Cedar Waxwings And A Sign Of Spring At The PPl Wetlands

It was nice to return to Northeastern Pennsylvania after my visit to Puerto Rico. I have always said you don’t have to travel far to find the beauty of nature. I did see many wonderful things in Puerto Rico. There was beautiful scenery and I saw many exotic birds  on my trip.   But there is also so much beauty here too, even in Winter.  And I went looking for, and found some, of this beauty at the PP Wetlands yesterday. Trees and mountains along Susquehanna River

It was a mostly sunny and seasonably cold morning. The temperatures were in the low 20’s.  We had some warm weather while I was gone and there was no snow on the ground.  I immediately noticed how swollen the Susquehanna River had become. trees along river

The heavy rains and melting snow had it reaching the tops of it’s banks. As I walked in the wetlands and found most of the canals and ponds were still frozen.  Even though they were now lifeless, they still had a unique beauty to them. ice covered pond in wetlands

I heard a few birds in the distance, woodpeckers, crows and black-capped chickadees, However I did not see a single bird or other critter until almost a mile into my walk. I saw  these two red squirrels scurrying through the underbrush. pair of red squirrels

I continued my walk to the river lands section of the preserve and frozen Lake Took-A-While.frozen lake Took-A-While

I still wasn’t seeing any  wildlife. I knew the water birds would be gone because  the lake was frozen.I was surprised  there were none  of the  usual winter birds commonly seen here. bridge and lake under cloudy sky

This changed when I walked to the river trail. I first noticed a few woodpeckers in the trees. woodpecker on tree branch

I soon walked into a flock of one of my favorite birds, the cedar waxwing. cedar waxwings in tree

These birds are very social and can be found in large flocks, especially in winter.cedar waxwing in tree

They feed mainly on fruits and can be seen fluttering among the tree tops in small flocks in the summer. This flock was larger than the ones I have seen in the summer. There were about thirty birds in it and they were searching for the few remaining berries on the trees. cedar waxwings in branches

And as I have often  observed before there were now other birds in the same area. I noticed  that different species of birds tend to  travel together, probably for safety, in the cold of Winter. I saw a few tufted tit mice, 

and nuthatches in the same vicinity as the cedar waxwings. I watched the birds for a while enjoying the fluttering of the cedar waxwings in the trees over my head. nuthatch in tree

After observing this group of birds I only saw a cardinal and a few sparrows on my return walk. It was still a pleasure seeing the waxwings. On my return walk I  looked for, and found this, a first sign of Spring. A skunk cabbage sprouting up in wetlands! skunk cabbage sprouting cedar waxwing on branch

It is now mid February, and we may still get some frigid weather and snow here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but the sun is higher in the sky, and the worst of Winter is over. Spring will arrive soon and Nature will put on it’s greatest show of the year. And I will be sure to be outdoors and watch it arrive. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike including some more of the beautiful cedar waxwings. PPL Wetlands hike February 17 2018. 

tree lined frozen pond

If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.     Vincent Van Gogh

 

 

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More Snow And Clouds At The PPL Wetlands

Last  Sunday I  again  awoke to find above freezing temperatures here at my home in Hazle Township. It was, for January, a mild  34 degrees. After my usual early morning walk through my neighborhood, I decided to visit the PPL Wetlands and check out  the Susquehanna River. The temperature was now 40 degrees.Susquehanna River

Usually it is a few degrees warmer at the wetlands. But, like the day before at the Lehigh River, I found it was much colder than at my home at a much higher elevation. The temperature was 25 degrees when I arrived. The river was mostly ice free  but there were  still over six inches of snow on the ground.snow covered trail

Contrary to the predictions of mild weather, a wintery walk it would be. bare tree branches

The snow and thick cloud cover made it a dreary white and gray  world.  So different from the many colors found in the wetlands in Spring, Summer and Fall. ice and snow covered pond

The drab colors made even the dead dry leaves still clinging to the beech treesbeech leaves

and oak trees stand out. brown oak leaves

The red winter berries  also provided a little color.

As did the bluish  berries remaining on the briars.briar berries

There were a few flocks of birds fluttering in the higher tree branches. It was hard for me to identify them or get good photographs in the dim white sky. I think they were black-capped chickadees and juncos. I was able to get a photograph of this nuthatch. nuthatch on tree

And this golden crowned kinglet. golden crowned kinglet

I also heard the rapping of the woodpeckers in the treetops and saw, in the distance another pileated woodpecker. Like the previous day I could not get a good photograph and it soon flew off in search of food. pileated woodpecker on tree trunk

There was no one else at usually crowded Lake Took-A While. The lake was also frozen and snow covered. snow covered trail along lake

It was peaceful, but difficult,  walking along the trail in the cold and snow. There were  not the almost endless variety of plants, insects, birds and animals found here in the summer.  However  you could find a different kind beauty if you looked  closely.

The dead remains of last years plants stood out in the whiteness of the snow. dead plant in snow

It won’t be long until we see the first sign of life. Next month the lowly skunk cabbage should be making it’s appearance, adding some green to the white wintery landscape. But for now only the browns of last years growth remain. catkins in snow

It was hard walking in the snow so I again decided to  end my hike after about two miles. On my walk back I saw a few more gold crowned kingletsgolden crowned kinglet on branch

a song sparrow ,song sparrow on branch

and this  red squirrel who bravely crawled out on this limb to take a look at me. red squirrel in tree

I found a few  of these holes dug in the snow. They were  made by the squirrels or  chipmunks digging up the nuts, seeds and acorns they buried last Fall. acorn  in snow

I ended my hike along the now swollen banks of the Susquehanna River. The recent heavy rain washed away most of the ice. I was  hoping to see some water fowl on the open water but none were to be found.  I did hear a flock of geese honking in the distance. Susquehanna River

I was disappointed in not seeing any sunshine  on my hike. And even more disappointed in not seeing more wildlife but it was still a great day to be outdoors in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands January 21 2018 dead plant in snow

“Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.” 
― Sinclair Lewisbird in flight

 

 

 

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A Frigid Hike At The PPL Wetlands.

We  had frigid  weather  here in Northeastern  Pennsylvania these past two weeks. Temperatures dropped  even lower this morning, accompanied by bitter winds. The wind chill this morning was near -20 degrees. I actually like the challenge of hiking in these  extreme conditions and decided to again visit the PPl Wetlands. ice one Susquehanna River

It was 7 degrees with a steady 15 mile per hour wind when I arrived. Before I started my hike I walked down to check out the Susquehanna River at the parking lot. I found that there was only a thin layer of ice on the river at this location. I thought it would be thicker.bare trees along snow covered trail

I walked back up to the wetland trail and began my hike on the powdery and “squeaky” snow. The cold temperatures create a very dry snow which squeaks as you walk on it. The colder the temperature the more it squeaks. snow covered trail

I walked along the canals which were now frozen solid.  I didn’t see any animals but there were sure plenty of tracks in the snow and on the canals. ice covered pond

There were a few birds out in the frigid temperatures. As I have noticed these past few weeks one of their favorite foods is the berries of the poison ivy vines. I think this is a white throated sparrow enjoying some of the remaining berries.white throated sparrow eating poison ivy berries

Here is another photograph of this, I am sure, very cold bird.white throated sparrow on branch

I also was surprised to see either a downy or hairy woodpecker eating the berries. hairy or downy woodpecker on branch

There is not much color in the wetlands now but even the brown leaves of last years plants have a delicate beauty in the cold. brown leaf

I had only planned to walk two miles because of the extreme cold but I saw a few more birds, I think this is a song sparrow, and decided to continue my walk to see what else I might find. song sparrow on branch

Again, I did not see a single squirrel or chipmunk.When  I heard the shrill cry of a red tailed hawk I  guessed this would be the reason. T I walked out to now frozen Lake Took-A-While. snow covered trail

There were a few sets of footprints in the snow but I didn’t see a single person on my four mile hike. I did see a few more birds. including my friend the mockingbird, mockingbird in flight

this female cardinal hiding in the brush,

a flock of dark eyed juncos, or snow birds,dark eyed junco

and this red bellied woodpecker. red bellied woodpecker on tree

The cold and wind were starting to settle in my fingers and toes so I decided to begin my journey back.

I have been hiking in the cold since I was in grade school and I find a long hike in the extreme cold, provides me with a feeling of accomplishment that I can meet Nature’s greatest challenge. It wasn’t easy walking back into the wind but it was exhilarating.

As I neared the wetlands, I took the trail along the Susquehanna River and found that  there was a lot more ice on the river  in this area.

But there were also area of open water and I found a flock of Canada geese who decided to brave the frigid weather and remain in our area,Canada geese on river

as did these common mergansers.common mergansers on river

I was hoping the river would freeze over this year, but with a forecast for temperatures in the upper 40’s later this week, this does not seem likely. Although, you never know. I remember some pretty cold Februaries. On second thought, I’d rather a warm early Spring and not a frozen river. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands hike January 6 2018. 

tufted titmouse on tree branch

We feel cold, but we don’t mind it, because we will not come to harm. And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn’t feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the Aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It’s worth being cold for that. ~Philip Pullmanbluish berries on vine

 

 

 

 

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PPL Wetlands Hike: What A Difference A Week Makes

The snow stopped late Saturday here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  It left  a  accumulation of about three inches of  powdery, fine snow . Sunday brought more frigid arctic  weather with a morning low of 4 degrees. I decided to return to the PPL wetlands in Salem Township. I arrived to find a much different  world than my visit a week ago.snow covered pond

The woodlands were now a Winter wonderland. All of the ponds and canals were frozen and covered in snow.

I was surprised to find I wasn’t the first visitor on this frigid morning.  There was a set of footprints in the newly fallen snow and even more surprising was a set of bicycle tracks. Some folks were up early. I didn’t see who since I did not see a single person  on the 2 1/2 hours I hiked in the wetlands and river lands.

The skies were clear when I left my house but clouds moved in, obscuring the sun,  making for a dim , cold world of grays and whites.

As I began my hike I saw and a few woodpeckers and flickers tapping on the frozen trees trying to find insects that burrowed into the bark for the winter. 

There was little color in the wetlands the wetlands this weeks, The ferns and plants that sprouted during the warm  spell were now covered in snow. The only color was  the bright red winter berries.red winter berries

I saw no  birds on the first mile or so of my hike. It was eerily quiet. The only sounds were squeaking noises I made as I walked on the frigid snow. The first sound of life I heard was the friendly song of the black-capped chickadees. black capped chickadee in tree

It seems the birds that remain in our area in winter, even from different species.  travel together as they search the lifeless woodlands for food. I soon saw a few nuthatches,nuthatch on tree trunk

and a flock of dark eyed juncos

and I think this is one of the many swamp sparrows accompanying the chickadees in their search for food. sparrow in branches

Of course the many reptiles and amphibians that live in the wetlands are burrowed deeply in the ground or mud at the bottom of the ponds and canals. The only mammals I saw were a few chipmunks and squirrels. Unlike during the warmer months, when they would bravely peer from tree covered branches, they quickly scurried to their nests high in the tree tops or underground burrows. . And I believe this is the reason why. red tailed hawk in flight

Once again I saw a few red tailed hawks soaring overhead looking for a squirrel, chipmunk or other small mammal who was not cautious in the snow and leafless woodlands. red tailed hawk in flight

I walked to now frozen Lake Took-A-While and knew that the geese, herons and ducks would have now flown to open waters further south. cooling towers Lake Took-A-While PPL Wetlands

It was extremely cold and windy  so I decided to walk back  near the river trail.  On my return hike  I was able to some more color on  the this cold gray day. This cardinal was fluttering along the canals. I also saw the mockingbird in the same area but it avoided my attempts to get a photograph.cardinal in tree branches

There were also some more woodpeckers in the trees including this red bellied one, red bellied woodpecker on tree branch

And a few tufted titmice tagging along   another flock of black-capped chickadees. 

I walked back to the wetlands and took  trail along the Susquehanna River. Last week the river was ice free but there was already ice forming on the slow moving waters.

As I was watching the ice flow down the river, I spotted a pair of common mergansers  in the cold waters.  As I tried to get closer for a better photograph, they flew off and so did a flock of about 30 of them. These two were in the  rear of the large flock. 

I was glad to make it back to my car which I quickly started and turned up the heat. It was nice to walk in the pretty winter scenery of the wetlands on the last day of the year. . I did get to see some wildlife. But I will readily admit, Winter is not my favorite season. Especially on such a frigid day. But even with the forecast of below zero temperatures, you know I will be back next weekend. I love  the outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania even in the coldest weather. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetland hike. December 31 2017, Happy New Year!!! 

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.      Henry David Thoreau

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and these wild grape, wild grapes

and the fruit of the pokeweed plants. pokeweed berries

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

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

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

and these common flowers which I can’t identify. 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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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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Dragonflies, Birds And A Lot Of Other Cool Stuff At The PPL Wetlands.

I spent a lot of last weekend, as i have been doing more and more these days,   exploring the trails at the PPl Wetlands and Riverlands. Located  in Salem Township on the eastern edge of Luzerne County , these wetlands are next  to the the Susquehanna River here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. trees along Susquehanna River

I guess I am somewhat of a creature of habit and know I will always find some interesting mammal, reptile, amphibian, bird or insect here and I love spending time in the woods at the wetlands  looking  for them. woodlands in PPL wetlands

It was a cloudy and cool morning last   Saturday  with some thunderstorms in the forecast so I decided to walk the trails in the wetlands with my fixed 400 mm lens knowing I would be limited in photographing objects such as birds, insects and animals from afar. cardinal perched in tree

It was a good decision since the overcast skies and cooler morning temperature seemed to encourage a lot of wildlife activity. I observed this cardinal high atop a tree as I drove in the wetlands. cardinal in flight

I saw a few wood duck chicks  scamper into  cover along one of the canals only getting a photographs of this last one of the bunch. wood duck swimming in duckweed covered pond

And I caught this groundhog also scampering into the safety of the brush as I approached. 

