A Rainy Day At The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails

It was a cold, windy and overcast morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  The skies were red at sunrise and, according to the old rhyme, “Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning”,                                                              we were in for some stormy weather. Rain was predicated to arrive around noon so I decided to hike close to home and drove to our local rails to trails, about two miles from my house. entrance to rails to trails

Upon arrival at the parking lot I remembered this portion of the trail was closed for  some drainage  maintenance.entrance to rails to trails

 I drove to the another parking area on trail, near the one mile mark,  where I began my hike in a light rain and sleet. The temperature was 33 degrees, and must have risen overnight since  I found ice on the puddles on  path.ice on puddle on trail

I love walking this beautiful trail, although, during the warmer months I do not get here often because I am looking for huckleberries, mushrooms or photographs  of wildlife at the PPl Wetlands and other nature preserves. tree lined trail

The trail follows the path of the old  Delaware, Susquehanna and Schuylkill,  D, S & S railroad right of way.  There is more information on the history of this railroad in a few of my prior posts which can be found using the search application  here on my blog. trial information

The lush green leaves of summer are now gone and most of the colors of fall have faded too. The only color now is the dull red leaves of the oaks, red oak leaves

and the green leaves of the pines and mountain laurel. green mountain laurel leaves

The sleet and freezing rain ended and I noticed the many pitch pines that grow along the ridge above the trail. As I mentioned in my post last week I have always loved this trees and spent many hours as a child walking, playing and camping under their branches. pitch pine leaves on trail

I walked past the Dreck Creek reservoir and the rest area where a new pet rest and watering station was just built. structure on trail

I than followed the trail  out past the heath barrens heath barrens on trail

and  the old road that led to the beryllium plant that was located near here. old macadam road on trail

I encountered little wild life on my hike. I saw a blue jay, a few black-capped chickadees, a few juncos,junco on trail

and a flock of , I think, sparrows, feeding on some birch catkins. bird on tree on trail

Out near the heath barrens there were plenty of red tea berries,tea berries along trail

and I found a few witch hazel trees. These trees are the only native tree that flowers in the fall. witch hazel blossoms on trail

I walked out to the bridge that spans the still active railroad tracks. I discovered that the rain that fell area froze on the concrete on the bridge. 

And just when I  decided to begin my  hike back to my car it began to rain again. I walked the three miles back  in a steady cold rain. It wasn’t the best day for a hike but I still loved  being outside, enjoying the peace and quiet of the Pennsylvania woods. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. Rails to trails hike November 18 2017 tree lined trail

“We believe that the place to start … is in our communities. Americans living together and joining in associations across the country–this is where the tremendous strength and vision of our people will be tapped. We recommend a prairie fire of local action to sweep the nation, encouraging investment in outdoor recreation opportunities and rededication to the protection of our great natural heritage. – PRESIDENT’S COMMISSION ON AMERICANS OUTDOORS, Americans and the Outdoors

 

Share This:

A November Hike On Penn Haven Mountain In Carbon County.

Last  Sunday was cold again  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Not as cold as Saturday, but early morning temperatures were in up the mid 20’s,  still well below  normal. I wanted to hike somewhere new  so I decided  to drive south  and  headed to the Lehigh Gorge State Park in Carbon County  As I drove past the small town of Weatherly I remembered  a tract of land recently added to the state game lands.  I had hiked here once before and  decided to return to  this area.I recalled that it  once may have been owned by   a hunting club.tree lined path in woods

I remember reading somewhere about the purchase of the land by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. It is   located on the Penn Haven mountain about 2 miles south of the town of Weatherly. I tried to find the article for this post but was unsuccessful. If anyone knows the name of the hunting club please let me know. tree lined path in woods

When I hiked this trail once before a few years ago it was a cold Winter day with a deep snow cover and it wasn’t a good day to explore  the area. I hoped to see more of the trail and surrounding terrain on this hike.   I started my hike at a parking area across from the Weatherly Country Inn.waters of Indian run creek

The trail begins near India Run, a small stream that flows into the Buck Mountain Creek and eventually in the Lehigh River at Rockport. There is a small dam near the start of the trail which was covered with ice. It would probably be a good place to observe migratory water fowl in the Spring. tree lined lake

I am always curious about the names of streams. And Indian Run had me wondering if there were Native Americans in the area as I proceeded on the trail in the shade of some tall and ancient hemlock trees. large hemlock trees on trail

It was overcast when I set and there were few birds or other wildlife on the trail. It is a steady uphill climb  to a ridge atop the Penn Haven mountain. At first the woods were mainly chestnut oak and hemlock trees.

