Just a few weeks ago temperatures were in the 70’s and I was seeing turtles at the PPL Wetlands. Not today, the unseasonably warm weather ended and temperatures plummeted here in Northeastern Pennsylvania these past few day. There was ice on the ponds and canals when I hiked there this morning.
I am not a big fan of Winter anymore, it is hard to walk in the ice and snow, but I enjoyed my hike this morning. It was calm and cloudy, with temperatures near 20 degrees. The wetlands had a somber but peaceful look and feel to them.
Gone now is the last of the duckweed on the waters. it has been replaced with a still thin layer of ice, in many shades of white, blue and gray.
There was only a dusting of snow on the ground down here along the river. Near my house, at a much higher elevation, we got about two inches of snow.
As I walked along the canal I saw a few juncos, black-capped chickadees and a few sparrows, including this white -throated sparrow that was fluttering about in the brush.
Overhead I hear the shrill cry of a red tailed hawk and saw this fellow fly into the topmost branches of this tree. He, or she, was pretty well hidden. I watched him/her for awhile hoping it would fly toward me.
Instead another hawk flew from a nearby tree, probably this ones mate, and they both flew away from me. This was the best photograph I could get. as it flew away.
It amazes me, as I walked along the trails, how many different birds nests are now exposed in the branches of the leafless trees and shrubs.
Some are right along the path, a few feet from where I, and many others walked right next to the pair of birds raising their chicks without any of us noticing them. Here is a photograph of one I found on one of the most used trails. I walked by it dozens of times and had no idea it was there.
As I walked I came across this somewhat unusual sight, a downy or hairy woodpecker, not looking for insects in the bark of a tree, but actually eating seeds or fruits on a tree. I never saw them eat anything other then insects before.
The ice on the canals made for a nice background for the many shriveled and dead plants and weeds that grew along the banks in the Summer.
It is not green or lush, like in the Spring or Summer, or colorful like in the fall but the dead vegetation still was beautiful in it’s own way.
And I did find some color, still clinging on in the cold and ice. A few of the last fallen leaves of the year still holding on to some color.
The cones of the staghorn sumac also still remain a bright red color. i believe they can be used as a spice or made into a lemonade like tea.
I also found some color among the birds in the wetlands, this cardinal which was also feeding on the seeds of the now dead plants and shrubs.
And there were still some greens too, few ferns fighting the cold
and the evergreen plants, shrubs and trees that will provide reminder of the coming Spring throughout the cold Winter that has now set in on the PPL Wetlands.
But, for the most part, the dominant colors over the next few moths will be the subtle and varying shades of brown, whites, and grays of winter.
It was cold but it was still nice to out and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, even on a cold December day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this morning. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/PPL-Wetlands-hike-December-11-2016-
Of winter’s lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer’s secret
Deep down within its heart.”
—Charles G. Stater