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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Great Blue Herons Are Cool And Fun To watch. .

Many time when I am hiking along streams, rivers, lakes or wetlands  I hear the swooshing of wings overhead and regretfully look up  to see a great blue heron taking off before I can get a photograph. On Saturday, while hiking in the PPL Wetlands,  I was fortunate to come upon this heron standing absolutely still  on a log in  one of the duckweed covered canals. 

These graceful birds stand motionless waiting to spear catch a passing fish or move ever so slowly sneaking up on a frog or small turtle. great blue heron  in wetlands

I watched this one for a few minutes but too close. It took off but landed only a few hundred feet further up the canal. 

It again took off as I  approached. I continued on my hike, returning a few hours later to again find, I think, the same great blue heron now sitting on a log in a larger lake in the wetlands. 

These birds are common around  the waters of Northeastern Pennsylvania and throughout North and Central America. 

I stood for about a half hour in the intense July sun hoping to see this one catch a fish or frog but all I got was to see it spread it’s spectacular wings as it took off,

to try a new location  on another log to catch lunch.

I had better luck last year when I captured this photograph of a great blue heron catching a fish near Doylestown Pennsylvania. Here is a link to my photo gallery with more pictures of this awesome experience. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/blue-heron-bucks-county-may-20-2016

I will try and be more quiet, and keep my eyes peeled on my hikes in the wetlands in hope of once again capturing one of these beautiful birds catching a meal. Here is a link to some more photographs  of the blue heron taken last Saturday. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/birds-of-pennsylvania/nggallery/birds-of-pennsylvania/great-blue-heron-PPL-wetlands-July-8-2017-

“Creativity is the Blue Heron within us waiting to fly; through her imagination, all things become possible.”― Nadia Janice Brown

 

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An Unexpected Encounter With A Bear At The PPL Wetlands.

As any of you who follow my blog posts know, I love the Summer and I love hiking in the PPL Wetlands. The PPL Wetlands are about a 1/2 drive from my house and is home to many species of wildlife, flowers, trees and insects. I decided to hike there again on Saturday, hoping to see something interesting, and once again I wasn’t disappointed. wooded trail in wetlands

 As soon as I arrived  near  the parking area I saw this bird perched on an overhead wire, I believe it is a ruby-throated hummingbird. The skies were gray and overcast so I could not get a good photograph but I still wanted to share this somewhat uncommon sighting. humming bird on wire

I walked to one of the ponds where I saw the wood ducks last week and they were there again, this time a little further away. One of them was on a log but the other parent was swimming with the young ones in the duck weed covered water. They are a shy and reclusive bird so I was fortunate to see them again.wood ducks on pond

It was early when I arrived at the wetlands and there were not many dragonflies active yet. I saw a few but there were, once again swarms of mosquitoes  waiting for me. And many of them found me. dragonfly on reed

The Spring abundance of wildflowers is now over, but there are still some new flowers starting to bloom in the wetlands, such as the spotted wintergreen.wintergreen flower

And other which will be blooming soon such as this thistle. thistle on canal bank

And the delicate touch-me-nots were now in full bloom throughout the wetlands.  Their juicy flesh  helps sooth the sting of bees and bites of the many mosquitoes in the wetlands.touch-me-not flowers

The high bush blueberries are starting to ripen now and I was able to pick a few handfuls.  ripening blueberries

As I left the wetlands part of the preserve to head to the riverlands and Lake Took-A-While I turned a corner and walked into this big fellow.black bear on trail

I usually clap my hands loudly when I see a bear to scare them away  but I was to close to this big male and I didn’t want to scare him into attacking me. black bear on path

I extended my hands and legs and spoke firmly to him and he did, slowly,  decide to back away.  I have had many bears visit my backyard over the years but it is always a much more exciting  experience to see them in the outdoors. We stared each other down for a few minutes, and he turned around and made his way back down the trail and into the woods. black bear on path

I continued my walk, a little more cautiously now, toward the riverlands. However, I didn’t see any more bears, the biggest mammal I saw was this not so intimidating squirrel. squirrel running on ground

There were a number of birds about including the ever present catbirds.

And a number of flycatchers were darting over the warm waters of the wetlands and  now have plenty of insects to catch. flycatcher in tree

I was fortunate to see a great blue heron in flight across the waters of the lake. They are such graceful birds. great blue heron in flight

And the beautiful songs of the yellow warblers were heard throughout my hike. They now tend to remain in the thick leaf cover of the trees tops but a few got close enough to me to allow me to get a photograph.yellow warbler in tree

There were thunderstorms in the forecast and I was getting hungry after my four mile hike so I headed back to the parking area, this time walking under the large ancient trees that grow along the banks of the Susquehanna river.wooded trail on river

As I often do in this part of the trail, I wondered about the many generations of Native Americans who walked this same  trail, possibly while some of these same trees were alive.ancient oak tree

And this day I wondered how many of them may have had a close encounter with an almost 400 pound black bear and how many were as excited about it as I was. It was another great hike through the always interesting PPL Wetlands. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-July-1-2017-close up black bear face

“Always respect Mother Nature. Especially when she weighs 400 pounds and is guarding her baby.” 
― James Rollins

 

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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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A Mink, A Muskrat And A Lot Of Mosquitoes: A Hike In The PPL Wetlands.

It was Saturday, so, of course,  we started the day off with a heavy rainfall. it seems it has been raining every Saturday this Spring here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. But like last Saturday the rain ended early,  and by mid-morning the sun was shining at the PPl Wetlands, were I again decided to hike. wildlife -1

The sun filtering through the wet leaves, the  song of the birds and the  heavenly scent of the honeysuckle made me feel I was walking in the Garden of Eden. wildlife -15

The June sun soon dried any of the wet leaves that were exposed to it’s now intense rays, but the leaves in the shade remained wet for most of my hike. wildlife -6

I walked along the familiar trails of the wetlands searching for birds, bugs, frogs, mammals or any other critter I  could find. The first one I saw was the ever present red winged-blackbird which appear to be everywhere in the wetlands now. wildlife -6

And the cool rain overnight, and the cool nights we’ve been having  brought a lot more turtles out on the logs, rocks and shores of the canals and ponds to baste in the sunshine this week.  I also saw a snapping turtle, or maybe two  snapping turtles in the water . Here is a link to a video.https://youtu.be/UFb4yOGpW7c wildlife -7

I  saw this furry critter swimming slowly through a duckweed covered pond. I am pretty sure it is a muskrat and not a beaver. wildlife -3

As I walked trails I found an abundance of small green high bush blueberries and  it still looks like there will be a good crop this year. All they need now is plenty of sun to ripen them.wildlife -16

I made my way to the riverlands section of preserve and Lake Took-A_While where I found plenty of folks fishing and cooking out. The smell of the charcoal grills filled the air. wildlife -24

And I was greeted by these fellows, a pair of domestic geese who came waddling up to me looking for a handout. I am sure they must have went AWOl from a local farm. wildlife -11

I found a group of their  wild cousins as I continued  my hike out the river tail  and to the Susquehanna River. wildlife -14

The river was high and it’s waters a deep brown from the runoff resulting from the recent heavy rains. wildlife -29

Most of the migratory birds have now passed through the area , but I saw a few of the ones that decided to stay such as this Baltimore oriole. wildlife -22

A little further on my hike I found this Baltimore oriole nest hanging right above one of the trails. I waited for around 15 minutes hoping mom of dad bird would re-emerge from the nest but I think they knew it and were not coming out. wildlife -23

I saw a few of the always beautiful yellow warblers and was able to capture a photograph of this one. wildlife -31

I was frustrated that I missed so many birds, many I could not identify and others, such as a red-bellied woodpecker and kingfisher I could. I know I had the experience of seeing them, which is satisfying, but I so much enjoy sharing them with my friends. I was able to photograph this blue heron standing along the trail.wildlife -9

And this red squirrel who seemed, like a lot of the birds, was gathering material to build a nest. wildlife -24

As was this  little fellow, I believe an eastern phoebe. wildlife -21

I enjoyed the warmth of the June sun as I continued my walk in the open areas of the trails, and also the way it filtered through the leaves under the ancient trees in the more wooded sections of the trail. wildlife -31

I came across a mulberry tree that was already setting it’s fruit. This tree  will provide a feast for the birds in a few weeks. wildlife -41

Along the wetlands I saw a few frogs in the lurking in the waters, waiting for insects, and trying to avoid being breakfast for a blue heron.wildlife -39

There is one inhabitant of the wetlands  I do not like to encounter, the mosquito. That wish was sure not granted. There were hoards of them, breeding in the many pools of water created by the wet Spring.  I have many bites to attest to our meetings yesterday, but you got to take the good with the bad.wildlife -11

There is so much to see out doors this time of year such as the blue flag, or wild iris which  were scattered about, adding color to the wetlands.wildlife -19

Even the many species of wild grasses have a unique beauty to them. wildlife -3

As I was nearing my car, and the end of my hike, I saw this critter in the distance. At first I thought it was a squirrel that scampered into the woods along one of the canals.  However, as I approached I realized it was a mink, who gave me, what seemed like a wink, before he or she disappeared under the duck weed covered waters. Here is a link to some more photographs of the wildlife I saw on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-wildlife-June-3-2017-wildlife -37

I have loved hiking in the woods near my house since I was a child. Each time you leave your house you never know what you will see, whether it is a new plant, flower, mushroom, tree, or bird, mammal, reptile or bee. I am so glad i can now share this adventures with you folks here on my blog. And, the sun is shining this morning as I type so time to fine another  place to hike. Here is a link to some more photographs of my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-June-3-2017

wildlife -15

 

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.  John Muir

 

wildlife -27

 

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Mosquitoes To Muskrats: A Lot Happening At The PPL Wetlands

We finally had a Saturday without any rain here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I took advantage of it by driving to one of my favorite hiking areas, the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. wetlands -1

I found the plants and trees of the wetlands achieved their full Summer attire of leaves and are now a deep, lush green.wetlands -3

Even the oaks, always the last to put forth their leaves, are now clad in a coat of green. wetlands -4

And the waters of the canals are joining in the act,  turning a light green as the new growth of duckweed spreads through the wetlands. wetlands -2

Soon after setting out on my hike I saw this fellow covered in the new growth of duckweed, a muskrat.  He  didn’t sit still for long, quickly swimming away as soon as he noticed me. wetlands -14The trees were again filled with the songs of the many species of birds that have returned to our area including a number of the always beautiful yellow warblers. wetlands birds-20

I also saw a few Baltimore orioles, many among the flowers of the blooming locust trees. wetlands birds-33

As usual there were many catbirds in the trees along the rails,wetlands birds-1

as there were the  noisy and territorial red-winged blackbirds. here is a male,wetlands birds-25

and this is a female. wetlands birds-10

I was hoping to see some cedar waxwings since they, too, seem to be attracted to the locust blossoms. unfortunately I only saw one today and could not get a good photograph. wetlands birds-26

I saw a few of the tiny common yellowthroats in some of the thicker brush. This is a male. wetlands birds-27

And I believe this is a song sparrow but I am not certain since I am not very good identifying sparrows. wetlands birds-14

There were also some year round residents about, including this blue bird,wetlands birds-30

and this male cardinal perched high on the branch of a dead tree, singing for the entire wetlands to hear. wetlands birds-16

He didn’t like me watching him  singing and decided to find a more private perch to sing his song to the world. There were a few birds I had seen  and was  able to photograph but I couldn’t identify. I am hoping my birding friends will help. Here is a link to some more photographs of the many birds I saw at the wetlands. Please feel free to identify them if you can. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-May-27-2017wetlands birds-17

I also saw a few other mammals today, including this chipmunk,wetlands -30

this whitetail deer, wetlands -31

and this groundhog galloping to get way from my camera.wetlands -24

And of course the flowers and plants continue to bloom and grow. The  wild blue flag irises are now blooming adding contrast to the deep green of the wetlands. wetlands -8

The high bush blueberries are getting larger and it still appears that there will be a big crop this year. wetlands -9

And there are plenty of blackberry flowers blooming  so maybe they, too, will produce a bumper crop  this year. wetlands -10

There were also an abundance of mosquitoes which I did not enjoy. it seemed I was covered with them from the moment I entered the wetlands. They are now breeding in the warm murky waters, and breeding very well. Fortunately there were no ticks today.wetlands -13

 I also  saw a few frogs and turtles on my walk but they  now prefer the warm, duckweed covered waters of the ponds and canals and are not as easily seen. wetlands -19

I walked out to Lake-Took-Awhile where I saw many folks fishing along it’s shores or enjoying a cookout at one of it’s many picnic areas. wetlands -21

It sure was a nice day to be outdoors. I wish I could have stayed but I had to head home, so I took a slow walk back to my car, enjoying the many sights and sounds of nature along the way. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-May-27-2017-wetlands -5

 

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.     Aristotle

 

 

 

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PPL Wetlands: The Birds Are Back

It was the weekend and, of course,  we had another rainy start here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I drove to the PPL Wetlands and started my walk in a light, chilly  rain. PPL Wetlands -1

The waters of the Susquehanna River was high from the rain we have been having. I was thinking I’d see some water fowl today but I was surprised with the number of song birds I encountered. First with a number of gold finches near the river. birds -2

And I saw this year long resident, a blue bird, peeking out from behind a tree along the river too. birds -1

I walked into the wetlands, and  lush new green growth of Spring. It is just such a wonderful time of year. Everything is so fresh and  alive. PPL Wetlands -15

And the air is filled with the fragrance of the still blooming honeysuckle and now also with the flowers of the many locusts trees growing along the waters of the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -22

The locusts flowers attract many song birds and I spotted a pair of yellow warblers fluttering among the flowers of this tree. yellow warblers -8

I am not sure if they were a male and female or if one was a juvenile, since it did seem like it was being fed by the other one. yellow warblers -11

I do know I spent a half hour watching and photographing them fly from branch to branch in the surrounding trees. They seem to have become accustomed to me and  didn’t appear to mind my presence. Here is a link to a gallery of more photos of these beautiful birds. yellow warblers -18http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/yellow-warbler-PPL-Wetlands-May-20-2017-

The locust flowers also attract the Baltimore orioles although I only saw this one high in a tree top.birds -10

I was looking for another species of bird that I usually find in the locust flowers.  I didn’t see any yet this year  until I looked high in the branches of this tree. I wasn’t sure at first, but, after looking through my zoom lens I confirmed they were cedar waxwings. I think they may just have arrived.PPL Wetlands -25

And it wasn’t long afterward that I saw one in the lower branches. I think there will be a lot more next week. They are a beautiful bird.birds -23

As I walked I heard a lot of frogs croaking in the waters but didn’t see one, nor did I see any turtles. There was no sun out and the waters are now warm so there is no reason for them to leave the safety of the water. . I did see this chipmunk peering out from  the branches of a tree.PPL Wetlands -27

And this red squirrel. He seemed as curious about me as I was of him. PPL Wetlands -30

As I walked along the banks of a canal I encountered this female duck. She was very agitated and I knew her nest must be close by. birds -7

I continued my walk to the Riverlands section of the nature preserve and saw this bird, I think it is an Eastern kingbird. birds -19

Lake Took-A-While, despite the  light rain, was still crowded with fisherman. And there were a few new residents. I found these proud  goose parents showing off their newly hatched goslings. birds -33

Swimming nearby was this  male mallard duck. birds -26

The rain stopped, and I wish i could have stayed out all day, there was just so much to see, but I had to head on back. Along the way I continued to see the many song birds that returned to the areas including a number of song sparrows. birds -25

I again walked past the  the agitated female duck, she was squawking about, and i noticed, right along the trail, her nest filled with eggs. I am hoping they hatch soon since they are in such an exposed area. She must be a new mother. Many new mother birds learn the hard way that it is a good idea to conceal your nest.birds -38

As I walked along the river I heard the call of a red bellied woodpecker. I risked the ticks, and made my way into the woods and found  the woodpecker and her nest. Hopefully i will find some newly hatched woodpeckers in the upcoming weeks. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-May-20-2017-birds -39

I made my way back to the car passing some late blooming may apples or mandrakes,PPL Wetlands -35

and newly blooming blackberries. PPL Wetlands -9

Despite the early rain, it turned out to be a nice day for a hike, and it only gets better in the upcoming weeks. I hope to spend a lot of them in the great outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-May-20-2017-

birds -5

In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.  Robert Lyndbirds -24

 

 

 

 

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Cloudy, Wet And Cold, But It’s Still Spring At The PPL Wetlands.

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The cool weather continued today here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  It was cloudy, with a few showers and  temperatures well below normal, remaining in the low  50’s. I knew however,  that despite the cool weather, nature would not shalt  it’s annual spectacular show. So I headed down to the PPL Wetlands to see what was new.PPL Wetlands -1

The wetlands  were muddy from the recent heavy rains, and in some areas the canals overflowed their banks and flooded the trails. PPL Wetlands -18

But the rain also encouraged a lot of new growth since I visited last week. The skunk cabbage are lush and thriving. PPL Wetlands -40

The blueberry flowers are fading already, but it looks like they will produce a big crop this year. The fruit has set so the berries should be safe even if we get a frost. PPL Wetlands -13

The air in the wetlands is now filled with the sweet fragrance of the honeysuckles. PPL Wetlands -14

These large, and most welcome,  bushes grow throughout the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -23

The air was also filled with the sounds of many song birds that continue to return to the area. I saw so many species but it was hard to get good photographs because of the clouds  and occasional rain.  There were many yellow warblers singing in the treetops,birds PPL Wetlands -23

 And I saw a few more American redstarts and small flocks of goldfinches. birds PPL Wetlands -19

and  a few Baltimore orioles.birds PPL Wetlands -22

There was also the continuous chatter of the catbirds, birds PPL Wetlands -11and the many red-winged blackbirds that have moved into the grassy areas adjoining the wetlands. Here is a female gathering nesting material.birds PPL Wetlands -15

I also saw an osprey sparing high overhead, I am sure looking for some fish in the many ponds, canals and lakes below. birds PPL Wetlands -8

Their were also quite a few flycatchers darting about the trees and bushes on the banks of the ponds and canals. birds PPL Wetlands -17

And, of course there were a number of Canada geese, now found in pairs and establishing their nesting territories. birds PPL Wetlands -14

The turtles were not out in numbers like on a sunny day but there were still a few who ventured out of the now warmer waters. PPL Wetlands -11

And a few frogs also were sitting along the many ponds that have formed after the heavy rains. PPL Wetlands -25

As I said there were a lot of new song birds, many of which I couldn’t identify or photographs very well such as this one which I think may be a warbler. birds PPL Wetlands -20

I did get a photograph of a female cardinal. It is the male that is usually seen perched high on a tree top and singing loudly to attract a female.  Here is a link to some more photographs of some of the birds I saw today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-May-6-2017-birds PPL Wetlands -3

I walked to the riverlands, area of the nature preserve. again seeing many of the birds I mentioned above. Some dark clouds moved in so I headed back to the wetlands and my car.PPL Wetlands -24

I walked along the Susquehanna River which was also very high from the recent rains.  The mandrake or may apples were now in bloom. PPL Wetlands -7

There is just so much to see outdoors this time of year. I could have spent the entire day in the wetlands looking at the  flora and fauna. but, just as I neared my car the rains began to fall so I called it a day. But I am already looking forward to my hike tomorrow. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-may-6-2017-PPL Wetlands -37

 

Man masters nature not by force, but by understanding. Jacob BronowskiPPL Wetlands -27

 

 

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Spring Sure Has Sprung At The PPL Wetlands

I loved my recent trip to Poland, but it  has now  been almost a month since I last visited one of my favorite hiking grounds, the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands in Salem Township. PPL Wetlands -1

And I sure missed so much. We were having some cold weather in March when I last visited and the wetlands looked  more like mid  Winter than  early Spring. Not today. The plants and trees  in the wetlands have put forth a remarkable growth and everything was  that delightful light green color found only in Spring. . PPL Wetlands -3

So many flowers are now  in bloom or preparing to bloom, and I enjoyed them all,even the lowly dandelion looked good after the drab  months of Winter. PPL Wetlands -63

The honeysuckle are just starting to open and their heavenly aroma is already filling the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -19

The mandrakes or may apples have put forth a lush growth,PPL Wetlands -8

as did the skunk cabbages. When I last saw them they had been severely damaged by the late cold and heavy snow. They sure  have made a  recovery and they added to the lushness of the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -6

I walked to the ponds to look for water fowl and it appears that we have had a lot of rain while I was gone. There is usually  a path separating the two ponds in this photograph. It is now underwater. PPL Wetlands -25

I saw no ducks today. The only water fowl were  these two geese and a blue heron that took off before I could capture a photograph. PPL Wetlands -23

And, as a walked along the muddy paths, I must have came near a robins nest since mommy and daddy robin were not too happy with me being there. They made sure to  let me know I wasn’t welcome. PPL Wetlands -12

I came across this intricate and unusual flower, one of my Spring favorite, a jack -in-the pulpit. It should be blooming in a few days. PPL Wetlands -5

And I even found some early mushrooms. It seemed everything was growing today in the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -28

And there were plenty of birds  to be found too. The woodlands were filled with the songs  including the constant chattering of the red winged blackbirds that can be heard throughout the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -73

The catbirds, a very friendly bird that doesn’t seem to mind humans was also back. PPL Wetlands -44

As were the warblers. I am learning, but I am by no means an expert on bird identification.  Growing up we  knew the easy ones, the robins, cardinals, blue jays, crows, etc and just assumed  the smaller birds were sparrows. It wasn’t until I purchased a zoom lens for my camera that I became aware of the many beautiful species that live in and visit our area. So if I make a mistake please correct me. This one is, I think a yellow warbler. PPL Wetlands -70

And this an American redstart .PPL Wetlands -32

I walked from the wetlands to the riverlands. It was overcast when I started my hike but there were now some breaks of sun and this brought the frogs and turtles out.  I was able to capture a few turtles before they kerplunked into the water as they saw me approach but the many frogs I saw avoided my camera lens. PPL Wetlands -66

It seems every year there are a lot of Baltimore orioles in this area and, sure enough, I spotted one this year. It seems that tent caterpillars are on their menu. PPL Wetlands -52

There was just so much to see this time of year. Everywhere you looked there was a new plant sprouting on the ground or a bird in a tree. I found this interesting plant,  Solomon’s seal, starting to set forth it’s unique flowers.PPL Wetlands -62

And also it’s smaller relative the lily of the valley. PPL Wetlands -30

I wish I had more time, I could have walked these paths looking for the many wonders of Spring until dark but I had to head home. On my way I saw a few more birds including, what I think is a yellow-rumped warbler. PPL Wetlands -55

And this one, I believe a song sparrow. Here is a link to some more of the birds I encountered on my hike in the PPL wetlands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-April-29-2017-PPL Wetlands -47

Even the poison ivy looks so pretty this time of year. PPL Wetlands -18

As I approached my car, I realized how much I miss the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Poland was beautiful, as were many of the other countries I have visited and explored, but you don’t have to cross an ocean to see beauty. We sure have plenty of it here in our own backyard. Just take a walk and keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-April-29-2017-PPL Wetlands -29

 

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
~Percy Bysshe ShelleyPPL Wetlands -64

 

 

 

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