As I reached the top of the ridge there were more  red oak and pitch pines. i love the smell of the pitch pine.  There are many of these trees on the ridge near where  I grew up  and I spent countless hours playing and hiking under their contorted limbs.I love walking over their fallen needles.  pine trees and pine needles on trail

There were also many red oak trees atop the ridge, still displaying there brilliant red leaves.red oak tree

The red oak is one of the last trees put forth leaves in the Spring and the last to loose it’s leaves in the Fall  red oak leaf

And there were widespread stands of our state flower, the mountain laurel. I imagined how beautiful it would be up here when this lovely flowers was in bloom in June. mountain laurel

At the high point on the ridge three trails converged and there was a large, old  excavation site on the side of the ridge.  I wondered why it was here and what the excavated earth was used for. trees and clearing in forest

I also found some old concrete pads on the ground and it appears there was once a cabin or other structure up here.  I tried to research the history of the area with no luck and would appreciate any help as to the owners of the club and what types of buildings were up here. concrete pad

I decided to follow a trail that lead down the westerly side of the ridge. It was steep and the sides of the trail had much more rock than the hike up. 

As I followed the trail down I caught site of the Lehigh River through the trees far below the ridge.  I hoped to follow the trail toward the river to get a better view but the land was posted.

Although I would have loved to try and see the river I respected the no trespassing signs and made my way back up the trail. It was much harder going up the steep trial than it was walking down. 

I made my way up the steep upgrade and rested atop the ridge before I began my return to the parking lot. I didn’t see a lot of wildlife on my hike. I saw a few deer leaping through the woods in the distance.  There were a few black-capped chickadees fluttering about in the trees,

and I saw this pretty oven bird on my hike down. 

As I neared the dam at the beginning of the trail I saw a few sparrows in the trees along the along the water. 

I am sure there is a lot more wildlife in the Spring and Summer and I hope to return next year to find out. Even without the abundance of wildlife as I find on some of my other hiking trails, I still enjoyed the peace and quiet of the woods on Penn Haven mountain and hope to return soon. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Penn Haven Mountains hike photos.

“It’s all still there in heart and soul. The walk, the hills, the sky, the solitary pain and pleasure–they will grow larger, sweeter, lovelier in the days and years to come.”
–   Edward Abbey  

 

 

 

 

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:

Turn, Turn Turn, To Everything There Is A Season

And turn life does. It has been over a month now since my life has so drastically changed as a result of the untimely and tragic loss of my sister and brother-in-law. During that time  I have continued my daily walks in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania, trying to find  the peace and comfort the beauty of nature has always provided me.  I had been doing a lot of reflecting on life, death and this most unexpected tragedy.Lake Took-A-While in fall

It has been difficult for me to gather my thoughts and share the beauty I still  find on my walks, despite the pain and grief I am feeling.  But I know  Linda and Charlie would want me to continue with this blog,  sharing my love of life and adventure, now,  from such a different perspective. So I will try to  continue my message to enjoy, appreciate and protect nature during this short time we are given on this wonderful planet.  We must protect it for those who remain after we are gone, and for all future generations to come.  red berries

So I will again try and  share  some of my thoughts, and photographs, of the beauty I found  on my hikes this past month. 

Although it was a very mild month, Fall still came and the leaves donned their  brilliant colors for a few weeks. I tried to enjoy  that color on a number of walks at one of my favorite hiking trails, the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township.  The beauty of the fall foliage did provide much needed peace as I tried to understand the great loss my family suffered so suddenly . Here is a link to some more photographs from one of those  hikes. PPL Wetlands hike October 14 2017.tree lined canal covered in duckweed

This past weekend I again returned to the wetlands.  There was still some color but now most of the leaves  have fallen to the earth exposing  the bare branches of  trees and shrubs. So quickly the seasons turn. As can life.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this past weekend. PPL Wetlands hike November 4 2017. bare trees in PPL Wetlands

They will wear this  Winter  attire until the warm days of Spring return. Change is the one constant in nature and life.  And, as I have learned, sometimes it comes  slowly, like the seasons, and sometimes quickly  like  an unexpected event in life.  leafless black walnut tree

I took many walks in  the beautiful Fall weather and  took some  photographs of the majesty of the fall foliage and scenery  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this past month. Most were at the PPL Wetlands but I also walked along the shores of  Lake Irene, at a  local Community Park near my home in Hazle Township. Here is a link to some photographs from that beautiful  hike. Community Park walk October 24 2017cloud reflection on Lake Irene

