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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Beaver and Blackbirds: Another Hike In The PPL Wetlands.

Sunday was opening day for my favorite football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. Game time was 1 p.m. so  I decided to take a break from my search for wild mushrooms and take a quick hike through the PPL Wetlands. tree lined canal at PPL Wetlands

As regular readers of my blog would know,  I love these protected wetlands located between the nuclear power plant in Salem Township  and the Susquehanna River, about a half hour drive from my home. There is such a wide variety of flora and fauna in this area, I always seem to find something of interest for a  nature lover  like me. I love to share my experiences down here.  duck weed covered pond

And I wasn’t disappointed on Sunday. As I started  my walk on the trail along the Susquehanna River,  I heard a splashing sound in waters below me.  I first wondered if a bear or other small animal could have jumped in the river.beaver swimming in Susquehanna River

I continued my walk and heard it again. I had to turn back investigate. As I neared the area I heard the splashing and saw water flying into the air. Totally puzzled now I found a clearing to look over the river bank and saw this critter swimming in the water  near the shore. And I am sure it saw me too.

It did  not flee, but continued to swim in a wide circle slamming it’s tail into the water and causing the loud  splashing noise. From the size of it’s tail I think it is a beaver, although some friends suggested it may be a river otter. Here is a link to a video I took on my IPhone. https://youtu.be/GOxkgkHbi9cbeaver splashin tail in river

Whatever it was it knew I was watching and continued it’s behavior. It would seem it was defending this territory for some reason. I was puzzled on seeing a beaver in the river and is why I am not sure if it could be an otter. Any positive identification would be appreciated.  I would have loved to stay and watch it swim in the river  but I knew I didn’t have a lot of time for my hike so I decided to continue my walk. Here are some more photographs I took of what I believe is a beaver. Beaver photographs. beaver swimming in river

I walked  under the shade of ancient trees growing along the river. The trees in the wetlands still had their Summer green but there was  a silence here for the first time since the Spring.large oak tree on trail

Many of the song birds have now left these woods on their journey south for the Winter. And I didn’t hear or see any of the usual resident robins, catbirds or red  winged blackbirds. I did see a few wood ducks take off as I approached a pond or canal and saw this flycatcher perched on a branch. fly catcher on branch

I noticed this spider  web  and saw it’s owner wrapping a web around an unfortunate insect that had been trapped. spider on web with trapped insect

As I walked under the trees I found the husks of some black walnut trees and hazel nuts , which would have been opened by a chipmunk or squirrel.hazel nut hush on ground

 I made my way to the river lands area of the  nature preserve and found this milkweed pod that I had photographed last week.There were some tiny eggs on it and they now hatched, and the pod was covered with these newly hatched insects. insects on milkweed pod

There were not many people at Lake Took-A-While, a few walkers and bikers, but most of the fisherman were gone too. tree lined lake Took-A-While

The crab apple trees had an abundance of fruit and ripe crab apples

There was an abundance of this annoying plant along the trail, ragweed. ragweed along lake

It was getting late so I had to turn back when I started to see flock after flock of red-winged blackbirds crossing the lake and flying from tree to tree in along the trail.red winged blackbird flock

I watched for about 15 minutes as the birds continued to stream across the lake and down the trails. Here is a link to a YouTube video I took of some of the migrating birds. Red-winged blackbird migrating flocks red winged black birds in flight

I could have watched them for hours but I couldn’t miss my football game so I walked back to the wetlands. I didn’t see any bald Eagles in the wetlands but I was happy to get home in time for the game and get to see my Philadelphia Eagles win!  I am still glad I  got to spend the morning outdoors in the wetlands,once again it didn’t disappoint this nature lover. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetland photographs 

Surely no child, and few adults, have ever watched a bird in flight without envy. 

 

 

 

 

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Rain, Bald Eagles And A Great Blue Heron At The PPL Wetlands

The forecast called  for rain showers ending early on Sunday morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. However,  at 9 a.m. it was still raining pretty steady at my house. I knew it would be too wet to roam the deep  woods searching for wild mushrooms so I decided to head down one of my favorite well maintained hiking trails at the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. tree lined road to PPL Wetlands in Salem Township

Summer is ending here in Pennsylvania but the woods are still green and the rain added to that greenness on Sunday morning.  The leaves glistened from the rain and it looked more like the lush green of May than early September. 

As I was leaving my car, I heard a rustling in the tree branches overhead and watched two bald eagles quickly flying away. To quick for me to grab my camera. I walked down to the banks of the Susquehanna River to try and see them but they were gone.flock of tree swallows on river

I did see large flocks of these birds skimming above the waters of the river and I have since learned, from my birder friends, that were probably tree swallows.  There were hundreds of them in the flock as they made there way down river. wood ducks on pond

I walked back to the trails of the wetlands and these wood ducks enjoying the wet weather. tree lined trail in PPL Wetlands

The rain continued to fall and actually became more intense so I headed under the cover of the bigger trees along the river. As I came to an opening along the river I looked out and saw, on a branch just below my eye level, another bald eagle perched staring at the river. He or she hadn’t heard me approaching and, as I reached for my camera, it turned around. For a brief second we stared at each other but it flew off before I could have taken a spectacular photograph. This is the best I could do as it quickly soared away. I didn’t have a photograph but the experience, to come eye to eye with a bald eagle in the wild was amazing.bald eagle in flight

I continued my walk in the rain, seeing a few more ducks, catbirds and chipmunks. I am guessing these remains of a black walnut were a chipmunk’s or squirrel’s  breakfast. remains of a black walnut eaten by squirrel or chipmunk

I also saw the remains of some of the flowers of Spring and Summer such as this jack-in -the pulpit fruit,jack in the pulpit fruit

and these wild grape, wild grapes

and the fruit of the pokeweed plants. pokeweed berries

I walked over to the river lands and Lake Took-a-While and encountered this great blue heron, once again before he/she noticed me. great blue heron

I again creeped up on it and this time I had my camera ready.  As I approached, it perked up, and became more tense as I  neared. This time I was able to take the photograph above before it flew off behind some shrubs. Here is a link to some more photographs of the heron and some other birds I saw on my walk. Bird photographs. great blue heron in flight

It was now near noon and the rain was not letting up. I was soaked, so I decided to head back, walking past some of the last wild of the season, including these touch-me-nots or jewelweed flowers,touch-me-not or jewelweed with rain drop

and these common flowers which I can’t identify. 

Although the woods were still, for the most part, lush and green, there were some leaves changing color. leaves changing colors {red}

As were many of the species of ferns along the paths.tree lined path with brown ferns

I am enjoying every walk I take this time of year since I know it won’t be long until all of the flora and fauna of the wetlands disappear with the coming colder weather. I hope to get a few more hikes in, and watch the  changing colors and migration of the birds, before it does. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in the wetlands. PPL wetlands photographs. 

 

“I love the smell of rain and growing things.” 
― Serina Hernandez

 

 

 

 

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Late Summer At The PPL Wetlands.

Last Sunday I got up early , on a clear and cool late summer  morning,   to try and find some wild mushrooms.  I was unsuccessful so I decided to head to the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. It has been almost three weeks since I last visited and I miss walking along the Susquehanna River, the canals and ponds. two turtles on a log

Once again I found many turtles sunning on the shores, rocks and logs in and around the waters, a sure sign that the waters are cooling down because of the decreasing sun and lengthening nights. green colored pond covered with duckweed

Another sign of the end of Summer and the approaching Fall was the absence of the chirping of the song birds.  It seems many of warblers and other song birds may have already begun their migration south. I didn’t even see many robins or red winged blackbirds. But there were still a few catbirds fluttering about and making plenty of noise. catbird in leaves on tree branch

The calming sounds of the cicadas could be heard from the tree tops and there were quite a few dragonflies darting about. dragonfly on a twig

At first I thought, being late August,  that there wouldn’t be as many flowers in bloom as Spring. And there weren’t, but, upon closer observation I found quite a variety of flowers still in bloom, including these pretty cardinal flowers. red cardinal flower in bloom

There were also still a full thistles in bloom, although most of these have gone to seed.purple thistle flower in bloom

There were still plenty of jewelweed or touch-me-nots blooming along the trails including many yellow ones  which I hadn’t seen earlier in August. yellow jewelweed or touch-me-not in bloom

There were also many daisy like flowers growing,daisy like flowers in bloom

and these not too popular flowers were now starting to bloom, the allergy aggravating ragweed. yellow ragweed flower in bloom

And, as flowers do, they did attract many insects including bees, wasps and butterflies. butterfly on flower

The milkweed flowers have now turned into pods and even these pods attract certain types of insects.insects on milkweed pod

And  the jack-in-the-pulpit flowers have now produced their unique fruit. Here is a link to some of the other flowers I found on my walk. FLOWERS.

