I’ve been too many days without a new species and with the cold weather predicted for Sunday I decide to take advantage of the somewhat milder temperatures on Saturday. So, Gus and I head off to a place I have seen as a Birding Hotspot on eBird, but I have never been to. It is called Cherry Hill Reservoir, and from where I live, there is no direct route to get there. We must travel back roads, so off we go.
Our route takes us around Lake Cochichewick and though we should turn right onto Route 133 towards Georgetown, I decide to have Gus go straight across onto Bradford road where I have seen another Birding Hotspot marked on eBird. I have never been on this road in the year and a half that I have lived here. As we come down a little hill to a wetland area I see a huge flock of mallards in the still unfrozen water. Gus pulls over for me to count the birds and I am all excited because, mixed in with all the mallards I see…
We continue our journey over hill and dale, around curves and across intersections. We travel past golf courses, through neighborhoods of modest homes as well as mansions, past farmland and woodlands and finally we are there! As we pull into the first pull off so I can jump out to see what I can see, I see this huge castle-like mansion sitting on the brow of the hill, overlooking it all.
Then a car pulls in next to us and asks if I can see the canvasback that has been hanging out here. I did not even know a canvasback was hanging out here! It is getting very cold and the wind has picked up. I have jumped out of the car so quickly that in my excitement I forgot to put my gloves back on. My hands are freezing, but I look into the cove below the mansion where they say the bird hangs out. I can see nothing. I scan the whole shoreline. Nothing. So, they pull away and I jump back into the car. Gus and I head down the road, passing the water on our left and more homes on our right. We come the end of the water and the road continues up a little hill. We turn around and head back, then Gus pulls over at the south end of the reservoir. I jump out once again to see what I can see, but all I see, at first, are some crows flying over the water. Then, suddenly, I spot a glistening silver body at the north end of the water right where I just came from! I jump back in and and have Gus drive us back. As we pull alongside the guardrail I can see the duck right outside my window! Gus pulls over and I start shooting pictures from inside the car.
The duck looks at me warily over its shoulder, then paddles away towards the cove. Apparently, while we were looking for it in the northwest corner, it was somewhere along the middle of the western bank hugging the shoreline and close to the road. Now as I stand watching and photographing, it paddles its way slowly back to the northwest corner where the other birders told me it is usually seen.
As the sun sinks lower and the wind blows colder I jump back in the heated car with Gus. (If you enlarge the photo above you can still see the canvasback as a tiny silver dot in the lower right corner of the photo just to the left of the bush!)
While I only saw 3 species of birds here today, I will definitely come back to this place, though it would be nice to find a quicker way to get here! Earlier this fall a vagrant Cassin’s Kingbird was seen hanging out around this reservoir. Another birder told me it was seen as late as January 8th of this year! Well, that’s a bird for another day, but I am glad I finally took the trip to Cherry Hill!
Click on the link below to see the latest update on my