Dragonflies, Birds And A Lot Of Other Cool Stuff At The PPL Wetlands.

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. trees along Susquehanna River

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. woodlands in PPL wetlands

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. cardinal perched in tree

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. cardinal in flight

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. wood duck swimming in duckweed covered pond

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. hooded warbler perched on branch

And a number of song sparrows. song sparrow in grass

and flycatchers. flycatcher on branch

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-8-2017great blue heron in wetlands

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. three turtles on a log

I came across a family of geese feeding on some vegetation growing along one of the canals of the wetlands.three canada geese feeding in wetlands

And saw a  green heron, a smaller relative of the great blue heron,  along Lake Took-A-While. green heron on  a lake

And some woodpeckers were also looking  for a meal, including this hairy or downy woodpecker I have a difficult time telling them apart. ,hairy or downy woodpecker on tree

and this red-bellied woodpecker. I also saw two  pileated woodpecker but they flew off before I could capture a photograph.red-bullied woodpecker on branch

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-young song sparrow on tree

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. sun filtering through leaves

I have written a few blog posts about this trail and they can be found by searching my blog archives.  trees along Susquehanna River

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. signpost for Great Warrior Trail

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. burdock growing along trail

The trail left the railroad tracks and proceeded along a small pond.pond along trail

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. pond with trees and flowers

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,close up of day lily flower

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. red winged blackbird on branch

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. Great warrior trail

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. dragonfly on twig

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-dragonfly on twig

I also took some photographs of the plants along the wetlands with my macro lens, which always look so different looked at up close.macro photo of plant

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


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Back To The PPL Wetlands, An Early Start Was Rewarded With Wood Ducks And Kingfishers

It has always been hard for me to get enough sleep in the Summer.  The birds start singing  about a half hour before the sunrise, which occurs around 5:30 a.m. near the solstice here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  And evening twilight lingers for about an hour after sunset which occurs around 8:40 p.m. I don’t like  to miss either.  But I was up late Saturday night  so I missed the Sunday  sunrise. It was a beautiful sunny morning and  I  decided to skip my usual early morning walk through my  neighborhood and head down back  to the PPL Wetlands.

I arrived around 8 a.m., still too late to watch the wetlands awake, but early enough  to to see  some of the early morning activity of many of the birds and animals before the heat of the day set in. 

I love the early morning sunshine and how it filters through the trees and lights up the leaves. It is a magical time of the day.

And I was soon rewarded for my early arrival when I found this usually shy and elusive mother wood duck sitting on a log with her ducklings. 

I also encountered many birds looking for, and some finding, a breakfast meal, such as this song sparrow and it’s dragonfly snack.

 As I walked  under the trees in  filtered morning sunlight I  spooked a deer, some rabbits, chipmunks and this curious red squirrel. 

I again walked past plenty of clusters of green blue berries and also came across many green blackberries 

as well as clusters of immature wild grapes. There will be plenty of food for the wildlife of the wetlands in the coming months. 

The duckweed covered water of the wetlands were also the gathering place of many turtles, 

and a few frogs that I was able to see. I heard the croaking of many more in the now warm ponds and canals.

I walked to Lake-Took-A- While where I was delighted to see, sitting on a power line, these two kingfishers. I remember first reading about this remarkable bird in an SRA reading program in third grade and always wanted to watch them catch fish as I had read in the story so many years ago. 

I didn’t see them catch any fish but enjoyed observing them and soon saw a third bird appear and knew it was the same family I saw the day before. A little later in the day one of these birds and I had an even closer encounter as it swooped over my head as I was photographing dragonflies. 

And once again, as the sun warmed the cool morning air, there were plenty of dragonflies. I had already encountered swarms of mosquitoes earlier when I first arrived. 


And the numerous insects  provided plenty of opportunity for the birds, , including this one, I believe a  great crested flycatcher , to find a meal.

 And there was plenty of  other food for all of the birds, including this pair of cedar waxwings  who enjoyed the fruit of this mulberry trees.

 The warm waters also had plenty of fish swimming close to the surface, including these large one which I can’t identify. 

The abundance of fish always provided plenty of food for the kingfishers blue herons and this green heron. 

I could spend the entire day exploring these woodlands but I was getting tired and hungry so decided to head home.  On my return walk I again encountered many robins, catbirds and the red winged blackbirds that frequent the wetlands, 

This is a male,

and always near by is a female. 

I was hearing the pleasant song of the yellow warblers in the treetops and I finally was able to see, and photograph one as I neared my car. Here is a link to some more of the birds I saw on my walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-June-25-2017

It was another great day to be outdoors in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-June-25-2017-

“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.”
Jacques-Yves Cousteau








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No Bears, But Some Pretty Birds At The Rails To Trails

It was a sunny start Sunday  morning  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I was having a picnic in the afternoon and had yet to set up my lawn furniture.. So  I was going to hike close to home until a friend posted a photograph of a mother bear and three cubs out on the local Rail To trails. Rails to trails heath barrens -1

Well three cubs are rare and I was soon hiking out the trails looking for the bears and trying to think where the mom and her cubs may be. Rails to trails heath barrens -4

I have heard of bear sightings in  the pitch pine barrens near the beginning of the trail so I was soon in this beautiful section of the trails owned by a local  land trust. Rails to trails heath barrens -14

The woods were lush and beautiful this time of year especially in the early morning  May sunlight. Rails to trails heath barrens -10

This protected area is absolutely beautiful. I love how the pine and birch stand out among the lower heath, ferns and other lower shrubs. Rails to trails heath barrens -5

I didn’t see any bear but soon saw this yellow rumped warbler perched high in a tree top singing it’s song to the woodlands below. Rails to trails birds -2

And there were many other birds darting in and out of the lower trees, including the scrub oaks and high bush blueberry plants. It is so hard to photographs them but I was able to capture this one, I think it may be a female common yellow throat. Rails to trails heath barrens -18

As I walked back to the main trail a turkey vulture flew overhead.Rails to trails heath barrens -24

And on the ground I saw a few chipmunks and this squirrel. Rails to trails heath barrens -26

I also stopped to watch these busy creatures, red ants, scurry atop their nest. But there were no bears  in sight so. having little time, I decided to drive the entrance on the far end of the trail, near Hazle Brook and hike out to the bridge were the bears were seen earlier that morning. Here is a link to some more photographs of my hike in the pitch pine barrens. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rails-to-trails-heath-barrens-May-28-2017ants-1

I parked at the entrance on the east end of the current trail and hiked under  an older forest of oak, maple and hemlock.Rails to trails birds -2-2

I was soon greeted by the sound of this beautiful birds singing high in a tree top, a scarlet tanager. Rails to trails birds -11

I have been fortunate this Spring to have seen quite a few of these birds this year. Rails to trails birds -17

I continued through the woodlands and to a more open section of the trail, where it winds it’s way through a former mining area that have been reclaimed. Rails to trails birds -21-2

I did not see a lot of birds in the still young trees along the trail , but I am confidant that the many trees planted here will provide food and homes for many species of birds in the coming years. Rails to trails birds -19-2

I walked out to the bridge where the bear and her three cubs were sighted earlier in the morning. Rails to trails birds -23-2

I didn’t see any bears, and continued my search and  walked to the heath barrens about a mile further on the trail. Rails to trails birds -28

As I walked back I saw this hawk fly overheadRails to trails birds -22

and this blue jay eating some type of insect in a tree. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rail-to-trails-birds-may-28-2017Rails to trails birds -24

There were also some wild flowers blooming along the trail, including my favorite, the lady slipper orchid or duck flower, Rails to trails birds -27

and a  few may flowers. Rails to trails birds -26-2

And, a sure sign that spring is slowly sleeping into Summer, another of my favorite flowers, the daisies, are blooming. Rails to trails birds -16-2

I didn’t find the bears, and I now had only a few hours to put my lawn furniture out but it was sure worth the few hours of walking in the woods in the early morning May sunshine. Here is a line to some more photographs of my hike on the trail http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rails-to-trails-Hazle-Brook-may-28-2017Rails to trails birds -33


“Details of the many walks I made along the crest have blurred, now, into a pleasing tapestry of grass and space and sunlight.”
–  Colin Fletcher




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Poland Day Eleven: Krakow: Kazimierz and Schindler’s Factory: Good, Evil And The Horrors Of Hate