Although many of the robins, catbirds, and song birds had already left our area I still came across a number of  birds on my walks. kinglet in tree branch

Some were still in the process of migrating south. like this cedar waxwing,cedar waxwing in tree branch

while other will remain for the cold Winter that approaches including the downy and hairy woodpeckers.hairy or downy woodpecker on tree

On a hike at Lake Irene last weekend I was fortunate to encounter a number of water fowl still in our area, including this pie-billed grebe,pied-billed grebe on Lake Irene

that was  accompanying this cormorant on a cool morning swim. cormorant on lake Irene

I also saw this noisy pair of Canada  geese, mallard duckstwo canada geese on lake Irene

and a flock of bufflehead ducks that kept their distance. There were reports of a bald eagle in the area, the reason for my visit but I didn’t see it. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds.  from my hike at community park. Community park November 4 2017.bufflehead ducks on Lake Irene

I didn’t see any of my favorite mammals, the black bear, this past month but I did see plenty of deer, including this late season young fawn,deer fawn leaping along path

and many chipmunks, a few voles mice and moles, and gray and red squirrels. red squirrel on tree trunk

The cooler weather eliminated much of the insect activity in the wetlands but there were a few bees, wasp and yellow jackets struggling about  in the lower temperatures, yellow jacket on a leaf

and the few dragonflies I saw also were looking tired and worn after an active summer. dragonfly on a branch

At the beginning of the month because of the unseasonably warm temperatures,  I  actually heard a few spring peeper frogs. But, as the day got shorter and colder  they, too, were silent. The many turtles that were seen along the canals in the Spring and Summer  were now rare although I did find this fellow on one of my hikes. 

As you may tell from reading this post, although my life is forever changed, I still find great joy in my hikes in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

I always have loved nature , since those first walks with my dad as a young child. Hiking in the woods and gathering mushrooms with dad  was  a “boys” thing. Dad loved walking in the woods with his four sons. I learned so much on those hikes.

But my dad   loved his only daughter, his   “little princess” and “birthday girl” They shared January 29 birthdays.  Their relationship was so  special.  Like me she was devastated when  he left us. And once again I am devastated losing here much too soon. .  We miss her and her husband so much. Life we never be the same for me, my mom and siblings, and the four wonderful children they left behind. 

I know how much they loved life and I want to let the world know this, and so as I  continue to share the beauty I find in nature, my  blog posts will now  not only be dedicated to  my dad, but also to Charlie and Linda.They loved life and each other and their memory will accompany me on all of my journeys now. Until we meet again. For we are all dancing on this earth for a short time.

 “My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.” 
― Jandy NelsonThe Sky Is Everywhere

Share This:

Ducks, Birds And Some Beautiful Scenery Along The Lehigh Canal.

We had our first frost here in Northeastern Pennsylvania last  Sunday. I awoke to clear calm skies and a 34 degree temperature.  After my usual morning walk through my neighborhood I decided to drive to Weissport and hike along the  remains of the Lehigh Canal. I was hoping to see some migrating ducks and other water fowl along the canal or Lehigh River. . tow path on Lehigh canal

The sun had warmed it up by the time I arrived and I soon found some ducks, but not the ones I was looking for. There are a number of mallard  ducks, domestic ducks and geese living in the canal near the town.male mallard duck in canal

However, it didn’t take long to find some of the wild variety. I soon found this group of common merganser  ducks swimming and diving in the Lehigh River. pair of common mergansers in Lehigh River

I watched these beautiful birds for a little while before I continued my hike along the old tow path between the remains of the canal and Lehigh River. Here is a link to some more photographs I took of the common mergansers.common mergansers on Lehigh river

There were still a few wild flowers in bloom along the canal, providing some late season color to the dying  vegetation along the trail. flowers along canal

The flowers attracted a few late season insects, including wasps and bees. And insects attract spiders including this large one I found along the path. spider on leaf

I heard and saw a number of migrating song birds high in the tree tops but it was hard to get a photograph as the fluttered and sang high over  my head. I was able to get a photograph of this catbird who was no where near elusive as the song birds. catbird on fence

I also got a photograph of this downy or hairy woodpecker. downy or hairy woodpecker

I continued on the path and enjoyed the rushing waters of the Lehigh River, although, because of the lack of rain, the river was very low for this time of year. The path continued to narrow and I was now walking under a canopy of leaves allowing only scattered rays of sunshine  to filter through.tree line tow path

