Monday, December 06, 2010

The Duck Ponds and the Dykeman Walking Trail

My brother talked about the Duck Ponds the other day, so I went and looked it up online and figured out how to get there on Google Maps; it's only about two miles away, an easy walk. So I wandered over there on my way to doing some errands elsewhere in Shippensburg. Not only did I discover the Duck Ponds park, but I also discovered some extensive inland cattail wetlands through which the Dykeman Walking Trail wanders.

There are two ponds in the Duck Ponds park, one to the north of Dykeman Rd. and one to the south. I only visited the north pond, and that only briefly. It's a small park but there's lots to see here, not just the ponds but some cattail marshland with some open water as well. Obviously I'm going to need to come back here to explore some more.

Naturally there are ducks in the Duck Ponds. Alas, they're only the ubiquitous Mallards. I can already feel how much I'm going to miss the incredible diversity of the winter migratory waterfowl I'm used to from Gooseneck Cove and Easton's Pond back in Newport. But there's also at least one Belted Kingfisher here; it chattered loudly at me to let me know it wasn't pleased with my presence, but true to its kind it stayed well out of camera range. Oh well, when I go back I'm going to stalk it until I get a good shot!

Here's the north pond, looking south to Dykeman Road.

North of the pond Burd's Run emerges, and it's crossed by two bridges before it passes under the railroad embankment and makes its way into downtown Shippensburg and its scenic run beside McLean House.

Technically, all the trails around the Duck Ponds are part of the Dykeman Walking Trail, which means that those bridges are part of the trail. But just north of the cattail marsh next to the north pond there are two signs announcing the official presence of the Dykeman Walking Trail, the trail sign (below left) and the sign announcing who created the trail (below right).

One of the first things the trail does after it passes north of the pond and the marsh is to pass under the railroad embankment.

North of the embankment underpass the trail wanders through some woods and underbrush before it emerges into another cattail marsh, part of which is traversed by a railed wooden boardwalk.

Notice not only the cattails but also the dried husks and stems of summer Asters; I saw the dried remains of Thistle, Daisy Fleabane, and Calico Asters here. This place is obviously gorgeous in July and August. I wonder if I'll still be in the area to see it next year?

After the marsh the trail ends in Shippensburg's amateur sports grounds - baseball and football fields set up for the use of Little League and Pop Warner league play. But before it gets there it passes by more marsh and woodland, and while I was there I saw plenty of Dark-eyed Juncos and heard some Northern Flickers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. I need to get back to this area for more exploration and some serious birding. And it's only two miles from home! Yup, I'll definitely be back.

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. Great photos--see, that's what I like in December weather! The mallard close-up is really beautiful--maybe next year's bird calendar--I picked up a copy of this years as a Xmas present for someone!

  2. Thanks guys! And thanks for buying a calendar, John.

  3. looks like a lovely trail. I wonder what else will show up at the pond. I bet something besides a Mallard will eventually drop in. You have a wonderful capture of him!

  4. Though it may not be Ballard Park nor Gooseneck Cove, I'm so happy to see you are out and about and taking pictures. These pictures are just gorgeous.

  5. Great Shots Roy.How do I Buy a calendar?Tell Us Again!

  6. Tony, just click the "My Photography for Sale on" link in my sidebar to the right near the top. Thaqnks!

  7. This is beautiful. Funny... Dykemans are my ancestors and it looks like you know something about RI because Easton's Pond is about 6 blocks from my parent's house in Newport. How wierd is that ??? :)

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