I spent a lot of last weekend, as i have been doing more and more these days, exploring the trails at the PPl Wetlands and Riverlands. Located in Salem Township on the eastern edge of Luzerne County , these wetlands are next to the the Susquehanna River here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
I guess I am somewhat of a creature of habit and know I will always find some interesting mammal, reptile, amphibian, bird or insect here and I love spending time in the woods at the wetlands looking for them.
It was a cloudy and cool morning last Saturday with some thunderstorms in the forecast so I decided to walk the trails in the wetlands with my fixed 400 mm lens knowing I would be limited in photographing objects such as birds, insects and animals from afar.
It was a good decision since the overcast skies and cooler morning temperature seemed to encourage a lot of wildlife activity. I observed this cardinal high atop a tree as I drove in the wetlands.
I saw a few wood duck chicks scamper into cover along one of the canals only getting a photographs of this last one of the bunch.
And I caught this groundhog also scampering into the safety of the brush as I approached.
There trees were filled with the song of birds including this hooded warbler.
And a number of song sparrows.
As I walked along the trails I cam upon this great blue heron. My previous blog posts contains more comments on my encounter with this beautiful bird and here is a link to some more photographs. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/birds-of-pennsylvania/nggallery/birds-of-pennsylvania/great-blue-heron-PPL-wetlands-July-8-2017
I heard the deep bellowing croaks of the bullfrogs as I walked through the wetlands but couldn’t get a photograph of any of them. The many turtles on the banks and logs weren’t as elusive.
I came across a family of geese feeding on some vegetation growing along one of the canals of the wetlands.
And saw a green heron, a smaller relative of the great blue heron, along Lake Took-A-While.
And some woodpeckers were also looking for a meal, including this hairy or downy woodpecker I have a difficult time telling them apart. ,
and this red-bellied woodpecker. I also saw two pileated woodpecker but they flew off before I could capture a photograph.
The clouds broke and, as the sun warmed it up the dragonflies became active and I was able to photograph a few of these colorful and intriguing creatures.
I spent a few more hours roaming the wetlands than I had planned but , for a nature lover like me, it sure was worth it. Here is a link to a few photographs of the many things I saw on my hike last Saturday . http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-July-8-2017-
I returned to the wetlands early Sunday, which was a sunny, cooler and less humid day and started my hike along the Susquehanna River. I walked the ancient trees and took in the sunlight filtering from the canopy of leaves on what was once a Native American path known as the Great Warrior Trail.
I have written a few blog posts about this trail and they can be found by searching my blog archives.
I decided to drive to the Riverlands section of the preserve, and hike another section of the Great Warrior Trail that I have never been on before.
It begins at the eastern edge of the PPl Riverlands and proceeds east and north between the Susquehanna river and Route 11.
The trail started following an old railroad track. It soon left the deep woods of the wetlands and riverlands and, with the more open areas, had many of the familiar wild plants of northeastern Pennsylvania growing along the trails, such as common mullein, milkweed, pokeweed, touch-me nots and burdock, shown here. These plants were much larger here, growing in the rich soil near the river, than the ones that grow near my home and in poor clay soil on the high ridges where I am located.
The trail left the railroad tracks and proceeded along a small pond.
I stopped and enjoyed this wonderful scene and imagined the many happy memories the folks who used the dock to dive in and swim in this pond over the years.
I continued along the trail but will be honest and say it was too close to the traffic of Route 11 for my liking. There were plenty of wildflowers along the way such as these daylilies,
and a lot of the common birds found in these, in these roadside areas, such as the robins, catbirds and, of course the red-winged blackbirds.
However, I think the trail was to close to the traffic and human activity to allow any observation of the more shy wildlife found in the deeper woods and wetlands. So, I decided to return to the wetlands. It was still a pleasant hike for folks just wanting to get outdoors and certainly worth exploring.
When I returned to the wetlands I decided to walk along the shores of Lake- Took-A-While with my macro lens and try and photograph some of the many dragonflies now skirting along the water.
They are so many different species of these ancient insects, each with their distinct colors.
And even members of the same species each have their own unique patterns of color. I could spend an entire day observing them. Here is a link to some more photographs of some of the dragonflies I observed. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-dragonflies-July-9-2017-
I also took some photographs of the plants along the wetlands with my macro lens, which always look so different looked at up close.
This is a leaf from a corn stalk. Here is a link to some more photographs taken with my macro lens. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-macro-July-9-2017
Again, I spent a few more hours than I wanted to at the wetlands, but, I sure enjoyed it. I love the Summer here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike out the wetlands and riverlands last Sunday. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-and-Great-Warrior-Trail-July-9-2017-
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
― Albert Einstein