The Muck (SGL 313)
Tioga
DESCRIPTION: SGL 313 is located approximately 4 miles north of Wellsboro on PA 287. It is surrounded by PA 287 on the west and by Muck Road on the north, south, and east. The largest wetland complex in the region, its combined public and private lands exceed 500 acres.

The Muck's rich organic soils have been drained and planted commercially in lettuce and celery since the 1890s. Itinerant workers were brought in and horses were sometimes lost to its depths. By the 1970s, labor and transportation costs, competition from California and Florida, and the gradual sinking of the organic soil along with increasing water levels made farming unprofitable. The PGC has acquired much of the land. Now beavers largely control water levels and the ecosystem has reverted to its natural state, highly productive of wild flora and fauna. The Muck provids critical habitat for thousands of migrating and nesting birds each year. Use caution during hunting season, especially waterfowl season.

DIRECTIONS: From US 6/PA 287, 3 miles north of Wellsboro. Go north on PA 287 for 0.4 mile and turn right on Muck Road. Drive only 1000 feet to the railroad crossing and park. Walk north along the railroad bed. There are two other access points by car: 0.3 and 0.7 mile north of the Muck Road turn right on Dresser Road (both right turns and dead ends). Wetlands are primarily on the east side of the grade, but may be found on both sides eventually. Caution: the railroad is used both commercially and by a tour line in season.

The Tiadaghton Audubon Society, in cooperation with the PGC, recently completed a trail, boardwalk, and observation blind in the heart of the marsh. There is a sign on PA 287 (at Dresser Road), directing visitors to parking lot for SGL 313.

The 2-mile stretch of wetlands (mostly emergent palustrine with pockets of shrub/scrub and open water) should provide lots of excellent birding. The cattail marshes harbor breeding Marsh Wren, Sora, Virginia Rail, King Rail, Common Moorhen, Wilson's Snipe, American Bittern, Least Bittern, and Willow and Alder flycatchers. Though these species may be seen or heard any time of day, the best times are an hour before sunset to nightfall and dawn to an hour or so after sunrise. The snipe will even winnow long into the night in April and May. You should get many other cryptic and secretive wetland species to respond as well. A canoe trip through the marsh is very rewarding. Forest edges (Tioga State Forest and private lands) adjacent to the marsh to the east and west will greatly increase your list in just this one area. Over 155 species of birds have been found in and around The Muck.

A 35-nest Great Blue Heron colony may be found north of the access points and west of PA 287 on the mountain side (visible from the highway). Green Heron nest in the woodland adjacent to the marsh and may be seen flying north and over the marsh at sunset to a common roost at the north end of the marsh. Common Nighthawk are occasionally seen working the marsh in evenings and at night. June and July highlight breeding season birds, but excellent waterfowl and shorebird sightings also occur in spring and fall.

 

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Posted: 2009-10-24 00:00:00
Updated: