So I was driving around northeast Pennsylvania in the spring checking out campgrounds for Best Tent Camping: Pennsylvania 2nd ed, and I had a couple of interesting experiences. First I discovered a beautiful little park located on Silver Lake Road a few miles west of Dingmans Ferry, PA. Named for a noted Pennsylvania philanthropist, George W. Childs Park is situated along the banks of Dingmans Creek. The creek in this area has several dramatic waterfalls (if I am not mistaken, a photo of one graces the cover of the new edition of my BTC PA book) and a pleasant loop trail of about a mile and a half. The trail was under construction last spring, but I suspect it is either finished or close to finished by now. Driving beyond that, I discovered the sweetest campsite, which is illustrated in the last photograph of the gallery below.
Continuing on my way, I found myself driving on dirt roads in the middle of the Delaware State Forest looking for the Snow Hill campsites, which I eventually found. On my way, though, I came across a flock of wild turkeys wandering around on the road. There were six of them in all, five hens and one gobbler or Tom, who turned out to be quite protective of his harem. I stopped to watch them, and they seemed pretty much unperturbed by the presence of my little Honda Fit. So I rolled down the window, and gave them a kind “gobble, gobble.” The Tom evidently saw this as a challenge, and began quite an impressive display of plumage as he approached the car making all sorts of racket. Eventually, he came right up to the car and started pecking at the front bumper! After a few pecks, he walked up into the woods on the side of the road. When he got off the road, I started rolling slowly away, and because the hens were in the woods in the direction I was going, he got all anxious and came back out and started pecking at the car again. At that point, I put on the handbrake and got out of the car, and they all scattered.
After this encounter, I felt compelled to read up a bit on turkeys. Interestingly, the population of turkeys in the eastern U.S. was almost wiped out by the late 1800s because logging activities had pretty much denuded the birds’ habitat. Thanks to a restocking program in PA in the 1950s, the current population exceeds 150,000. This information from Charles Fergus’ Wildlife of Pennsylvania and the Northeast, an excellent book. But even with these numbers the birds don’t usually live much beyond two years on account of disease, starvation, and hunting.