On the morning of New Year's Eve, Lehigh Valley birders participated in a 112-year old holiday tradition - the Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count. Once every winter, volunteers around the United States wake at dawn to count and identify wild birds. The count is the longest-running wildlife census, and participation is open to experienced birders and beginners alike.
Saturday's count took place at the Archibald Johnston Conservation Area, where 35 species were identified by local naturalist Corey Husic, including wild turkeys, red-tailed hawks, American robins, sparrows, chickadees, red-bellied woodpeckers, a belted kingfisher, and over 300 snow geese.
Located in Bethlehem Township at the northern edge of the Pennsylvania Highlands, The Archibald Johnston Conservation Area is an ecological and historical treasure, and a perfect spot for winter birdwatching. Old orchards and grassy fields are bordered with forested gullies that sweep down to the sparkling Monocacy Creek. At the eastern end of the property is the former home of Archibald Johnston, the first mayor of the city of Bethlehem. Though its current state is somewhat faded, architectural details like the delicately carved shutters hint at the 17-room Georgian Colonial mansion's former majesty.
The Archibald Johnston Estate is located at 3817 Christian Springs Road, Bethlehem, PA 18017. The driveway is on the left, and the winding drive will take you back to the park.