In Search Of Mountain Laurel On The Last Weekend Of Spring.

The Pennsylvania state flower, the mountain laurel, is now in full bloom here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I spent many June days walking on the ridges of Stoney  Mountain , near my home, , which was  transformed into a lovely, magical garden by these beautiful flowers. 

Unfortunately these ridges are now  the location of  a residential community and an industrial park so I had to find a new area  where I could enjoy these flowers in bloom. They were so common on Stoney Mountain that I assumed they could be found everywhere here in my area. . So this weekend I went out to find them. 

Yesterday was Saturday and that meant rain  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania for most of this Spring, and showers were again in the forecast. I decided to hike  the out railroad tracks  near Hazle Brook under  the cloudy skies.  As I began my walk I realized one good thing about the rain, it has kept the woodlands  lush and  green.

I made my way through abandoned strip mines to the railroad tracks and followed them south toward the Penrose reservoir and Weatherly. 

The rain overnight was still heavy on the leaves and plants,

and also the spider webs. I was surprised at how many of these were strung on the branches and trees along the tracks. 

I saw a few robins, swallows, cedar waxwings and catbirds as I walked. I also saw a number of these birds perched high in the tree tops singing there hearts out.  I thought they looked like eastern towhees but I believed they only fluttered in the brush  close to the ground. I learned that the males do leave the safety of the brush during mating season and perch atop trees to attract a mate. 

And I saw this fellow, I think some type of flycatcher, loudly singing atop a tree.

I watched him flutter from tree to tree, also, I assume trying to attract a mate. These birds that  eat insects arrive later in the Spring and so nest later too. The robins, one of the first birds to arrive already have broods of young ones ready to leave the nest. 

I continued down the tracks and came to realize the woods are at too low an elevation and too thick for the mountain laurel to grow.  The woods were mainly second growth oak, hemlock and pine . There were a few mountain laurel in  bloom, the photos  I posted above , but I come to realize I wasn’t going to find a lot on this hike. 

I continued on the tracks for a few miles when I saw this buck slowly edge out of the woods

He stopped in his tracks when he saw me and his tail immediately shot straight up as a sign of alarm. He did stand his ground for a bit as I approached, a doe would have fled, but he eventually decided I was not his friend and ran into the woods. 

I walked out about three miles when I decided to turn back.  I heard a lot of birds in the tree tops along the tracks but it is hard to see them in the now thick foliage and the overcast skies. I also saw a few  dragonflies as I walked. These are such delicate and beautiful creatures. 

There were plenty of high bush blueberries along the paths in the abandoned mine area and the bushes have plenty of green berries on them. it should be a good crop this year. 

I made my way back to my car , and was thankful the rain held off. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to find, and share, a lot of mountain laurel but I was sure I would find some on Sunday. Here is a link to  some more photographs from my hike.

“My time in the woods is time spent with a tutor on how to live.”
Chris Matakas






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Another Spring Walk Close To Home.

The weather has warmed up and it’s finally  starting to feel like Spring here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And it was another nice day to take a walk this afternoon. I,again, walked out to the mining reclamation area and  railroad tracks near my house. railkroad hike -29

On the way I saw a lot more insect activity as the wild flowers continued to bloom. Bees and wasps were buzzing about.railkroad hike -1

And there were now quite a few moths  and butterflies fluttering about,  with one occasionally landing on the ground. railkroad hike -13

I  walked through  the wetlands that have formed in parts of the reclamation area   and once again saw no ducks or geese. The duck egg I  found the other day was gone. Sadly, I believe, not because it hatched, but because it was eaten by a predator. railkroad hike -14

There were many  red-winged blackbirds in the wetlands including a lot of males fighting for their territories, railkroad hike -41

and the females, such as this one. railkroad hike -40

High overhead I spotted , I believe, was  a red tailed hawk. railkroad hike -6

I walked to the railroad tracksrailkroad hike -30

and to some more ponds on the other side. I was disappointed since there are usually frogs and snakes near these ponds, but not today, although there was evidence that there will be a lot of frogs in the coming weeks and months, based on the thousands of tadpoles or pollywogs in the water. We would spend hours looking for and catching them, and frogs and salamanders as kids. railkroad hike -23

The duck flowers continue there short blooming season,railkroad hike -36

as are these pretty  flowers, I believe blue-eyed grass flowers   blooming profusely in the wetlands near the ponds. railkroad hike -24


As along one of the paths in the reclamation area I looked down at a small pond and was surprised to see ,a sandpiper,  looking for a meal. I didn’t think anything would live in the  ponds that it could eat, but I guess I was wrong. I am not sure what type of sandpiper it is, after looking through my field guides for 15 minutes my guess is an upland or solitary sandpiper. railkroad hike -32

And I spotted this birds fluttering in the brush, again I think it may be a palm warbler but not sure.railkroad hike -9

Unfortunately I had to head back home. I could spend the entire day out here in Spring, my favorite season. Well Summer is pretty good too, and looks like some Summer weather headed our way the next few days. I hope I can sneak out of the office early since a lot going on in the great outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania this time of year. Here is a link to some more photographs fro my hike today. hike -19

“I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want.” Andy Warholrailkroad hike -20



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Clouds, Blue Skies, Birds, Trees And Some Other Spring Stuff

Well we finally got some of my favorite Spring weather here today in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Sunshine, deep blue skies and scattered puffy cumulus clouds with warmer temperatures in the 60’s.. Some of the finest  weather of the year, in my opinion anyway. railroad hike -8

I  took a walk near out to the railroad tracks near my house again hoping to see some of the many birds I saw on my last walk.  I spotted this male cardinal at the beginning of  my walk.  They are year long residents here but still always nice to see them.railroad hike -4

There were many more flowers putting forth their first flowers including the comfrey plants, which will soon attract many bees and other insects. It is used as a medicinal tea too. railroad hike -9

I walked past the ponds and wetlands but this time did not see any water fowl  and very few song birds. I think the strong wind may have had something to do with it. I did see these  bright yellow goldfinches getting a drink from  the mussy waters in the wetlands. railroad hike -18

But they managed to remain after they were down and flew into a nearby tree.railroad hike -21

As usual there were plenty of red winged blackbirds,railroad hike -39

robins and catbirds, I heard a few of the later but  couldn’t get any photographs. railroad hike -37

I enjoyed the cumulus clouds floating in the deep blue skies as I walked  through the mine reclamation areas and toward the railroad tracksrailroad hike -14

I found a few delicate and beautiful lady slippers or duck flowers in bloom. railroad hike -26

I got to the tracks but didn’t have time to walk very far but it was just nice to be out here on such a glorious day. I really wish I could just walk the tracks for a few days, sleeping wherever I wind up at nightfall. railroad hike -35

I made my way back noticing some late blooming high bush blueberries on the way. The crop this year looks like it will be a good one. railroad hike -43

I was hoping to see some of the birds I did on my last hike out here, the scarlet tanager, common yellowthroats, or plovers but not a one. I was about to give up just as i was leaving the woods when I spied this little fellow in the brush, a hooded warbler I believe. railroad hike -50

There is just so much to see outdoors this time of year that i hated to head home. But the forecast for the next few days looks good so hopeful I will get out a few more times after work. These days  don’t last long so you got to take advantage of them. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this afternoon. hike -6

“Clouds in the sky very much resembles the thoughts in our minds! Both changes perpetually from one second to another!”
Mehmet Murat ildanrailroad hike -7



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A Lot Of Spring Happening Out There

It was a long day in court and at the office so I was glad the weather was nice when I got home in the afternoon.  I had planned to head back to community park but decided to stay near my house and walk out the nearby railroad tracks. May is the month of growth here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and there were wildflowers blooming everywhere.railroad hike -23

I walked past some of the ponds near a mining reclamation area and was startled by a blue heron, that I startled,  and who flew overhead. railroad hike birds -1

I haven’t seen a blue heron out here for a few years and I am sure the frog and fish population in this ponds will soon be depleted. These birds eat a lot. railroad hike -8

As I walked through some wetlands in the reclaimed areas I saw this white throated sparrow, railroad hike birds -4

And a few goldfinches fluttering in the distance. railroad hike birds -6

I walked  through the reclaimed areas and toward the railroad tracks. These areas were all coal strip mines and coal culm deposits when i walked here as a child. railroad hike -10

They are now becoming a home for many species of birds including this  female common yellowthroat  I saw peeking out  from the nearby brush.railroad hike birds -18

And nearby was a male, I am guessing her mate. railroad hike birds -20

As I walked up to the railroad tracks I came across this dead snake, it appears to be a black racer. I am not sure what would have killed it out here. railroad hike -13

I love walking railroad tracks and these are special to me since I have been walking them since I was nine years old. Lot of memories out here even though the landscapes have changed.railroad hike -14

Along the way I heard the rustling of some eastern towhees in the underbrush and was only able to get this photograph of this bird. railroad hike birds -11

I wanted to see if the lady slipper orchards, or duck flowers, as my dad called them were in bloom and, sure enough they were, I cant believe it has been a year since i saw them. railroad hike -16

I made my way back this time encountering a number of water fowl, including thes pair of geese,railroad hike birds -12

this mallard duckrailroad hike birds -23

and, I believe  this beautiful spotted sandpiper. railroad hike birds -25

I also watched this sparrow find a meal in along the way .railroad hike birds -28

There were a lot of plants growing too, like these skunk cabbages. railroad hike -7

And even poison ivy looks pretty in the spring. railroad hike -5

I saw this egg, I believe it is a mallard duck, exposed in the wetlands along the way home. i was surprised it was so exposed without mom or dad around. railroad hike birds -24

And I  had one more special treat before I decided to head home. I spotted this beautiful scarlet tanager high atop an aspen tree and enjoyed listening to it’s song for awhile. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike  railroad hike birds -36

It was a short walk but provided me with much needed stress relief. In may every walk can be a wonderful adventure. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. hike -1

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
Henry David Thoreau, Waldenrailroad hike birds -14

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It’s Sure Not Looking Like Spring In The Lehigh River Gorge

I knew my hiking options would be limited this weekend. We still have around 20 inches of snow on the ground here in Northeastern Pennsylvania,  a gift from the late season snow storm named Stella. And it was snowing again this morning!  I decided to hike the D & L trail in the Lehigh River Gorge State Park at the entrance near the little town of Rockport. Lehigh gorge -1

I chose this trail since it allows snowmobiles.  These recreational vehicles compact the deep snow cover. making for easier hiking. I was hoping there was at least one snowmobile enthusiast out on the trail since the storm.  I knew it would be hard walking in the  snow when I saw these two deer having a hard  time getting around in the snow drifts. Lehigh gorge -2

I made it down the steep road to the parking area along the Lehigh River and found two other automobiles so I wasn’t the only one down here like I was a few weeks ago. Lehigh gorge -4

I was relieved to find that there were snowmobile tracks on the trails and I began my hike by heading  eastward on the trail.Lehigh gorge -9

I found there were more ice formations on the cliffs along the river today than there were in January. Lehigh gorge -11

After about a quarter mile I came to Buttermilk Falls which was not frozen and had much more water cascading down it’s cliffs than my last visit. Lehigh gorge -15

I walked past a couple walking their dog and didn’t see another person  for the next three miles. There also wasn’t much wildlife out either. I saw a small hawk darting in and out of the threes along the gorge, a few nuthatches, black-capped chickadees and this woodpecker. i wasn’t sure if it was a downy or hairy. Lehigh gorge -22

I enjoyed listening to the roar of the river below the trail that followed the old railroad right of way. I walked by the ruins of the old locks that were part of the Lehigh Canal but I didn’t venture off the trail to explore them, as I always do, because of the deep snow. Lehigh gorge -27

I walked out about 3 miles, to Mud Run, where it flows into the Lehigh and the exhibits on the Mud Run train disaster that occurred near here in 1880. I did a blog post on the massacre and it can be found in the archives of my blog. Lehigh gorge -33

I decided to leave the compacted snow of the trail and venture down to the Lehigh River. It wasn’t easy. The snow was up to my knees, and even higher in some drifts. But the walk was worth it. Lehigh gorge -35

I  always enjoy sitting next to water, whether it is a pond, lake creek, river or ocean. Today I had to sit on a wet rock but i still enjoyed the view, and the sound of the flowing water. Lehigh gorge -39

As some of you who read my blog on a regular basis may know,  I love trains and I was rewarded for my efforts to get down to the river when I heard an approaching train. I watched the locomotive pass, the engineer honked his horn at me, followed by almost 100 tankers. Here is a video I posted on my YouTube channel. Gorge rockport 114

After the train passed I trudged back up to the trail and finally saw two persons riding their snow mobiles on the trail. Lehigh Gorge rockport 131

Even with the snow being compacted from the snowmobiles it  wasn’t easy walking, there being an inch or two of lose snow atop the compacted snow. It was a long  and exhausting walk back. I am still sore as I type this. Lehigh gorge -29

Still it was nice to get out and enjoy the beauty of the aftermath of the storm. Lehigh gorge -18

At least the snow had stopped and the temperatures were not too bad, staying  near the freezing mark.  Evidence of this would be the leaves of the many rhododendron  growing along the trail. In frigid temperatures their leaves curl up but not today.Lehigh gorge -21

I passed another couple on snowshoes before I arrived at me car. So this time I was not alone in the gorge, like my last visit, there were seven other people out enjoying the beauty of the Lehigh River. Hopefully, this blog may encourage some other folks to head out in  snow, and enjoy, what I am hoping is the last winter storm for at least another year. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike . gorge -26

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.” Norman Maclean,

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Back To Winter: A Frigid Hike Out To The Penrose Reservoir

There are  only a few days until Spring arrives , but, after months  of above average weather,  Winter has returned with a vengeance to Northeastern Pennsylvania.  We had  almost a half a foot of snow yesterday and some of the coldest temperatures of the season here this morning. Not good walking conditions, especially in March. . I decided to head  to the Lehigh River Gorge, where I hoped I would be sheltered from the  arctic winds, and I could hike through the snow  on the  trails left by the snowmobiles.Penrose reservoir -54

 However, as I drove through the Borough of Weatherly I thought of the Penrose Reservoir.  and  I decided to see if any water birds have returned to the area.  I have hiked here often, and have seen herons, ducks, geese and an American Bittern on the reservoir. I was hoping that, despite the arctic cold, the warm weather of the past few weeks would have brought some of them back early. So I began my hike to the reservoir on the railroad tracks in Weatherly.Penrose reservoir -3

The newly fallen snow was dry and powdery so it was a little easier hiking  than I had anticipated.Penrose reservoir -6

It was cold  but the snow made for some nice scenes, covering the rocks and trees along the rails. Penrose reservoir -2

I didn’t see and birds or other animals along the tracks but, they were there, as could be seen from the tracks they left behind in the snow, icluding these deer tracks. Penrose reservoir -8

I walked upward through the snow covered trees along the Black Creek which flow along the railroad  tracks follow and came to the bridge over the creek at the old Hazle Creek  railroad junction Penrose reservoir -25


This junction is where the Beaver Meadows, Buck Mountain and  Hazleton (later to become the Lehigh) railroads met and played a significant role in the local coal mining history. There are a few of my  posts, which can be found in the archives section of my blog, about this history. Penrose reservoir -24

It is about two miles to Hazle Junction and another half mile to the reservoir. I was surprised to find the reservoir was mostly ice free. I thought that. despite the warm weather we have had, there would still be some thick ice in the center of the reservoir. Not this year. I was  disappointed that there were no birds on the open waters. I really thought their at least would be some Canada geese and mallard ducks on the water. Penrose reservoir -28

It was mostly cloudy when I began my walk but the sun began to break through the clouds and reflect off the snow. and the new ice forming on the northern  side of the reservoir. Penrose reservoir -29

It was cold and I was tired from trudging through the snow so I decided to walk back. However, the discovery of what, I believed were fresh  coyote tracks, had me following them along the old Buck Mountain railroad right of way., hoping to find the animal that made them. Penrose reservoir -39

I walked along the old railroad right of way, which passed through a thick growth of rhododendrons, which covered in the new snow reminded me of a scene from Dr. Zhivago. Penrose reservoir -40

I have seen many animals in this area over the past few years, including deer, many birds and a few bear. Not today. Nothing was moving in this cold, except a dumb old guy. Penrose reservoir -42

I  followed the coyote  tracks into this wetlands, where again I have seen many mallard ducks nest in the spring. But nothing. Penrose reservoir -45

And this pond, which one year a Canada goose found to be a good place to build a nest pretty much out in the open, was covered in ice and not a critter of any type was stirring in the cold. Penrose reservoir -44

I made my way back out to the railroad tracks. , getting a neck and back full of snow as I walked through and under the thick growth of hemlock trees and rhododendrons.Penrose reservoir -46

The  strong mid March sun was now out, melting the top layer of the snow and making walking even more difficult. But it’s warmth sure felt good. Penrose reservoir -36

I returned to my car parked in the rustic town of Weatherly, tired, cold and without seeing any wildlife, but still very glad to have enjoyed another day, be it a snowy and frigid one, in the great outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania. I am looking forward to more mild walks as Spring approaches but it won’t be for at least a week.  And as I neared my car I saw this critter, who I am sure agrees with me. More arctic weather and a possible snowstorm headed our way. But Spring will return, and it will be welcomed. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike.

Penrose reservoir -53


There’s just something beautiful about walking in snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special.   Carol Rifka Brunt



























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No Bears Or Snakes But Lot Of Trains In The Lehigh Gorge At Glen Onoko

It was another hazy, hot and humid day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and it wasn’t easy  deciding where to hike. We have so many wonderful options to chose from here. I decided it would be a good day to look for snakes. I have yet to encounter a  copperhead or timber rattlesnake when I have my camera  and I would love to get some close ups of this misunderstood and feared critters. . So I decided to walk the Lehigh Gorge  at Glen Onoko since there are a lot of old stone walls and rocks  along the railroad tracks. A perfect place for a snake to spend a sunny June morning. Glen Onoko hike -2

I arrived to find the parking lots filled with cars. . There were many out of state licence plates on the cars. A lot of folks were heading to the Lehigh River with fishing gear, others were unloading their canoes or bicycles and some with hiking gear were headed to the famous waterfalls. Glen Onoko hike -1

I headed east on the trail and walked the railroad tracks for the first mile, hoping to find some snakes in the rocks along the rails. I didn’t find any but I did see a lot of butterflies feeding on the many patches of milkweed growing along the tracks. Glen Onoko hike -4

There were also large patches of mullein, just ready to start blooming and these too should attract a lot of moths butterflies, bees and other insects in the coming weeks. Glen Onoko hike -5

I left the tracks near the sign warning visitors of the bears in the area. I have hiked here many times and have not seen one. I was hoping today would be the first time but it wasn’t.Glen Onoko hike -9

The skies were clear and the early Summer sun was intense so I was glad to enter the shade under the trees growing along the Lehigh River. And where there are trees and shade there are ferns. Glen Onoko hike -15

As I approached the river I heard not only the rushing of the waters but also the familiar sound of the cicadas coming from across the river. We had a hatch near my home two years ago but I did read about a hatch near Jim Thorpe this Summer. They were quite loud but only an occasional insect fluttered over the trees from across the river. I may hike on the other side next week to see the extent of the hatch.Glen Onoko hike -49

I walked to the start of the long stone wall that was built to protect the railroad tracks from the flood waters of the Lehigh River. Last year IGlen Onoko hike -17 saw a lot of skinks, a native lizard, here but I was disappointed to not find a single one this year.

And not a snake either, although I know they reside here as evidenced by this snake skin one of them had shed and left behind.

A passenger train carrying tourists runs next to the active railroad track and one of these trains passed me when I first arrived.  Another passed me on my hike and both of them  again passed me on their return . I always enjoy seeing trains  on my hikes but even more so in this narrow section of the Lehigh Gorge, with the tree covered mountains  adding a scenic background. Here is a link to my Youtube video of one of these trains. Onoko hike -36

I continued to walk the trail with the river to my right and  the railroad tracks to my left, following the curves of the river as it wound it’s way through the mountains. Glen Onoko hike -26

I again came to one of the first oil pipelines in the United States  which was built in 1886 . I explained some of the history of the pipeline and the even older  Lehigh Canal in some earlier post which you can find in the archives . Glen Onoko hike -23

I found a path leading down to the river and rested along it’s banks, enjoying the sounds of the rushing waters, the sunshine and the singing of the birds. It was a very peaceful place to rest. Glen Onoko hike -27

Again I heard a lot of birds singing high in the treetops but had a hard time seeing, let alone photographing them. I did see a few catbirds, sparrows, crows , turkey vultures and, much to my delight a bald eagle!. Unfortunately I didn’t get a single photograph of a bird, or animal, not even a squirrel or chipmunk. I did continue to see a lot of moths and butterflies visiting the many milkweed plants flowering along the trails. Glen Onoko hike -19

I walked out to where Bear Creek enters the Lehigh on the other side of the river and made the long hike back in the early Summer sun and heat, passing many hikers, bikers and fishermen along  the way.  Some cumulus clouds were now forming adding to the already picturesque scenes as the trail followed the meandering river through the hills of the Lehigh Gorge. I didn’t get to photograph any bear or snakes but it was still a wonderful hike on this perfect  June day.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in Glen Onoko . Onoko hike -1Glen Onoko hike -42



“Trains tap into some deep American collective memory.”
Dana Frank


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A Cool And Windy June Walk Near Home

It felt more like Fall here in Northeastern Pennsylvania today. It started off cool in the morning and got even cooler after a  cold front moved through bringing in unstable  cool and dry  Canadian air.  There were off and on clouds and showers but when the clouds broke the intense June sun shone brilliantly in the deep blue skies. railroad hike -12

The air was cool but invigorating and I had to hike into the local woods and enjoy it.  The rain once again made everything look so green and alive. The plants are all growing at a rapid pace now including the burdock, or as we called it the elephant ears plant. railroad hike -1

Everyday more plants continue to bloom and today I saw the yarrow in bloom for the first time. railroad hike -25

And I saw more of my  June favorites, the daisies, which are becoming more plentiful now. railroad hike -29

The high bush blueberries are becoming more plump from the plentiful rains we have been having and I think we will have a good crop this year. railroad hike -4

The ferns are now at there peak too and I love watching them sway in the breeze. railroad hike -3

I walked past the local ponds and wetlands and didn’t see any insects or dragonflies, probably because of the strong winds. railroad hike -27

The winds caused the large puffy cumulus clouds to rapidly float through the deep blue skies creating some beautiful landscape scenery. railroad hike -26


I walked out to the same  railroad track, as I have been doing in June since I was in third grade. I enjoy walking out here now just as much as I did back then. I was hoping to see a passing train but  i wasn’t lucky today.railroad hike -21

I didn’t encounter a lot of wildlife, once again probably because of the cool and windy weather, but I did annoy a few red winged blackbirds and they let me know it by flying overhead , and, at time buzzing my head. red winged blackbird-6

The male birds are very territorial and defend the nest of the female . You can see from these photos how they got their names. Here is a link to a few more photographs of these birds. winged blackbird-7

The only other wildlife I encountered were a couple of ticks. The woods in our area are infested with them and I always check myself to see if any of these disease carrying pests attached themselves to me.  I found a few of them today and took a close up of this ugly fellow when I got home. tick -4

It is such a beautiful time of year and I love every minute of it despite the cool and windy weather, after all it is June, in my opinion the best month of the year. Here are some more photographs from my hike today hike -30

There is no way that we can predict the weather six months ahead beyond giving the seasonal average”
Stephen Hawking,railroad hike -13

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What’s In A Name? Duck Flowers Or Lady Slipper Orchids. The Memories Are Just As Sweet.

Spring is now at it’s peak here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Although it’s been a rainy and cool one, we did  have  a few sunny and warm days this past week. I took advantage of one them and took a  walks in the woods near my house last week.railroad tracks -7

I was searching  for a  beautiful spring flower that evokes so many wonderful  memories for me. But first some of the things I found on my hikes. Not far after I  entered the woods I ran into a very common critter in our area, the cottontail rabbit.  railroad tracks -3

And I also encountered the noisy cries of a catbird that moved into the woods along the path. They are not shy and will sure let you know they are in the area. i also saw a lot of red winged blackbirds, and of course, many of our spring favorites the robin.railroad tracks -19

Many new plants were also in flower including the comfrey  plants which hopefully in a few day will be attracting many bees and insects to their flowers. railroad tracks -1

As I walked by some of the ponds I again scared a pair mallard ducks. I am surprised there aren’t any ducklings yet. railroad tracks -6

I also saw a pair of killdeer and was able to sneak up on them before they took off with the loud cries. They didn’t put on their “broken wing’ act either leading me to believe they have yet to have built their nest. railroad tracks -9

I made it to the railroad tracks and enjoyed walking the rails under the blue sky filled with  puffy cumulus clouds .railroad tracks -31

Along the tracks were a few  of the pretty and delicate starflowers.railroad tracks -16

And I found what I was searching for, the lady slipper orchid or, as my dad called them, the duck flowers. railroad tracks -26

It seems like only yesterday when my dad first took me in the woods to search for these intricate flowers. He would gather a bunch of these and the honeysuckle azalea for our house. railroad tracks -17

We would drive along the old coal haul roads searching for them with our dad urging us to keep our eyes peeled.  Those days, and the many days we searched for wild mushrooms, provided me with some of  my most cherished memories. railroad tracks -21

I continued to bring home a bunch of these flowers for my dad until I realized how rare and endangered they are. . I will admit I still would bring one or two home for dad every Spring. Now that dad is gone i left them grow and this one patch has produced an amazing amount of flowers these past two years. I have a feeling my dad had something to do with it. These beautiful flowers will always remind me of him, those cherished memories and that wonderful gift he gave me, an appreciation of the beauty of the many wonders of nature. railroad tracks -23

I headed back home, with happy thoughts filling my head and encountered another spotted sandpiper in one of the ponds.  It was another nice day to be outside in Northeastern Pennsylvania. So much happening this time of year, but nothing as pleasing to me as finding duck flowers. This will always remind me of dad. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike last week.


“I think I like wildflowers best,” I explain. “They just grow wherever they want. No one has to plant them. And then their seeds blow in the wind and they find a new place to grow.” (Richelle)”
Rebecca Donovan,





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Some Photos From An Evening Walk Near Home.

It was another nice  evening yesterday in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It’s so hard to stay indoors this time of year. So, even though I had some chores to do, I ventured for a short walk out through the reclamation area and to the railroad tracks near my home to see what there is to see. And there is always something this time of year.Railroad walk -27

The first thing I noticed was the remarkable growth of the trees and plants. Everything is growing so quickly now including the staghorn sumac trees, which seemed to sprout new leaves overnight.Railroad walk -2

The comfrey also sprouted up so quickly with the first small buds appearing too. This plant will attract many bees, wasps and other insects in early summer. If there are any bees left, their numbers are diminishing every year, and I have only seen a few so far this year.Railroad walk -4

The birch, aspen and maple trees continue to sprout new leaves and the maple trees are producing their seed pods now.  How often, as a child,  I watched this pods spin from their trees in late mid summer.Railroad walk -20

As I walked through some ponds in the wetlands  in the center of the reclamation area I scared some mallard ducks.Railroad walk -14

They took to the air, scaring a killdeer, and some other birds, which were too quick to photograph. I did manage to still photograph the fleeing ducks.Railroad walk -15

I saw a few black capped chickadees in an aspen tree and took some photographs.  It was only when I got home, and cropped the photos, that I realized the chickadees were not feeding on the young aspen flowers and leaves, but rather the insects and worms that were feeding on the aspens leaves and flowers.Railroad walk -10

I was also surprised to find they weren’t all black capped chickadees either. Upon cropping the photographs I discovered that some of them were in fact yellow rumped warblers. I never knew they lived in the woods this near my home.Railroad walk -8

But I am learning, with my zoom lenses and cameras, and with help from my birding friends, that there are many species of birds living near us that we often overlook. I am glad to notice them now and understand how important it is to protect them and their environment so that future generations can enjoy them too.Railroad walk -11

I walked for a short distance on the railroad and was disappointed not to see a train pass by. I have always enjoyed watching them pass as a young child and still do as an older one.Railroad walk -25

I walked out to some pond, and didn’t see any turtles, snakes frogs or  dragonflies, as I had hoped but did manage to scare up this bunny rabbit. You can see why they call them a cottontails.Railroad walk -17

I also ran into  a few of the noisy and active catbirds which have returned to our area. They continually hop from tree to tree sounding amazingly catlike at times.Railroad walk -35

The sun was playing hide and seek with some high clouds, and when it appeared, reflected off the young green leaves of the trees.Railroad walk -23

I wish I could have stayed out until sunset but had to head home. I saw a few more critters on the way, including a few more rabbits,  chipping sparrows, red winged blackbirds, robins,  a turkey vulture, and this woodpecker.Railroad walk -37

I didn’t get all of my chores down, and I now have even more to do tonight, my bear returned and deposited a neighbor’s  garbage in my backyard, but I never regret a walk on a pleasant May evening. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk.. walk -24

“When nature suffers because it is destroyed by human activities, thenotion of beauty is really losing its meaning, because nothing is more aesthetic than the natural beauty.”
Marieta MaglasRailroad walk -5



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