I walked out to the observation tower about two miles out and stopped to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Lehigh River winding through the mountains. view of mountains along Lehigh River

I then walked out to the railroad bridge that spans the Lehigh River. Unfortunately the tanker cars parked along the track detracted from the majestic view of the river and mountains. railroad bridge over Lehigh River

I still sat along the banks of the river for a bit and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the sounds of the rushing waters of the Lehigh River. trees along lehigh river

As I began my return along the trail I again saw a flock of migrating song birds fluttering in the tree tops. This time, after a number of attempts, I was able to capture one of the many birds in the flock. I think it is some type of warbler. warbler in tree

There were also a few lingering butterflies along the trail.butterfly on leaf on trail

And a few more wild mallard ducks swimming in the canal.  Here is a link to some more of the birds I saw on my walk. Lehigh Canal birds 

I continued my walk back under the shade of the many ancient trees along the Lehigh River. 

I enjoyed the early autumn sunshine as I made my way back to the town of Weissport , having enjoyed another great day in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

And as I approached the parking lot I noticed this critter on a fence railing. Always something interesting in nature if you keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Lehigh Canal Photographs, 

“But just as the river is always at the door, so is the world always outside. And it is in the world that we have to live.” 
― Lian Hearn

 

Share This:

A Tragic Loss : And A Sad And Reflective Walk At The PPL Wetlands

I am sorry for not uploading  any new blog posts these past two weeks but the tragic loss of my beloved sister Linda and her husband Charles in an automobile accident, has, quite honestly, shattered my world and normal routine.  And even more so for  the four wonderful children, Charles, Brandon, Kelly and Cassidy, they left as their legacy. Charlie and Linda DeCosmo at Skyline Driver Virginia

Both of them loved life to the fullest. Linda loved to travel, read, garden, listen to music and her yoga.Brandon, Kelly, Linda Cassidy and Charlie DeCosmo

Charles loved golf, sports, his garden, the beach and sun and his passion for coaching basketball. Charles Decosmo Sr, Ethan and Kelly (DeCosmo) Eichhorst Charlie Decosmo Jr. Cassidy Decosmo Linda Decosmo

And both loved their children above all else. There is so much more to tell of this lovely couple, now together forever, and I hope to continue to tell it here in my blog in the ensuing weeks, months and years, should I be allowed to possess that precious gift of life. And precious it is, as their children, and my family try to cope with the loss of these two wonderful human beings. Linda and Charlies DeCosmo

I did a lot of walking alone, without my camera,  after the tragedy doing much reflection on the loss.  Finally, last Saturday I felt it was time to do what I love most, hike with my camera in the woodlands of Pennsylvania and share what I find. I know Linda and Charlie would want me to continue this passion.  And, of course, I decided to head to the PPL Wetlands. Trees along Susquehanna River

It was a mostly  cloudy  and cool morning at the wetlands. As soon as I left my car I heard the  song of a bird I hadn’t heard before. It was coming from deep in the wetlands and I decided to venture in to try and identify it.I crawled through some thick brush which immediately reminded of the thick underbrush my sister Linda and I struggled through to observe mountain gorillas in Rwanda a year ago.

I reflected, tearfully, on the trip, as I listened in the brush to the song of the unidentified bird. As I thought of  life and loss this frog jumped up  on a wild grape leaf right in front of me. spring peeper on wild grape leaf

It is a spring peeper which are usually active in the Spring and are seldom seen. The ones I have seen in the spring were much smaller than this one. Seeing this frog climb out in front of me,in the Fall, was so unusual and  I immediately felt this is where I should be and what I should be doing. spring peeper on wild grape leaf

I was blessed to have traveled on four of the continents with Linda and know she wants me to continue to share photographs of my travels and walks in nature. I continued my hike recalling many memories of my sister as I walked under the towering trees of the wetlands. tree lined path at PPL Wetlands

The paths were now  covered with the falling leaves and 

There were  a few flowers still blooming along the trails.

Most of the song birds are gone but there were a few lingering robins

and wood ducks on the trails of the wetlands.

I walked through the wetlands and into the riverlands section of the park and again reflected on my travels with my sister when I spotted this great blue heron along Lake Took-A-While. great blue heron

As I approached the bird stood still until I got close enough to capture a series of photographs of it finally deciding I was getting to close and flew on to more peaceful fishing grounds. great blue heron in flight

Here is a link to some more photographs of the blue heron in flight. Great blue heron, PPL Wetlands. great blue heron in flight

My encounter with this beautiful bird reminded me of my sister’s love of life and nature and the experience we shared enjoying both in Africa.

I slowly began my walk back to the wetlands enjoying the many colors that were now appearing in the trees along the wetlands. 

I saw a few turtles catching the October sun that now peeked out of the clouds. 

It was a heartbreaking week for my entire family, especially my nieces and nephews. I will admit I still am having a hard dealing with the loss of these two souls that so enjoyed the life they were given. But my walks in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania give me some comfort and I know Linda and Charlie want all of us to continue to live and love life and enjoy the passions that all of us possess. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike at the wetlands. PPL Wetlands October 7 2017.

 

“There is nothing more painful than the untimely death of someone young and dear to the heart. The harrowing grief surges from a bottomless well of sorrow, drowning the mourner in a torrent of agonizing pain; an exquisite pain that continues to afflict the mourner with heartache and loneliness long after the deceased is buried and gone.” 
― Jocelyn Murray

 

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:

Fall Arrives, But It Felt More Like Summer At The PPL Wetlands

Fall arrived last Friday at 4:02 p.m. here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. But it felt more like summer with temperatures in the mid 80’s. And it was even warmer on Saturday when I decided to hike again in the PPL Wetlands. path under trees

I arrived early as a thick morning fog was just burning off as I walked along the river and under the canopy of leaves of the large ancient trees along the Susquehanna. tree lined path

Although the temperatures quickly climbed into the 80’s,  and the trees still donned their summer green leaves, the absence of the sight and sound of the birds, turtles and insects made it obvious Fall was here. sun shining through canopy of leaves

I saw no birds for almost a mile as I walked under the many oaks, ash and hickory trees along the river. I did see a few chipmunks, andchipmunk on a log

gray and red squirrels gathering the many nuts and acorns that now covered the ground. red squirrel in tree

As I walked away from the river and along the canals and ponds I saw a few wood ducks,wood ducks on duckweed covered pond

 and a lot more color, as the ferns,  brambles and maple trees were starting to show their fall colors. 

Many of the plants and trees now were laden with berries and fruit. 

And I saw a few of the birds that will remain with us for our long winter, such as the crows and this bluejay, enjoying them. blue jay in brush

I walked over to lake Took=A-While and again found little wild life activity. I did find theses turtles enjoying the late summer sun. two turtles on log

There were only a few dragonflies darting over the waters, and a few wasps and bee on the wild flowers now in bloom, but theses insects were still enjoying the milkweed pods. insects on milkweed pod

I also saw quite a few grasshoppers in the now brown and dry grass along the trails.grasshopper on plant

The hot temperatures me decide to  head back to my car parked  at the wetlands section of the preserve. I didn’t see anything exotic but I enjoyed was the peace and quiet of the woodlands and the often overlooked little things that make nature so wonderful.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in the wetlands.  PPL Wetlands photographs.

“He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien,

Share This:

It’s Still Summer, But Fall Is In A Hurry To Get Here This Year.

Today started out  cloudy, breezy and cool, with temperatures in the mid 40’s and, even though we still have some Summer left it felt a lot more like Fall.  I decided to again place my macro lens on my camera and take it along on my search for wild mushrooms. brown maple leaf sitting on ground

As I  walked in the mixed pine, birch and aspen woods in search of aspen scaber bloete or red tops, as my dad called them, I noticed a lot of the leaves are now beginning to show some color. bright red blueberry leaves

Many of the blueberry bushes, both low and high bush species, are turning a brilliant red. red blueberry leaf

And some of the leaves on the birch, yellow white birch leaf

and maple trees are also changing into their fall colors. maple leaf turning red

There were a few wild flowers still in bloom,  I don’t know the names of this one,purple wild flower

nor the name of this beautiful white late blooming orchard, white orchard in bloom

but I do know this is a species of ragweed, not well lied by those of us, me included, who suffer from allergies. insect on ragweed flower

I was disappointed I didn’t find any red top mushrooms but I did find a wild crab apple tree,wild crab apples

and sampled it’s very sour fruit. wild crab apple with a bite

I left the birch/ aspen/ pine woods and decided to search for some  hen of the woods or, as we call them, ramshead mushrooms. I didn’t find this one  in the woods. Some friends found it in growing in their yard and let me harvest it . These mushrooms grow mainly on old oak trees so the woods are very different. hen of the woods or ramshead mushroom

