Despite The Cold Temperatures, Plenty Of Wildlife Activity At The PPL Wetlands.

We had near record cold here in Northeastern Pennsylvania yesterday . Overnight the  clear, calm skies allowed the temperature to plummet to a frigid, and near record,  14 degrees. More like January than November. leaves on ice on canal at PPL Wetlands

I decided to hike out the PPL Wetlands again, with the   intent to take photographs of the November scenery and the now leafless trees. I felt  most of the migratory birds would be gone and only the year long residents would  still be there. As I arrived I immediately noticed the one of the effects of the cold temperatures.The lush green color of many of  ponds and canals had disappeared. The color is provided by the duck weed that grows on the waters in the wetlands and provides nourishment to the wildlife that lives here. trees and clear blue water at pond at PPL Wetland

The cold temperatures killed the duck weed in this pond. Here is another photograph of the same pond taken only a few weeks ago. trees and duck weed covered green water at pond at PPL Wetlands

Some area of the wetlands still have a thick growth of duck weed but, as the cold weather continues it will all disappear and I will anxiously wait for the first tiny leaves to reappear next April. bare trees and green duck weed covered canal

Most of the  leaves on the trees have fallen, and, leafless trees on trail

are now covering the  trails with a crunchy carpet of brown. trees on ground on trail

However there was still some color to be found in my hike in the wetlands. sun and red leaves in PPL wetlands

As I walked through the woods of the wetlands I also noticed the lack of insects. I missed the sounds of the cicadas and buzzing of the dragonflies, bees and wasps but was happy the mosquitoes and ticks will no longer plague me on my hikes. But there was still some life as I first noticed this flicker high in a tree top. flicker on tree branch

And along the canals I heard the songs of the always active black-capped-chickadees. They will be one of the most common, and active, birds in the Winter here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. They are a hardy species. black-capped chickadee on tree branch

As I was observing the waning gibbous moon in the clear blue skies,close up of waning gibbous moon

I was rewarded with a bald eagle sighting. It is not the best photograph since he or she was soaring high overhead but is always a wonderful experience to share a hike with these magnificent birds.

bald eagle soaring in blue sky

I continued my hike toward the river lands section of the preserve and encountered a few sparrows on the way. I am not good identifying these birds but I think this is a song sparrow. song sparrow in tree ranch

I was surprised to see a few flocks of cedar waxwings still in the wetlands. I must have seen three separate flocks each with almost a dozen birds. cedar waxwing on tree branch

I also saw a flock of what I think are golden crowned kinglets, my birding friends can correct me if I am wrong.golden crowned kinglet on tree stump

And I was pleasantly surprised to stumble on a flock of house finches, there must have been a hundred of them.  They like black capped chickadees are not shy birds and I enjoyed having them flutter in the trees and brush near me. house finch on branch

I made my way to the river lands and Lake Took-A-While and found a passing flock of Canada geese on the lake. 

I suspect these were not the local geese that resided here all Summer but a flock from further north enjoying a rest before they head south for the Winter. 

As is often the case had another  unusual encounter with wildlife at the wetlands. While walking along the lake I watched a young deer, a buck, jump in, and take a swim, across the lake. I don’t recall every seeing one swim before. 

On my way back to the wetlands, keeping my eyes peeled, I spotted this critter peering out from a hole in a dead tree,

either a downy or hairy woodpecker. 

I also saw a few wood ducks along my hike and a few red tailed hawks soaring overhead. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. PPL Wetlands birds November 11 2017.

I will have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised to see so much wildlife activity  on this cold November day. Usually November is the beginning of  nature’s  long Winter sleep here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  But, if you keep your eyes peeled, you never know what you will find on a walk in our  woods. I love to find out so I will come on walking.  And, of course sharing what I find with the followers of my blog. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike at the wetlands. PPL Wetlands November 11 2017. 

“Eagle’s flight of loneliness soars so high 
Around its sigh, no more alone the sky 
Other birds remain away, clouds pass by
Between shrouds of life and haze sun rays die” 
― Munia Khan

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PPL Wetland Hike: What A Difference A Week, Or A Day Makes.

Last Saturday it was sunny with temperatures in the mid 80’s when  I hiked in the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands. Not today.  It was mostly  cloudy, blustery and a cold  48 degrees when I started my hike early this morning. Hills across Susquehanna river

I again began my hike under the canopy of the old trees along the Susquehanna River, in hopes of seeing another bald eagle. trees along susquehanna river

I didn’t see any eagles  this week, but I did see a lot more birds as I walked to the riverlands portion of the preserve. I noticed  a few black-capped chickadees, year round residents in these  woods, andblack-capped chickadee on twig

I spotted this beautiful bird which landed in a branch above my head. I knew it was a migrating warbler, and learned, with some help from my birder friends, that is was a  female black-throated green warblerblack throated gree warbler on tree branch

I have never seen one before and I watched her  watch me until she  decided to continue  on her  journey south. Here is a link to more photographs of this beautiful bird. Black- throated green warbler photographsblack throated green warbler on tree branch

There were a few breaks in the clouds at the start of my hike making for some nice contrasts of colors on the green ponds and changing leaves. clouds and trees and pond

However the sun soon disappeared behind more clouds and a strong northwesterly wind making for more fall like scenery. duckweed covered pond lined with trees

I was surprised to see a few more birds including this red bellied woodpecker, red bellied woodpecker on tree trunk

this flycatcher, fly catcher on tree branch

and a great blue heron I spotted sitting in a tree across Lake Took-A-While. greet blue heron in tree

As I walked the path of the riverlands and wetlands it was obvious most of the insect activity of the summer is now over. I was not buzzed by one mosquito, didn’t see any dragonflies and saw only a few bees on the fall flowers now in bloom.blue flowers

I did see this same insects on this milkweed plant, the pod now going to seed, and the insects still feasting on the milkweed plant. insects on milkweed plant and pods.

I also saw these two turtles, who appeared during the brief period of sunshine. They were gone, back in the warmer waters, maybe not re-appearing above water until next spring. 

As I returned to the wetlands I scared another great blue heron on one of the ponds.

Followed by a few of these beautiful wood ducks.

And I heard the cry of a hawk overhead.

I saw many more birds on this hike than I did last weekend. I think it may be the cooler weather and soon all of the summer visitors to the wetlands will be gone. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Photographs of birds at wetlands. 

I saw many other signs of Fall on my hike including an abundance of wild grapes and 

many more leaves changing colors. The next few weeks will be some of the most beautiful in Northeastern Pennsylvania as the woodlands lose their leaves in one final burst of color before there long winter sleep.  I hope to spend many hours outdoors enjoying the changes, and some at the PPL Wetlands. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands photographs. 

Perhaps
the truth depends on a walk around a lake.” — Wallace Stevens

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Beaver and Blackbirds: Another Hike In The PPL Wetlands.

Sunday was opening day for my favorite football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. Game time was 1 p.m. so  I decided to take a break from my search for wild mushrooms and take a quick hike through the PPL Wetlands. tree lined canal at PPL Wetlands

As regular readers of my blog would know,  I love these protected wetlands located between the nuclear power plant in Salem Township  and the Susquehanna River, about a half hour drive from my home. There is such a wide variety of flora and fauna in this area, I always seem to find something of interest for a  nature lover  like me. I love to share my experiences down here.  duck weed covered pond

And I wasn’t disappointed on Sunday. As I started  my walk on the trail along the Susquehanna River,  I heard a splashing sound in waters below me.  I first wondered if a bear or other small animal could have jumped in the river.beaver swimming in Susquehanna River

I continued my walk and heard it again. I had to turn back investigate. As I neared the area I heard the splashing and saw water flying into the air. Totally puzzled now I found a clearing to look over the river bank and saw this critter swimming in the water  near the shore. And I am sure it saw me too.