Sorry for the  delay in my blog posts about my recent trip to Poland  but I had some technical problems with  some photo galleries. I think I figured it out now . In my last blog post,  we were entering our van for the short ride  to the Kazimierz district of Krakow. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -7

I visited this district  one week earlier when I first arrived in Krakow and here is a link to a blog post from that visit. http://wp.me/p5GeDV-jPl..  This time I learned so much more from our guide Ada. Like my previous visit,  it was  raining when we left the van, but that wasn’t stopping us. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -2

We first visited  a Jewish community center where a woman my sister and niece befriended on their flight to Krakow worked. . It was a pleasant, and appropriate visit since the Kazimierz district is once again regaining it’s Jewish culture which it had for over 500 years  prior to the horrors that occurred in the Nazi occupation of World War II.Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -3

We left the community center and walked the mainly residential neighborhoods and made our way to Plac Nowy (New square). which was once the center of the Jewish community,  Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -5

In the middle of the square is a  round building that was one  a  ritual slaughterhouse for poultry  for the community.Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -6

It still has some butcher shops inside but is more famous for the small shops that serve zapiekank, a pizza like sandwich. A fellow who just purchased one was kind enough to allow me to take a photograph. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -4

We continued our walk passing  an old Synagogue and  some Jewish cemeteries and learning how this community thrived before Word War II and how it was made famous in  the movie Schindler’s List. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -13

We visited the house where we were told a famous scene in the movie occurred. It was the scene where the woman was hiding her daughter from the NAZI’s.Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -14

We made our way to the Remuh Synagogue built in 1557 and still active. Unfortunately it was closed for the Passover.  We made our was to  Old Synagogue, built in the mid 1500’s and which now houses a museum. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -36

We visited the museum and learned so much more about Jewish life in Poland over the centuries. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -45

We then walked through  the surrounding neighborhood, where many of the well preserved old building now house restaurants specializing in Jewish food. I hope to visit again on a sunny day and enjoy  a meal in one of the outdoor tables. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -30

We  stopped at  a memorial to the many residents who lost their lives during the occupation. We would learn more about them at our next stop.  We again boarded our van for the short ride to Schindler’s factory. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the Kazimierz. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eleven-Krakow-Kazimierz-Jewish-section-April-18-2017Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -32We crossed the Vistula into the Podgorze  district of Krakow , a large portion of which was turned into a Jewish ghetto by the NAZI’s during the occupation of World War II. We drove past  Plac Bohaterow Getta square and the  memorial of large bronze chairs commemorating the many Jewish residents  who died in the ghetto. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -49

We soon were at the factory made famous by both the man, and the movie about him, Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist. He was famous for his heroic efforts to save his Jewish workers at his enamelware factory from sure death in the Nazi concentration camps by bribing Nazi officials. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory -1

There is so much to say here about this man and his story but let me use two of his quotes to try and  sum it up.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -44

” The persecution of  Jews  in occupied Poland meant that we could see horror emerging gradually in many ways. In 1939, they were forced to wear Jewish stars, and people were herded and shut up into ghettos. Then, in the years ’41 and ’42 there was plenty of public evidence of pure sadism. With people behaving like pigs, I felt the Jews were being destroyed. I had to help them. There was no choice”  Oskar  Schindler   Interview at Am Hauptbahn No. 4 in Frankfurt Am Main, West Germany (1964)Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory -16

“I hated the brutality, the sadism, and the insanity  of  Nazism . I just couldn’t stand by and see people destroyed. I did what I could, what I had to do, what my conscience told me I must do. That’s all there is to it. Really, nothing more.” Oskar Schindler. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -23

The museum is housed in the actual factory where enamelware was manufactured  using  Jewish forced labor. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -28

The  museum depicts the lives  of  both  the Jewish  residents of Kazimierz and the Polish  residents of Krakow before and after the German Nazi  occupation  and how the occupation so horribly changed their lives. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory -8

The museum was very informative with many  historical depictions of what occurred as well as illustrations of everyday life before and after the occupation. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -21

As we made our way through the museum the horrors of these events  became so real.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -4

We learned how the Jewish  residents of the  Kazimierz district we just visited were moved to a  ghetto across the river, a walled prison were they were used as forced labor. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -8

And, later many were transferred to the concentration camps and their deaths. Here is  a link to some more photographs I took in the museum. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eleven-Krakow-Schindler-Factory-Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -38

