Dragonflies, Birds And A Lot Of Other Cool Stuff At The PPL Wetlands.

I spent a lot of last weekend, as i have been doing more and more these days,   exploring the trails at the PPl Wetlands and Riverlands. Located  in Salem Township on the eastern edge of Luzerne County , these wetlands are next  to the the Susquehanna River here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. trees along Susquehanna River

I guess I am somewhat of a creature of habit and know I will always find some interesting mammal, reptile, amphibian, bird or insect here and I love spending time in the woods at the wetlands  looking  for them. woodlands in PPL wetlands

It was a cloudy and cool morning last   Saturday  with some thunderstorms in the forecast so I decided to walk the trails in the wetlands with my fixed 400 mm lens knowing I would be limited in photographing objects such as birds, insects and animals from afar. cardinal perched in tree

It was a good decision since the overcast skies and cooler morning temperature seemed to encourage a lot of wildlife activity. I observed this cardinal high atop a tree as I drove in the wetlands. cardinal in flight

I saw a few wood duck chicks  scamper into  cover along one of the canals only getting a photographs of this last one of the bunch. wood duck swimming in duckweed covered pond

And I caught this groundhog also scampering into the safety of the brush as I approached. 

There trees were filled with the song of birds including this hooded warbler. hooded warbler perched on branch

And a number of song sparrows. song sparrow in grass

and flycatchers. flycatcher on branch

As I walked along the trails I cam upon this great blue heron. My previous blog posts contains more comments on my encounter with this beautiful bird and here is a link to some more photographs. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/birds-of-pennsylvania/nggallery/birds-of-pennsylvania/great-blue-heron-PPL-wetlands-July-8-2017great blue heron in wetlands

I heard the  deep  bellowing croaks of the bullfrogs as I walked through the wetlands but couldn’t get a photograph of any of them. The many turtles on the banks and logs weren’t as elusive. three turtles on a log

I came across a family of geese feeding on some vegetation growing along one of the canals of the wetlands.three canada geese feeding in wetlands

And saw a  green heron, a smaller relative of the great blue heron,  along Lake Took-A-While. green heron on  a lake

And some woodpeckers were also looking  for a meal, including this hairy or downy woodpecker I have a difficult time telling them apart. ,hairy or downy woodpecker on tree

and this red-bellied woodpecker. I also saw two  pileated woodpecker but they flew off before I could capture a photograph.red-bullied woodpecker on branch

The clouds broke and, as the sun warmed it up the dragonflies became  active and I was able to photograph a few of these colorful and intriguing creatures.

I spent a few more hours roaming the wetlands than I had planned but , for a nature lover like me, it sure was worth it.  Here is a link to a few  photographs of the many things I saw on  my hike last Saturday . http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-July-8-2017-young song sparrow on tree

I returned to the wetlands early Sunday, which was a sunny, cooler and less humid day and started my hike along the Susquehanna River.  I walked the ancient trees and took in the sunlight filtering from the canopy of leaves on what was once a Native American path known as the Great Warrior Trail. sun filtering through leaves

I have written a few blog posts about this trail and they can be found by searching my blog archives.  trees along Susquehanna River

I decided to drive to the Riverlands section of the preserve, and hike another section of the Great Warrior Trail that I have never been on before. signpost for Great Warrior Trail

It begins at the eastern edge of the PPl Riverlands and proceeds east and north between the Susquehanna river and Route 11. 

The trail started  following  an old railroad track.  It soon left the deep woods of the wetlands and riverlands and, with the more open areas, had many  of the familiar wild plants of northeastern Pennsylvania growing along the trails, such as  common mullein, milkweed, pokeweed, touch-me nots  and burdock, shown here.  These plants were much larger here, growing in the rich soil near the river, than the ones that grow near my home and in poor clay soil on the high ridges where I am located. burdock growing along trail

The trail left the railroad tracks and proceeded along a small pond.pond along trail

I stopped and enjoyed this wonderful scene and imagined the many happy memories the folks who used the dock to dive in and swim in this pond over the years. pond with trees and flowers

I continued along the trail but will be honest and say it was too close to the traffic of Route 11 for my liking.  There were plenty of wildflowers along the way such as these daylilies,close up of day lily flower

and a lot of the common birds found in these, in these roadside areas, such as the robins, catbirds and, of course the red-winged blackbirds. red winged blackbird on branch

However, I think the trail was to close to the traffic and human activity to allow any  observation of the more shy wildlife found in the deeper woods and wetlands. So, I decided to return to the wetlands. It was still a pleasant hike  for folks just wanting to get outdoors and certainly worth exploring. Great warrior trail

When I returned to the wetlands I decided to walk along the shores of Lake- Took-A-While with my macro lens and try and photograph some of the many dragonflies now skirting along the water. 

They are so many different species of these ancient insects, each with their distinct colors. dragonfly on twig

And even members of the same species each have their own unique patterns of color. I could spend an entire day observing them. Here is a link to some more photographs of some of the dragonflies I observed.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-dragonflies-July-9-2017-dragonfly on twig

I also took some photographs of the plants along the wetlands with my macro lens, which always look so different looked at up close.macro photo of plant

This is a leaf from a corn stalk. Here is a link to some more photographs taken with my macro lens. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-macro-July-9-2017

Again, I spent a few more hours than I wanted to at the wetlands, but,  I sure enjoyed it. I love the Summer here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike out the wetlands and riverlands last Sunday. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-and-Great-Warrior-Trail-July-9-2017-

 

 

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” 
― Albert Einstein

 

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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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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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Spring Returns To The PPL Wetlands, And With Many Birds That Left Us Last Fall.

The melting snow and recent heavy rains caused the local streams, creeks and river to swell here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I wanted to take a look at the Susquehanna River at the PPL Wetlands , thinking  the high waters may attract some of the migrating water fowl that pass through, or  settle to nest,  in our area in the Spring. wetlands -1

It was cold when I arrived at the wetlands, with a temperature  near the freezing mark at 33 degrees.wildlife -17

All of the snow and ice had melted  and I knew the early April sun would warm it up quickly.  My hunch  about the water fowl was  correct. I immediately noticed a number of flocks of ducks and a few geese on the pond near the entrance to the wetlands. I believe these were, mainly,  ringed neck ducks. wildlife -2

As I watched the ducks and geese I also saw a number of, what I believe are, rough winged swallows  skimming above the water in search of insects. I  captured a photograph of  this one taking an early morning  dip.wildlife -5

After which he/she perched in a tree to dry off.wildlife -9

I hiked into the paths of the wetlands and discovered a few signs of Spring including the new growth of the duckweed. This will turn the waters of the wetlands a dark green by the need of summer and provide food and cover for many types of critters. wildlife -3

There were also clumps of wild garlic or onion grass growing along the paths throughout the wetlands.wildlife -2

Unfortunately I didn’t wear my muck boots and found my access to some of the trails blocked by the overflowing waterways, canals and ponds. wildlife -13

Many of the skunk cabbage, which had just recovered from the heavy snow cover,  were now growing were under a few inches of water. wildlife -11

As I walked under the large and ancient trees I heard the flapping of wings overhead. I couldn’t tell  immediately what the bird was,  until I saw two blue herons flying away before I could get a photograph.  I was able to photograph this red bellied woodpecker in a nearby tree. wildlife -14

I saw another year round resident in the wetlands , this blue bird. wildlife -13

The early April sun was warming the air and I started to hear the occasionally sound of a spring peeper. Also taking advantage of the sun was this garter snake that slithered into the woods before I could take a photograph. wildlife -2

And the turtles soon appeared on the logs and banks of the ponds and canals, a sure sign of  Spring. wildlife-7

I continued my walk from the wetlands area of the preserve to the riverlands and beautiful Lake Took-A-While.wildlife -22

 I found a number of new residents including  geese,  ducks and a few cormorants that  alternated from skimming the lake and flying overhead. wildlife -7

While looking at the cormorants I spotted a  beautiful osprey that appeared to be hovering in the air, looking for a fish for breakfast in the waters of Lake Took-A While. Here is a link to some more photographs of this magnificent bird. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Osprey-PPL-Wetlands-April-2-2017osprey -1

I watched this beautiful bird for a while and decided to head back to the wetlands. On the way I found this pair of, I believe, blue-winged teals, who also appeared to be looking for  a quiet place to build a nest and raise a family. Here is a link to some more photographs of these attractive ducks. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/birds-of-pennsylvania/nggallery/birds-of-pennsylvania/Blue-winged-teal-blue winged teal -10

The air was now filled with the songs of birds, perched high in trees, singing to attract a mate, such as this male cardinal,wildlife -12

And this song sparrow. wildlife -11

 

And, as the sun continued to warm the waters the sound of the spring peeper frogs grew louder in the ponds and canals. Here is a link to a my YouTube channel and the sound of the spring peepers. https://youtu.be/SFqrE5hI81Awildlife -10

I next walked to the path along the Susquehanna River, where I sat and watched the rapidly flowing waters and the many species of  ducks floating past as they took a free ride south, including wood ducks. Here is a link to a video I uploaded to YouTube. https://youtu.be/YzpS2VxbK_Mwildlife-6

As I returned to my car I saw this red tailed hawk soaring high overhead, probably, like me,  looking at all of the ducks, but with different intentions. wildlife-4

I returned to the flooded ponds, again scaring the many ducks and geese that were enjoying the warm April sunshine.  Here is a link to some more photographs  of the birds and wildlife I saw on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-wildlife-April-2-2017wildlife -19

It was nice to again see the wetlands coming to life after it’s rest this past winter. Even though it was a mild one, except for the last snow storm, I still enjoy the next three seasons much better than the last one. And I look forward to the the warm weather ahead and the rebirth it will bring to the woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in the wetlands on Sunday. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-April-2-2017-wildlife -25

 

For many of us, water simply flows from a faucet, and we think little about it beyond this point of contact. We have lost a sense of respect for the wild river, for the complex workings of a wetland, for the intricate web of life that water supports.  Sandra Postel wildlife -1

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Most Of The Snow Is Gone, But Still It’s Not Looking Like Spring At The PPL Wetlands.

The bitter cold arctic weather we have had after the snow storm last week left the area yesterday. It was a mild 55 degrees near my house, here,  in Northeastern Pennsylvania,  this morning.  I decided to head  to the PPL Wetlands, along the Susquehanna River., about 25 miles from my home.  It is at a lower elevation  and  it is usually warmer there.  I hoped all of the snow cover would be gone. PPL Wetlands -29

I arrived at the wetlands under cloudy skies and was surprised to find the temperature a much cooler 43 degrees. Fortunately, most of the heavy snow cover , almost 20 inches, had melted leaving behind a lot of mud and some flooded paths.PPL Wetlands -7

It sure didn’t look like Spring in the wetlands. In fact, it was more springlike in January and February this year than it was today.  PPL Wetlands -5

There were no turtles along the ponds nor was the sound of the spring peeper frogs heard. And  the skunk cabbage, which were pushing through the soil in late January  hadn’t grown, and in fact a lot of their leaves were damaged by the heavy snow. They are hardy plants, often pushing there way through, and melting the snow cover, but 20 inches of late snow was too much, even for them. And the snow must have been hard on  the wildlife too, I have never seen  a partially eaten skunk cabbage  before. PPL Wetlands -10

It was still brown and barren along the ponds and canals, with only the maples showing some signs of putting forth buds. PPL Wetlands -3

There was, however, plenty of wildlife activity. I scared two deer,   or I should say we scared each other, as we met unexpectedly on one of the paths.  They took off in opposite directions. PPL Wetlands -6

I also saw many ducks on the ponds and canals. Wood ducks, and a few other species I couldn’t identify, including many like these two,   eluded my camera, taking off before I could photograph them. PPL Wetlands birds -3

The mallard  ducks were not so easily scared and I watched and photographed quite a few of them along the canals . PPL Wetlands -24

And, of course there were plenty of  Canada geese.PPL Wetlands birds -10

As I walked to the river lands side of the preserve, I saw quite a few birds too, including, I think,  this song sparrow as well as a few beautiful  blue birds, one is shown above as the featured image of this post. PPL Wetlands birds -16

Overhead, I saw this sea gull soaring through the cloudy sky. PPL Wetlands birds -10

And this, I believe, cormorant.PPL Wetlands birds -9

There were a few folks walking along the always peaceful shores of Lake Took-A-While and I stopped to enjoy the scenery too. PPL Wetlands -19

I ran into a lot more mud, and snow,  as the trail continued east toward and would wind it’s way down to the river.PPL Wetlands -22

I  found my waterproof shoes were taking on water and noticed  a small tear in the stitching. It was time to head back.  You will notice I also had shorts on, not a good idea in the colder temperatures along the river.  PPL Wetlands -12

The abundance of mud, I believe, was  also the reason for the abundance of this welcome Spring birds, the robins. There were  many of them hopping on the ground in search of  a meal. PPL Wetlands birds -8

I made my way back to the wetlands and continued to see plenty ducks and geese on the canals and ponds. And along the path there was also a lot of  bird activity. I heard the rapping of many woodpeckers and saw a few, such as, I believe, this downy woodpecker. PPL Wetlands birds -13

And they left some tangible evidence of their activity, like these newly created holes in a tree along the path. PPL Wetlands -20

I also came upon, mainly in heavily wooded areas, some ponds that were still frozen over,  due to being shaded fro the strengthening March sun. Hopefully, next time I visit this I will see turtles and frogs in this pond. PPL Wetlands -28

I made my way back to my car, walking along the Susquehanna River. I continued to see, and hear, many species of birds, including nuthatches, robins, sparrows, and woodpeckers including a pileated and this, I believe to be, a red bellied woodpecker. Here is a link to some more photographs of the many birds I encountered on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-March-25-2017PPL Wetlands birds -21

I also ran into a father with his two young sons, maybe two and three years old. He had binoculars and was also watching the birds and other wildlife, and passing his love for nature on to his boys. It was a nice encounter and  reminded me of my dad taking me and my brothers on our first walks into the woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania. He taught me to appreciate the beauty of nature and it was one of the best lessons I ever had. Thanks dad. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk in the wetlands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-March-25-2017-PPL Wetlands birds -7

“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself- consciously to the soughing of the trees.” Valerie Andrews 

 

 

 

 

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A Very Early Spring At The PPL Wetlands.

The record temperature today  here in my hometown of Hazleton, Pennsylvania,  is  16 degrees below zero. That is pretty darn cold.  Although it is not that cold every year, most years we still have some snow cover, cold temperatures and ice on the ponds and lakes  in our area in late February.  Not this year. In fact, the  temperatures were  in the  low 60’s  when I hiked in the PPL Wetlands near Berwick today.PPL Wetlands-1

I arrived early at the wetlands and found many of the canals and ponds were now ice free. Some years the ice is so thick this time of year you can drive a car across it. Not this year. PPL Wetlands-2

It was overcast in the morning as I began my hike with temperatures in the mid 40’s. I had hoped to see some early migrating water fowl and I did find a few geese.PPL Wetlands wildlife -8

There were still no ducks on the waters and only a few of the year long residents such as this cardinal fluttering in the thick, leafless, underbrush.PPL Wetlands wildlife -1

I saw a few  of the always present, and friendly, black capped chickadees,PPL Wetlands wildlife -4

and quite a few nuthatches scampering in the trees. This one was feeding on young, what looked like, maple buds. PPL Wetlands wildlife -5

I also saw this bird high in a tree top and I  am not sure if it were a flicker or a red headed wood pecker. I am guessing a flicker. PPL Wetlands wildlife -7

There was still a lot of ice on the ponds that were in areas shaded from the sun. With warm weather predicted for the next few days I am hoping it will all be gone by next weekend. PPL Wetlands-23

The  strengthening sun broke through the clouds as I walked into   the adjoining  river lands, and,  not only made for some nice scenery, but also quickly warmed the air up. PPL Wetlands-27

I made my way to the Susquehanna river, which was also ice free and which was high and flowing quickly from the melting ice up stream.PPL Wetlands-33

I was surprised that I didn’t see more  wildlife in the warm sunshine only  a few squirrels, some crows and this chipmunk.PPL Wetlands wildlife -11

I walked along the river a bit and returned where I found, very early this year,  the first sure sign of spring, the skunk cabbage. There were some growing during the warm spell we had in early January but I didn’t see them again until today. PPL Wetlands-6

There were still many of the old dead plants from last years  growing season.PPL Wetlands-25

and a few new hardy plants thriving in the warm temperatures we had this year. PPL Wetlands-17

As I returned to my car, the sun had warmed the air and the temperatures were in the low 60’s  As I walked I heard something in the brush near my feet and, looking down was surprised to find this critter on the ground. PPL Wetlands wildlife -17

I never saw a snake here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this early before, in fact I don’t remember seeing one until May. This fellow was sluggish, but did manage to crawl away before I could get some good photographs. PPL Wetlands wildlife -18

And I was in for another surprise. I found this turtle sunning himself on a log. Again, the  earliest I have seen one before was mid to late April.  Turtles and snakes in February, If you told me this a week ago, and if I hadn’t seen them with my own eyes I would never have believed it. Here is a link to some more photographs of the snake and other critters I saw today.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-wildlife-February-19-2017-PPL Wetlands-41

There is no guarantee this warm weather will last, we have had frigid temperatures and blizzards here in March and heavy snow and freezes in April. but every day like today in February is a blessing and it is looking like we will be blessed fro another week. No complaints from this guy. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the wetlands this morning. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-February-19-2017-PPL Wetlands-38

Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God. George Washington CarverPPL Wetlands wildlife -14

 

 

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A Snowless New Year’s Day Hike In The PPL Wetlands

First of all Happy New Year! Wishing all my blog followers the very best during our next orbit around our  star.  I hope to share some more of our planets beauty as we share this short time we have here. I  decided to start out the New Year with a hike at one of my favorite places here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. ppl-wetlands-3

I was thinking I would get some wintry pictures since we have a two inch snow cover here near my home. When I arrived in the Nescopeck Valley and along the Susquehanna River,  where the wetlands are located, I found that the ground was bare.  It seems the few hundred feet in lower elevation made a big difference in the snow fall we received this past week. ppl-wetlands-17

The skies were mostly sunny and the temperature was near 40 degrees, quite mild for this time of year. Still you could tell it was winter, not only by the bare leafless trees but also the silence and absence of the many noises heard in the warmer seasons. ppl-wetlands-45

I walked almost a mile without hearing the song or tweet of a single bird. It wasn’t until I saw this unusual sight, a robin. scrambling about in the thick undergrowth. Most of these birds migrate south in the Fall but some stay near the unfrozen wetlands in warmer years.This, so far has been one of them.  This was the best photograph I could get after trying for almost ten minutes.to get a better one as it flew in the thick underbrush. ppl-wetlands-21

After seeing this robin I also walked into a flock of nuthatches. I found this to be very unusual since I usually see them alone at my feeders and during my many walks in the woods.  They were all fluttering from tree to tree, walking or hopping upside down in search of insects and seeds. ppl-wetlands-25

I continued my hike along the ponds and canals. Most were frozen but some were still ice free in spots. Still I saw none of the warmer month resident. ppl-wetlands-11

Gone are the frogs, turtles, snakes and even the geese and ducks. The only thing remaining were the dead plants and shrubs from last summers growing season. But  they too, had a beauty in the cold of Winter. ppl-wetlands-37

I also found  a tree with these seed pods or flowers handing from it’s bare branches. I am not sure what they are. Anyone know?ppl-wetlands-30

 

As I walked  on a I again came across  many abandoned bird nests, some so close to the paths I walked, and overlooked in the thick leave cover of Spring and Summer. . I am not familiar with the different types of bird nest but know this had to be a small bird such as a wren or chickadee. ppl-wetlands-15

As U walked back to my car i came across a few more critters, a blue jay, a crow and this red squirrel. ppl-wetlands-39

Although the wetlands are now much more quiet, with most of it’s summer residents hibernating, or having flown south  to  warmer climates,  it was still a nice place to start the year. Hopefully it will be the first of many more hikes there this year. 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-January-1-2017-ppl-wetlands-44

“Nature is one of the most underutilized treasures in life. It has the power to unburden hearts and reconnect to that inner place of peace.”
Janice Andersonppl-wetlands-2

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Turtles In November? A Warm And Sunny November Day At The PPL Wetlands.

We  had a Spring-like day here  today in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Temperatures neared 70 degrees with abundant,  but weak,  late Fall sunshine. I headed to one of my favorite hiking areas, the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands.ppl-wetlands-27

The temperature was warm but there is no mistaking it is late Fall, as almost all of the trees have shed their leaves now exposing the naked beauty of the limbs and branches. ppl-wetlands-35

The few remaining leaves added some beauty to the now brown landscape, glimmering in the bright sunlight. ppl-wetlands-2

And the warmer weather brought some of the birds to life, as there were a lot more fluttering about the trees than there have been the past few weeks. I saw this flicker high in the tree tops looking to pry some insects out of the tree bark. ppl-wetlands-1

And there were a lot of sparrows shuffling in the leafless undergrowth, including this, I believe , is a white -throated sparrow. ppl-wetlands-39

This, and I am not good at sparrows I think is a chipping sparrow,ppl-wetlands-4

And I am not sure of what kind of sparrow, if it is a sparrow, this fellow is. It looks like he was feeding on the last of the duckweed. ppl-wetlands-8

I also saw plenty of these friendly birds, the black capped chickadees, that remain here throughout the coldest of Winters. ppl-wetlands-13

As I walked along the canals I thought I heard a kerplunking sound, but decided it couldn’t be a turtle this late in the year, But sure enough I soon spotted a number of turtles talking advantage of the late sunshine and warm weather to bask on logs and the shore of the canals. I never have seen turtles this late in the season before. ppl-wetlands-14

I was also surprised to see a number of insects flying about including a few dragonflies. Again this is very late in the season for insect activity and I have never seen dragonflies in November before. bit there is a first time for everything, and after a number of tries I was finally able to get a photograph of one. ppl-wetlands-19

It was a lovely day to enjoy last beauty of Fall in the wetlands, knowing this weather won’t last, and as I type a cold front is passing through our area and there is ice and snow on my deck. I was glad we had this one last warm day. I am sure the turtles and dragonflies will be gone tomorrow, but, it is only four months until Spring and the entire cycle starts again.ppl-wetlands-40

And I  will be waiting anxiously too watch in unfold yet again.Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/PPL-Wetlands-November-19-2016-ppl-wetlands-23

It is a delightful pastime to sit in the pleasant sunshine of autumn, and gazing from this little spot of free earth over such a landscape, let the imagination luxuriate amid the thrilling associations of the scene! ~H.T. ppl-wetlands-33Tuckerman

 

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It’s Sunday, So Where Else? Another Fall Hike At The PPL Wetlands.

It wasn’t too hard of a decision where to hike on this cool, but pleasant, November morning. I always like to head down to the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands to enjoy the solitude of the ancient trees with the hopes of finding  some type of wildlife activity.  So that’s where I went. ppl-wetlands-3

In the Spring and Summer you are almost guaranteed to see a wide variety of wildlife, from the many turtles and frogs in the ponds and canals, to the many species of songbirds and waterfowl in the trees and on the waters. In the Fall and Winter there is a lot less activity but still there is a chance to see something interesting. Not today. I heard a few chickadees and crows but only able to see, and get a quick photograph of this little chipmunk ppl-wetlands-20

I was surprised to once again see no ducks, geese or herons.  Still, it was a nice morning to enjoy the last splashes of fall color. ppl-wetlands-9

The ponds are becoming clear again as the green duckweed that covers them slowly dies and fades away.ppl-wetlands-15

And, it always surprises me, as the trees lose their leaves and become bare, to see how many birds nests are uncovered. ppl-wetlands-28

It amazes me that so many are right along the path. I walked by this nest many a day and didn’t notice some bird family was raising their chicks  a few feet from me and my camera, completely unnoticed. ppl-wetlands-32

I walked out to the riverlands and lake Took-A-While, where a few folks still were trying to catch the last fish of the season. This is always a nice spot to sit down, take a rest, and enjoy the scenery. ppl-wetlands-25

As I returned to the wetlands part of the preserve I saw this leaf suspended by a spider web hanging in mid air. ppl-wetlands-2

And I enjoyed the beauty of the mighty Susquehanna river as I walked under the large, ancient trees along its banks. ppl-wetlands-39

There wasn’t much wildlife, mushrooms, berries or wildflowers but it was still a good day to be out and about,  surrounded by the beauty of nature, in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/PPL-Wetlands-November-6-2016-ppl-wetlands-31

 

“Nature has been for me, for as long as I remember, a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion.”
Lorraine Andersonppl-wetlands-37

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