The County of Lancaster began its commitment to parks and open space in 1966 with the acquisition of 397 acres to form Lancaster County Central Park. The park combines spacious lawns and rolling weedy fields with wooded hillsides. Two waterways wind their way through the park. The woodlands are mainly mixed hardwoods, with a few stands of evergreens.

The Amish farmland of eastern Lancaster County is predominantly agricultural with small population centers located along the major highways that intersect the area. The land is characterized by broad, gently rolling slopes and level-to-undulating lowlands. Two waterways drain the area: Mill Creek, south of PA 23, and the Conestoga River, north of PA 23.

Driving through the farm country can be difficult and frustrating because the roads are generally narrow and poorly maintained. Parking is usually limited to pulling off to the side of the road. All land is private property and permission from the farmer must be obtained before entering any fields.

The most productive time to visit this area is the winter months -- November through March. The arctic tundra birds are the target species. For best results, every field and tree should be checked.

A chain of wooded islands and interconnecting mudflats (the Conojohela Flats) lies just offshore from the small settlement of Washington Boro. Here the river is wide and calm. Its bayward journey is momentarily slowed by the Safe Harber Dam, located a few miles downriver. Regardless of the season, these river islands provide some of the county's most unusual birding. Many of the recently-added birds to the county's list have been discovered here.

The Water Authority Thicket can be reached by driving east on Blue Rock Road for 0.3 miles from PA 441. This tangled haven for birdlife has been very productive on recent Christmas Counts. Park along the entrance to the Lancaster Area Sewer Authority building. Permission is generally not required to enter the area. Walking through the thick vegetation may be difficult because the trails are not well-defined, but the effort is usually repaid with large numbers of songbirds.

The drive from Rock Hill to Safe Harbor follows the quiet waters of the Conestoga River. Wooded hillsides line this route and comprise the best woodland habitat in the central Susquehanna area. The shaded woods, often with a lush carpet of wildflowers, and peaceful river banks, make a pleasant setting for very good birding. The Conestoga River ends its trip through Lancaster County at Safe Harbor. Land birding in this vicinity can be very rewarding. There are extensive woodlands, both deciduous and coniferous (planted), and several large areas are maintained as public parks.

The Susquehanna River in the Safe Harbor Dam area is attractive to large numbers of gulls, and -- at times -- to concentrations of waterfowl. There is an extensive area above the dam at the Observation Point that provides good birding opportunities the year round.

Chickies Hill Nature Preserve, purchased by the Lancaster County Conservancy in the late 1970's, overlooks the boulder-studded Susquehanna River. The area is attractive for birding, leisurely hiking, and for viewing from the scenic lookout high above the river. Located off PA 441 approximately one mile north of US 30, the area is best birded during both migrations. A system of trails begins at a large unpaved parking area on the west side of PA 441.

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