I walked along the trails to the riverlands and always pretty Lake Took-A-While and the many folks still fishing in or walking around it’s waters or picnicking near it’s shores. Lake Took-A-While PPL Riverlands

I walked back through the trails of the river and wetlands, hearing mainly the  serenade of cicadas in the trees but also hearing, and seeing a few birds, including this  large flycatcher, I think it is a kingbird, kingbird on branch

this smaller flycatcher, flycatcher on branch

a juvenile woodpecker, juvenile woodpecker on tree

and some wood ducks, a great blue heron and a few green herons. 

As I left the wetlands I saw this fellow watching me leave. I could roam these trails all day, so much flora and fauna in these wetlands, but I had to head home, knowing that soon Fall will arrive and the wetlands will begin to enter their long winter nap. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL wetlands photographs.

When summer gathers up her robes of glory, And, like a dream, glides away.Sarah Helen Whitman

 

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Another Summer Walk At The PPL Wetlands.

It’s hard to believe last weekend was the was the last one in July.  It seems it was just Spring and now Summer is in it’s full splendor here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I spent Saturday searching for and finding a lot of wild mushrooms. I walked over 12 miles so I decided to take a short hike through the PPL Wetlnads on Sunday morning. 

It was a clear and cool morning  when I arrived at the wetlands and I found a few turtles leaving the waters early to enjoy the warm late July sun on the logs in the canals and ponds. This big  fellow was an old timer and could be a many decades old. turtle on log

I didn’t see an eagle or and osprey on this walk, but I saw many of the usual robins, red winged  blackbirds, this is a female female red winged blackbird

and noisy catbirds.catbird on tree branch

I again saw many fly cathchers perched on the trees and shrubs along the wetlands taking advantage of the many insects that are now present here. flycatcher on tree branch

The bull thistlebee on bull thistle flower

and other plants are still attracting a vatirty of insects, moths wasps bees and butterflies ,butterfly on flower

but the milkweed is done flowering and is setting forth it’s seed pods, which still attarct some insects. insect on milkweed

The black berries and elderberries are now ripe, and the nuts on the hickory and black walnut trees in the wetlands continue to develop. 

The many families of geese that are in the area of the wetlands  have been joining togehter in larger flocks as the summer season moves on. Here is a link to some more photographs of birds I saw on my walk http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-wetlands-birds-July-30-2017

And the wetlands were now filled with the sounds of this insect the cicada , it is amazing how much noise this little fellow can make. 

 

I didn’t spend as much time looking for things to photograph last week since I was off in search of mushrooms, as I will be soon after I finish and post this, but once again, as it always , I had a pleasant summer walk in the wetlands. 

 

I am now noticing the  days are already getting shorter and the first signs that summer will not last forever here in the middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, but I am going to enjoy every last day of it. Here is a link to some more photogrpahs from my hike in the wetlands last week. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-July-30-2017-

 

“Again and again, the cicada’s untiring cry pierced the sultry summer air like a needle at work on thick cotton cloth.”―Yukio Mishima,

 

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Bald Eagle At The PPl Wetlands. Always A Magical Momment.

It is always exciting  to see our national symbol, the bald eagle  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Almost extinct in our Nation a few decades ago, they were reintroduced into Pennylvania and are now thriving along our rivers, lakes and streams of our Commonwealth.bald eagle in tree along river

 I usually see these majestic birds from  afar,  perched high atop a tree limb or soaring high above me. And I am sure they have an eye on me long before I see them. Not last Sunday.  I was hiking along the Susquehanna River at the PPl Wetlands in Salem Township when I saw this bird perched on a tree limb. 

I was sure he /she didn’t see me as I approached and proud of having been able to surprise him/her.  It didn’t take long for him/her to hear me and take off into the skies over the Susquehanna River.  bald eagle in flight

I probably interupted  his/her breakfast plans, a fish in the river perhaps , but I am sure it found another spot to wait for lunch. Here is a link to some more photographs of my bald eagle sighting. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-bald-eagle-July-23-2017-bald eagle in flight

I only planned a short walk throught the  PPL wetlands, it is now wild mushroom season here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and I am usually out searching for them in my secret locations which I won’t share here on my blog.Sorry but mushrooms hunters have always been a secretive bunch. polypore mushroom

As always, my walk through the wetlands and along the Susquenanna River didn’t disappoint. I was thrilled seeing the bald eagle  but I saw a few other birds on my walk including this green heron,green heron in flight

quite a few flycatchers ,enjoying the abundance of insects now flying throughout the wetlands,flycatcher on branch

a flicker flicker on tree branch

and this elusive wood duck. Here is a limk to some more photogrpahs of the birds I saw at the wetlands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-July-23-2017-wood duck on log

I continued my walk along the river and, as I always do, imagined the many generations of Native Americans who had walked along this same river, and maybe even under the same tress. trail along Susquehanna River

The recent rains created a lot of mud and I came very close to talking a nasty fall sliding in one of the muddy areas of the trail. footprint in mud

And I saw a lot of  these creatures, slugs, enjoying  the wet conditions. slug on ground

I  was saddened to see a large stand of turk cap lilies, which  had always attracted butterflies and insects, was prety much gone, taken over by the invaive alien and ugly japanese knotweed. This was the only lily left.turk cap lily

The trail left the river and passed through some corn fields, which are now laden with rapidly filling ears of corn.wood path leading to corn field

There is something so soothing walking amid the stalks of corn is a corn field, for me anyway.

As I made my way backe to the parking lot, signs summer was moving on were everywhere including the soon to be ripe blackberries

and an abundant crop of elderberries. 

I saw one last critter before I left, this rabbit who looks like it may have been having some issues with the many insects in the wetlands. I left the wetlands and sought out my mushroom hunting territories but those areas will remain secret. Here is a link to some more photogrpahs from my hike in the wetlands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-July-23-2017-

 

We are eagles of one nest…the nest is in our soul.” – Led Zeppelin

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Insects And Other Stuff Up Close, A Hike With My Macro Lens At The PPL Wetlands.

It was another busy week, between work and looking for wild mushrooms,  and I’m  just now getting some time to throw together this quick blog post from one of my hikes last weekend at the PPL Wetland were I took some photographs of some insects. . tree lined path in PPL wetlands

It is now mushroom season here in Northeastern Pennsylvania so I spend much of my time exploring the woods looking for edible  wild mushrooms. Sorry but I am not going to share those locations here on my blog. like most mushroom hunters we keep those spots secret. I spent most of my Saturday looking for mushrooms, and found some, but also had some time to get a quick hike in the PPL Wetlands with my macro lens.dark green duck weed covered pond in wetlands

 I am continually amazed every time I get to walk with my macro lens, since it   always   allows me to see  beauty in almost everything in nature. close up of grape vine

The waters of the wetland are now warm and covered in a deep green layer of duckweed.  The frogs and turtles are harder to find since they can now stay hidden in the warm waters but occasionally I would still see a turtle or frog one a log or along the banks of one of the ponds or canals. turtle on log in duckweed covered water

It is now mid summer and the blackberries are now becoming ripe. 

And the black walnut trees,close up of black walnut

 and hickory nut trees will soon be providing food for the wildlife in the wetlands. I may gather a few of the hickory nuts myself, if I can get them before the squirrels. hickory nuts

I again took some photographs of the many dragonflies and damselflies that are now darting above the waters of the wetlands. dragonfly on reed

It seems, like snowflakes, no two, even of the same species are alike. Here is a link to some more photographs of the dragonflies I saw on my walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-dragonflies-July-22-2017-dragonfly on reed

Two weeks ago  I found the milkweed in bloom and visited by a wide variety of butterflies. Last week I found the thistle blooming and, like the milkweed, it too attracts a wide range of butterflies, bees and wasp and other insects. thistle flower in bloom

I took some close up photographs of this eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly.  closeup of eatern tiger swallowtail butterfly

The delicate and intricate wings are amazing seen up close.close up of butterfly wing

There were also a number of different wasps, and bees  of all sizes and shapes visiting the bright purple flowers. yellow jacket on thistle flower

I spent much more time then I had planned observing, and photographing the many insects that visited this one thistle plant. Here is a link to some of the photographs. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-thistle-July-22-2017butterfly on thistle flower

I also encountered a lot of insect on my hike, including this large wasp.wasp on ground

And. with so many insects in the wetlands there were plenty of flycatchers and other birds perched on the branches waiting for an easy meal. flycatcher bird on tree branch

I also saw a few birds including the usual catbirds, robins red winged blackbirds and this great blue heron who heard me coming this week and didn’t wait around for a picture. 

And these elusive young wogreat blue heron in flight od ducks. wood ducks swimming in water

I wish I could have spent more down exploring this wonderful place but I was off to my mushroom woods to look for dinner. It was another great summer day, they all are. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in the wetlandshttp://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-July-22-2017-

 

 

“Around a flowering tree, one finds many insects.”
–  Proverb from Guinea 

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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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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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