More Snow And Clouds At The PPL Wetlands

Last  Sunday I  again  awoke to find above freezing temperatures here at my home in Hazle Township. It was, for January, a mild  34 degrees. After my usual early morning walk through my neighborhood, I decided to visit the PPL Wetlands and check out  the Susquehanna River. The temperature was now 40 degrees.Susquehanna River

Usually it is a few degrees warmer at the wetlands. But, like the day before at the Lehigh River, I found it was much colder than at my home at a much higher elevation. The temperature was 25 degrees when I arrived. The river was mostly ice free  but there were  still over six inches of snow on the ground.snow covered trail

Contrary to the predictions of mild weather, a wintery walk it would be. bare tree branches

The snow and thick cloud cover made it a dreary white and gray  world.  So different from the many colors found in the wetlands in Spring, Summer and Fall. ice and snow covered pond

The drab colors made even the dead dry leaves still clinging to the beech treesbeech leaves

and oak trees stand out. brown oak leaves

The red winter berries  also provided a little color.

As did the bluish  berries remaining on the briars.briar berries

There were a few flocks of birds fluttering in the higher tree branches. It was hard for me to identify them or get good photographs in the dim white sky. I think they were black-capped chickadees and juncos. I was able to get a photograph of this nuthatch. nuthatch on tree

And this golden crowned kinglet. golden crowned kinglet

I also heard the rapping of the woodpeckers in the treetops and saw, in the distance another pileated woodpecker. Like the previous day I could not get a good photograph and it soon flew off in search of food. pileated woodpecker on tree trunk

There was no one else at usually crowded Lake Took-A While. The lake was also frozen and snow covered. snow covered trail along lake

It was peaceful, but difficult,  walking along the trail in the cold and snow. There were  not the almost endless variety of plants, insects, birds and animals found here in the summer.  However  you could find a different kind beauty if you looked  closely.

The dead remains of last years plants stood out in the whiteness of the snow. dead plant in snow

It won’t be long until we see the first sign of life. Next month the lowly skunk cabbage should be making it’s appearance, adding some green to the white wintery landscape. But for now only the browns of last years growth remain. catkins in snow

It was hard walking in the snow so I again decided to  end my hike after about two miles. On my walk back I saw a few more gold crowned kingletsgolden crowned kinglet on branch

a song sparrow ,song sparrow on branch

and this  red squirrel who bravely crawled out on this limb to take a look at me. red squirrel in tree

I found a few  of these holes dug in the snow. They were  made by the squirrels or  chipmunks digging up the nuts, seeds and acorns they buried last Fall. acorn  in snow

I ended my hike along the now swollen banks of the Susquehanna River. The recent heavy rain washed away most of the ice. I was  hoping to see some water fowl on the open water but none were to be found.  I did hear a flock of geese honking in the distance. Susquehanna River

I was disappointed in not seeing any sunshine  on my hike. And even more disappointed in not seeing more wildlife but it was still a great day to be outdoors in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands January 21 2018 dead plant in snow

“Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.” 
― Sinclair Lewisbird in flight

 

 

 

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A Frigid Hike At The PPL Wetlands.

We  had frigid  weather  here in Northeastern  Pennsylvania these past two weeks. Temperatures dropped  even lower this morning, accompanied by bitter winds. The wind chill this morning was near -20 degrees. I actually like the challenge of hiking in these  extreme conditions and decided to again visit the PPl Wetlands. ice one Susquehanna River

It was 7 degrees with a steady 15 mile per hour wind when I arrived. Before I started my hike I walked down to check out the Susquehanna River at the parking lot. I found that there was only a thin layer of ice on the river at this location. I thought it would be thicker.bare trees along snow covered trail

I walked back up to the wetland trail and began my hike on the powdery and “squeaky” snow. The cold temperatures create a very dry snow which squeaks as you walk on it. The colder the temperature the more it squeaks. snow covered trail

I walked along the canals which were now frozen solid.  I didn’t see any animals but there were sure plenty of tracks in the snow and on the canals. ice covered pond

There were a few birds out in the frigid temperatures. As I have noticed these past few weeks one of their favorite foods is the berries of the poison ivy vines. I think this is a white throated sparrow enjoying some of the remaining berries.white throated sparrow eating poison ivy berries

Here is another photograph of this, I am sure, very cold bird.white throated sparrow on branch

I also was surprised to see either a downy or hairy woodpecker eating the berries. hairy or downy woodpecker on branch

There is not much color in the wetlands now but even the brown leaves of last years plants have a delicate beauty in the cold. brown leaf

I had only planned to walk two miles because of the extreme cold but I saw a few more birds, I think this is a song sparrow, and decided to continue my walk to see what else I might find. song sparrow on branch

Again, I did not see a single squirrel or chipmunk.When  I heard the shrill cry of a red tailed hawk I  guessed this would be the reason. T I walked out to now frozen Lake Took-A-While. snow covered trail

There were a few sets of footprints in the snow but I didn’t see a single person on my four mile hike. I did see a few more birds. including my friend the mockingbird, mockingbird in flight

this female cardinal hiding in the brush,

a flock of dark eyed juncos, or snow birds,dark eyed junco

and this red bellied woodpecker. red bellied woodpecker on tree

The cold and wind were starting to settle in my fingers and toes so I decided to begin my journey back.

I have been hiking in the cold since I was in grade school and I find a long hike in the extreme cold, provides me with a feeling of accomplishment that I can meet Nature’s greatest challenge. It wasn’t easy walking back into the wind but it was exhilarating.

As I neared the wetlands, I took the trail along the Susquehanna River and found that  there was a lot more ice on the river  in this area.

But there were also area of open water and I found a flock of Canada geese who decided to brave the frigid weather and remain in our area,Canada geese on river

as did these common mergansers.common mergansers on river

I was hoping the river would freeze over this year, but with a forecast for temperatures in the upper 40’s later this week, this does not seem likely. Although, you never know. I remember some pretty cold Februaries. On second thought, I’d rather a warm early Spring and not a frozen river. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands hike January 6 2018. 

tufted titmouse on tree branch

We feel cold, but we don’t mind it, because we will not come to harm. And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn’t feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the Aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It’s worth being cold for that. ~Philip Pullmanbluish berries on vine

 

 

 

 

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PPL Wetlands Hike: What A Difference A Week Makes

The snow stopped late Saturday here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  It left  a  accumulation of about three inches of  powdery, fine snow . Sunday brought more frigid arctic  weather with a morning low of 4 degrees. I decided to return to the PPL wetlands in Salem Township. I arrived to find a much different  world than my visit a week ago.snow covered pond

The woodlands were now a Winter wonderland. All of the ponds and canals were frozen and covered in snow.

I was surprised to find I wasn’t the first visitor on this frigid morning.  There was a set of footprints in the newly fallen snow and even more surprising was a set of bicycle tracks. Some folks were up early. I didn’t see who since I did not see a single person  on the 2 1/2 hours I hiked in the wetlands and river lands.

The skies were clear when I left my house but clouds moved in, obscuring the sun,  making for a dim , cold world of grays and whites.

As I began my hike I saw and a few woodpeckers and flickers tapping on the frozen trees trying to find insects that burrowed into the bark for the winter. 

There was little color in the wetlands the wetlands this weeks, The ferns and plants that sprouted during the warm  spell were now covered in snow. The only color was  the bright red winter berries.red winter berries

I saw no  birds on the first mile or so of my hike. It was eerily quiet. The only sounds were squeaking noises I made as I walked on the frigid snow. The first sound of life I heard was the friendly song of the black-capped chickadees. black capped chickadee in tree

It seems the birds that remain in our area in winter, even from different species.  travel together as they search the lifeless woodlands for food. I soon saw a few nuthatches,nuthatch on tree trunk

and a flock of dark eyed juncos

and I think this is one of the many swamp sparrows accompanying the chickadees in their search for food. sparrow in branches

Of course the many reptiles and amphibians that live in the wetlands are burrowed deeply in the ground or mud at the bottom of the ponds and canals. The only mammals I saw were a few chipmunks and squirrels. Unlike during the warmer months, when they would bravely peer from tree covered branches, they quickly scurried to their nests high in the tree tops or underground burrows. . And I believe this is the reason why. red tailed hawk in flight

Once again I saw a few red tailed hawks soaring overhead looking for a squirrel, chipmunk or other small mammal who was not cautious in the snow and leafless woodlands. red tailed hawk in flight

I walked to now frozen Lake Took-A-While and knew that the geese, herons and ducks would have now flown to open waters further south. cooling towers Lake Took-A-While PPL Wetlands

It was extremely cold and windy  so I decided to walk back  near the river trail.  On my return hike  I was able to some more color on  the this cold gray day. This cardinal was fluttering along the canals. I also saw the mockingbird in the same area but it avoided my attempts to get a photograph.cardinal in tree branches

There were also some more woodpeckers in the trees including this red bellied one, red bellied woodpecker on tree branch

And a few tufted titmice tagging along   another flock of black-capped chickadees. 

I walked back to the wetlands and took  trail along the Susquehanna River. Last week the river was ice free but there was already ice forming on the slow moving waters.

As I was watching the ice flow down the river, I spotted a pair of common mergansers  in the cold waters.  As I tried to get closer for a better photograph, they flew off and so did a flock of about 30 of them. These two were in the  rear of the large flock. 

I was glad to make it back to my car which I quickly started and turned up the heat. It was nice to walk in the pretty winter scenery of the wetlands on the last day of the year. . I did get to see some wildlife. But I will readily admit, Winter is not my favorite season. Especially on such a frigid day. But even with the forecast of below zero temperatures, you know I will be back next weekend. I love  the outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania even in the coldest weather. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetland hike. December 31 2017, Happy New Year!!! 

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.      Henry David Thoreau

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Looking For Wildlife? Even in November The PPL Wetlands Never Disappoint

It was another nice November  day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Saturday.  The skies were mostly sunny and I knew the sunshine would quickly warm the temperature from the 34 degrees early morning start. I decided to drive  to nearby  Community Park and look for the bald eagles that have been  seen at the lake.  leafless birch trees and clouds surrounding Lake Irena

I was there three times last week with no success in seeing the eagles..  I walked around scenic Lake Irena and, once again,  no bald eagles. clouds and trees surrounding lake Irena

In fact, like on my previous visits,  there was very little wildlife at the park . I saw a few crows and heard some  black-capped chickadees in the woods.trees and clouds and lake Irena

And a  few small airplanes taking off from the nearby airport.small plane taking off above trees

I saw no other wildlife until I finally spotted a few chickadees feeding on some pine cones as I completed my walk around the lake . black-capped chickadee feeding on pine cones

It was still  a peaceful and scenic walk. However  I do love to find and photograph wildlife on my weekend walks so I decided to head to a location where I am almost assured to  see some  wild critters, the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk out Community Park. Community Park November 25 2017. leafless trees along pond

Almost as soon as I arrived at the wetlands I saw, and heard a number of different species of birds in the branches of the leafless trees. There were a number of woodpeckers high in the tree tops including this red-bellied woodpecker. red-bellied woodpecker on tree limb

And this downy or hairy woodpecker.

The trees, thick undergrowth, and abundance of water  make the wetlands a good place to find wildlife even in the Winter. I found a lot of birds feeding on the berries of a plant humans avoid , poison ivy.poison ivy covered tree

This tree was covered in a poison ivy vine. And juncos, bluebirds and black-capped chickadees were enjoying the berries of this dreaded plant.black-capped chickadee feeding on poison ivy berries

Although most of duckweed in the ponds and canals has died from the cold some of the more sheltered ponds still have a thriving growth of duckweed  and thus still  some green color. duck weed covered pond

I did not see any ducks on this hike. The mallards left a while ago but there were still some wood ducks here on my last hike a few weeks ago. I was surprised to see a few cedar waxwings remaining in the wetlands. cedar waxwing on tree branch

As I walked toward the river lands section of the park I spotted a few birds adding color to the drab November scenery. First this blue bird,blue bird on tree branch

and then this cardinal. cardinal on tree branch

I also saw a few colors remaining on the now dormant plants and trees. The red oak leaves still have a little color. red oak leaves

As do the bright red  berries of this shrub, I believe a winterberry holly

and these dark purple berries also added to the beauty of my  hike through the  wetlands even in late November. 

I walked under the late autumn sunshine to the riverlands and scenic Lake Took-A- While. There were no kingfishers, cormorants or blue herons on the duck, only a  flock of canada geese enjoying the warmth of the November sun. canada geese on lake

As I began my return walk to the wetlands I heard the shrill cry of a red tailed hawk high overhead. It was being chased by a couple of crows and quickly flew away.  I also saw another red tailed hawk land in a tree. I watched it hoping to get a better photograph but it flew off hidden by the trees. red tailed hawk in tree

In addition to the many birds I saw on my hike there were a number of chipmunk, red squirrelsred squirrel with nut on tree branch

and gray squirrels scurrying through the trees and brush. gray squirrel on tree trunk

The reptile kingdom was also present on my walk. I was surprised to find this lone turtle sunning on a log in the now cold waters.  turtle on log

And I even found a few representatives of the insect world including this caterpillar, wooly caterpiller

and even a butterfly visiting a late blooming dandelion.

As I  approached my car I encountered a flock of dark eyed juncos. These birds spend their summers in Canada and return here in the Winter.  Hence they are also known as snow birds. Hopefully they will not see a lot of snow here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this year. Snow delighted me in my younger years but not so much these days.  Here is a link to some more photographs of some of the birds I saw on my hike. PPL Wetlands birds November 25 2017.

Since I was a young child I have always been fascinated by the beauty of nature, especially of all living creatures. I have always walked the woods of my home here in Northeastern Pennsylvania looking for them.I  now get great pleasure sharing my discoveries on social media and here on my blog. It gives me great comfort in the difficult times I am trying to find my way through. And the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands never disappoint, not even in November. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands November 25 2017.

“No matter how few possessions you own or how little money you have, loving wildlife and nature will make you rich beyond measure.” 
― Paul Oxton

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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

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A Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron And More Late Summer Beauty At the PPL Wetlands

It was another mild late summer morning on Sunday.  I again decided to explore the paths and trails of the PPL Wetlands.  I  walked the Great Warrior Trail  along the banks of the Susquehanna River hoping to a  see a bald eagle or beaver as I have on my last few visits. trees along Susquehanna river

No luck seeing  either this time. It was  very quiet under the ancient trees since the song birds have headed south with the  the shortening day and cooler weather.  There were very few birds fluttering in the trees.  I did see this flicker which, I believe will stay here for the Winter.flicker on branch

Like the song birds the robins and a lot of the waterfowl have also left but I still heard, and saw,  a few catbirds, catfish on branch

and lingering red-winged blackbirds.

 I walked along the trail between the canals and ponds and found more signs of  Fall including the red leaves of the Virginia creepers vines,red vine leaves on tree

and the ferns which have now turned brown.brown ferns along tree lined trail

There were some  mushrooms on the forest floor, including these inky caps.inky cap mushrooms

I was disappointed I didn’t see any bald eagles along the river, or a beaver swimming in the water but, as always, the wetlands did provide me with another surprise.kingfisher on wire eating crayfish

As I walked to the to the riverlands, I saw this female kingfisher sitting on a wire and eating, or,  trying to eat, a crayfish.

The kingfisher was on the other side of a canal so I couldn’t get close enough to watch her struggles with the crayfish but I did take  these photographs with my zoom lens showing her efforts to eat what she caught. Here is a link to some more photographs. Kingfisher photographs. female kingfisher on wire

I also saw another interesting sight. At first the great blue heron I spotted was stalking food in Lake Took-A-While. Nothing unusual about that.great blue heron in reeds

But it spread it’s wings opened it’s mouth and seemed to just enjoy the late summer sunshine like it was relaxing at the beach. great blue heron basking in sun

I wished I had more time to watch the blue heron, and the kingfishers, which were still flying above the lake but it  was Sunday and September and the Philadelphia Eagles were playing at one o’clock so I had to walk back to my car, catching some more of nature’ s beauty on the way, including this late season butterfly, 

these late season flowers, purple wildflower at PPL Wetlands

and  weeds, well we call them weeds, the common ragweed that is such a nuisance to allergy sufferers this time of year, but still having a beauty to them. And food for many wasp, bees and other insects.

I also once  again observed these insects  still attracted to this milkweed pod.

The PPL Wetlands provided me with another large dose of nature’s beauty both large and small. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike on Sunday. PPL Wetlands photographs.  

“The river is such a tranquil place, a place to sit and think of romance and the beauty of nature, to enjoy the elegance of swans and the chance of a glimpse of a kingfisher.” 
― Jane Wilson-Howarth

 

 

 

 

 

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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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