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Green Lane (Reservoir) Park
Montgomery County, PA

Green Lane Park (formerly Green Lane Reservoir) encompasses nearly 3,000 acres of open space in Western Montgomery County, within an hour's drive of Allentown. An 800-acre lake and a variety of terrestrial habitats make the park attractive to an impressive variety of birds. In addition to the large man-made lake, there are two smaller lakes, mixed mesophytic and upland oak forests, conifer plantations, Red-cedar barrens, fallow fields, and a shallow marsh/meadow.

Begin your tour at the tennis court parking lot on Green Lane Road.

From the parking lot, take the short walk to Knight Lake. In early autumn, scan the wooded shoreline for Wood Duck. Flocks numbering over 100 birds have been seen here in recent years, along with smaller numbers of Green and Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, and American Wigeon. Wading birds include Green, Great Blue and Little Blue Herons and Great Egret are also regular at this time. Late in autumn, look for Pied-billed and Horned Grebes, Gadwall, and nearly any of the diving ducks. Hooded Merganser sometimes winters over in good numbers.

In spring most of the waterbirds already mentioned return. In addition, all six species of swallow can be seen here most years. During the breeding season, check the scattered shade trees for nesting Warbling Vireo, Orchard Oriole and Baltimore Oriole. Before leaving the area, be sure to scan the hillside north of the parking lot for Black and Turkey Vultures and hawks. (Note: Knight Lake can also be accessed from a small parking lot on Rte 29).

When leaving the parking lot, go right at the stop sign (Green Lane Road) to another stop sign (Hill Road). Go right again to the next stop sign (Rte 29). Go left (North) for 0.7 miles and turn left into the Nature Center.

The center has an observation room overlooking a feeding station. Here one can find the expected mix of feeder birds, including Brown Creeper, Purple Finch (most years) and Fox Sparrow. While at the center, check the "Recent Bird Sightings" log and pick up a park checklist. The Nature Center trails offer decent woodland birding, but songbird variety is much better in the nearby Unami Creek Valley.

To continue on your tour,return to Rte 29 and go left (North) for 0.4 miles and turn left on Knight Road.

This road takes you past large fields and Red-cedar stands, and offers several looks at the lake. Noteworthy species to look for include Wild Turkey, Cedar Waxwing, Eastern Bluebird, and Prairie and Blue-winged Warblers. Just after crossing a bridge, make a sharp left turn on Ward Road and another left into a small parking lot. The deep-water area here offers good possibilities at any time of year. Look here for Red-throated and Common Loons, grebes, cormorants, and diving ducks in the proper seasons. Common merganser often number in the hundreds here during spring migration. It is also a good place to see Bald Eagle and Osprey.

Return to Knight Road and go left for 0.6 miles to a traffic light (Rte 663). Go straight at the light for 0.2 miles and go right on Church Road. Proceed for 0.6 miles to a gravel parking lot on the right.

From late July through October of most years, thi site can host hundreds of shorebirds of nearly 30 species. Low water levels expose up to 50 acres of mudflats are available to southbound migrants. Among the specialties seen at Church Road are American Golden Plover, White-rumped, Baird's, and Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Sanderling, Wilson's and Red-necked Phalarope, and Hudsonian Godwit. In all, 26 shorebird species are considered regular and another 5 (American Avocet, Red Knot, Willet, Ruff and Red Phalarope) are accidental. In the fall of 1991, an incredible 26 shorebird species were recorded here, illustrating the areas potential for birders.

In addition to shorebirds, 11 species of herons and egrets have been seen here. Common and Black Terns are rare here, and Forster's and Caspian Tern are occasional. Both park records for Least Tern came from Church Road. Migrant Common Nighthawk, Eastern Kingbird, and any swallow can be seen annually. Flocks of up to 300 Bobolink roost in the Phragmites stand in August and September, along with the ubiquitous Starling and Red-winged Blackbird.

By October, Common Snipe, Dunlin, yellowlegs, White-rumped and Pectoral Sandpipers are all that remain of the shorebirds. Puddle ducks including Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, and Northern Shoveler join lingering Green-wing Teal at this time. Later in the season, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead and both scaup species arrive. Late season mudflats should be checked for American Pipit and Snow Bunting. Watch also for Merlin and Peregrine Falcon (both rare), who can't resist the numerous shorebirds and songbirds here.

The shallow area northeast of the parking lot is worth exploring between October and April. (Knee high waterproof boots are recommended!). The dense plant life here can harbor both bitterns, Ring-necked Pheasant (increasingly scare in recent years), Virginia Rail, Sora, Marsh Wren and Rusty Blackbird in the appropriate seasons. Sparrows including Savannah, Field, White-crowned, Fox, Lincoln's and Swamp join the numerous Song and White-throated Sparrows each autumn.

Fall and winter are the time to find raptors at Church Road. Scan the numerous fields and hedgerows for accipiters, Red-tailed and Rough-legged (rare) Hawks, Northern Harrier, and American Kestrel. Short-eared Owls can be found here from January through Marsh of some years. Scan the nearby fields west of the parking lot before dusk and you may get your owl(s).

Northbound waterfowl usually peak in mid to late February. Small numbers of Tundra Swan and Snow Goose usually visit at this time. Scan the large flocks of Canada Geese for rare (but regular) White-fronted Goose. Check any group of gulls for Greater and Lesser Black-backed Gull, Iceland Gull, Bonaparte's and others. (Note: Birding at Church Road is best after 2:00pm or on a cloudy day. The morning glare can make birding difficult, at best.)

To complete your tour, retrace your route to the traffic light at Rte 663 and go left. Proceed on Rte 663 North for 1.2 miles to a traffic light (Montgomery Avenue) and go right to a stop sign. Turn right and take the Walt Road Boat Launch entrance on your right.

The shallow water near the Ranger station can be good for geese, dabbling ducks, and gulls among others. The deep-water areas can host a wide array of waterbirds in the proper seasons. It is, by far the best place in the park to see loons, grebes, and diving ducks including Redhead, Canvasback, Oldsquaw, scoters and others. In addition, Bald Eagles have become regular here in recent years. Scan the tree-lined peninsula opposite the fishing pier, where as many as 4 birds have been seen.

As more birders visit Green Lane Park, more is revealed about its birdlife. A total of 250 species are considered regular here and another 24 are accidental.

(This entry is a revision of an article that appeared in Pennsylvania Birds magazine, and is used here with permission of the editors. George Franchois, Gary Freed and Rick Wiltrault offered valuable editorial suggestions on the original.)

~ Kevin F. Crilley

Directions:
From the south - Take the northeast extension of the PA Turnpike to the Lansdale Exit #31. Take Rte 63 North to Green Lane, at the junction of Rte 63 and Rte 29. Turn right and take your first left onto Park Road. Go a short distance and where the road splits (Hill Road to the right) go left on Green Lane Road to begin your tour as written at the beginning of this site guide.

Use MapQuest

Facilities:
Bathroom facilities are at the nature center, as well as at various locations in the park.

To Report Sightings:
Kevin Crilley (county compiler)
PO Box 100
Sumneytown PA 18084
(215) 234-6867