Do you know where Lake Jiffy is? Never heard of it, right? Well I hadn’t either until Bill Ellis and I found the black-crowned night-heron behind the Tevco station near the airport in Westminster. While we were standing out there gawking at the bird, the manager of the Jiffy Mart In the station asked us what we were doing. I explained that we were birding (I think I said “birdwatching”.). Later, I went in the store to show her a photo I had taken of the bird. I told her that I frequently stopped to have a look in the nearby pond for birds. “Oh,” she said, “You mean Lake Jiffy. That’s what we call it.” You learn something new every day.
Lake Jiffy, along with the pond next to it and the open field across the street is a good spot to stop to look for birds. Driving north from Westminster toward Gettysburg on Route 97, you turn right at the Tevco Station. The road is called Magna Way. You can park at the Tevco Station itself or drive up the little pull-off on the right just past the station where the yellow pilings are.
There is a second pond just a short distance away on the right, however, you cannot see it from the road. Pull into the first commercial center parking lot you see and work your way to the back. You will be able to scan the second pond from there.
Over the years, the two ponds have produced a good number of species. Going back over my old notes, I found that I had seen the following there: double-crested cormorant, great-blue heron, great egret, green heron, Canada goose, mallard, hooded merganser, killdeer, greater yellowlegs, lesser yellowlegs, solitary sandpiper, spotted sandpiper, least sandpiper, and (most recently) black-crowned night heron.
In the air over the ponds you might see barn, tree, or rough-winged swallows. I have encountered all three species there. Sometimes ring-billed gulls can be plentiful. I also saw a Caspian tern once. Once, a Cooper’s hawk flew in from out of nowhere and landed in one of the trees behind the station. On another occasion, a mature bald eagle put in an appearance. Out of its back was sticking the antenna for a radio tracking device.
There are some large trees behind the ponds. These are home or stopping off spots for a number of species. My list includes song sparrow, gray catbird, northern mockingbird, northern flicker, and (of all things) a pileated woodpecker.
The vacant lot across the road is also good for birds. Bill Ellis and I have made some good finds there while doing CCBC counts. Best of the lot would be eastern meadowlark, grasshopper sparrow, and willow flycatcher.
As with any birding, timing is important. Spring and fall migration probably provide the best prospects. In the winter, the ponds can freeze over. At most times, however, Lake Jiffy and the neighboring fields are worth a look.