Cedar Waxwings And A Sign Of Spring At The PPl Wetlands

It was nice to return to Northeastern Pennsylvania after my visit to Puerto Rico. I have always said you don’t have to travel far to find the beauty of nature. I did see many wonderful things in Puerto Rico. There was beautiful scenery and I saw many exotic birds  on my trip.   But there is also so much beauty here too, even in Winter.  And I went looking for, and found some, of this beauty at the PP Wetlands yesterday. Trees and mountains along Susquehanna River

It was a mostly sunny and seasonably cold morning. The temperatures were in the low 20’s.  We had some warm weather while I was gone and there was no snow on the ground.  I immediately noticed how swollen the Susquehanna River had become. trees along river

The heavy rains and melting snow had it reaching the tops of it’s banks. As I walked in the wetlands and found most of the canals and ponds were still frozen.  Even though they were now lifeless, they still had a unique beauty to them. ice covered pond in wetlands

I heard a few birds in the distance, woodpeckers, crows and black-capped chickadees, However I did not see a single bird or other critter until almost a mile into my walk. I saw  these two red squirrels scurrying through the underbrush. pair of red squirrels

I continued my walk to the river lands section of the preserve and frozen Lake Took-A-While.frozen lake Took-A-While

I still wasn’t seeing any  wildlife. I knew the water birds would be gone because  the lake was frozen.I was surprised  there were none  of the  usual winter birds commonly seen here. bridge and lake under cloudy sky

This changed when I walked to the river trail. I first noticed a few woodpeckers in the trees. woodpecker on tree branch

I soon walked into a flock of one of my favorite birds, the cedar waxwing. cedar waxwings in tree

These birds are very social and can be found in large flocks, especially in winter.cedar waxwing in tree

They feed mainly on fruits and can be seen fluttering among the tree tops in small flocks in the summer. This flock was larger than the ones I have seen in the summer. There were about thirty birds in it and they were searching for the few remaining berries on the trees. cedar waxwings in branches

And as I have often  observed before there were now other birds in the same area. I noticed  that different species of birds tend to  travel together, probably for safety, in the cold of Winter. I saw a few tufted tit mice, 

and nuthatches in the same vicinity as the cedar waxwings. I watched the birds for a while enjoying the fluttering of the cedar waxwings in the trees over my head. nuthatch in tree

After observing this group of birds I only saw a cardinal and a few sparrows on my return walk. It was still a pleasure seeing the waxwings. On my return walk I  looked for, and found this, a first sign of Spring. A skunk cabbage sprouting up in wetlands! skunk cabbage sprouting cedar waxwing on branch

It is now mid February, and we may still get some frigid weather and snow here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but the sun is higher in the sky, and the worst of Winter is over. Spring will arrive soon and Nature will put on it’s greatest show of the year. And I will be sure to be outdoors and watch it arrive. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike including some more of the beautiful cedar waxwings. PPL Wetlands hike February 17 2018. 

tree lined frozen pond

If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.     Vincent Van Gogh

 

 

Share This:

Fly Eagles Fly! And They Did, Here In Northeastern Pennsylvania And Minnesota.

As some of you may know, from my past blog posts, I am a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles football fan. It was an  exciting weekend for Eagles Fans.  The Eagles won  their first Super Bowl on Sunday!!!!  On Saturday, before the game,  I decided to drive to the Lehigh Gap Nature Center and see if I could see a live bald eagle for good luck and  in anticipation of the big game.Lehigh Gap Nature Center

I chose this area of the Lehigh River since I had seen  a bald eagle on my hike along the Lehigh Canal in Weissport last week. And my brother Mike often sees them here when he drives home from work. stone building at lehigh gap

I have been to the Lehigh Gap Nature Center before. It is where the Appalachian Trail crosses the Lehigh River. I have hiked up atop the Blue Mountain on the trail  from here. This time I decided to hike north on the D & L trail. It was partly sunny and a frigid  15 degrees when I began my hike.D & L trail at Lehigh gap