The museum had  some original  furnishings in the office used by Schindler and some information on his life. He was honored by the 1200 Jewish workers after his death and was buried with honor in Israel.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -29

I learned there were many residents of Krakow, and Poland who, in the spite  of the horrors of the Nazis, stood up and saved many Jewish people who would have perished in the death camps they created.We would be visiting one of them the next day. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -32

 How  anyone with any soul or  empathy for their  fellow human beings could allow such hatred to exist is a question we must still ask ourselves  today.  As I  type I am watching  the news of yet another terrorist attack in Manchester .  This  hate for our fellow humans on this small planet we share  has to start somewhere it and must be nipped in it’s bud, wherever it starts to grow. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory -17

I don’t have time  to reflect  much here, on my blog, since it is such a difficult problem. I think  it can best be said in the words and lyrics  from this song by Peter, Paul and Mary    “…. when will they ever learn”   Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to Schindler’s factory. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Factory-part-two-Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -15

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Yerushalmi Talmud 4:9, Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 37a.




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Some Spring Hikes Near Home.

It felt more like Summer than Spring these past few days here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I took advantage of the beautiful weather, taking a few short hikes near my home to enjoy the many things occurring in the natural world this  month. The trees, including the  birch, have  leaves still showing that refreshing early Spring color. railroad hike -7

On Thursday  I walked to the reclamation area again yesterday and was surprised to find these mushrooms. I am not sure of the species but they reminded me to  look for the oyster mushrooms which should be growing soon. railroad hike -1

I spotted this pretty bird, I think an olive sided flycatcher and spent a few minutes watching it sitting on a branch. railroad hike -4

I also saw this turkey vulture flying quickly over the tree tops, railroad hike -15

and soon discovered the reason for it’s haste. It was being chased by a crow. Although more than half  it’s size the crow looks like it was winning this encounter. railroad hike -16

I am not sure if it was the heat, or the strong breeze but there were few song birds in the wetlands or woods  surrounding them, except  the many black-winged blackbirds who have settled into their  territories for the season. railroad hike -12

I didn’t have a lot of time, but it was nice to get out in the late afternoon heat, temperatures were near 90 degrees and the blue skies strewn with cumulus clouds. railroad hike -10

On my way home I saw a few year long residents, some black-capped chickadees,railroad hike -27

and this squirrels feeding in the shade of the new leaves. railroad hike -25

On Friday I  first took a quick walk with my macro lens and again uncovered the wonderful world of nature up close.macro -13

I photographed some of the things we see everyday, such as the common dandelion.macro 031

Or  some blueberry flowers with tiny newly formed blueberries. They won’t be ripe until July. macro -6

I also found these pests, the tent caterpillars. They can quickly defoliate a tree. macro -3

I, again, only had a short time, I only walked about a mile and couldn’t find many insects like I had hoped. Here is a link to some more photograph my short hike with my macro lens. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/macro-hike-May-19-2017-macro 036

On Friday I again stayed near home and walked out through the reclamation areas out to the railroad tracks. railroad hike -3

And once again I did not find much wildlife, just the usual robins and red winged blackbirds and this solitary crow. railroad hike -12

I did see one of my favorite sights  on the railroad tracks, a train. I have been excited by passing trains on these tracks since I was a young child, and still am today. railroad hike -9

I was disappointed not seeing more wildlife on my hike, but i always have the birds at the feeders in my backyard and I found this turkey making himself at home on my lawn. railroad hike -14

I am looking forward to some nice weather this weekend to again explore the great outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Railroad-hikes-May-18,19-2017-

railroad hike -2

“Home is everything you can walk to.”
Jerry Spinelli


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Another Spring Walk Close To Home.

The weather has warmed up and it’s finally  starting to feel like Spring here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And it was another nice day to take a walk this afternoon. I,again, walked out to the mining reclamation area and  railroad tracks near my house. railkroad hike -29

On the way I saw a lot more insect activity as the wild flowers continued to bloom. Bees and wasps were buzzing about.railkroad hike -1

And there were now quite a few moths  and butterflies fluttering about,  with one occasionally landing on the ground. railkroad hike -13

I  walked through  the wetlands that have formed in parts of the reclamation area   and once again saw no ducks or geese. The duck egg I  found the other day was gone. Sadly, I believe, not because it hatched, but because it was eaten by a predator. railkroad hike -14

There were many  red-winged blackbirds in the wetlands including a lot of males fighting for their territories, railkroad hike -41

and the females, such as this one. railkroad hike -40

High overhead I spotted , I believe, was  a red tailed hawk. railkroad hike -6

I walked to the railroad tracksrailkroad hike -30

and to some more ponds on the other side. I was disappointed since there are usually frogs and snakes near these ponds, but not today, although there was evidence that there will be a lot of frogs in the coming weeks and months, based on the thousands of tadpoles or pollywogs in the water. We would spend hours looking for and catching them, and frogs and salamanders as kids. railkroad hike -23

The duck flowers continue there short blooming season,railkroad hike -36

as are these pretty  flowers, I believe blue-eyed grass flowers   blooming profusely in the wetlands near the ponds. railkroad hike -24


As along one of the paths in the reclamation area I looked down at a small pond and was surprised to see ,a sandpiper,  looking for a meal. I didn’t think anything would live in the  ponds that it could eat, but I guess I was wrong. I am not sure what type of sandpiper it is, after looking through my field guides for 15 minutes my guess is an upland or solitary sandpiper. railkroad hike -32

And I spotted this birds fluttering in the brush, again I think it may be a palm warbler but not sure.railkroad hike -9

Unfortunately I had to head back home. I could spend the entire day out here in Spring, my favorite season. Well Summer is pretty good too, and looks like some Summer weather headed our way the next few days. I hope I can sneak out of the office early since a lot going on in the great outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania this time of year. Here is a link to some more photographs fro my hike today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Railroad-hike-May-18-2017-railkroad hike -19

“I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want.” Andy Warholrailkroad hike -20



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Poland Day Ten: Back On The Road, Or Train, Again. Czestochowa to Krakow

I awoke on another rainy and cool morning in Czestohowa. Poland was experiencing one of it’s coldest April’s in years during my visit. I quickly dressed and headed outside since I wanted to get one last walk in before my train ride back to Krakow. Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -2

I again walked down the central avenue paying closer attention to the many stores, businesses and restaurants along the way.  I love just roaming aimlessly through the streets of a foreign city observing how folks live by seeing the products they consume and how they advertise them Here is a link to some more photos http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Ten-Czestochowa-morning-walk-mPoland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk misc-2isc-April-17-2017 .

It was a holiday here in Poland so the streets were quiet. I made my way through the heart of downtown and into the more less developed residential and abandoned commercial areas of the city.Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -19

I wanted to visit the Jewish memorial located near the Warta river. Almost every Polish city, town and village has a memorial, reminding us of the horrors that occurred with the German NAZI occupation during World War II.  Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -27

I spent a few moments reflecting at the memorial, again wondering, as I did so often on the trip, how and why could we allow this to happen. Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -26

I was now near the Warta River and walked a trail along it’s banks  back to the main avenue. Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -29

I noticed that they have a few of the same problems we have to deal with here in the United States, graffiti, Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -31

and the invasive and ugly plant, Japanese knotweed. These obnoxious weeds  have  taken over many areas in Pennsylvania  and destroys the native wild plants anPoland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -32d flowers. 

I walked back along the route I had walked many times the last two  days, this time finding the oldest church in Czestochowa, St. Zygmunt’s open so I was able to stop in and visit the beautiful interior. Pope John Paul visited this church on his first visit to Poland as Pope in 1979. Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -36

I walked back to the hotel, enjoying, one last time the mainly empty streets of downtown Czestohowa.  I encountered this jolly monk near the Monastery and although we did not share the same language we shared greeting on the rainy morning. He was more than happy to allow me to take his photograph. Here is a link to some more photographs  from my morning hike.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Ten-Czestochowa-morning-walk-Monday-April-17-2017-

I returned to the hotel, showered, finished packing and enjoyed another hearty breakfast before taking a taxi to the train station. I arrived early and  made sure I was in the right place. While waiting for the train I had a pleasant conversation with a retired gentleman from Czestochowa and a young student from France. We talked about, life, politics and travel while we waited for the train. Poland Day Ten train to Krakow -1

The train arrived exactly on time and I found my assigned seat very comfortable. I also learned there were bathrooms!  I settled in for the two hour ride back to Krakow and enjoyed the passing countryside. Poland Day Ten train to Krakow -5

At first we traveled through farms lands with an occasional small town located  at a train station, Our train went directly to Krakow so we didn’t stop. Poland Day Ten train to Krakow -8

As we neared the city the landscapes changed as we rode through more commercial areas of the suburbs.Poland Day Ten train to Krakow -20

We arrived at the train station in Krakow and as I made my way outside it was, of course raining again.  I soon found a cab and was on my way to the Sheraton hotel. Here is a link to some more photographs from my train ride to Krakow. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-day-Ten-Train-to-Krakow-Monday-April-17-2017

Poland Day Ten train to Krakow -27

“Walkers are ‘practitioners of the city,’ for the city is made to be walked. A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities. Just as language limits what can be said, architecture limits where one can walk, but the walker invents other ways to go.”
Rebecca Solnit

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A Lot Of Spring Happening Out There

It was a long day in court and at the office so I was glad the weather was nice when I got home in the afternoon.  I had planned to head back to community park but decided to stay near my house and walk out the nearby railroad tracks. May is the month of growth here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and there were wildflowers blooming everywhere.railroad hike -23

I walked past some of the ponds near a mining reclamation area and was startled by a blue heron, that I startled,  and who flew overhead. railroad hike birds -1

I haven’t seen a blue heron out here for a few years and I am sure the frog and fish population in this ponds will soon be depleted. These birds eat a lot. railroad hike -8

As I walked through some wetlands in the reclaimed areas I saw this white throated sparrow, railroad hike birds -4

And a few goldfinches fluttering in the distance. railroad hike birds -6

I walked  through the reclaimed areas and toward the railroad tracks. These areas were all coal strip mines and coal culm deposits when i walked here as a child. railroad hike -10

They are now becoming a home for many species of birds including this  female common yellowthroat  I saw peeking out  from the nearby brush.railroad hike birds -18

And nearby was a male, I am guessing her mate. railroad hike birds -20

As I walked up to the railroad tracks I came across this dead snake, it appears to be a black racer. I am not sure what would have killed it out here. railroad hike -13

I love walking railroad tracks and these are special to me since I have been walking them since I was nine years old. Lot of memories out here even though the landscapes have changed.railroad hike -14

Along the way I heard the rustling of some eastern towhees in the underbrush and was only able to get this photograph of this bird. railroad hike birds -11

I wanted to see if the lady slipper orchards, or duck flowers, as my dad called them were in bloom and, sure enough they were, I cant believe it has been a year since i saw them. railroad hike -16

I made my way back this time encountering a number of water fowl, including thes pair of geese,railroad hike birds -12

this mallard duckrailroad hike birds -23

and, I believe  this beautiful spotted sandpiper. railroad hike birds -25

I also watched this sparrow find a meal in along the way .railroad hike birds -28

There were a lot of plants growing too, like these skunk cabbages. railroad hike -7

And even poison ivy looks pretty in the spring. railroad hike -5

I saw this egg, I believe it is a mallard duck, exposed in the wetlands along the way home. i was surprised it was so exposed without mom or dad around. railroad hike birds -24

And I  had one more special treat before I decided to head home. I spotted this beautiful scarlet tanager high atop an aspen tree and enjoyed listening to it’s song for awhile. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike  railroad hike birds -36http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Railroad-hike-Greenridge-May-10-2017-

It was a short walk but provided me with much needed stress relief. In may every walk can be a wonderful adventure. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Railroad-hike-Greenridge-May-10-2017railroad hike -1

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
Henry David Thoreau, Waldenrailroad hike birds -14

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Finally Some Nice Weather For An Afternoon Walk At Community Park.

It was another cold start this morning, with temperatures near  the freezing mark. It was also mostly clear, and in  May, the sun is strong and it turned out to be a nice day. So I decided to see if I could find an eagle or an osprey out Lake Irena  at out local Community park after work. Community park -4

The cumulus clouds and sunshine made for perfect walking weather and the park was crowded with families, walkers and fisherman.Community park -6

I walked around the lake enjoying the profusion of new growth of the plants and trees. I again noticed a lot of flowers on both the low and high bush blueberries. It looks like their will be a big crop of berries everywhere in Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

The many species of fern were now unfurling their  first fronds.Community park -16

As others were already unfurled.Community park -40

And the skunk cabbages, growing throughout the wetlands surrounding the lake,  were in their Spring green glory. Community park -18

I did not see an osprey or eagle and I was surprised, and disappointed,  to not see many water fowl or song birds. I saw a cat bird, a few crows and some mallards on the water but that was it. Community park -27

I did see this chipmunk,Community park -7

and a few turtles sunning themselves on logs on the lake but that was it. Community park -14

It still was a perfect day to be out and enjoy the scenery of the lake. Community park -31

And to see the trees putting forth their first leaves of the season.Community park -38

The delicate wild lilies of the valley were also blooming on the  trails along the Community park -8lake. 

Clouds moved in as I completed my walk but it was nice to see the sunshine for most of the day.  I  always  love a sunny day, but even more so during the  wonderful month of May.  Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-Park-Hazle-Township-May-9-2017-Community park -21


“Stay close to the serenity of a lake to meet your own peace of mind.”
Munia KhanCommunity park -37


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Cloudy, Wet And Cold, But It’s Still Spring At The PPL Wetlands.

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The cool weather continued today here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  It was cloudy, with a few showers and  temperatures well below normal, remaining in the low  50’s. I knew however,  that despite the cool weather, nature would not shalt  it’s annual spectacular show. So I headed down to the PPL Wetlands to see what was new.PPL Wetlands -1

The wetlands  were muddy from the recent heavy rains, and in some areas the canals overflowed their banks and flooded the trails. PPL Wetlands -18

But the rain also encouraged a lot of new growth since I visited last week. The skunk cabbage are lush and thriving. PPL Wetlands -40

The blueberry flowers are fading already, but it looks like they will produce a big crop this year. The fruit has set so the berries should be safe even if we get a frost. PPL Wetlands -13

The air in the wetlands is now filled with the sweet fragrance of the honeysuckles. PPL Wetlands -14

These large, and most welcome,  bushes grow throughout the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -23

The air was also filled with the sounds of many song birds that continue to return to the area. I saw so many species but it was hard to get good photographs because of the clouds  and occasional rain.  There were many yellow warblers singing in the treetops,birds PPL Wetlands -23

 And I saw a few more American redstarts and small flocks of goldfinches. birds PPL Wetlands -19

and  a few Baltimore orioles.birds PPL Wetlands -22

There was also the continuous chatter of the catbirds, birds PPL Wetlands -11and the many red-winged blackbirds that have moved into the grassy areas adjoining the wetlands. Here is a female gathering nesting material.birds PPL Wetlands -15

I also saw an osprey sparing high overhead, I am sure looking for some fish in the many ponds, canals and lakes below. birds PPL Wetlands -8

Their were also quite a few flycatchers darting about the trees and bushes on the banks of the ponds and canals. birds PPL Wetlands -17

And, of course there were a number of Canada geese, now found in pairs and establishing their nesting territories. birds PPL Wetlands -14

The turtles were not out in numbers like on a sunny day but there were still a few who ventured out of the now warmer waters. PPL Wetlands -11

And a few frogs also were sitting along the many ponds that have formed after the heavy rains. PPL Wetlands -25

As I said there were a lot of new song birds, many of which I couldn’t identify or photographs very well such as this one which I think may be a warbler. birds PPL Wetlands -20

I did get a photograph of a female cardinal. It is the male that is usually seen perched high on a tree top and singing loudly to attract a female.  Here is a link to some more photographs of some of the birds I saw today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-May-6-2017-birds PPL Wetlands -3

I walked to the riverlands, area of the nature preserve. again seeing many of the birds I mentioned above. Some dark clouds moved in so I headed back to the wetlands and my car.PPL Wetlands -24

I walked along the Susquehanna River which was also very high from the recent rains.  The mandrake or may apples were now in bloom. PPL Wetlands -7

There is just so much to see outdoors this time of year. I could have spent the entire day in the wetlands looking at the  flora and fauna. but, just as I neared my car the rains began to fall so I called it a day. But I am already looking forward to my hike tomorrow. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-may-6-2017-PPL Wetlands -37


Man masters nature not by force, but by understanding. Jacob BronowskiPPL Wetlands -27



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