I usually hike second growth forests with a mixture of maple, oak, pine hemlock and the occasional ash and hickory nut tree. The ground is usually covered with many species of ferns, which are also changing color early this year. , close up of fern which has tuned yellow

and my mortal enemies,   brambles and thorn bushes,thorns on a thorn bush

and blackberry brambles which have caused me many scratches on my legs and tumbles to the ground when walking into them in the thick underbrush as I look for the old oak trees which may have a ramshead  mushroom growing on it. blackberry thorns

There were some mushrooms growing along paths, 

including what I think is a cauliflower mushroom and,

some old puffballs,

but, unfortunately I didn’t find what I was looking for, a ramshead mushroom. But there is always tomorrow and it is always good to be outdoors in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Macro walk 

Summer ends and autumn comes, and he who would have thought it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.”  –  Hal Borland

Share This:

Winter Creeps Into Northeastern Pennsylvania: A December Hike In Nescopeck State Park.

Winter doesn’t begin until eleven days but  some cold arctic air made it’s way down from Canada and it  sure felt wintry here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this morning. I was headed to the PPL Wetlands again. An  accident, probably caused by the snow  and cold weather,   on the local interstate highway redirected traffic and I was stuck in the middle of it for an hour. I finally decided to turn around and head to another of my favorite hiking spots, the Nescopeck State Park. img_7699

It was cloudy and windy when I arrived with some scattered snow flurries in the air.  The temperature was around 25 degrees. Lake Francis was still mainly ice free since it has been a mild fall until now. nescopeck-state-park-1

I walked around the deserted lake which took on a somber look under the cloudy and cold skies. In the other seasons hikers, fisherman and picnickers are always present on the shores of the lake. Not today. I didn’t see a soul on my hike. nescopeck-state-park-5

And not much wildlife either. I walked past the lake and onto the Nescopeck hiking trail seeing only one crow and a few juncos. nescopeck-state-park-7

The leaves are long gone now, even the stubborn oak, but down hear near the Nescopeck Creek there are plenty of beech trees and they have leaves clinging to them throughout the winter. nescopeck-state-park-11

Walking under the naked trees and over the carpet of fallen leaves put me in a reflective mood, knowing another year is ending and a cold Winter lays ahead before these woods come to life again in the Spring. nescopeck-state-park-13

There was still some signs of life to be found, like  some ferns still clinging to life in the frigid temperatures.nescopeck-state-park-10

I walked down to The Nescopeck Creek where i did encounter a few flocks of juncos and the always friendly black capped chickadees fluttering from branch to branch in search of food.,  The poor lighting under the clouds and trees prevented me from getting any good photographs. nescopeck-state-park-23

Even though i didn’t see a lot of animals I could tell they are there. I saw some squirrel and rabbit foot prints in the light dusting of snow and believe this trees bark was torn apart by a porcupine or an opossum .nescopeck-state-park-34

As I returned on the Fern Trail I noticed this large puddle of water on the path.nescopeck-state-park-30

I walk here often and never noticed a puddle here before, not even after heavy rains.  I was curious and looked around and I soon discovered what caused it. it was the result of some busy beavers in the area. .nescopeck-state-park-29

I found this  beaver dam on a small stream, which wasn’t there when I last hiked here a few months ago. nescopeck-state-park-31

I came across a lot more signs of beaver activity in the park and wondered if hey become more active in the Fall and Winter. nescopeck-state-park-47

I came across quite a few birch trees covered with birch polypore mushrooms. Although i have never tried it, I have heard the mushrooms have many medicinal properties and make a healthy tea. like any wild mushroom please don’t try any unless you are absolutely sure of it’s identification since many species can make you very sick and even kill you. nescopeck-state-park-8

As I walked back to the Nescopeck trail and Lake Francis I heard, and the watched, a large flock of late flying geese heading south. i think they heard the forecast too, even more frigid weather headed our way next week. nescopeck-state-park-43

The bare trees and shrubs exposed a lot of birds nests and  I was surprised to see some right along the trail .nescopeck-state-park-41

And, when I made my way back to Lake Francis, I saw these four mallard ducks who decided to stay here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, for a few more days anyway,. I think they will be heading south soon, since, if the forecast is correct, the lake may be frozen next weekend. But if hey leave, it would be for long now, int three months, they will return in the  Spring. And I will be counting the days until their return. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/Nescopeck-State-Park-hike-December-10-2016-nescopeck-state-park-50

If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind

nescopeck-state-park-38

 

 

 

 

Share This: