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. 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. 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.

“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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In Search Of Bald Eagles: A Scenic Ride Along The Delaware River.

I was  excited when my brother Mike suggested we take a road trip to look for bald eagles along the Delaware River this weekend. I always get excited  whenever I get the opportunity  explore new places and what better way to spend a Saturday than looking for eagles. So my brother,  his son Mikey  and I left before dawn and headed north and east toward the Pennsylvania- New York border. We drove  the busy interstate 81 and route 6, for about an hour,  and found ourselves in scenic Wayne county just as the sun was rising. Delaware River-1

I have never been in  this part of Pennsylvania before and  I enjoyed the beautiful rural scenery we found as the sun rose and  lit the countryside.  There we not many fellow humans up yet but we did encounter a lot of these critters, trying to stay warm in the frigid air in the fields along the highway. Delaware River-5

We drove through the historical and picturesque  town of Honesdale.  I learned  this town was an important center for transporting coal first by canal, and then rail, to New York City.  I will return and explore this town again but yesterday we drove on to Damascus township and  the Cochecton – Damascus bridge spanning the gently flowing Delaware River. Delaware River-12

Delaware River-10We  parked and walked to the edge of the river in the bright sunshine and the still frigid morning air. The temperature was 11 degrees and  there was some  ice on the river, but I am guessing some years it would be completely  frozen by now. 

After exploring the river side for a while we proceeded to drive south on the Pennsylvania side of the river passing some old churches along the way.  Delaware River-14

We soon came upon another historic bridge spanning the Delaware River, this one at Skinners Falls. I wanted to get some walking in so my brother and nephew left me off at the bridge and drove back to the Cochecton-Damascus Bridge to meet me on the other side.Delaware River-18

I walked into the state of New York, finding the waters of the Delaware River now frozen below me. Delaware River-19

On the New York side I came  across the railroad right of way that brought coal from the mines near Scranton to New York City for many years. I enjoy imagining the men, and women   who road  over these same tracks over for almost 200 years. Delaware River-22

My brother found me roaming the back roads of New York after  only about 15 minutes, excited to tell me they saw a bald eagle in a tree near the bridge on the Pennsylvania side of the river.Delaware River-23

We drove back hoping  it was still there but it wasn’t. We weren’t totally disappointed. We spotted this cooper’s hawk sitting in a tree near the river and spent  some time watching him in the morning sun. cooper's hawk -2

We drove back over the Delaware River to the New York side and drove the road that followed  the river, some times near the river and others further away atop a bluff or hill.Delaware River-34

We found a river access road and decided to take it and  explore the area. We drove down to what appeared to be an unpopulated  We loved this isolated portion of the river and spent some time watching the ice float by and taking in the peace and quiet.Delaware River-30

We explored the area and found it wasn’t always entirely unpopulated. We found the ruins of  this old abandoned house along the river. Delaware River abandoned house -15

I love exploring abandoned houses and buildings. I imagine who lived here, how it would be like exploring these woods as a child, whether this was a year round residences or a summer house only. So many questions enter my head. Delaware River abandoned house -6

I walked around the ruins and found many objects, such as these canoes, Delaware River abandoned house -7

and this abandoned van which fueled my imagination. Delaware River abandoned house -14

Most interesting was an old PDR, a physicians desk reference, so I am thinking that the owner was a doctor or worked in the health care industry. Delaware River abandoned house -8

I know this the house was old, well built at one time , and fell into disrepair. The history  and reasons for the unfortunate ending to the structure   have  given my imagination plenty of works these past few days. I hope to get back some day and learn more of this abandoned house and its many  secrets. Here is a link to some more photographs of the house and it’s surroundings. River abandoned house -23

I could have stayed and explored the old house and it’s surroundings for hours but we came to find bald  eagles and I hadn’t seen one yet so we drove  onward down the river, taking in the beautiful scenery, and arriving in another pretty, and historic town along the river, Lackawaxen, and the famous Roebling Bridge. Delaware River-35

We stopped to explore this historic bridge, built in 1849  as an aqueduct to connect two branches of the Delaware and Hudson Canal. Amazing that it actually transported ships and barges over the Delaware River. We walked out to the center of the bridge and enjoyed views of the river while straddling the Pennsylvania and New York border. Delaware River-39

We next walked through the town and learned a bit of the history, including   one  famous resident, Erin Grey, a writer of western novels including the famous Riders of the Purple Sage. We were disappointed to find the home closed on weekends.Delaware River-41

We walked along  the river in this small town and, while my brother and nephew visited a local  outdoor shop,  I was stopped by a passing motorist, who, seeing my camera, advised me of a bald eagle perched in a tree back near the bridge. I quickly found my brother and nephew and ran to the tree, where I was rewarded with the sight of this beautiful bird. bald eagle -2

A small crowd  formed, everyone enjoying the sight of this majestic bird perched high in the branches of a pine tree near the river. bald eagle -15

I could have observed the bald eagle for hours but, unfortunately, he or she had other plans, and after about 15 minutes decided to fly off into  to the clear blue skies along the scenic Delaware River. Here is a link to some more photographs of this beautiful bird. eagle -13

It was now past noon and we decided to take a slow ride back home through the scenic countryside of the extreme northeastern section of our state. On the drive back, we talked about our adventure and the beautiful cooper’s hawk and bald eagle we encountered.  During our conversation I said I would have liked to have seen an owl, and, both my brother and nephew, told me this would be highly unlikely in the daytime. I, jokingly, insisted we would see one, and sure enough as we drove down the highway, I spotted what appeared to be  an  owl perched in a pine tree. My brother had to stop, turn the car around, and return to the tree, and, sure enough we saw this barred  owl enjoying the afternoon sunshine.barred owl -1

I got out of the car to get a closer look but he/she took off as I approached. Here is a link to some more photographs of the barred owl. owl -6

We talked about this interesting, and rare encounter, over a nice breakfast at a nearby dinner. We then took a slow ride home, discussing the beautiful area we explored and planning a return trip, which hopefully will be soon. Here is a link to some more photographs from our trip along the Delaware River. River-46


The song of the river ends not at her banks but in the hearts of those who have loved her. — Buffalo Joe











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A Walk In The PPL Wetlands: The Cool Weather Can’t Stop The Arrival Of Spring.

The weather got cooler yesterday  morning in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And got  even colder today, there is an inch os snow on the ground as I type, . But the weather can’t stop nature from it annual Spring thing. My walk in the PPL Wetlands yesterday proved that. PPL wetlands-44

I started my walk with some light rain falling.  I immediately noticed that there was a lot more green in the woods and  some of the trees where now showing young buds, including  the  witch hazel, shown here.PPL wetlands-8

The partridge berries, may flowers, skunk cabbages  and many other plants were bursting forth from the dead litter of last years fallen leaves. The trout lilies are just about ready to burst into bloom. PPL wetlands-6

There wasn’t as much wildlife  activity as last week but there still were some critters stirring including about. I ran into that same herd of deer I spooked last week and did again this morning. Once again they were too quick for my camera.  The Spring peepers were much louder now and I enjoyed their  chorus throughout my entire walk. I scared a few geese and ducks on the water including this pair, which  I think are blue winged teals. PPL wetlands-1

I left the wetlands  and headed to the lakes and ponds at the PPL Riverlands.  There was a break in the clouds and we got some sun. The turtles didn’t take long to take advantage of the sunshine and quicker climbed atop the rocks and logs to baste in the sunshine. PPL wetlands-39

I saw a number of cormorants on the lakes. These birds scare easily, and when disturbed fly in a straight line just above the water. PPL wetlands-18

There weren’t as many birds flying about like last week but I still saw a few birds on my walk back to the wetlands, including robins, flycatchers, red winged blackbirds, sparrows, crows and this  flycatcher which I think is a phoebe, who looks like was in the process of building a nest. PPL wetlands-7

I came upon a painted turtle along the path and  intruded upon his/her journey to gets some photographs. It amazing how complex this simple creature is when examined closely. Painted turtle claw -1

They will be leaving the water now to mate and then the females will deposit her eggs in the soft soil along the banks of the ponds and canals.  Here is a link to some more photographs of this beautiful turtle. turtle -1

I spotted a much larger cousin of the painted turtle lurking in the waters off one of the  long abandoned canals, a snapping turtle. PPL wetlands-2

As I walked in one of the cattail swamps in the wetlands I came upon this poor critter, I think it is a star nosed mole. I never saw one before so I took some close up photographs of this poor dead and strange creature. dead star nosed mole -5

I was curious as to what caused his death and, as I continued my walk I came upon another dead star nosed mole about fifty yards away. I wonder what caused their deaths and any comments would be appreciated.  Here is a link to some more photographs I took of these poor dead moles. star nosed mole -14s-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/ppl-wetlands-dead-star-nosed-mole-april-2-2016

I walked  the canals one last time, hoping to see some more wildlife, but like I said it was quiet and didn’t see any critters but I did find this, highbush blueberry (or swamper  as we call them)  ready to set forth flower buds. It won’t be long until the flowers are in full bloom and I will be sharing the delicious blueberries which usually ripen in mid ripen in mid July. PPL wetlands-36

Well I know for sure, between now and then, I will make a lot  more new discoveries in the PPL Wetlands as I watch the Spring continue to slowly advance. The snow and cold can’t last long now. The sun will continue to do it’s job, warming the earth, and bringing about forth a new world of green in the next few weeks.  I love it down here. Here is a link to some more photographs I took at the PPL Wetlands yesterday. wetlands-24


“Come with me into the woods where spring is advancing, as it does, no matter what,not being singular or particular, but onePPL wetlands-31
of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.”
Mary Oliver



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Coal May Not Be King In Northeastern Pennsylvania,Anymore, But It Still Is Here.

It was a cold and windy day last Sunday and I  decided to investigate  the massive  piles of earth I saw  near  some old strip mines near McAdoo on my hike the previous Sunday. McAdoo-Tresckow  hike McAdoo   (19 of 59)

I parked in McAdoo near the house where I was born. I walked out the railroad tracks my grandfather first took me  picking huckleberries (blueberries) when I was little over a year old,  much to the dismay of my parents. McAdoo-Tresckow  hike McAdoo   (7 of 59)

I headed north and east along the railroad tracks and found a old road that passed through  the huge strip mines to the east.  As I neared some electric power lines I saw a helicopter hovering near one of the towers. I was surprised to find that the helicopter, with a very brave man on an attached platform, were working on the tower lines.  I watched the pilot position his helicopter to allow the man to perform his job in the strong gusty winds. I watched them over the next few hours as i walked in this area. Pretty amazing, and dangerous, work, I am sure. Here is a link to some more photographs of the helicopter.  hike helicopter 109 (1 of 1)

I walked to the huge mountains of earth and discovered that there is an active strip mine going on in the area. This area was between the coal patch towns of Jeanesville, Beaver Brook  and Yorktown. The first mines were underground and would go on for miles.  Later, steam shovel, moved the overburden and  the coal was strip mined. The village of Yorktown was moved because ot the strip mining and no longer exists. McAdoo-Tresckow  hike McAdoo   (29 of 59)

I hiked to  the top one of the mountains of earth and enjoyed some spectacular views of the surrounding areas. This photographs is looking at the many factories that were built on the Green mountain in the humboldt Industrial park to the west.  Both my grandparents families, my mom’s from McAdoo, and my dad’s from Crystal Ridge picked huckleberries (blueberries) on this mountain. This is a link to some more photographs from the strip mines.  hike McAdoo   (48 of 59)

I walked into the patch town of Jeanesville in Luzerne County, once a busy mining town with a large iron factory nearby. I made a quick visit to the old cemetery. Lot of old graves in here and this will be another blog post. Here is a link to some more photographs from the cemetery. hike  jeanesvill cemetery  (13 of 16)

I then walked into the village of Tresckow in Carbon County, a small town also associated with the coal mining in the area. I have been here many times before but never walked through this quaint little town.  I have heard many stories of the town, and the waterfalls nearby from my mom.McAdoo-Tresckow hike  Tresckow   (2 of 14)

She would often walk here from her home in McAdoo a few miles to the west.  I called here about some relatives in the cemetery in the town and she town me they would take a shortcut through the woods to get to McAdoo. Here is a link to some more photographs of my hike through Tresckow. hike  Tresckow   (12 of 14)

So, of course, I found an old road and followed it hoping to get back to McAdoo and my car. Unfortunately, the path took m up some stip mines and out of my way but found some interesting old strip mines, including this large pit near the railroad tracks. The sheer rock walls here over a hundred feet to the bottom. Still a very dangerous place, and no place to play around in, especially for the children in the area. McAdoo-Tresckow  hike McAdoo strip mine  (31 of 32)

I made my way back to my car.  i didn’t see much wildlife on my hike, a few crows, bluejays and a lot of these friendly little critters, black capped chickadees. It was a great day and enjoyed exploring the old cola mining areas as well as the new strip mine occurring in the area. Here is a link to some more photographs of my hike through the woods to McAdoo.  hike McAdoo  chickadee (1 of 1)


My great-grandfather was a coal miner,
who worked in Pennsylvania mines when carts were pulled
by mules and mines were lit by candles.
Mining was very dangerous work then.
– Tim Murphy

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Some New Feathered Friends I Made Near The PPL Wetlands.

No time for a hike today, I was doing some Spring cleaning and yard work, so decided to share some photographs I took of a couple of new birds I spotted at the PPL Wetlands on Tuesday.

The first, which I never saw before, and had to use my field guides and some help from my online friends to identify , was  a ruby crowned kinglet. This little fellow fluttered in the branches right above my head almost asking me to take his  photograph. A very pretty little critter pictured above. .Here is a link to some more photos.

Also saw this beautiful bird which greeted me with it’s wonderful song. I believe it is a blue-gray gnatcatcher and would appreciate some help with a positive identification.  Here is the link to some more photos of this beautiful bird. PPL Wetland blue gray gnatcatcher5 (1 of 1)

And I was able to capture this  this raptor, which I have seen many times before both here in Pennsylvania and in Florida, an osprey. Another beautiful bird. And here is a link to some more photos. wetlands osprey  2 april 28 2015 (1 of 1)

And finally some photos of the nesting balds eagles high above the Susquehanna River. The photos aren’t as clear but still was an awesome experience to see these magnificent birds, our national symbol, so close to my home. I have seen them in Florida but so glad to see them here in Northeastern Pennsylvania again. Here is a link to some more photos of this beautiful bird. Wetlands Bald eagle 4 (1 of 1)318/2126

It sure was a good day to sneak out of work early. Hope to share a lot more of nature’s beautiful creatures over the next six months.

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Dinner time in the backyard.

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Ice and Snow can be Beautiful too, a Late Winter Walk in the Lehigh River Gorge.

I enjoyed the beauty of the tropics this past week during my visit to Belize and, will admit, I wasn’t looking forward to returning to the record breaking cold in my hometown in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I was planning to just do some walking in town today since I had a lot of unpacking and chores to take care of.

I was visiting my brother when my nephew Mike asked me if I would take him to see the ice and waterfalls in the Lehigh Gorge. I had taken him there a few years ago and he wanted to return. Good choice Mike. Although it was cold, and we were the only folks down there,   we really enjoyed the frozen beauty of the  river and ice formations.  The Lehigh was completely frozen over in spots as was Buttermilk waterfalls. The ice formations on the rocks of the gorge was huge and beautiful. Loved the shades of gray and blue.  Realized you don’t have to go to the tropics to see the beauty in nature, it is everywhere. I’ll admit it is getting harder to deal with the cold as I grow older but still fun to get out there and enjoy it. The photo above is my nephew at the river.

We headed back just in time to beat the snow.  I took a short video of  my walk during the afternoon in the wind and snow so my new friends in Belize can see what real cold weather is about. They were freezing when the temperature got into the 60’s. It was -7 degrees on my way home from the airport last night. This is the link to the you tube video.

No matter were we live, there is nothing we can do about the weather except to try and enjoy it the best we can. And, I’ll admit it isn’t easy here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I’m counting the days until Spring. Here is a link to some more photos of the ice formations from the Lehigh gorge today. Gorge 030

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More ice and snow along the Lehigh River

We got some moderation in the temperature today, a balmy 22 degrees this morning, but there is still a deep snow cover out there. Decided to take advantage of the paths left by snowmobilers and hike in the Lehigh Gorge. Wasn’t bad walking and ran into a few cross country skiers and snowmobilers. Not much wildlife except a red tailed hawk.  I was disappointed that Buttermilk Falls was covered with snow but there were a lot of large ice formation along the walls of the gorge. Enjoyed the beautiful winter scenery but still looking forward to the warmer days and muddy paths of Spring. Here is the link to some of the photos I took along the hike.

 [W]hat a severe yet master artist old Winter is…. No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel. ~John Burroughs, “The Snow-Walkers,”

Lehigh Gorge Rockport 073

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