It did  not flee, but continued to swim in a wide circle slamming it’s tail into the water and causing the loud  splashing noise. From the size of it’s tail I think it is a beaver, although some friends suggested it may be a river otter. Here is a link to a video I took on my IPhone. https://youtu.be/GOxkgkHbi9cbeaver splashin tail in river

Whatever it was it knew I was watching and continued it’s behavior. It would seem it was defending this territory for some reason. I was puzzled on seeing a beaver in the river and is why I am not sure if it could be an otter. Any positive identification would be appreciated.  I would have loved to stay and watch it swim in the river  but I knew I didn’t have a lot of time for my hike so I decided to continue my walk. Here are some more photographs I took of what I believe is a beaver. Beaver photographs. beaver swimming in river

I walked  under the shade of ancient trees growing along the river. The trees in the wetlands still had their Summer green but there was  a silence here for the first time since the Spring.large oak tree on trail

Many of the song birds have now left these woods on their journey south for the Winter. And I didn’t hear or see any of the usual resident robins, catbirds or red  winged blackbirds. I did see a few wood ducks take off as I approached a pond or canal and saw this flycatcher perched on a branch. fly catcher on branch

I noticed this spider  web  and saw it’s owner wrapping a web around an unfortunate insect that had been trapped. spider on web with trapped insect

As I walked under the trees I found the husks of some black walnut trees and hazel nuts , which would have been opened by a chipmunk or squirrel.hazel nut hush on ground

 I made my way to the river lands area of the  nature preserve and found this milkweed pod that I had photographed last week.There were some tiny eggs on it and they now hatched, and the pod was covered with these newly hatched insects. insects on milkweed pod

There were not many people at Lake Took-A-While, a few walkers and bikers, but most of the fisherman were gone too. tree lined lake Took-A-While

The crab apple trees had an abundance of fruit and ripe crab apples

There was an abundance of this annoying plant along the trail, ragweed. ragweed along lake

It was getting late so I had to turn back when I started to see flock after flock of red-winged blackbirds crossing the lake and flying from tree to tree in along the trail.red winged blackbird flock

I watched for about 15 minutes as the birds continued to stream across the lake and down the trails. Here is a link to a YouTube video I took of some of the migrating birds. Red-winged blackbird migrating flocks red winged black birds in flight

I could have watched them for hours but I couldn’t miss my football game so I walked back to the wetlands. I didn’t see any bald Eagles in the wetlands but I was happy to get home in time for the game and get to see my Philadelphia Eagles win!  I am still glad I  got to spend the morning outdoors in the wetlands,once again it didn’t disappoint this nature lover. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetland photographs 

Surely no child, and few adults, have ever watched a bird in flight without envy. 

 

 

 

 

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Bald Eagle At The PPl Wetlands. Always A Magical Momment.

It is always exciting  to see our national symbol, the bald eagle  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Almost extinct in our Nation a few decades ago, they were reintroduced into Pennylvania and are now thriving along our rivers, lakes and streams of our Commonwealth.bald eagle in tree along river

 I usually see these majestic birds from  afar,  perched high atop a tree limb or soaring high above me. And I am sure they have an eye on me long before I see them. Not last Sunday.  I was hiking along the Susquehanna River at the PPl Wetlands in Salem Township when I saw this bird perched on a tree limb. 

I was sure he /she didn’t see me as I approached and proud of having been able to surprise him/her.  It didn’t take long for him/her to hear me and take off into the skies over the Susquehanna River.  bald eagle in flight

I probably interupted  his/her breakfast plans, a fish in the river perhaps , but I am sure it found another spot to wait for lunch. Here is a link to some more photographs of my bald eagle sighting. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-bald-eagle-July-23-2017-bald eagle in flight

I only planned a short walk throught the  PPL wetlands, it is now wild mushroom season here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and I am usually out searching for them in my secret locations which I won’t share here on my blog.Sorry but mushrooms hunters have always been a secretive bunch. polypore mushroom

As always, my walk through the wetlands and along the Susquenanna River didn’t disappoint. I was thrilled seeing the bald eagle  but I saw a few other birds on my walk including this green heron,green heron in flight

quite a few flycatchers ,enjoying the abundance of insects now flying throughout the wetlands,flycatcher on branch

a flicker flicker on tree branch

and this elusive wood duck. Here is a limk to some more photogrpahs of the birds I saw at the wetlands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-July-23-2017-wood duck on log

