It’s A Different Look In The PPL Wetlands In December. But Still A Lot Of Birds Staying Around For Winter

I headed out to one of my favorite hiking spots, the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township, this morning. Last time I was here, just two weeks ago, it was an unseasonably warm day and I saw turtles  on the water and some  green vegetation along the paths. It felt more like late Spring. Not today,.ppl-wetlands-5

It has still been mild here in Northeastern Pennsylvania these past two weeks, , but we had some more seasonable weather these past two days, near freezing temperatures this morning, and the wetlands are finally looking a lot like Winter. ppl-wetlands-18

All of the trees have now lost their leaves. Even the stubborn oaks only have a few brown ones clinging on.  The lush green canopy of Summer now is an intricate interweaving of bare branches. ppl-wetlands-3

Some of the trees still had red berries clinging to them.ppl-wetlands-26

As  did some of the shrubs and briers growing along the paths. ppl-wetlands-11

And I saw quite a few birds scampering in these shrubs feasting on the berries or seeds of the summer’s plants. such as the black capped chickadees shown here and on the featured image above. ppl-wetlands-birds-4

I am not good with sparrows but I am pretty sure this is a white-throated sparrow. ppl-wetlands-birds-14

And I believe this is a song sparrow. ppl-wetlands-birds-20

This one may be a tree sparrow or a chipping sparrow, not too sure but please correct me is I misidentify any of the birds, plants or trees here on my blog.ppl-wetlands-birds-11

In addition to these  birds which remain here for the Winter, I saw a few flocks of these birds which are not Summer residents but stay here for the Winter heading south from colder weather to the north, the northern juncos or snow birds. ppl-wetlands-birds-10

I also saw a few cardinals. a woodpecker, and this Summer resident who decided to stay here and enjoy the mild weather we’ve been having, a robin.  Hopefully he will stay here all Winter. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw this morning.

I enjoyed watching the birds and spent sat for awhile near a thicket as they scampered about looking for food.  And I noticed this bright yellow object on the ground among the brown dead leaves, a flower! Yes it was only a lowly dandelion but it sure looked pretty amid the fallen leaves. And I thought of the Spring that will surely follow the dark and cold Winter that is in front of us. ppl-wetlands-44

And as I stopped to photograph the dandelion I heard a bird singing right over my head. As I turned this  bird, I believe a winter wren, perched on a branch almost atop my head. He was to quick to get a photograph at the close range but I did manage to capture this image before he flew off in the swamp. ppl-wetlands-birds-21

I walked along the banks of the Susquehanna River on my return and again felt a serene sadness as I walked under the leafless ancient trees. ppl-wetlands-46

Still I saw some plants still clinging to life during these cold short days of ppl-wetlands-42December. 

It wasn’t lush, green and teeming with life like it is in the Spring and Summer but still it was a nice day to roam the wilds of the wetlands, and, as always, I was glad I make the trip down here. I fear next time I come there may be a blanket of snow covering the ground, but i am sure there will still be many wonders to find in the snow. Here is a link to some more photographs.

“Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own.”

— Charles Dickensppl-wetlands-13


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Backyard Critters On A Cold Sunny November Day In Northeastern PA

It turned colder overnight here in northeastern Pennsylvania. A cold front brought clear blues skies and more seasonable temperatures, mid 30’s,  to my backyard this morning.  So I was surprised to see this robin  still hanging around in my backyard. Although some robins  spend the winters in the creeks and along the rivers I never saw one this late up here on the mountain where I live. I hope it is a sign of a mild winter. Backyard robin  (1 of 1)

Since it gets dark early now, and there is little  daylight left when I get home from work, I decided to photograph some of the critters that visit my yard. backyard feeder 178 (1 of 1)

Although there are a smaller number of species that visit, the bird feeder is very active this time of year. backyard feeder 112 (1 of 1)

Nuthatches, like the one pictured above, are frequent visitors to the feeder. They also crawl along my trees, facing downward in their search for insects, but they also enjoy the sunflower seeds in my feeder. And I also have plenty of tit mice who also are found of the sunflower seeds. Backyard titmouse 005 (1 of 1)

Last week there were still a lot of house finches at the feeder but they seem to have been replaced with sparrows this week. Backyard sparrow 014- (1 of 1)

And of course there  are  the tiny, black capped chickadees, the most social of all my feathered visitors. These birds seem almost unafraid of my presence and often land on the feeder while I am still climbing down the ladder after refilling it with seed. backyard feeder chickadee  (1 of 1)

And in the trees there are plenty of mourning doves sitting and watching before they land on the ground and feed of the seed that falls from the feeder. backyard feeder  mourning dove (1 of 1)

The noisy blue jays also show up and share the left over corn I put out for the turkey and deer with the squirrels. Backyard 009 (1 of 1)

And today there was another uncommon sighting , a flicker, feeding on insects high in the branches of an oak tree. backyard feeder flicker (1 of 1)

For some reason, and it may be the beginning of hunting season, the turkeys and deer haven’t been visiting my yard. I hope they return safely soon. As usual there are an abundance of squirrels in my woods. I love watching them eat, and scamper to safety as a red tailed hawk flew overhead. Backyard nuthatch 111 (1 of 1)

I sure miss the flowers, leaves, song birds and insects of summer but as the days get shorter, and colder, I am glad I still have my winter residents to share the cold and dark days.  Here is a link to more photographs I took in my backyard today. squirrel  (1 of 1)


“Poor indeed is the garden in which birds find no homes.”
–  Abram L. Urban 

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PPL Wetlands: Getting Ready For The Long Winter Sleep

It was cloudy,  and cooler than it has been this past week,   but  the temperatures  remained in the low 50’s, still a nice day for November in Northeastern Pennsylvania.PPL Wetlands and Riverlands  (17 of 47)

I decided to head to the PPL Riverlands and Wetlands one more  time before  before the snow and cold  arrives. It won’t be long now. PPL Wetlands and Riverlands  (3 of 47)

The wetlands are a lot different now. There are no turtles or frogs jumping in the waters as you walk along the canals. There were no insects flying around and the songbirds are gone,  as are most of the water fowl, so it was a lot quieter now than in the Spring or Summer.PPL Wetlands and Riverlands  (31 of 47)

I did hear  the shrill cries  of this  red tailed hawk that was flying overhead, and from tree to tree, eluding me,  during my  hike today.  I tried sneaking up on him but could only get a few photos as he flew away as I approached. Here is a link to some of the better photos I was to take. Wetlands and Riverlands  5 (1 of 1)

I also saw a blue heron and heard the sounds of  a few black capped chickadees and swamp sparrows. I was able to get a few photographs of this sparrow.PPL Wetlands and Riverlands  sparrow 130 (1 of 1)

The trees have lost almost all of their leaves now and most are completely bare. But some trees , mainly oak and beech, , have some colorful leaves clinging to their branches but even this color will soon be gone.PPL Wetlands and Riverlands  (12 of 47)

There were a lot of  fruit and berries remaining on some of the shrubs  and trees, soon to help the birds and other wildlife survive the fast approaching winter. Some are pretty and can be eaten by humans .PPL Wetlands 041

While others, like  these berries, from a poison ivy vine, are best left for the bird and wild animals.PPL Wetlands and Riverlands  (16 of 47)

It wasn’t as interesting and alive  as my hikes in the Spring and Summer but still a nice day to be outdoors enjoying the beauty of nature. Here is a link  to some more photographs from my hike today.

PPL Wetlands and Riverlands  (29 of 47)

“In November, some birds move away and some birds stay. The air is full of good-byes and well-wishes. The birds who are leaving look very serious. No silly spring chirping now. They have long jourPPL Wetlands 145neys and must watch where they are going. The staying birds are serious, too, for cold times lie ahead. Hard times. All berries will be treasures.”
Cynthia Rylant, In November



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Leaves And Other Fall Stuff.

It was a sunny an unseasonably warm day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Perfect for walking but unfortunately I had to work and only got out for  an hour before the sun sets around 5 p.m. It was enough time to capture some on the remaining color in the leaves. Fall walk (23 of 29)

Some of the trees are naked now, having lost all of their leaves, while others have only a few remaining. Some, however, like the oaks and some maples still are arrayed in their peak fall colors. Fall walk (5 of 29)

Most of the plants have died now and all that remains are their fruits or seeds. The milkweed pods are mainly empty although a few still  filled with their fluffy white seeds. Fall walk (4 of 29)

And there are still some berries hanging on the dead pokeweed plants that never survive the first hard frost. Fall walk (2 of 29)

I was surprised to see a tansy plant still in bloom and more surprised to find this insect which looks like a mosquito feeding on it. Fall walk mosquito (1 of 1)

Although  a lot of color remains on the trees, and should survive a bit longer with the warm temperatures,  it won’t be long until all is brown and dead as Winter takes hold.Fall walk (27 of 29)

At least my bird feeders and backyard will still have some Winter residents, such as this squirrel and his friends. Fall walk squirrel 09 (1 of 1)

And the bird feeders will be visited by the finches, tit mouses, nuthatches, chickadees and other birds that are not as smart as their cousins who fly south for the warmer weather. Fall walk birds house finch - (1 of 1)

Wish I could have enjoyed more of it but it was still a wonderful Fall day in Northeastern PA. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk.

Fall walk (25 of 29)

“Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.”
–   Elizabeth Lawrence

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Hawk Mountain Sanctuary: River Of Rocks Hike

Now that the mushroom season is over here in my area of Northeastern Pennsylvania, I will have more time to explore some of the many beautiful natural areas we have in our State. I decided to head to the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in  northern Berk’s County,  about 40 miles  south and east  of my  home in Hazle Township.Hawk Mountain river of rocks  (1 of 50)

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is situated  in the Blue Mountain section of the Appalachian Mountains near the  famous Appalachian trail. It is located along a major migration route for many species of raptors and draws large crowds during the Spring and Summer migrations.Hawk Mountain river of rocks  (4 of 50)

It was a cold and mainly overcast day today and the wind was out of the south, not a good day to see migrating birds. After taking in one of the many spectacular vistas at the  South lookout.  I  decided to hike the River of Rocks trail. Hawk Mountain overlooks (20 of 20)

I have been to Hawk Mountain a few times but never hiked this trail before. It is famous for it’s two large boulder fields, formed during the glacial periods, the last of which was about 12,000 years ago here in Pennsylvania. They can be seen in the photograph above from the South Lookout  and here is a photograph taken with my zoom lens. Hawk Mountain overlooks (17 of 20)

I hiked down the steep and rocky trail and it was  somewhat difficult for someone, like me, not accustomed to walking over the many rock covered stretches of the trail. Hawk Mountain river of rocks  (17 of 50)

The trail wound downward under many deciduous trees still at  the peak of their fall color. The woods were quiet and was surprised not to have encountered many birds, squirrels or chipmunks. There were a few  of these birds which I haven’t been able to identify but think it is some type of thrush. Hawk Mountain river of rocks  thrush- (1 of 1)

I walked past two large boulder fields on the way down. They were similar to boulder field in Hickory Run State Park and were created by the same conditions. Hawk Mountain river of rocks  (31 of 50)

The trail looped around the second boulder field and then headed back up the mountain. At first it was a much easier hike, without a lot of rocks and a somewhat gentle slope.  There were more ferns and larger trees here but once again the trail became more steep and rocky. Hawk Mountain river of rocks  (35 of 50)

The final leg, near Overlooks, became quite steep and made for a strenuous hike until I reached the 3/4 Lookout overlook. The views at all of the overlooks are spectacular. They would have been even more beautiful on a sunny day but I enjoyed them under the overcast skies. Hawk Mountain river of rocks  (46 of 50)

I only passed one fellow on the four mile River of Rocks hike but was now joined by a large number of hikers making their way, with me, to the North Lookout. Once again it was a somewhat rocky climb to the lookout but the view was worth it.Hawk Mountain overlooks (11 of 20)

I could seethe mountains of my hometown in the distance and could easily make out the gap in the Spring mountain  created by Interstate 81. I sat and rested for awhile, taking in the view. Unfortunately, because of the wind direction there were almost no hawks flying overhead.  I hiked back to the sanctuary, stopping  at a few more overlooks on the way. Here is a link to some more photographs of the views from atop the lookouts.\Hawk Mountain overlooks (5 of 20)

Although I wasn’t able to get any photographs of the migrating hawks, or even an eagle,  it sure was a great place to spend a late october day. It certainly is one of the many treasures we have in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Here is a link to some more photographs of my hike on the River of Rocks trail.

Hawk Mountain overlooks (20 of 20)

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but Nature’s sources never fail. ~John MuirHawk Mountain river of rocks  (50 of 50)


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A Fall Hike On The Railroad Tracks.

It’s late October here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and, like most years,  that means there is plenty of fall colors still on the trees. It was a beautiful, cool,  but sunny day today so I left the office a little early to get a look at them. They don’t last long. Fall hike (37 of 43)

I hiked out the local railroad track near my house and was lucky to catch a passing train.  I have  always been thrilled by the clanking of an approaching train. Fall hike (12 of 43)

I was disappointed to see that the red maples that grow  along the tracks have already shed all of their leaves. I was away and missed their show this year. Fall hike (18 of 43)

The birch and aspen still have most of their yellow and brown leaves and the red oaks, the last trees to change, are just about at their peak now. Fall hike (41 of 43)

I hiked out the tracks and up the old tower line, the metal tower that I walked under since i was a child have be replaced by metals poles.  Still, I  reflected on many wonderful memories of all four seasons I spent out on this ridgeFall hike (20 of 43).

I sat on a rock I have been sitting on since high school, and where I sat on a very similar day two years ago after we buried my dad.  Some of the last hikes i took with my dad were out on these tower lines and I sat and thought about those happy days. Fall hike (25 of 43)

Many things along this hike have changed as have many things in my life since i first hiked out here as a child exploring these world for the first. time. But that is what life is about, adapting to the change we all will face. I sat and reflected for a bit and headed homeward under the  red and yellow leaves of the oak tree, glimmering in the sun. Fall hike (34 of 43)

It wasn’t a long hike but anytime you can spend outdoors  in this almost magical time of year is time well spent. i’m hoping to spend a lot more time outside this weekend. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike today.

Fall hike (36 of 43)

.I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne,

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Leaves And Fall Stuff: You Don’t Have To Travel Far To Find Beauty In Nature.

After being greeted with some snow and cold weather on my return from the Great Plains, it has warmed up nicely here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Today was a pleasant sunny day and I got a chance to take a short hike around my neighborhood. after work. Fall Leaves  (31 of 37)

The fall foliage is just passing it’s pick but still a lot of color on the trees. Fall Leaves  (19 of 37)

The gingko tree in my front yard lost all of it’s leaves, as it always, does, the day after the first freeze.  Many of them  didn’t even get a chance to change into their usual  bright yellow color this year. Fall Leaves  (1 of 37)

The red maples were one of the first leaves to changs and many of them have already fallen of the tree, creating a colorful carpet on the ground.Fall Leaves  (2 of 37)

The mountain ash also turns red and orange and they, too, have passed their peak.Fall Leaves  (6 of 37)

The birch, aspen and some species of maple change into various shades of yellow and brown.Fall Leaves  (24 of 37)

And the oaks, always the last to change color are finally putting on the Autumn coats. The red oaks certainly live up to their name changing into a fiery red color. Fall Leaves  (26 of 37)

I saw very little wildlife, a few squirrels, and birds and very little insect activity, just a few swarms of gnats that buzzed around my head.  And only a few fall aster like flowers,Fall Leaves  (22 of 37)

There were plenty of seeds pods, burrs and other remnants of the once beautiful flowers that are now long gone., including a lot of pokeweed berries.Fall Leaves  (5 of 37)

Although I was surprised to find some tansy blooming. This wild herb usually is in full bloom in mid July. Fall Leaves  (37 of 37)

I was only out for a little while and only traveled a short distance but still so much beauty  all around us if you just keep you eyes peeled and look for it. This is a link to some more photographs i took on my hike this afternoon. Leaves  (32 of 37)


Ah yes, the beauty of nature…once we understand life’s delicateness, then we will surely protect and cherish all of its forms.”
Shannon Leigh Warren

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Fall Comes To The PPL Wetlands.

Another beautiful Fall day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I decided to visit the PPL Wetlands while the foliage still is near it’s peak. It doesn’t last long and I may not get another chance to get down there before the cold weather moves in.PPL Wetlands  (20 of 35)

It’s much more quite in the wetlands this tie of year. No spring peepers, crickets, cicadas or song birds can be heard. I did here a lot of ducks on the water, some crows and blue jays and did see a few  tardy flocks of robins and I think vireos making their way south.  I was only able to get this photo of what I think was a species of vireo. Please feel free to comment if you can identify it. PPL  Wetland vireo (1 of 1)

And no frogs, dragonflies, snakes or butterflies but there were still a few turtles enjoying the October sunshine on their favorite logs. PPL  Wetlands turtle (1 of 1)

The canals are still  green form the duckweed but the paths are now becoming covered with the falling leaves . PPL Wetlands  (1 of 35)

I was hoping to find some edible mushrooms on the ancient trees in the wetlands and did find an old oak stump covered in puffball mushrooms. They are one of y favorites. But, again, please don’t eat any wild mushroom unless you are absolutely one hundred per cent sure they are edible since a mistake can make you very sick or even kill you.PPL Wetlands  (13 of 35)

It was an enjoyable morning walking in the warm October sun as it filtered through the now colored leaves under the ancient trees along the Susquehanna River. I will only  visit  occasionally in the Winter but it will be in a deep sleep until the first robins and spring peepers wake it up and repeat the circle of life that is nature. Here is a link to some more photographs from y hike this PPL Wetlands  (21 of 35)morning.



falling leavesPPL Wetlands  (22 of 35)
hide the path
so quietly
~John Bailey,


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Leaves And Some Other Fall Things.

The colorful Fall foliage is nearing it’s peak here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And today was a perfect day to enjoy it. Cool refreshing Canadian air filtered into our area overnight and we had plenty of sunshine  for most of the day. Fall hike (9 of 26)

Of course, I headed out into the woods  looking for edible wild  mushrooms. I was unsuccessful in my search for mushrooms, finding only a few inedible ones,  but it sure was a nice day to be outside. Fall hike (8 of 26)

The sun filtered through the leaves, most now having some touch of red, orange, yellow and brown color.Fall hike (3 of 17)

It was an almost magical world walking as many leaves fluttered to the ground joining others and creating an ever thickening colorful carpet on the forest floor. Fall hike (6 of 26)

And  it seems, upon close inspection, like snowflakes ,no two leaves, even from the same species of tree are exactly alike.  The  red maples are at their peak now, have turned a brilliant red. Fall hike (4 of 26)

The aspen and birch are changing into their many shades of yellow. And the sassafras has the most variety, it’s three different leaves changing to red, orange or yellow. Fall hike (4 of 17)

And finally the last to change, the oaks are now starting to show some color. Fall hike (13 of 26)

The ferns have almost all turned brown or yellow and the air is scented in those areas where the sweet fern grow,Fall hike (12 of 26)

The only wildlife I saw were, again, the squirrels and chipmunks gathering the abundant acorn crop. There was vey little bird songs, just the occasional cawing of a crow . And very few insects or spiders on this walk although I did get to photograph this dragonfly, which, after looking at the photograph, I realized was in the middle of a meal. Fall hike dragonfly 012 (1 of 1)

There were some flowers still in bloom, mainly the ragweed, if you can call that a flower and some other daisey like fall flowers. Fall hike (22 of 26)

Nature really does put on a spectacular show before she goes to sleep for the Winter and it is a delightful tie of year to head outside and take it all in. Looking forward to another beautiful Fall day tomorrow., Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes today. hike (26 of 26)


“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.”
Joe L. Wheeler



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