|Huge Number of Snow Geese in
Merrill Creek Reservoir in Western New Jersey
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賞鳥奇觀： 一大群雪雁， 淩空飛起， 密密麻麻，成群翻飛歡舞，在空中鳴叫，聲勢浩
大， 蔚為壯觀，是賞鳥者夢寐以求的地方， 印象深刻，不虛此行。
Spectacular view of huge number of snow geese flying at Merrill Creek Reservoir in western New Jersey on
the afternoon of February 21, 2013 as viewed from the Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet-Outlet Tower. This is a
very scenic area full of breathtaking landscape and famous for natural air show of huge number of snow
geese. This reservoir is about one hour driving distance from East Brunswick in New Jersey. Three friends and
I went to Merrill Creek Reservoir to enjoy winter birding on February 21, 2013. We had to put on heavy winter
coat with hood and gloves because the weather was cold and windy.
I also took a video of the fantastic air show of these snow geese in action over Merrill Creek Reservoir as
shown at the following YouTube website:
Merrill Creek Reservoir is a very large reservoir. The best location to see huge number of snow geese in
action is Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet-Outlet Tower as shown in the following photos.
At about 4:30 PM the snow geese took off in several groups leaving Merrill Creek Reservoir and might be
migrating further north.
More groups of snow geese were flying high leaving Merrill Creek Reservoir in late afternoon. The Snow
Goose departure was a spectacle. We were lucky to be there for more than one hour before those snow
geese flew away.
I saw this immature bald eagle flying around Merrill Creek Reservoir. Some other visitors saw two bald
eagles. They told us that there is a eagle nest on a tall tree in the woods near the shore of Merrill
Creek Reservoir and located along Fox Farm Road. The Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet-Outlet Tower
provides easy viewing access to the eagle nest, yet keeps visitors at a safe distance.
Another large group of gulls cluster at The Point in Merrill Creek Reservoir.
Zoom in for closer view of the large group of gulls.
Many of these gulls were also performing very impressive air show.
Breathtaking views, peaceful, crystal clear water, smell of pine trees, and many birds. It couldn't get better
than that! Would defiantly go back. What a gorgeous place.
This is the Inlet-Outlet Tower with a bridge connection to the Overlook Parking Lot.
Merrill Creek Reservoir is a 650-acre reservoir surrounded by a 290-acre Environmental Preserve and 2000
additional acres of woods and fields. It was the first engineering project of its kind in the world; the purpose of
the reservoir is to replace water taken from the Delaware River for energy production by local power plants.
Water is drawn from the Delaware River by underground pipeline to the reservoir in the springtime, when the
river is full; and drawn from the reservoir to the river in summer, when energy consumption (and therefore
water usage by utility companies) is at its highest.
In other words, Merrill Creek Reservoir is jointly owned by several power generation companies and being
used like a big rechargeable battery. In the springtime when the Delaware River is full of water, the river water
is pumped up (i.e., charged) to this reservoir on Scott's Mountain top at 1,000 feet of elevation. In the summer
time when the energy consumption is highest, the water is drawn (drain) from this 1,000-foot high reservoir
down to the river for use by the utility companies.
In addition to that basic purpose, Merrill Creek Reservoir provides a tranquil setting of water and land that
allows people to interact with the nature. Amazing free nature facilities provided by a private organization of
several power generation companies. Some visitors give a 6 star rating for this beautiful place.
Stunning panoramic view of Merrill Creek Reservoir from the Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet-Outlet Tower
located at the top of Scott's Mountain with elevation of 1,000 feet.
Need for Super-Zoom Camera or Binoculars on this huge Reservoir:
Notice the small white patch at The Point on the surface of the reservoir in the middle of this picture. That small
white patch is the large cluster of huge number of gulls shown in several pictures above. I was using my
compact super-zoom camera (Canon PowerShot SX50 HS) with 50X optical zoom to zoom in to be able to get
those close up pictures of many gulls shown above. The large group of snow geese was beyond the right side
of this picture and at a much greater distance away. Therefore, super-zoom camera is necessary to zoom in
to take reasonable pictures of many birds very far away on this huge reservoir. That is also the reason that
those birds do not look very sharp on the pictures because those birds are so far away. For the same reason,
a permanently mounted public binocular is available at this Overlooking Parking Lot to help visitors who have
no binoculars or spotting scopes of their own.
A map of local area of Merrill Creek Reservoir is available at the following website:
It is the best location from December through early March to enjoy the spectacular views of Snow Geese on
this large reservoir. When they take off into the air, it is like watching a choreographed display as the flocks
move as one. This Overlook Parking Lot on top of Scott's Mountain is the best place for: (1) Panoramic View
of Merrill Creek Reservoir and snow geese in winter season, (2) Awesome view of Delaware River Valley in
the opposite direction, (3) Views of resident bald eagles, their nest and offspring, and (4) Excellent hawk
watch during autumn hawk migration season because this site is on a major raptor flyway. On their peak day,
usually during the third week of September at Scott's Mountain, it is possible to count thousands of raptors as
they pass overhead in swirling flocks called "kettles". The one-day record for broad-wing hawks at Scott's
Mountain was in 1983 when over 18,500 of them were sighted. Therefore, this Overlook Parking Lot is also
known as Scott's Mountain Hawk Watch.