 I had only walked a few hundred yards when I saw a large bird in the distance flying toward me. Could it be? Yes it was!  I was delighted to discover that it was a bald eagle!bald eagle in flight

He or she flew directly over me and was looking down at me as he or she flew overhead.  I thought she or he nodded her head, telling me the Eagles will do just fine. I am always thrilled to see our National symbol in the wild. Even more so the day before my Eagles played in the Super Bowl.  These majestic birds  came so close to extinction a few decades ago.  I knew it was  good sign for me and my Philadelphia Eagles.  And sure enough it was. The Philadelphia Eagles flew just as high, beating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. Here is a link to some more photographs of the eagle. Bald Eagle February 3 2018.bald eagle in flight

I continued my walked along the river and noticed the huge blocks of ice that were scattered along the river banks.  Many were six inches to a foot thick. ice along Lehigh river

The river was mainly ice free now and was flowing rapidly from some rain and warmer weather we had last week. lehigh river

As I walked along, I startled many flocks of juncos who were feeding on the grasses and plants that grew along the trail.junco on ground

There were also quite a few cardinals in the trees along the trail and river. male cardinal in tree

The trail  turned to the northwest after about a mile or so and I walked into the shade.  It felt a lot colder without the sunshine.

The river was still in the sunshine  and I saw a few Canada geese

and a flock of common mergansers wading on it’s deep blue waters. 

I walked out to the Three Ponds Trail,  about two miles out from the nature center. The trail winds around some wetlands and three large ponds. The ponds are now frozen and lifeless but I would think there would be a lot of wildlife activity in the warmer months. 

I climbed up to the Prairie Grass. This trail is high above the D & L trail and the Lehigh river. 

It consists of native grasses which have grown on the soil that was contaminated by a zinc plants that operated nearby during the last century. I remember the barren hillsides when I would travel to Philadelphia as a child. The plant was closed and, with the help of conservationists, the hillsides are now making a comeback.

The trail were steep and ice covered in spots making for some difficult walking. The views, however were worth the effort. View of Lehigh River

In addition to the magnificent views of  river, mountains and towns below, I also saw this house in the distance atop Marshall’s Hill in Palmerton. It is remodeled now but I remember when it was run down and dilapidated. It looked like the house from the Adam’s Family. It was built by a retired Civil War general, Elisha Marshall, and was said to be haunted. 

The trail eventually began a steep, and ice covered, descent. I was surprised not to see or hear a single bird on the trail. I am sure there would be many migratory song birds up here in the Spring. 

The Prairie Grass Trail crossed another nice hiking trail the Lehigh-New England trail. I crossed this trail and walked down to the D & L trail but I plan to return and explore these paths again. Lehigh New England trail

I returned to the Nature Center seeing this beautiful blue bird along the way. Here is a link to some more birds I saw on my hike. Lehigh Gap Birdsblue bird on tree

I enjoyed my hike in the Lehigh Gap and will be  back to explore the many trails in warmer weather. I left  feeling good having seen an eagle. I knew it was a good omen. And it was. My Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl Champions. Fly Eagles Fly!!!! Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Lehigh Gap Nature Center hike February 3 2018. Buildings at Lehigh Gap Nature Center

“Farewell,” they cried, “Wherever you fare till your eyries receive you at the journey’s end!” That is the polite thing to say among eagles.

“May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks,” answered Gandalf, who knew the correct reply.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien

bald eagle in flight

 

Share This:

Another Winter Walk Along The Lehigh River

The arctic weather continued on Sunday here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I awoke in the  morning to find a temperature of -4 degrees at my house.  The wind had subsided and the clear skies meant we would have some sunshine. I knew it would be cold but I wasn’t staying inside.  I decided  to return to  the Lehigh Canal in Weissport to see if the bitter cold had frozen the Lehigh River. frozen canal reflecting blue skies

The canal, on the outskirts of the town of Weissport,  was frozen solid. And again it was cleared of snow to allow ice-skating for the local residents.railroad tracks along Lehigh River

I decided to first walk to the railroad bridge over to the Lehigh River expecting to find the river  to be frozen. To my surprise it wasn’t. There was some ice build up along the river banks but it was flowing just as swiftly as it was last week. Partially frozen Lehigh River

I enjoyed the view of the  Lehigh River which reflected the deep blues skies and was contrasted by the white snow reflecting the sun.Partially frozen Lehigh River

I returned to the Lehigh Canal trail and found the same to be deserted on this frigid morning. The temperature at the trail was zero. snow covered trail on Lehigh Canal

As I continued my walk I once again encountered some of our familiar winter resident birds including a flock of  juncos or “snow birds” andjunco on branch

a few song sparrows hopping about in the dead grass along the banks of the canal.song sparrow on branch

After about a half mile on the trail I smelled the pleasant odor of a campfire. I soon saw a brave fellow ice fishing on the canal and warming himself next to a fire. He told me the fish weren’t biting, having only caught one. ice fisherman on frozen canal

I walked along the canal which ran along the Lehigh River but at varying distance, sometimes  as far as 100 yards, and at other areas right along the river. I enjoyed listening to the roaring of the waters on this cold day. snow covered trail on Lehigh Canal

I didn’t  see the mallard or goldeneye ducks on the river Sunday but I did spot these hardy Canada geese braving the frigid waters. canada geese on Lehigh River

I also saw a bird scampering up a tree trunk. At first I thought it was a nuthatch but they usually scamper down a tree trunk. I took a few photographs with my zoom lens and discovered, later at home, that it was a brown creeper. This was my first sighting of the bird. I enjoy finding and identifying (with much help from my birder friends) new species of birds. brown creeper on tree trunk

I also saw, for the first time,  this  winter resident. It hopped from tree branch to tree branch across the canal making it almost impossible to photograph. I was delighted when it flew across the canal and landed in a tree near me. It is a golden-crowned kinglet. golden crowned kinglet

It stayed nearby feeding on insects burrowed  in the trees branches Here is a link to some more photographs of this pretty little bird. Golden crowned kinglet. golden crowned kinglet in tree branch

There were also a few woodpeckers active in the frigid cold. woodpecker in tree

As well as the always present black-capped chickadees, black-capped chickadee on tree branch

and tufted titmice.tufted titmouse in tree 

I made it out to the “Bridge to nowhere” again, about two miles out. I stopped to rest a bit on this bench provided by a local church. I decided to head back. I was cold but invigorated by the  brilliant sunshine, the deep blues skies and white snow. I was also  enjoying so many birds on this cold Winter morning. I was hungry and wanted to watch some football or I might have hiked until dark. bench on trail

On the way back I was watching a few titmice in a tree when I saw this squirrel cautiously looking at me. There were again very few chipmunks or squirrels active in the cold.  And when they are they are very secretive.gray squirrel in tree

I believe it is because they are one of the few sources of food for this fellow I spotted high in another treetop. It is some type of hawk and I am sure it was looking for a squirrel or chipmunk to make a sudden, and last, move. Such is survival in the harshness of Winter.hawk in tree

On  my return hike I met  a number of folks who were braving the freezing temperatures to enjoy the Winter scenery and January sunshine. I also saw many of the same birds I saw on my hike out and another beautiful Winter resident, the colorful blue bird. blue bird eating winterberry

I was again very cold when I returned to my car. It was a cold well earned and which provided me with the peace and quiet I so love, the beauty of a frozen nature I so appreciate, and the observation of so many birds I so enjoy. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike along the Lehigh. Lehigh River hike January 7 2018 

blue bird on tree branch

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” 
― Robert Lynd

 

Share This:

A New Year Hike On The Lehigh Canal Trail

It  was a clear and frigid  start to the New Year here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It was one degree below zero when I went out for my morning walk.  The clear skies meant there would be sunshine and I decided to  check out the ice on the Lehigh River at Weissport.