I continued my walk along the river and, as I always do, imagined the many generations of Native Americans who had walked along this same river, and maybe even under the same tress. trail along Susquehanna River

The recent rains created a lot of mud and I came very close to talking a nasty fall sliding in one of the muddy areas of the trail. footprint in mud

And I saw a lot of  these creatures, slugs, enjoying  the wet conditions. slug on ground

I  was saddened to see a large stand of turk cap lilies, which  had always attracted butterflies and insects, was prety much gone, taken over by the invaive alien and ugly japanese knotweed. This was the only lily left.turk cap lily

The trail left the river and passed through some corn fields, which are now laden with rapidly filling ears of corn.wood path leading to corn field

There is something so soothing walking amid the stalks of corn is a corn field, for me anyway.

As I made my way backe to the parking lot, signs summer was moving on were everywhere including the soon to be ripe blackberries

and an abundant crop of elderberries. 

I saw one last critter before I left, this rabbit who looks like it may have been having some issues with the many insects in the wetlands. I left the wetlands and sought out my mushroom hunting territories but those areas will remain secret. Here is a link to some more photogrpahs from my hike in the wetlands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-July-23-2017-

 

We are eagles of one nest…the nest is in our soul.” – Led Zeppelin

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Milkweed, Butterflies And A Mushroom : A Hike On The Black Diamond Trail.

I returned to the Pennsylvania State Game lands last Sunday and decided to hike the Black Diamond section of the D&L trail  up to scenic Moosehead lake. Wooded access trail to Black diamond trail

I drove to White Have and proceeded north on Church Road which became Tunnel Road. It was my first time traveling on this old country road and it looks like it has a long history to tell.  I came to a small dirt access parking area about a mile before Tunnel Road’s  intersection with Route 447. The trail can be accessed by following a short uphill path and I was soon hiking the wide. well maintained Black Diamond Trail. Black Diamond trail

It was a cool morning with clear blue skies and a perfect day for a hike.  I walked the trail south and east, through second growth forest of birch, scrub oak, pine and maple.Black Diamond section of D&L Trail

There were patches of milkweed flowers in bloom all along the trail. This unique plant, which exudes a milky sap when broken or cut, attracts many insects, including flies, bees, wasps moths and butterflies when it’s flowers are in bloom. Aphrodite frlittiary butterfly on milkweed flower.

And, as I hiked the trail for the next four hours I must have seen thousands of insects and butterflies fluttering from flower to flower in the many patches of milkweed on the way. Aphrodite fritillary and eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies on milkweed flowers

I always enjoyed seeing the spectacular eastern tiger swallowtail eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly on milkweed flower

and the famous monarch butterflies, monarch butterfly on milkweed flower

but, upon closer observation of the milkweed flowers with my camera I discovered so many more colorful and beautiful butterflies that live in our area. I am not an expert but I tried to identify some of these beautiful insects  I saw on my hike. I believe this is a cloudless sulphur butterfly,cloudless sulphur butterfly on milweed flower

this one I believe is  a firey skipper butterfly,firey skipper butterfly

this, I believe, is an Aphrodite fritillary butterfly.Aphrodite fritillary butterfly. on milkweed flower

And this, I think, is a spicebush swallowtail butterfly. spicebush swallowtail butterfly on milkweed flower

This one I believe is a Horace’s Dusky wing. Again I could be wrong on my identifications and please feel free to correct me if am. Horace's dusky wing butterfly

There were also many bees, flies and other insects attracted to the milkweed and some of the other flowers now in bloom such as the common mullein and daisey flowers. Here is a link to some more photographs of the butterflies and other insects I saw on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Black-Diamond-trail-butterflies-and-insects-butterflies on milkweed flowers

As I continued on the trail it became  a gradual , but steady upward climb, and the woodlands became older and thicker as I approached Moosehead Lake.

There were some very old oak and pitch pine trees growing along the trail some of which could possibly had survived the heavy logging that took place throughout this area.large old oak tree and pitch pine trees

I soon crossed the headwaters of the Nescopeck Creek and continued to see the many butterflies and insects attracted to the  blooming milkweed flowers. I heard many  birds in the trees but had a hard time trying to photograph them in the thick foliage. I was able to capture this fellow, I think a titmouse that was fluttering with a few others in the forest area along the trail titmouse on tree branch

It was getting hot when I arrived at the scenic blue waters of Moosehead lake. There was once a town located here,associated with the ochre mines in the area. I need to research some more about the unique history of the area. clouds reflecting on waters of moosehead lake

I sat on one of the benches that line the lake and rested and enjoyed the view.clouds reflecting on waters of Moosehead lake  

After a short rest I hiked  to the nearby wetlands along the trail and saw this great blue heron stalking it’s lunch in the water lily filled waters. 

I decided to make my way through the thick brush and undergrowth that separates the trail from the wetlands, not a real good idea shirtless and in shorts but the effort was worth it.  I scared the heron away but did see some turtles, frogs, geese, ducks and a kingfisher. This was the only photograph I could get. belted kingfisher on tree branch

There were plenty of  mosquitoes and insects in the wetlands and quite a few flycatchers perched on dead limbs in the   waiting for a meal. 

I walked through the muck and thick brush and briars along the wetlands and again scared the blue heron as I unexpectedly approached again.

I was rewarded with this chicken mushroom growing on a fallen log. It was older but they usually  grow on the same tree every year so hopefully I will find it again next year. REMEMBER please don’t eat any wild mushroom unless you are positive it is edible since a mistake can make you very sick or even kill you. 

It was now past noon and the sun was hot. Once again I spent more time than I had planned observing and photographing the butterflies, insects and dragonflies and I had to head back. 

 I have become so much more aware of the complexity of our environment since I started hiking with my digital cameras. From birds to butterflies and bees to bears there is always something of interest to observe and photograph on a hike in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania or wherever you live on this small planet we share. just keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike on the Black diamond trail. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Black-Diamond-trail-hike-July-16-2017-

“Butterflies are self propelled flowers.” 
― Robert A. Heinlein

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Great Blue Herons Are Cool And Fun To watch. .

Many time when I am hiking along streams, rivers, lakes or wetlands  I hear the swooshing of wings overhead and regretfully look up  to see a great blue heron taking off before I can get a photograph. On Saturday, while hiking in the PPL Wetlands,  I was fortunate to come upon this heron standing absolutely still  on a log in  one of the duckweed covered canals. 

These graceful birds stand motionless waiting to spear catch a passing fish or move ever so slowly sneaking up on a frog or small turtle. great blue heron  in wetlands

I watched this one for a few minutes but too close. It took off but landed only a few hundred feet further up the canal. 

It again took off as I  approached. I continued on my hike, returning a few hours later to again find, I think, the same great blue heron now sitting on a log in a larger lake in the wetlands. 

These birds are common around  the waters of Northeastern Pennsylvania and throughout North and Central America. 

I stood for about a half hour in the intense July sun hoping to see this one catch a fish or frog but all I got was to see it spread it’s spectacular wings as it took off,

to try a new location  on another log to catch lunch.

I had better luck last year when I captured this photograph of a great blue heron catching a fish near Doylestown Pennsylvania. Here is a link to my photo gallery with more pictures of this awesome experience. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/blue-heron-bucks-county-may-20-2016

I will try and be more quiet, and keep my eyes peeled on my hikes in the wetlands in hope of once again capturing one of these beautiful birds catching a meal. Here is a link to some more photographs  of the blue heron taken last Saturday. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/birds-of-pennsylvania/nggallery/birds-of-pennsylvania/great-blue-heron-PPL-wetlands-July-8-2017-

“Creativity is the Blue Heron within us waiting to fly; through her imagination, all things become possible.”― Nadia Janice Brown

 

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Birds, Butterflies and Blueberries At The Pennsylvania State Game Lands

We had clear skies and sunshine  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania last Sunday and I decided to drive to my new found hiking area in the State Game Lands 119. Located about 35  minutes from my house, on the edge of the Pocono Plateau, these woodlands remind me of the woods near my home that I hiked all of my life, until they were lost to land development.gate to trail on game lands

As I exited my jeep I noticed a number of butterflies fluttering on the ground and found they were enjoying one of their favorite foods, fox or coyote droppings. I believe these are spicebush swallowtail butterflies.spicebush swallowtails on coyote droppings

I walked north on the old railroad right of way into the game lands finding plenty  of now ripe low bush blueberries, or, as we called them huckleberries. The high bush, or “swamper” blueberries were also beginning to ripen now.  In my parents generation picking these berries and selling them supplemented the meager income of many coal mining families. I spent many hours and days picking them as a child. I continued to pick many quarts a year to supply my mom and aunts with the berries for pies, muffins and cakes but they are now too old to bake and I haven’t been out picking as much these past few years. .highbush blueberries or swampers

I decided to walk the more wooded path that led to The D&L trail. It was a narrow path through  scrub oaks, blueberry bushes and ferns growing  in the wetlands on both sides of the trail. grassy trail on state game lands

I decided to walk  this trail despite the numerous ticks I encountered on my last hike , I removed 18 of them that had crawled on me, hoping to see some wildlife in the wetlands. fern in sunlight

I was rewarded with my first sighting of this beautiful bird, a Canada warbler. It was an elusive bird and I followed it’s fluttering through the thick scrub oaks or about 15 minutes until I was able to get some photographs. Here is a link to some more photographs of this beautiful bird. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/birds-of-pennsylvania/nggallery/birds-of-pennsylvania/canada-warbler-canada warbler in tree

I also saw another elusive bird, which my birding friends helped me identify, an immature oven bird. oven bird in tree

And, as they are found almost everywhere here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, there were a number of catbirds in the woods along the trail. I observed a pair that were traveling together and they were much more quiet than usual. I suspect they had a nest nearby. 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/Game-Lands-119-birds-july-2-2017-catbird on tree branch

I followed the trail as it proceeded  downward  and crossed this little stream, one of the headwaters of the Nescopeck Creek. I thought to myself  how the water flowing beneath my feet would find it’s  way to the Nescopeck Creek, the Susquehanna River, the Chesapeake Bay and eventually the Atlantic Ocean, and eventually evaporate and once again fall as rain. We live on a wonderful planet. stream crossing road

As I stepped over the stream I spotted this fellow enjoying the cool waters. frog in stream

The woods along the trail grew thickerferns and trees along trail

and there were older hemlock and oak trees now shading the sun. sun filtering through leaves of large old oak tree

Eventually the wooded path intersected with the wider and more used D & L trail that will soon  lead to Easton . I encountered many folks walking and even more riding on bicycles on the trail and enjoying the intense early July sunshine.D&L rails to trails path

Along the trail were many patches of milkweed flowers that are now in bloom. And, milkweed flowers attract butterflies and there were plenty of than fluttering about, including the beautiful eastern tiger swallowtails.eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly on milkweed flower

 the Aphrodite fritillary butterflies Aphrodite fritillary butterfly on milkweed flower

and the spicebush swallowtail butterfly with another eastern tiger swallowtail. .swallow tail butterflies on milkweed flower

And the butterflies weren’t just found on the milkweed flowers as this common buckeye butterfly was found on a    leaf common buckeye butterfly on leaf

I walked the trail up about a half mile and come to the scenic Moosehead lake. I was hoping to see an eagle or an osprey, or as least some water birds but there I didn’t see anything on the lake on Sunday. view of moosehead lake

I walked to the wetlands on the other side of the lake where, while enjoying this view,  I met three bikers from Moldavia, Lithuania and Ukraine. They were  biking from Glen Summit  to  Jim Thorpe.  We had an interesting conversation about the beauty of our planet and what a small world it is, having just returned from  my visit to  neighboring Poland. water lily covered pond along trail

The sun was now intense and I decided to begin my journey back to my jeep. It was an uphill hike and a much more difficult walk. Still I enjoyed it observing more butterflies, blueberries and birds on the way, including another species of butterfly, I believe this is a clouded sulphur butterfly.

And there were a few dragonflies hovering about as I walked through some wetlands. 

I am really starting to love these trails, and hope to hike and explore them for many years to come,  but I still wish I could hike the trails of my childhood on Stony Mountain. Those were the days. Here are some more photographs from my hike in the Pennsylvania game lands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/State-game-Lands-hike-July-2-2017-

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” 
― Chris MaserForest Primeval

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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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Summer, And The Insects, Return To The PPL Wetlands.

 

It was Saturday, and, of course, it rained as usual  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.   We were lucky this past  weekend, the first of this Summer.  The rains ended early,  by 9 a.m., soon the clouds departed, and the  sun was  shining. And  I was off to visit the PPL Wetlands. 

The woods at the Wetlands  still have their deep green Spring color but there are many signs that Summer is here. One of the most noticeable was the increase in insects. The ponds, lakes and canals of the wetlands now had swarms of dragonflies and damselflies hovering along their  duckweed covered shores. 

I love watching them dart about, defending their territory, looking for a meal or  looking for a mate.

There are so many species each with their distinctive colors and patterns. They are complex and beautiful creatures. 

And there were also hoards of some not so beautiful insects, the mosquitoes, deer flies and gnats. I have many itching bites to prove it. There were also a lot more bees , wasps and some moths and butterflies. I think this is a common buckeye butterfly. 

As I walked through the trails of the wetlands I founds many other signs that Summer is here including quite a few wild raspberry bushes which provided me with a few handfuls of delicious berries. 

The high bush, or ‘swamper” blueberries are still green but it looks like they will produce a good crop in a few weeks. 

A lot of the plants of early Spring such as the mandrake or may apple and skunk cabbage have already started  to decay, 

But, like everything in nature they are quickly replaced, They are now overgrown with ferns, vines and other plants such as the elderberries which are now in full bloom. 

And these plants also are producing berries but I wouldn’t recommend eating them, these were produced by a large and old poison ivy vine. 

Even though the waters are now warm, and, in most areas, covered in duckweed, a lot of the turtles still enjoy basking in the intense June sun. 

As I  watched the turtles I saw this green heron on a log, stalking some prey, maybe a fish, frog or young  turtle.

I walked toward the Riverlands and Lake Took-A- While  and saw a few birds along the way, including this shy and elusive  a wood duck and a few of her ducklings. 

The trees were filled with the sounds of the song birds but it is so hard to find them in the thick foliage, I am sure I walked under hundreds of them until I finally was able to photograph this yellow warbler. 

I also saw many of the year long residents, the cardinals, robins, sparrows and this blue bird. 

And of course the were the  noisy red-winged black birds

 

and catbirds, they seemed to be everywhere.

The lake was not as crowded as in past weeks but still a few folks were trying their luck at fishing or enjoying a walk along it’s shores. 

As I walked along it’s shores I heard the noisy chatter of a kingfisher. I have seen this bird fly overhead for weeks now but could not get a good photograph. Yesterday I was lucky, as it flew across the lake and interacted what looked like other kingfishers.

I checked the photographs when I got home, and, after  cropped them, I discovered it  was a family of kingfishers. They aren’t the best photographs but check out my next blog post to see some more. 

I also saw a few canada geese with their goslings along the lake. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw at the wetlands yesterday. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-June-24-2017

The sun was heating up the water and the dragonfly activity seemed to increase with the heat. I decided to walk back to my car and get my macro lens and try to capture the intricacies of these ancient insects. 

I was able to slowly sneak up close to a few perched on a leaf or branch over the water. I was out for a few hours and the intense sun told me it was time head home. Here is a link to some more photographs of the dragonflies I sawhttp://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-dragonflies-June-24-2017-

I made my way back to the car under the canopy of leaves and enjoyed the sun filtering through to the woodland floor.

There is no question in my mind, I love the Spring and Summer a lot more than the Winter and I am going to enjoy getting outdoors as much as I can  these next three months, And I hope to share my adventures and photographs with all of you .Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in the wetlands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-June-24-2017

 

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
Henry James

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PPL Wetlands: The Birds Are Back

It was the weekend and, of course,  we had another rainy start here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I drove to the PPL Wetlands and started my walk in a light, chilly  rain. PPL Wetlands -1

The waters of the Susquehanna River was high from the rain we have been having. I was thinking I’d see some water fowl today but I was surprised with the number of song birds I encountered. First with a number of gold finches near the river. birds -2

And I saw this year long resident, a blue bird, peeking out from behind a tree along the river too. birds -1

I walked into the wetlands, and  lush new green growth of Spring. It is just such a wonderful time of year. Everything is so fresh and  alive. PPL Wetlands -15

And the air is filled with the fragrance of the still blooming honeysuckle and now also with the flowers of the many locusts trees growing along the waters of the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -22

The locusts flowers attract many song birds and I spotted a pair of yellow warblers fluttering among the flowers of this tree. yellow warblers -8

I am not sure if they were a male and female or if one was a juvenile, since it did seem like it was being fed by the other one. yellow warblers -11

I do know I spent a half hour watching and photographing them fly from branch to branch in the surrounding trees. They seem to have become accustomed to me and  didn’t appear to mind my presence. Here is a link to a gallery of more photos of these beautiful birds. yellow warblers -18http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/yellow-warbler-PPL-Wetlands-May-20-2017-

The locust flowers also attract the Baltimore orioles although I only saw this one high in a tree top.birds -10

I was looking for another species of bird that I usually find in the locust flowers.  I didn’t see any yet this year  until I looked high in the branches of this tree. I wasn’t sure at first, but, after looking through my zoom lens I confirmed they were cedar waxwings. I think they may just have arrived.PPL Wetlands -25

And it wasn’t long afterward that I saw one in the lower branches. I think there will be a lot more next week. They are a beautiful bird.birds -23

As I walked I heard a lot of frogs croaking in the waters but didn’t see one, nor did I see any turtles. There was no sun out and the waters are now warm so there is no reason for them to leave the safety of the water. . I did see this chipmunk peering out from  the branches of a tree.PPL Wetlands -27

And this red squirrel. He seemed as curious about me as I was of him. PPL Wetlands -30

As I walked along the banks of a canal I encountered this female duck. She was very agitated and I knew her nest must be close by. birds -7

I continued my walk to the Riverlands section of the nature preserve and saw this bird, I think it is an Eastern kingbird. birds -19

Lake Took-A-While, despite the  light rain, was still crowded with fisherman. And there were a few new residents. I found these proud  goose parents showing off their newly hatched goslings. birds -33

Swimming nearby was this  male mallard duck. birds -26

The rain stopped, and I wish i could have stayed out all day, there was just so much to see, but I had to head on back. Along the way I continued to see the many song birds that returned to the areas including a number of song sparrows. birds -25

I again walked past the  the agitated female duck, she was squawking about, and i noticed, right along the trail, her nest filled with eggs. I am hoping they hatch soon since they are in such an exposed area. She must be a new mother. Many new mother birds learn the hard way that it is a good idea to conceal your nest.birds -38

As I walked along the river I heard the call of a red bellied woodpecker. I risked the ticks, and made my way into the woods and found  the woodpecker and her nest. Hopefully i will find some newly hatched woodpeckers in the upcoming weeks. 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/PPL-Wetlands-birds-May-20-2017-birds -39

I made my way back to the car passing some late blooming may apples or mandrakes,PPL Wetlands -35

and newly blooming blackberries. PPL Wetlands -9

Despite the early rain, it turned out to be a nice day for a hike, and it only gets better in the upcoming weeks. I hope to spend a lot of them in the great outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-May-20-2017-

birds -5

In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.  Robert Lyndbirds -24

 

 

 

 

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