Many pictures of hawk watchers at this Overlook Parking Lot on Scott's Mountain during hawk migration
season can be seen at the following website:
Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet-Outlet Tower on Scott's Mountain off Fox Farm Road.
Gated entrance driveway from Fox Farm Road into the Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet-Outlet Tower (i.e.,
Scott's Mountain Hawk Watch).
Sign at the gated entrance to the Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet-Outlet Tower.
This Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet Tower and Visitor Center are on opposite sides of the large reservoir. The
official street address for this gated entrance to the Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet-Outlet Tower is 200 Fox
Farm Road, Harmony Township, New Jersey 08865. However, when I put this street address of "200 Fox
Farm Road, Harmony" into Google Map, the location marker on Google Map is about 1,500 feet north of the
gated entrance on the Fox Farm Road. But if I put the address of 185 Fox Farm Road, Harmony, NJ" into
Google Map, the location marker on Google Map is closer, just slightly south to the gated entrance to the
Overlook Parking Lot. Therefore, I use this address in the following Google Map to show location of Overlook
Map: Click here for interactive Google Map showing location of Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet-Outlet Tower
Direction: To reach the Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet-Outlet Tower (i.e., the Scott’s Mountain Hawk Watch):
Take I-78 west to Exit 3, the last exit in New Jersey. Go 1.1 miles to the traffic light at Route 519 and turn
right (north). Go 2.2 miles north on 519, crossing Route 57, and turn right onto Fox Farm Road, at the small
sign for Merrill Creek Reservoir. Go 2.6 miles, bearing right at the fork after one mile, to the entrance to the
parking lot, on the right.
Three of several swans in Merrill Creek Reservoir.
Many Canada geese and some other waterfowl in Merrill Creek Reservoir.
Many snow geese and Canada geese standing on the ice sheet at Fogelsville Quarry in Upper Macungie Park
in Lehigh Valley in eastern Pennsylvania. In early afternoon of February 21, 2013, we drove west from New
Jersey to the Fogelsville Quarry in eastern Pennsylvania first to see many snow geese and Canada geese in
this quarry. A rare pink-footed goose that breeds in Greenland and winters in Europe has been spotted at the
Fogelsville quarry. It's a pretty big deal according to the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society. The Fogelsville quarry
is considered one of the top 50 birding spots in the Lehigh Valley.
Fogelsville Quarry is an old and very deep quarry and is surrounded by high fence for the safety of visitors. We
had to take pictures through the mesh of this high fence as shown in the following picture.
Fogelsville Quarry is located at the junction of PA 100 & Nursery St. in Fogelsville, PA 18051. After touring
Fogelsville Quarry briefly, we then drove east to Merrill Creek Reservoir in New Jersey.
In late winter, millions of snow geese will be migrating north to arctic tundra. Therefore, in the last week of
February and the first week of March, visitors may see even more snow geese stopping at these locations for
one or two weeks as the staging ground for their massive migration north to arctic tundra. In addition to Merrill
Creek Reservoir in western New Jersey and Fogelsville Quarry in Lehigh Valley, three other important
locations to see huge number of snow geese in action in winter are: (A) Middle Creek Wildlife Management
Area in Pennsylvania as shown on my web page at:
(B) Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware as shown on my web page at:
and (C) Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in southern coastal New Jersey as shown on my web page at:
However, it is important to call the visitor centers of these locations to make sure that the large number of
snow geese have arrived and are still staying there before you start driving to go to those locations. There is a
possibility that the snow geese may have left already on their way north to arctic tundra.
The bald eagle might have harassed the group of snow geese to cause the choreographed group acrobatics
flight shown in the first two pictures and in the YouTube video above.
而行， 離去，夢影飄風， 留下賞鳥者感悟生靈與天地，戀戀不捨的心情。
The visitor center of Merrill Creek Reservoir is located at 34 Merrill Creek Road, Harmony Township (or
Washington Township depending on which map you are using), New Jersey, 07882. Visitor Center Phone:
(908) 454-1213. The website of Merrill Creek Reservoir is at:
Map: Click here for interactive Google Map showing location of Boat Launch Parking Lot at Merrill Creek
The Visitor Center is about 400 feet to the left of Boat Launch Parking Lot on this map. However, the visitor
center and the Boat Launch Parking Lot are situated in one of the inlets and the view is severely limited by the
narrow inlet with tall trees on both sides of the inlet. A much better panoramic view of the entire large reservoir
is at the Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet-outlet Tower as described above.
To reach the Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet-Outlet Tower (i.e., the Scott’s Mountain Hawk Watch) from Visitor
1. From visitor Center go back (northeast) on Merrill Creek Road for 1 mile to reach junction with Richline
2. Turn left (north) into Richline Rd and go west for 0.5 mile to reach junction with Fox Farm Rd.
3. Turn left (west) into Fox Farm Rd. and go west for about 2 miles, turn left (southeast) into the gated
entrance driveway to the Overlook Parking Lot of Inlet-Outlet Tower and Scott’s Mountain Hawk Watch.