I began my hike on the old Lehigh Canal trail. I  have a number of posts about the history of the canal in the archives of my blog. The canal was frozen solid and the local residents shoveled off the snow for ice skating the previous night. . I imagined the scene of folks skating on the canal for the almost  175 years of it’s existence..

I proceeded north, into a steady wind, on the snow covered trail. The skies were deep blue and the sun reflected off the powdery snow making the landscape look like a scene from  Dr. Zhivago  

 The Lehigh River sparkled under the blue skies and was already becoming covered in ice,

I was surprised to see quite a few birds on this frigid day, including a number of sparrows darting among the bush growing along the canal.

And a few cardinals adding some color to the white and blue scenery.

There were only a few fellow adventurers out on this cold morning including one gentleman on his bicycle. But there were also , surprisingly, a number of water fowl near the canals and on the river. The first I saw  was this male mallard  duck that flew overhead.

I think he was part of this group of what I think were female mallard ducks swimming in the cold currents of the Lehigh River. However, my bird identification skills are not the best and they may be black ducks. 

They were accompanied by this common goldeneye duck.

This was the first time I have seen one of these ducks on my many  hikes here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. common golden eye duck on river

I continued my walk in the frigid air but enjoyed the wintery scenery provided by the snow, the blue sky and the surrounding mountains. 

I usually hike, at least, to the railroad bridge over the Lehigh River. On New Year’s Day I only hiked out to the “bridge to nowhere” about two miles from the start of the trail 

This rest area, provided by a local church, is a nice stop to reflect on life, even more so on New Year’s Day and after the recent tragic loss of my sister and her husband.  Despite the cold, I sat and did some thinking about the contradiction between the beauty and cruelty of life. 

It was a more pleasant walk back, I now had my back to the wind. 

I saw a few more sparrows, sparrow in brush

and woodpeckers in the trees along the trail. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Lehigh Canal birds January 1 2018. woodpecker on tree branch

I was very cold by the time I had returned to the parking lot but I was glad I ventured out on this frigid morning. Despite the frigid weather spending a few hours outside was a good start to the New Year.  I hope I can continue my adventures ans sharing them here on my blog for another year. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Lehigh Canal January 1 2018.    

“There is always an adventure waiting in the woods.” 
― Katelyn S. Bolds

Share This:

Christmas Eve At The PPL Wetlands. A December Thaw.

Christmas Eve is not a day for last minute shopping for me. I dislike shopping most days and wasn’t going near a store on Christmas Eve. Instead, I decided, of course,  to spend my day outdoors.  After a cold snap two weeks ago, we had some rain and warmer weather here in  Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I decided to see how it affected  the PPL Wetlands. tree lined pond

I knew the warm weather would have melted the earlier snowfall but I was surprised to find this pond and some of the canals were  completely ice free. tree lined path along canal

I did find some duck weed that is still  struggling  to live for a few more days  under some remaining ice.duck weed under ice

Th e warmer temperatures and  rain even brought some life back to a few  species of ferns,green fern at wetlands

and these plants, green plant growth in wetlands

which I can’t identify, also came back to life. . It is not the lush growth found here in the wetlands in the Summer  but it already had  me thinking of and longing for Spring.sunlit green plant growth

And there certainly wasn’t the abundance of wildlife that is found in the warmer months but I did see a few species of birds including my first sighting of this yellow bellied sap sucker. yellow bellied sap sucker on tree trunk

I often heard jokes about this bird on cartoons and sitcoms when I was  a child and now I can say I finally have seen  one. 

I also encountered this beautiful bird. One that reminds me of my dad, a mockingbird. . It landed on a branch near me and seemed to be watching me. I love their singing and have never seen one in the Winter before. mockingbird on branch

I continued on my hike and found  some ponds still covered in a thin layer of ice.   There were no water fowl in the wetlands on my Christmas Eve hike, not even the usual Canada geese. And with colder weather on the way they may be gone until Spring.ice on pond

In addition to the unusual birds above I did see a few flocks of “snow birds” or dark eyed juncos. They were again enjoying the white berries of the poison ivy vines. junco on branch

There were also a few tufted  titmice fluttering in the bare underbrush.tufted titmouse on branch

And some nuthatches scampering  on the tree trunks. 

All of the birds, and the few squirrels and chipmunks I saw were very cautious and secretive. Probably because of the lack of leaf cover, the smaller number of other wildlife in the cold and the red tailed hawks soaring overhead looking for a Christmas Eve snack. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw at the wetlands. PPL Wetlands birds 12/24/2017red tailed hawk in flight

I was surprised when I got to Lake Took-A-While and found it still had some ice on it’s waters. Another reason that the Canada geese were not to be found. lake and trees

I walked down to the Susquehanna River and found that it was  ice free. Last week there was already ice sheets forming on the waters of the river. 

Not on Christmas Eve.No ice on the river on Sunday.  It was a pleasant and mild December with temperatures in the mid 30’s.  Mild weather was not going to last long.  The forecast for a white Christmas came true. We had a two inch snowfall later that evening. And temperatures plummeted on Christmas Day. It is four degrees  as I finish this post Friday  morning. And colder weather on the way.

I am not sure if I will find any wildlife at the PPL Wetlands this weekend, but I am sure of one thing, there will be a lot more ice on the river, ponds and canals. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike on Christmas Eve. PPL Wetlands 11/24/2017.

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, 
but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. 
~ Martin Luther ~mushroom on log

Share This:

It’s Still Fall; But More Like Winter At the PPL Wetlands.

The sun, here in the Northern Hemisphere, is still four days away from it’s  farthest position south  on the  horizon.  Which, of course, means the beginning of Winter. Here in Northeastern Pennsylvania   11:28 a.m Thursday December 21 to be exact. snow and ice covered pond

The past few years our  weather has been unusually mild in December. This year, however, it has been colder with temperatures plummeting into the single digits this past week and we had  a few inches of snow. Which made for an early  Winter walk at the PPL Wetlands yesterday. snow covered evergreen plant

The waters of the canals and ponds in the wetlands are no longer covered in green  duckweed . They are now completely covered in ice and snow. snow covered pond

Last week, despite the cold, I was able to see a variety of bird species on my hike. But not a single mammal. This time I was greeted by this female white tailed deer just as I began my walk. white tailed deer in weeds

And it was one of the last mammals I saw on my hike. As I walked through my usual paths along the canals and ponds there was not much wildlife activity. snow covered path

I did come across a few downy or hairy woodpeckers feeding on the berries of the poison ivy vines. It is remarkable how a plant that is so harmful and useless to  humans provides food for the wildlife in Winter. downy or hairy woodpecker eating poison ivy berries

I also saw this male cardinal, another year long resident here at the wetlands.male cardinal in tree

As I walked toward the river lands area of the park I did not see any of the usually plentiful chipmunks. And the few squirrels I saw were very secretive and scurried quickly through the trees. I did start to see some of our birds that remain for the winter such as this bluejay,blue jay in tree

and I believe this was a black-capped chickadee. black capped chickadee in flight

I walked into the riverlands and found that Lake Took-A-While  was also  now frozen over  and snow covered. And a source of food for  blue herons, ducks, geese, cormorants and kingfishers that live here in the summer was gone. frozen snow covered lake

Most of these birds had migrated south but I still saw a few flocks of geese flying overhead, probably from the open waters of the nearby Susquehanna River. Canada geese in flight

But this too may soon be frozen,  as I saw ice already forming on the river. 

I walked back to the wetlands and saw a few more birds on the ways, including a flock of titmice,tufted titmouse on branch

 a red bellied woodpecker,red bellied woodpecker

and this flicker. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my walk. PPL Wetlands birds December 16 2017.flicker on branch

I didn’t find anything interesting or unusual on this hike, as I often do in the Spring and Summer, but it was still nice to get out and see the Winter wonderland of the PPL wetlands and riverlands. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike PPL Wetlands December 16 2017.black-capped chickadee in flight

“Silence can always be broken by the sound

Of footsteps walking over frozen ground
In winter when the melancholy trees
Stand abject and let their branches freeze
” 
― Merrill Mooresnow covered berries

 

 

 

Share This:

Winter Arrives Early At The PPL Wetlands

The snow that began Saturday  morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania  continued to fall slowly all day. I awoke to find  an accumulation of about two inches on the ground Sunday morning.  Winter came early. This is not a lot of snow for us folks in the Pocono Mountains but enough to make walking difficult. I  once  looked forward to walking in the snow but not anymore.  It’s hard on my knees, back and hip and I  was sore from hike in the little snow we had on Saturday. snow covered road

Even though it is harder I will still  hike in the snow and ice. I am not one for staying indoors,  even in sub-zero temperatures.  I will try and make the best of it, and,  sometimes, actually enjoy it.  So early Sunday I  decided to head down to the PPL Wetlands to enjoy the wintery scenery and see if I could see some wildlife.ice covered pond

When I arrived at the wetlands I found the ponds and canals were now covered with  a thin layer of ice. ice covered lake at PPl Wetlands

There were no turtles, ducks or waterfowl on the ice covered waters.snow covered trail

However, unlike my walk at the rails to trails on Saturday there were  a lot of birds still active in the cold and snow. I saw a number of downy or hairy woodpeckers in the leafless trees. looking for insects under the tree bark. hairy or downy woodpecker on tree limb

There were also a few flickers in the tree tops, also searching for insects. flicker on tree branch

I also encountered  a  small flock of goldfinches feeding on some seeds.male goldfinch in winter plumage

I needed help from a birder friend to identify these birds.  I had no idea that they have such different plumage in the winter. This is a male without his brilliant golden summer coat.  male goldfinch in winter plumage

I also observed  a few tufted titmice fluttering in the trees and shrubs in the wetlands.tufted titmouse on a branch

I walked toward the riverland section of the park and saw  a few deer, squirrels and chipmunks that were to quick for  me to capture with my camera. I was able to photograph one of the many nuthatches scampering down a tree trunk.nuthatch on tree trunk

As I neared Lake Took-A-While the skies cleared and the rays of the weak December sun shone on still mainly ice free waters  of the lake. I usually see ducks, geese and cormorants  on the lake but not Sunday.  I thought they had flown south with the arrival of the snow and cold.lake in snow

I soon learned I was wrong, with regard to the Canada geese anyway. I first heard, and then saw this flock of geese flying to the riverlands from the  direction of the Susquehanna river.canada geese in flight

I am guessing they are still in the area, spending the nights of the ice free waters of the river and feeding in the farms and corn fields in the day. canada geese in flight

I decided to return to the wetlands and saw a few flocks of what, in my opinion, I consider are nuisance birds, the invasive European starling. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. PPL Wetlands birds. 

I did not see the abundance of wildlife or the many trees, flowers and berries I see in the warmer seasons but I still enjoyed the wintery scenery on my walk through the wetlands and riverlands and was pleasantly surprised with the many birds still active in this wonderful nature preserve. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands hike 

 

“Life and summer are fleeting,’ sang the bird. ‘Snow and dark, and the winter comes. Nothing remains the same.” 
― Elyne Mitchell

Share This:

Looking For Wildlife? Even in November The PPL Wetlands Never Disappoint

It was another nice November  day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Saturday.  The skies were mostly sunny and I knew the sunshine would quickly warm the temperature from the 34 degrees early morning start. I decided to drive  to nearby  Community Park and look for the bald eagles that have been  seen at the lake.  leafless birch trees and clouds surrounding Lake Irena

I was there three times last week with no success in seeing the eagles..  I walked around scenic Lake Irena and, once again,  no bald eagles. clouds and trees surrounding lake Irena

