I Finally Found Some Mountain Laurel, Almost In My Own Back Yard At Nearby Community Park.

If you had followed my last two posts, you would know I  looked for, but  didn’t find any mountain laurel, our state flower, on my two hikes last weekend. It was a beautiful evening on Tuesday, the last day of Spring and I decided to hike out nearby Community Park and always picturesque Lake Irena. 

The sun was only one day from it highest point in our skies here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and already had ripened some of the low bush blueberries or “huckleberries” as they are know in these parts, growing along the shores of the lake. They

tasted very good. 

The park and lake were again crowded with families , fishermen, and walkers enjoying the delightful weather. 

I walked across the berm of the dam holds the waters of Harvey Creek and created the lake in the early 1960’s. e

As I walked into the woodlands surrounding the lake on it’s eastern shore I came upon large numbers of mountain laurels shrubs in full bloom. 

Photographs cannot capture the beauty of this flower shining in early evening sunlight. 

I walked the trail into the deeper woodlands and wetlands on the northern end of the lake and encountered even more mountain laurel. 

I was disappointed there were not more animals or birds in the woods but did see a few turtles, 

and plenty of dragonflies enjoying the sunshine. 

I walked along the other side of the  lake looking for frogs, snakes or some more turtles in  the many lily pads growing in the lake. 

It was after seven p.m. when I decided to leave the park. The sun was still high in the northwestern sky as it filtered through leaves of the trees along the lake. It was a perfect night to end the Spring.  I didn’t have to go far to find some fresh huckleberries and enjoy thre beauty of out state flower. You just got  to keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-Park-June-20-2017-

 

“I pray that the life of this spring and summer may ever lie fair in my memory.”
–  Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

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A Hike In The Poconos But Still No Mountain Laurel.

It was another overcast Sunday this past weekend  , with some showers still in the area in the morning. I had planned to hike the Broad Mountain, where I knew  from past hikes the widespread mountain laurel , our state flower, would be in bloom. The radar showed some lingering showers over the Broad Mountain so I decided to drive further north and hike in State Game Lands 119, hoping to find plenty of mountain laurel in bloom.

As I drove on Interstate Highway 81 I passed many woodlands and  entire mountainsides covered in laurel and I hoped to find the same at the gamelands. Shortly after beginning my hike I realized this may not be the case. The wood were green and lush, but like the day before, may have been too overgrown  to support the growth of the state flower. 

It was overcast but still a nice morning for a walk.  There were some flowers in bloom, not as  showy as the mountain laurel, but pretty in their own way, such as the stargrass,

and spiderwort that were scattered along the path. 

The trees overhead were filled with the song of birds. I heard yellow warblers during my entire hike but this tiny birds were well hidden in the now lush green leaves of the tree tops. I did quite a few male eastern towhees perched high in the branches. 

I just learned that  the males  leave the safety of the underbrush , where I have seen many of them over the years picking blue berries and mushrooms, to find a high perch to sing and attract a mate. 

I saw, and heard, so  many other birds fluttering in the tree tops and scrub oaks but it is so hard to photograph them. After waiting for about 10 minutes I was finally able to capture a photograph of this common yellow throat. 

I walked past the gas line that was on the left as I approached from the parking area. I had followed this gas line down to the D & L trail on my last three hike in the game lands but this time I continued along on the trail that followed  an old railroad bed.

There were plenty of low bush blueberries along the trails, and I found a few that had ripened. I usually am picking my first ripe ones near the summer solstice. They were delicious. 

Also blooming now is the fly poison, this pretty white flowers are actually very toxic and was used by American colonists to kill flies. 

The trail crossed over the head waters of the Little Nescopeck Creek.

And there were quite a few robins in this area. 

The trail was almost a continuous, but slight upgrade. As I approached the top of a ridge the trees became older. There were some nice old oak and hemlock trees up here.  

I hiked out about three miles. Just as I decided to turn back the sun broke through the clouds bringing out the many shades of green in the lush new growth of the woodlands. 

As I walked under the trees I heard the high pitched call of an osprey and sure enough saw this one fly overhead. 

And I also saw a pair of Baltimore orioles fluttering in a tree. 

They flew from branch to branch  and I think they must have had a nest in the tree. 

I continued to hear the sounds of many different songbirds in the trees but had a hard time finding them in the leaves. I was able to see, and photograph this catbird  who had captured a caterpillar. 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/State-Game-lands-119-birds-June-18-2017

I walked back to my jeep in the brilliant June sunshine disappointed that I wasn’t able to find any stands of our state flower, the mountain laurel. Still it was a nice hike in these game lands which, I am growing to love more with each hike I take.

I drove my jeep on the long dirt road from  the parking area to the little quaint resort town of Penn lake. So many beautiful places here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and not enough time to explore them all. But I will try. Here is a link to some more  photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/State-Game-lands-119-June-19-201

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

 

 

 

 

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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. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/hazle-Brook-railroad-hike-June-17-2017-

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Some June Walks, And A Sunrise In Greenridge.

Spring is coming to an end here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. In only a few day  the sun will be  at it’s farthest north and we have our longest day here in the Northern Hemisphere.

We had some summer like weather at the beginning of this past week and I had the chance to take a few walks with my camera and macro lens. 

The warmer weather has brought out more insects but I am still disappointed in the number of bees, wasps and yellow jackets I have seen. To some folks this may be a good thing, but, for all of us, in the long run,  it is not. I suspect the overuse of pesticides is the problem. 

I was able to still find a lot of flies and other insects on my walks. I am always awed by how this common insects, considered pests, look so complex up close. 

As do the commons weeds and leaves on the trees we walk by and take for granted. 

I was hoping to see more dragonflies or a frog, turtle or snake but it was very hot early in  the week and there was not a lot of activity in the heat. I  did find evidence that there still are snakes when I found this snake skin shed by what I believe to be a black snake.

The intricate scales are amazing up close.

And, you do not have to walk far to find  cool stuff in the natural world.  As I returned from one of my walks I found this mass of ants in my front yard. Here is a link to a video I uploaded to my YouTube channel . https://youtu.be/hpWBv25hh6w   And here is a link to  some more photographs from my walk with me macro lens.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Macro-walks-June-12-2017

 And as  is often the case in June, I was awakened early on Tuesday morning, before 5 a.m., by the singing of the birds outside my window. I usually have a cup of coffee and walk through my neighborhood and cemetery to visit my dad. On Tuesday I decided to walk out the railroad tracks near my house to watch the sunrise. 

I walked on what remains of the “black road” an old road that lead to the deep mines in the area. The area was later strip mined and we spent many days as children exploring those strip mines and slate and culm banks. The area has recently been reclaimed. 

I walked to the railroad tracks and hiked up to what used to be a large slate bank the local called “flat top” and we named “killer” because of the difficulty we had climbing it for the first time. The waning moon was still visible in the west. 

I enjoyed watching the sunrise over West Hazleton, only a few days from when it will reach it northernmost point on the horizon. 

It has been a long time since I was on this ridge this early in the morning, possibly the last time was when I was in elementary school and I was happy to  find a tract of old trees that were not destroyed in the reclamation project. 

I walked a path I had walked so many times as a child, searching for mushrooms, fossils, crystals or just playing games with my friends and our favorite toy, our imagination. We were soldiers, cowboys, superheroes and astronauts in these woods.  Many pleasant memories on this ridge. 

I had to get to work or I could have walked, and reflected all day. I took a slow walk back home enjoying the singing of the birds,

and observing the spiderwebs covered  in the dew

and so many other wonders of the early morning. One thing I learned, there are a lot of snail on the cattail fronds in the morning. Hundreds of them. Should I ever find myself on an episode of Naked and Afraid in Pennsylvania I know a good source of nourishment, escargot.

Of course there were a few red-winged blackbirds in the wetlands near the reclamation area, watching carefully for intruders into their nesting areas. They are very territorial and squawk persistently should you approach, here is a male I saw

and nearby was a female

When I arrived home I found a few deer in my yard enjoying the new day too.  I truly enjoyed my early morning walk and hope to get out in the woods at dawn more often this Summer. It is a wonderful place to be. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Morning-sunrise-walk-June-15-2017-

“Dawn is ever the hope of men.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

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Moons And Junes And Even A Ferris Wheel.

I think I may have mentioned a few times  here, on my blog,  that June  is my favorite month. It was the month of my birth and celebrations of a birthday are always fun for a  child. It is also the month when  solstice occurs, , the longest day of the year, and the month with the  most sunlight. 

It is also that time of year when the new growth of Spring reaches it’s peak and the forests and woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania are at their greenest splendor. And with the blooming of the mountain laurel, our state flower, there is no better time to explore our woodlands. 

Finally, as a child, it was also the time school ended and I so remember anticipating that last day of school  and how I would spend those carefree summer days exploring the unfamiliar world I was growing up in. Every flower, tree, bird, ant, frog,  spider, snake, insect, cloud, deer , rock and everything I could find was something to be inspected with the eyes of a child. 

The end of all of these carefree days began upon graduation from high school, although it was still a most wonderful summer before going away to college, and the real world.  I guess the point of all of this is that, on that June night at my high school graduation commencement this song was  played,  Both Sides Now performed by Judy Collins. It also brings back memories of the splendor of June and  those best years of my life. One line of lyrics reads “Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels…..”, and thus my idea for this  post. And also  since we happened to have a beautiful Strawberry moon here on Friday night.

I have always loved observing the moon and it’s different phases throughout  the year but it is most beautiful, I think, when it is full in June. Here is a link to some more photographs of the moon. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Full-Strawberry-moon-June-9-2017

We also have finally had some beautiful weather here these past few days. . Plenty of sunshine and warmer temperatures made for nice walking weather and has also, finally,  brought out some insects. 

So I  decided take my macro lens out to see the world from a different perspective Friday  afternoon. 

I always looked at the many wonders of nature up close and remember spending countless hours observing an ant hill in my backyard even before I entered elementary school. 

My camera and macro lens now lets me continue those explorations and observations and social media allows me to now share these wonders I find. 

I was happy to see some bees attracted to the many comfrey flowers now in bloom.  There were no bees on the rhododendron flowers this year and this is a very frightening occurrence. Without pollination there will be no fruit or vegetables and we humans will be in trouble.We will have to learn to live off of grass, 

I enjoy how complex and beautiful even a leaf eaten be a caterpillar looks amazing under the macro lens. 

So many things to see in this world, including these white spiders that live on  daisies. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my walk with the macro lens. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Macro-walk-June-9-2017

Yesterday started out with some rain but turned into another beautiful day here in Pennsylvania. After my usual morning walk, I drove out to the local Rails to Trails where they were setting up for National Trails Day Bike and Hike event. 

I had volunteered to help set up the event  but there were plenty of folks there, so I asked if I could return later to help  put things away.

I wanted to attend my nephew Mikey’s high school.  trap shooting event in Elysburg.  So I was soon on the highway enjoying the beautiful scenery of our section of the State. There is no finer month to drive the roads of Pennsylvania than June.

I arrived just as my nephew began to shoot and, you may not believe this, anxiously watched every one of the 100 shots, he, and other members of his team took. 

It was a nice morning spent with my brother  Mike and his family, and some old friends who also had children participating in the event, in the June sunshine. 

The event lasted an hour or so and I was on my way back to the Rails to trails event. However, I knew that there was a Ferris wheel  at nearby Knoble’s Grove so I decided to get a photograph for this post. I was planning to park and get up close but the traffic to the park was horrible. I took this photo, and now had a moon and Ferris wheel, but also I was stuck in a traffic jam.

It turned out well, as things always do in June, since I decided to take the back road, Pine Swamp Road out of the park What a great decision. 

I rode through some beautiful back roads, passing creeks, farms and old churches. It was a perfect day to explore the countryside. 

And I also found a lake , part of the Roaring Creek tract of thre Weiser State forest. I was never here before so, of course, I had to get out and explore. 

Thinking I had to be back at the Rails to Trails to help at 2:30 p.m. I decided to spend a half hour and hike the trail along the lake.

It was a wide, well maintained trees with many hikers and bikers taking advantage of the serene woodland surrounding the trail.

I heard many birds in the tree above me but didn’t have time to wait and try to photograph them. I did enjoy their singing. And I was able to photograph a few of the many dragonflies, 

and butterflies I saw in my hike. 

It was a nice hike,  I spent an hour on the rail, but hope to get out there again, maybe today, as soon as I finish this post. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike and visit to the trap shoot http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Roaring-creek-and-trap-shoot-June-10-2017-

I got back to the Rails to trails at 2:30  only to learn they wanted me there at 1:30 since the event ended at 2 p.m. Most of the event was taken own but I helped with putting away a few table and chairs. I will have to listen more carefully next year. 

I decided to enjoy some more of the beautiful June sunshine  and took a quick hike out on the trail. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike on the trail .

It was late afternoon when I got home, and the chores of everyday life awaited me, grocery shopping. laundry and some yard work. It was a long day and I was exhausted and have to admit I was asleep when the moon rose at 9:30 pm. Still it was a good June day, as they all our, and I am today  refreshed and ready  to get out and see some more of beautiful Northeastern Pennsylvania , as soon as I post this. Have a good day, get outside, and keep your eyes peeled. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rails-to-trails-June-10-2017-“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.”

–  L. M. Montgomery

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Finally Sunshine, And A Quick Hike Out Community Park

We finally got a mostly sunny day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.It was still a bit cool for me,  mid 70 degree temperatures.  I like it hot, 90 degrees would be nice. But it was beautiful and I decided to head out Community  Park and look for eagles and ospreys on the lake. 

The park was not as crowded as I expected, with just a few families at the playground,  a couple of folks fishing and just a few people walking around the lake. 

There were not many critters either. I saw a few chipmunks, a squirrel and only one bird, this robin and only for a few minutes until he/she flew away. 

I did see a few turtles on the logs in the water but they were hard to photograph because of the angle of the sun. 

I did notice on my walk that it won’t be long until the state flower, the mountain laurel are in full bloom. They will transform our woodlands into a magical garden.  I love walking in the forest when they are in bloom. 

Some of the sheep laurel, a smaller relative of the mountain laurel are already blooming. 

I walked around the lake and found the trails near the wetlands section flooded from the local rains. 

The skunk cabbage still are green, although they will soon start to fade. They are the first plants to appear in the spring but also fade  and disappear in early summer. 

The many species of fern are in their prime now. 

I found fresh signs that there are still beavers in the area, 

It was a perfect evening for a walk under the trees as the sun filtered through to the forest floor below. 

And it should be a great night to watch the almost full strawberry moon in the clear skies. I love this time of year. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-park-June-8-2017-

“On this June day the buds in my garden are almost as enchanting as the open flowers. Things in bud bring, in the heat of a June noontide, the recollection of the loveliest days of the year – those days of May when all is suggested, nothing yet fulfilled.”
–  Francis King

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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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Cumulus Clouds, Wind And Sunshine: A Pleasant Birthday Hike At The Rails To Trails.

I circled our sun one more time yesterday, and one year older as I write, but, thankfully I am still able to explore the beauty of this planet I was born on. rails to trails-18

After a few hours at the office, and a nice lunch with my nephew and partner Charles, , I left  work early to take advantage of the beautiful June afternoon. rails to trails-22

It was a perfect day for hiking,  puffy, cotton-like clouds floating in a deep blues skies, with a strong  northerly wind bringing us cool, but refreshing weather.rails to trails-2

I decided to hike out, and take another look, at the pitch pine barrens near our local Rails to Trails, and the birds I saw there on Sunday.   rails to trails-20

This area reminds so much of the pitch pine wetlands I hiked as a child. I would have hiked there yesterday, I always did on my birthday, except for the fact they are now underneath  an industrial  park and residential development. I am so glad some folks on our planet realize how precious our environment is and seek to protect areas like this. The Land Trust and Rails to Trails folks must be given all the credit they have earned for keeping these areas preserved and letting folks visit them. rails to trails-17

Unfortunately. I only saw a few birds on my hike in the barrens, a nuthatch scampering down a tree, rails to trails-10

a sparrow along the trailrails to trails-3

and this elusive fellow, I think a hooded warbler that avoided me for 15 minutes singing, and hopping, among some scrub oaks.rails to trails-13

I continued my hike along the trail, finding this late blooming lady slipper orchid, or duck flower. rails to trails-24

And seeing these coming attractions of Mother Nature’s net display, our state flower, mountain laurel buds. They should be in bloom net week. rails to trails-5

And plenty of these plants, which in a few months, will attract many butterflies and insects, milkweed. rails to trails-31

I hiked out about a mile and concluded no cool birds or animals will be seen on this hike, when I heard some fluttering above me. I saw two blue jays attacking a bird. This is a common sight, birds chasing each other from their nesting area, but what was unusual here was the bird being chased, a beautiful scarlet tanager. rails to trails-40

And, they chased it almost directly into my face! The blue jays flew off, leaving the scarlet tanager to rest in the trees and let me get some photographs. rails to trails-37

This is why I have love the outdoors. Since my dad took me on hikes when  I was first able to walk I have loved this planet. And I love walking and exploring it. . You never know what beautiful things you will see, or what type of critters, from ants to bears, you will encounter. Hopefully, I will have many more years left, to, as my dad taught me, keep my eyes peeled, and walk many more mile on this wonderful world we live. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike yesterday http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rails-to-Trails-hike-June-1-2017rails to trails-34

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
W.B. Yeats

 

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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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Mid Spring At Community Park

The annual spurt of growth is at it’s peak here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Even the oaks, always the last get their leaves, and the last to lost them on the fall are clothed in their fresh green coats. Community park -20

It was cloudy and cool, but no rain, so still a nice afternoon for a hike out the nearby community park. Community park -1

Once again it was crowded with many people enjoying the trails, playground and picnic areas as well as fishermen along the shores of lovely Lake Irena.Community park -30

As I approached the lake I noticed another sign that the season is moving on, the flowering of the hawkweed. I remember  this weed in my backyard as a young child and knew it’s blooming  meant that the school was almost over. Community park -2

The abundant flowers of the low bush blueberries have now produced tiny berries. They should begin ripening near the Summer solstice next month. Community park -4

I took a  walk around  the lake hoping to  see the bald eagle, osprey, loon, or at least some water fowl I have seen in the past. No luck this time.  I did not a single bird of any kind but heard a few blue jays, robins and crows and spotted this fellow in a tree. Community park -32

There were also a lot of wild flowers blooming along the trails, including the pink azalea or honeysuckle,Community park -8

may flowers,Community park -21 

lady slipper orchards or  duck flowersCommunity park -35

and even a few painted trillium. Community park -23

And there was some wildlife, if you can call turtles wildlife. Community park -15

I saw quite a few along the logs, rocks and shores of the lake where it abuts a wetland on it’s northern end,Community park -17

including this snapping turtle. Community park -13

As I made my way back I even found some mushrooms growing on a log, not an edible species like the oyster mushrooms I had found on Sunday. not to my knowledge anyway. Community park -7

The woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania are so pretty this time of year, with the pink azaleas in bloom. I am hoping I can get out for another hike this week, although there is rain in the forecast. I will still hike in the rain but, unfortunately, not with my camera. But I am sure there  will be many sunny days ahead this Spring. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-park-may-23-2017-Community park -28

“The nation behaves well if it treats its natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Community park -24

 

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