Last Day Of Summer At Our Local Community Park

The dry, warm and  sunny weather continued throughout this past week. Thursday  was the last day of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.  I decided to take a late afternoon walk out Lake Irena at our local community park.pavilion in trees

I have posted a  number of blogs about this pretty place and they can be found in the archives. I found that, despite the summerlike temperatures this past week there were many signs of fall, including a lot more color in the trees surrounding the lake. trees showing fall colors along lake

I found a number of Canada geese gathering together in anticipation for their flight south for the winter. canada geese on lake

I also observed this unusual sight, birds not of a feather flocking together. If you look carefully at this photograph you will see a cormorant  among this  flock of mallard ducks. cormorant with mallard ducks on lake

I watched the ducks and their friend the cormorant for about a half hour as they seemed to enjoy each other’s company. cormorant in weeds

I tried to approach to get a better photograph. The birds took off, the ducks flying one direction,mallard ducks landing on lake

and the cormorant off on it’s own. It swam through the waters with it’s snake like neck,cormorant head out of water

until it perched on this stump. cormorant in rock on lake

I walked under the large oaks along the shores of the lake hoping to find some wild mushrooms but the dry, sunny weather we have enjoyed is not good for the fungi. tree lined path along lake

There were still  a few wildflowers in bloom. I may have, in a prior post misidentified this as ragweed. I know believe it is golden rod. .butterfly on golden rod flower

And they attracted some insects and this beautiful butterfly. butterfly on goldenrod flower

It was the last day of summer, and the sun is now setting around 7 p.m. here in Northeastern Pennsylvania so I had to end early but it was another enjoyable walk taking in the beauty nature has to offer us, even in our own backyards. Here is a link to some more photos from my walk..  walk.

tree lined lake on last day of summer

By all these lovely tokens September days are here, With summer’s best of weather And autumn’s best of cheer.Helen Hunt Jackson

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Spiders, Insects And Other Late Summer Cool Stuff

We have had some remarkably  beautiful late summer weather here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this past week. Sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures are not good for the wild mushrooms but have made for some pleasant hiking conditions. I took advantage of them with a few hikes with my macro lens. 

There are not many flowers in bloom now but the ones that are sure are attracting a lot of insects. yellow wild flowers in bloom

The ragweed, a nuisance to many, is a major sources of late season pollen for many species of bees,

wasps,

yellow jackets and even flies.fly sitting on ragweed

And insects attract spiders. I ran into a few of them on my walks this week, ranging in size from the tiny,gray spider on web

to the large,large spider

and some quite pretty when contrasted with the vivid colors of  the changing leaves,small spiders and shadow on leaf

or on the milkweed pods.long legged spider of milkweed pod

I also saw a lot of species of grasshoppers grasshopper on yellow flower

and ants busy preparing for their long winter sleep. 

There were still a few moth and butterflies fluttering about too, and they also were attracted to the common ragweed.

Most of the photos of the insects shown above where on paths in open woodlands. I also took a few walks in the deeper woods where I found many signs of Fall, including a very good crop of acorns.

I even found an unusual blackish one. 

There were a few mushrooms growing despite the dry weather including this poison pigskin puffball, 

and I believe these  are the beautiful, but deadly destroying angel mushrooms. 

I have come to really enjoy walking with my camera and macro lens. It has allowed me to explore nature from a new perspective. Even a simple leaf has such a complex beauty. close up of leaf

And, with the invention of the internet and social media, I am so glad I can share my discoveries  with so many people here on my blog. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes this week.  Macro photographs. 

close up of spiders eyes

The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible”Oscar Wilde

close up of butterflies eye

 

 

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

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

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

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

and lingering red-winged blackbirds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

these late season flowers, purple wildflower at PPL Wetlands

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Insects And Some Other Cool September Stuff

I was out searching for wild mushrooms everyday this past week. It has been a cool and rainy Summer which has resulted in an abundance of wild mushrooms. I have found many hen of the woods, or, as they are called in my area, rams head mushrooms. hen of the woods mushroom

I have found many other species too and have been including  them in   some of my favorite dishes, such as shrimp, scallops, wild mushrooms sauteed with onions and garlic served over whole wheat pasta.dinner meal of shrimp, scallops, hen of woods mushrooms over pasta

I took my macro lens on some of my hikes and, in addition to wild mushrooms, uncovered some more of the beauty of nature up close. 

One of the most unique was this creature. I found it sitting on a milkweed pod.  heel bug insect on milkweed pod

It kept facing me, in this defensive pose,  as I approached from all sides. I have learned it is a wheel bug  ,  a member of the assassin bug family, and is know for it’s painful sting. Here is a link to some more photographs of the wheel bug.close up wheel bug on milkweed pod

There were many signs of the coming of  Fall on my walk. Many of the leaves are now changing color, especially members of the heath family, including the blueberry bushes. bright red bluebery leaves

And some of the red maples.bright red maple leaves

The woods are a lot quieter now, many of the song birds have already begun their migration south. And many of the insects, dragonflies and butterflies  are now gone. I still saw a few wasps and bees and this butterfly. moth or butterfly on tree

And some other insects I haven’t seen before.unidentified insect on leaf

I found this caterpillar suspended from a silk thread as it dangled it’s way to the ground in search of food before the cold weather sets in. caterpillar dangling from silk thread

Even though I only had my macro lens I was still able to get a photograph of this deer watch me walk by,deer in woods

and a photograph of this interesting reflection of the sun in the clouds. 

I don’t believe I have ever taken a walk in the forest  and woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania without seeing something new, beautiful or interesting.

I enjoy every one of my walks, and even more so during mushroom season, since I can take some of nature home with me and  add it to a delicious  meal. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes. 

All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child. Marie Curielady bug beetle on white flower

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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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It’s Still Summer, But Fall Is In A Hurry To Get Here This Year.

Today started out  cloudy, breezy and cool, with temperatures in the mid 40’s and, even though we still have some Summer left it felt a lot more like Fall.  I decided to again place my macro lens on my camera and take it along on my search for wild mushrooms. brown maple leaf sitting on ground

As I  walked in the mixed pine, birch and aspen woods in search of aspen scaber bloete or red tops, as my dad called them, I noticed a lot of the leaves are now beginning to show some color. bright red blueberry leaves

Many of the blueberry bushes, both low and high bush species, are turning a brilliant red. red blueberry leaf

And some of the leaves on the birch, yellow white birch leaf

and maple trees are also changing into their fall colors. maple leaf turning red

There were a few wild flowers still in bloom,  I don’t know the names of this one,purple wild flower

nor the name of this beautiful white late blooming orchard, white orchard in bloom

but I do know this is a species of ragweed, not well lied by those of us, me included, who suffer from allergies. insect on ragweed flower

I was disappointed I didn’t find any red top mushrooms but I did find a wild crab apple tree,wild crab apples

and sampled it’s very sour fruit. wild crab apple with a bite

I left the birch/ aspen/ pine woods and decided to search for some  hen of the woods or, as we call them, ramshead mushrooms. I didn’t find this one  in the woods. Some friends found it in growing in their yard and let me harvest it . These mushrooms grow mainly on old oak trees so the woods are very different. hen of the woods or ramshead mushroom

I usually hike second growth forests with a mixture of maple, oak, pine hemlock and the occasional ash and hickory nut tree. The ground is usually covered with many species of ferns, which are also changing color early this year. , close up of fern which has tuned yellow

and my mortal enemies,   brambles and thorn bushes,thorns on a thorn bush

and blackberry brambles which have caused me many scratches on my legs and tumbles to the ground when walking into them in the thick underbrush as I look for the old oak trees which may have a ramshead  mushroom growing on it. blackberry thorns

There were some mushrooms growing along paths, 

including what I think is a cauliflower mushroom and,

some old puffballs,

but, unfortunately I didn’t find what I was looking for, a ramshead mushroom. But there is always tomorrow and it is always good to be outdoors in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Macro walk 

Summer ends and autumn comes, and he who would have thought it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.”  –  Hal Borland

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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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Insects, Mushrooms And A Frog, A Mid Summer Hike With My Macro Lens

It’s mushroom season here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and I’ve been spending most of my free  time searching for the many edible species I like to eat. Today, I wanted to get home early to watch the Eagles football game so I decided to take a quick hike out nearby Community Park and scenic Lake Irene with my macro lens. Lake Irene and clouds

It’s mid summer now the many insects that are found in our area are at their peak.  Dragonflies were darting along the lake and perched on the rocks, branches and plants on the shores. dragonfly perched on branch

There are not many flowers in bloom now, but the ones that are blooming attract a wide variety of insects, including a lot of bees, bee on flower

and beetles.beetle on flower

Most of the butterflies are now gone but I did find one of their offspring this caterpillar.green caterpillar on ground

And there were many types of grasshoppers and crickets jumping through the brush. grasshopper on ground

I walked around the lake, sampling some of the many, now ripe, blackberries. close up of blackberry

And found the tea berries in bloom. There bright red berries will be found throughout the fall and winter. tea berry flowers

And the jewel weed or touch me not  was still in bloom jewel weed flower

as well as some other flowers I was unfamiliar with. flower in bloom

I didn’t see any turtles today but did find the leopard frog sitting near on of the many puddles and ponds along the trail. 

And I did find some mushrooms, which have been growing everywhere because of the plentiful rain we have had in Northeastern Pennsylvania, 

including this unusual one, an old man of the woods, 

and this milker mushroom. 

I wasn’t out long but, as I always do, I enjoyed exploring the trails along lake Irene , especially in the Summer. There is always something to see if you keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikehttp://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Macro-walk-Community-Park-August-17-2017-

Hurt no living thing:
Ladybird, nor butterfly,
Nor moth with dusty wing.
~Christina Georgina Rossetti

 

 

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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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