In fact, like on my previous visits,  there was very little wildlife at the park . I saw a few crows and heard some  black-capped chickadees in the woods.trees and clouds and lake Irena

And a  few small airplanes taking off from the nearby airport.small plane taking off above trees

I saw no other wildlife until I finally spotted a few chickadees feeding on some pine cones as I completed my walk around the lake . black-capped chickadee feeding on pine cones

It was still  a peaceful and scenic walk. However  I do love to find and photograph wildlife on my weekend walks so I decided to head to a location where I am almost assured to  see some  wild critters, the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk out Community Park. Community Park November 25 2017. leafless trees along pond

Almost as soon as I arrived at the wetlands I saw, and heard a number of different species of birds in the branches of the leafless trees. There were a number of woodpeckers high in the tree tops including this red-bellied woodpecker. red-bellied woodpecker on tree limb

And this downy or hairy woodpecker.

The trees, thick undergrowth, and abundance of water  make the wetlands a good place to find wildlife even in the Winter. I found a lot of birds feeding on the berries of a plant humans avoid , poison ivy.poison ivy covered tree

This tree was covered in a poison ivy vine. And juncos, bluebirds and black-capped chickadees were enjoying the berries of this dreaded plant.black-capped chickadee feeding on poison ivy berries

Although most of duckweed in the ponds and canals has died from the cold some of the more sheltered ponds still have a thriving growth of duckweed  and thus still  some green color. duck weed covered pond

I did not see any ducks on this hike. The mallards left a while ago but there were still some wood ducks here on my last hike a few weeks ago. I was surprised to see a few cedar waxwings remaining in the wetlands. cedar waxwing on tree branch

As I walked toward the river lands section of the park I spotted a few birds adding color to the drab November scenery. First this blue bird,blue bird on tree branch

and then this cardinal. cardinal on tree branch

I also saw a few colors remaining on the now dormant plants and trees. The red oak leaves still have a little color. red oak leaves

As do the bright red  berries of this shrub, I believe a winterberry holly

and these dark purple berries also added to the beauty of my  hike through the  wetlands even in late November. 

I walked under the late autumn sunshine to the riverlands and scenic Lake Took-A- While. There were no kingfishers, cormorants or blue herons on the duck, only a  flock of canada geese enjoying the warmth of the November sun. canada geese on lake

As I began my return walk to the wetlands I heard the shrill cry of a red tailed hawk high overhead. It was being chased by a couple of crows and quickly flew away.  I also saw another red tailed hawk land in a tree. I watched it hoping to get a better photograph but it flew off hidden by the trees. red tailed hawk in tree

In addition to the many birds I saw on my hike there were a number of chipmunk, red squirrelsred squirrel with nut on tree branch

and gray squirrels scurrying through the trees and brush. gray squirrel on tree trunk

The reptile kingdom was also present on my walk. I was surprised to find this lone turtle sunning on a log in the now cold waters.  turtle on log

And I even found a few representatives of the insect world including this caterpillar, wooly caterpiller

and even a butterfly visiting a late blooming dandelion.

As I  approached my car I encountered a flock of dark eyed juncos. These birds spend their summers in Canada and return here in the Winter.  Hence they are also known as snow birds. Hopefully they will not see a lot of snow here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this year. Snow delighted me in my younger years but not so much these days.  Here is a link to some more photographs of some of the birds I saw on my hike. PPL Wetlands birds November 25 2017.

Since I was a young child I have always been fascinated by the beauty of nature, especially of all living creatures. I have always walked the woods of my home here in Northeastern Pennsylvania looking for them.I  now get great pleasure sharing my discoveries on social media and here on my blog. It gives me great comfort in the difficult times I am trying to find my way through. And the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands never disappoint, not even in November. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands November 25 2017.

“No matter how few possessions you own or how little money you have, loving wildlife and nature will make you rich beyond measure.” 
― Paul Oxton

Share This:

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

Share This:

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

Share This: