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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The Splendor Of Spring At The PPL Wetlands

It was another  cool and foggy start  today here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  But,  it’s Spring,  and I wasn’t staying indoors,  so I decided to see what was new at the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township.  What I found was a fresh, light green  that is so special and only found in May in these parts. . PPL Wetlands -1

The grasses, plants, trees, bushes , weeds and flowers were all bursting forth with a lush new growth.  Everywhere you turned you could see something new and unique in the woodlands, such as the exotic and delicate flower of the jack-in-the pulpit. PPL Wetlands -2

Or the flowers on the may apples or mandrakes. PPL Wetlands -17

And their was an abundance of wildlife too. The trees were filled with the songs of the many species of birds that have returned to our woods including the many species of warblers, including the always beautiful yellow warbler. PPL Wetlands birds -29

And in the distance I spied this red tailed hawk.PPL Wetlands birds -1

The most common, and  nosiest of the bird species were the catbirds, PPL Wetlands birds -2

the red-winged blackbirdsPPL Wetlands birds -30

and the robins. I again got to close to nest of this robin and he or she let me know it, fluttering from limb to limb in the branches above my head. PPL Wetlands birds -5

Shortly after I arrived at the wetlands the sun came out, and, as I walked along the canals and waterways  I watched the frogs and turtles crawl on the  banks, logs and rocks to enjoy it’s warmth.  Some of the logs got quite crowded.PPL Wetlands -15

And some  turtles who  were able to find a place all to themselves.PPL Wetlands -7

And most of the frogs seemed to like to be alone in a isolated spot. They are not easy to photograph.PPL Wetlands -28

although I was able to get pretty close, almost eye to eye, with this one. PPL Wetlands -44

 As I continued my walk to the river lands area of the preserve I found that the pink azalea, or honeysuckle as my dad called them,  where still in bloomPPL Wetlands -10

and many of the fern species were also putting forth sporangium.PPL Wetlands -9

I walked to lake Took-A- While, where i found a number of families fishing or celebrating Mother’s Day in  the adjacent picnic grounds.PPL Wetlands -33

I noticed some storm clouds in the distance so began to make my way back to the wetlands, but still seeing a lot of birds along the way, including a number of Baltimore orioles. PPL Wetlands birds -25

I saw this tiny and shy bird in the thick brush , I think it is a sedge wren. PPL Wetlands birds -6

And I was fortunate to see another one of these colorful birds, I  saw one near my home during the week, a scarlet tanager. PPL Wetlands birds -35

As i was watching the scarlet tanager I noticed a raptor of some sort high overhead. I couldn’t make out what it was until I got home and cropped the image. And, much to my surprise, I found out it was a bald eagle! PPL Wetlands birds -37

this song sparrow seemed to have captured more then it could swallow. Here is a link to some more  of the birds I photographed on my hike .http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-May-14-2017

PPL Wetlands birds -20

On the way back I noticed the young oaks leaves. The oaks are always one of the last trees to put forth leaves in the Spring. i love to see them, but it is a bitter sweet feeling. They are like the caboose on the Spring train. when they appear you know almost all of the plants have come back to life now, and that special time of year is ending. There will be flowers, and fruits and birds and insects throughout the summer but it will never be as green as it is in May. PPL Wetlands -20

The wind picked up and  I wasn’t able to make it to my car before the rain began. I got wet but didn’t mind it at all,  After it is the rain that is making everything so green and alive down here in the wetlands.  Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-May-14-2017-PPL Wetlands -47Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

 

 

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A Lot Of Spring Happening Out There

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

this mallard duckrailroad hike birds -23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and  a few Baltimore orioles.birds PPL Wetlands -22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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Spring Is A Little Behind At The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails But It’s Still Spring

Spring was in full bloom at the PPL Wetlands yesterday. I wanted to stay close to home today, I still have some catching up to do from my recent trip to Poland,  so I decided to hike out the local Rails to Trails. Rails to trails -1

It was overcast and a bit cooler today as I set out from the parking lot. As I began my walk I immediately noticed  that there was no were near as many leaves on the trees.  It seemed like the growing season was at least a week or two behind the PPL Wetlands.  Rails to trails -3

I forgot that we are at 1750 feet above sea level and the PPL Wetlands are at 500 feet above sea level. The 1250 difference in elevation sure  does make a big difference in the local climate. Rails to trails -2

Still there were many signs of Spring on the trail. The various species of wild violets were blooming  everywhere. . Rails to trails -45

As were the wild strawberries,Rails to trails -24

and both the high bush and low bush, pictured here, blueberries. These flowers will produce the first blueberries, or, as they are known here, huckleberries, somewhere around the Summer solstice. Rails to trails -47

As I walked along the trail I heard rustling of an eastern towhee in the underbrush.  These birds were a lot more common when I was growing up and we saw many of them will picking wild huckleberries on many a summer morning.   Their call in unmistakable. They hop and flutter low to the ground in thick underbrush. I watched this one for almost 15 minutes before I was able to focus in and get this photograph. Rails to trails -8

I also heard some more rustling in the leaves near the ground and watched, again for quite a while, a small mouse scampering under the dead leaves and low lying brush. I tried to get a photograph but he kept darting out of view as soon as I got him in focus. It was still an interesting experience. One does not often see a mouse during the day. And while watching the mouse I did manage to get a photograph of another elusive bird, I believe this is an oven bird. Rails to trails -61

I continued my hike, encountering a few couples and families out for a walk as well as a few runners and folks on bicycles. I also saw this little fellow climbing atop a rock to get a look at me. Rails to trails -32

I hiked out to the picnic area near the Dreck Creek Reservoir and continued onward.Rails to trails -28

 I was going to try and get to the pine barrens but heard a woodpecker and hawk near an electric pole line and decided to try and find them. Rails to trails -37

I walked down to Dreck Creek which flows out from the reservoir. I sat for a bit and listened to the rapidly flowing waters. before beginning my return walk. Rails to trails -39

I noticed, and smelled,  the wonderful aroma of,  many wild arbutus growing near the creek. Rails to trails -42I love this time of year. There is so much to see as the natural world comes to life after it’s long Winter sleep. Every  single leaf has a unique beauty, such as these black birch leaves. Rails to trails -49

Or this blackberry leaf. Rails to trails -44

Or the young leaves of this scrub oak tree. I could spemd a day observing and photographing the newly sprouted leaves. . Rails to trails -4

So much new growth, it is an amazingly  beautiful word we live in and Spring always, to me anyway, seems to make me once again appreciate it. . I continued my walk watching the newly awakened moths, butterflies and bumblebees flutter about. Rails to trails -58

And there were more birds, robins, crows, sparrows, mourning doves and this blue jay. Here is a link to some more photographs of some of the birds I saw on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rails-to-trails-birds-April-30-2017-Rails to trails -63

It was a long hike, with my early morning walk I had ten miles in, but I would have kept walking if I had the time, since there is so much to discover,in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania in the Spring.  I will have to work tomorrow and the rest of the week  but I am already looking forward to next weekend to explore  places yet unknown here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I love the Spring. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rails-To-Trails-April-30-2017-Rails to trails -10

 

“Never miss an opportunity of noticing anything of beauty …”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and WalkingRails to trails -46

 

 

 

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Spring Sure Has Sprung At The PPL Wetlands

I loved my recent trip to Poland, but it  has now  been almost a month since I last visited one of my favorite hiking grounds, the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands in Salem Township. PPL Wetlands -1

And I sure missed so much. We were having some cold weather in March when I last visited and the wetlands looked  more like mid  Winter than  early Spring. Not today. The plants and trees  in the wetlands have put forth a remarkable growth and everything was  that delightful light green color found only in Spring. . PPL Wetlands -3

So many flowers are now  in bloom or preparing to bloom, and I enjoyed them all,even the lowly dandelion looked good after the drab  months of Winter. PPL Wetlands -63

The honeysuckle are just starting to open and their heavenly aroma is already filling the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -19

The mandrakes or may apples have put forth a lush growth,PPL Wetlands -8

as did the skunk cabbages. When I last saw them they had been severely damaged by the late cold and heavy snow. They sure  have made a  recovery and they added to the lushness of the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -6

I walked to the ponds to look for water fowl and it appears that we have had a lot of rain while I was gone. There is usually  a path separating the two ponds in this photograph. It is now underwater. PPL Wetlands -25

I saw no ducks today. The only water fowl were  these two geese and a blue heron that took off before I could capture a photograph. PPL Wetlands -23

And, as a walked along the muddy paths, I must have came near a robins nest since mommy and daddy robin were not too happy with me being there. They made sure to  let me know I wasn’t welcome. PPL Wetlands -12

I came across this intricate and unusual flower, one of my Spring favorite, a jack -in-the pulpit. It should be blooming in a few days. PPL Wetlands -5

And I even found some early mushrooms. It seemed everything was growing today in the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -28

And there were plenty of birds  to be found too. The woodlands were filled with the songs  including the constant chattering of the red winged blackbirds that can be heard throughout the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -73

The catbirds, a very friendly bird that doesn’t seem to mind humans was also back. PPL Wetlands -44

As were the warblers. I am learning, but I am by no means an expert on bird identification.  Growing up we  knew the easy ones, the robins, cardinals, blue jays, crows, etc and just assumed  the smaller birds were sparrows. It wasn’t until I purchased a zoom lens for my camera that I became aware of the many beautiful species that live in and visit our area. So if I make a mistake please correct me. This one is, I think a yellow warbler. PPL Wetlands -70

And this an American redstart .PPL Wetlands -32

I walked from the wetlands to the riverlands. It was overcast when I started my hike but there were now some breaks of sun and this brought the frogs and turtles out.  I was able to capture a few turtles before they kerplunked into the water as they saw me approach but the many frogs I saw avoided my camera lens. PPL Wetlands -66

It seems every year there are a lot of Baltimore orioles in this area and, sure enough, I spotted one this year. It seems that tent caterpillars are on their menu. PPL Wetlands -52

There was just so much to see this time of year. Everywhere you looked there was a new plant sprouting on the ground or a bird in a tree. I found this interesting plant,  Solomon’s seal, starting to set forth it’s unique flowers.PPL Wetlands -62

And also it’s smaller relative the lily of the valley. PPL Wetlands -30

I wish I had more time, I could have walked these paths looking for the many wonders of Spring until dark but I had to head home. On my way I saw a few more birds including, what I think is a yellow-rumped warbler. PPL Wetlands -55

And this one, I believe a song sparrow. Here is a link to some more of the birds I encountered on my hike in the PPL wetlands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-April-29-2017-PPL Wetlands -47

Even the poison ivy looks so pretty this time of year. PPL Wetlands -18

As I approached my car, I realized how much I miss the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Poland was beautiful, as were many of the other countries I have visited and explored, but you don’t have to cross an ocean to see beauty. We sure have plenty of it here in our own backyard. Just take a walk and keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-April-29-2017-PPL Wetlands -29

 

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
~Percy Bysshe ShelleyPPL Wetlands -64

 

 

 

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