My spring pilgrimage to Middlecreek, to see the miracles in white!
The first time I went to Middlecreek this year, many of the snow geese hadn't come in yet. There were some among the groups out on the ice, but there wasn't enough open water yet to attract them. Those that were there looked like humps of snow, but binoculars showed them snoozing with their heads tucked under their wings. There were also whistling swans, aka Arctic, or Tundra Swans, who are native to this hemisphere. I asked the birders who were nearby with enormous telescopes to be sure I had my identifications correct.
At home, I looked them up--again—-memory like a sieve these days, and discovered that these geese winter around the Carolinas, close to the sea, in the salt marshes. Then they head back to the Arctic Circle for the summer to next.
Big flocks of them stop in Middlecreek mid to late February to mid March, feeding on the fields that have been planted around the little "fake lake" created by State of PA Dept. of Conservation, probably back in the last Depression. It is birder’s heaven, and lots of folks arrive lugging tons of gear.
The next time I went was in March. It was 45 degrees, and there was much more open water. Out on the point, however, it was still winter, complete with howling, biting wind. I could barely hold my camera still, and my fingers and face were frozen.
The Snow Geese have flown over our house a lot this year, in great V’s. You can tell them by their hoarse, Canada-like voices, by the black tips on their white wings, and their blockier outline. The Whistling Swans have that elegant shape you'd expect, with long necks. They are pure white, except for their beaks. They also have prettier voices than Canadas: a sweet, whispery lament. When you hear that sound, look up and see a V of them, just for a moment, you are transported into an old German fairy tale. With the light behind them, they appear so white, illuminated from within, the essence of magic.