is a freelance nature tour guide, field biologist, and wildlife photographer. Alex has worked on wildlife research projects ranging from Whimbrel migration along the coast of Virginia to Yellow-billed Cuckoo nesting in the desert southwest. He has been the migration counter at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory for the past two fall seasons, documenting the massive visible migration of raptors and songbirds along Lake Superior. Alex loves to share his knowledge of nature, and strives to bring the birding community together to share in the fun that studying birds and wildlife has to offer. He has helped to organize and coordinate birding events in his home state of Pennsylvania and beyond. Contact Info Alex Lamoreaux aslamoreaux@gmail.com (717) 943-7086

  • Hopefully they are still there when I can get over to Ontelaunee/Moselem Springs after Christmas.