There trees were filled with the song of birds including this hooded warbler. hooded warbler perched on branch

And a number of song sparrows. song sparrow in grass

and flycatchers. flycatcher on branch

As I walked along the trails I cam upon this great blue heron. My previous blog posts contains more comments on my encounter with this beautiful bird and here is a link to some more photographs. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/birds-of-pennsylvania/nggallery/birds-of-pennsylvania/great-blue-heron-PPL-wetlands-July-8-2017great blue heron in wetlands

I heard the  deep  bellowing croaks of the bullfrogs as I walked through the wetlands but couldn’t get a photograph of any of them. The many turtles on the banks and logs weren’t as elusive. three turtles on a log

I came across a family of geese feeding on some vegetation growing along one of the canals of the wetlands.three canada geese feeding in wetlands

And saw a  green heron, a smaller relative of the great blue heron,  along Lake Took-A-While. green heron on  a lake

And some woodpeckers were also looking  for a meal, including this hairy or downy woodpecker I have a difficult time telling them apart. ,hairy or downy woodpecker on tree

and this red-bellied woodpecker. I also saw two  pileated woodpecker but they flew off before I could capture a photograph.red-bullied woodpecker on branch

The clouds broke and, as the sun warmed it up the dragonflies became  active and I was able to photograph a few of these colorful and intriguing creatures.

I spent a few more hours roaming the wetlands than I had planned but , for a nature lover like me, it sure was worth it.  Here is a link to a few  photographs of the many things I saw on  my hike last Saturday . http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-July-8-2017-young song sparrow on tree

I returned to the wetlands early Sunday, which was a sunny, cooler and less humid day and started my hike along the Susquehanna River.  I walked the ancient trees and took in the sunlight filtering from the canopy of leaves on what was once a Native American path known as the Great Warrior Trail. sun filtering through leaves

I have written a few blog posts about this trail and they can be found by searching my blog archives.  trees along Susquehanna River

I decided to drive to the Riverlands section of the preserve, and hike another section of the Great Warrior Trail that I have never been on before. signpost for Great Warrior Trail

It begins at the eastern edge of the PPl Riverlands and proceeds east and north between the Susquehanna river and Route 11. 

The trail started  following  an old railroad track.  It soon left the deep woods of the wetlands and riverlands and, with the more open areas, had many  of the familiar wild plants of northeastern Pennsylvania growing along the trails, such as  common mullein, milkweed, pokeweed, touch-me nots  and burdock, shown here.  These plants were much larger here, growing in the rich soil near the river, than the ones that grow near my home and in poor clay soil on the high ridges where I am located. burdock growing along trail

The trail left the railroad tracks and proceeded along a small pond.pond along trail

I stopped and enjoyed this wonderful scene and imagined the many happy memories the folks who used the dock to dive in and swim in this pond over the years. pond with trees and flowers

I continued along the trail but will be honest and say it was too close to the traffic of Route 11 for my liking.  There were plenty of wildflowers along the way such as these daylilies,close up of day lily flower

and a lot of the common birds found in these, in these roadside areas, such as the robins, catbirds and, of course the red-winged blackbirds. red winged blackbird on branch

However, I think the trail was to close to the traffic and human activity to allow any  observation of the more shy wildlife found in the deeper woods and wetlands. So, I decided to return to the wetlands. It was still a pleasant hike  for folks just wanting to get outdoors and certainly worth exploring. Great warrior trail

When I returned to the wetlands I decided to walk along the shores of Lake- Took-A-While with my macro lens and try and photograph some of the many dragonflies now skirting along the water. 

They are so many different species of these ancient insects, each with their distinct colors. dragonfly on twig

And even members of the same species each have their own unique patterns of color. I could spend an entire day observing them. Here is a link to some more photographs of some of the dragonflies I observed.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-dragonflies-July-9-2017-dragonfly on twig

I also took some photographs of the plants along the wetlands with my macro lens, which always look so different looked at up close.macro photo of plant

This is a leaf from a corn stalk. Here is a link to some more photographs taken with my macro lens. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-macro-July-9-2017

Again, I spent a few more hours than I wanted to at the wetlands, but,  I sure enjoyed it. I love the Summer here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike out the wetlands and riverlands last Sunday. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-and-Great-Warrior-Trail-July-9-2017-

 

 

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” 
― Albert Einstein

 

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Spring Sure Has Sprung At The PPL Wetlands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this an American redstart .PPL Wetlands -32

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

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Spring Returns To The PPL Wetlands, And With Many Birds That Left Us Last Fall.

The melting snow and recent heavy rains caused the local streams, creeks and river to swell here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I wanted to take a look at the Susquehanna River at the PPL Wetlands , thinking  the high waters may attract some of the migrating water fowl that pass through, or  settle to nest,  in our area in the Spring. wetlands -1

It was cold when I arrived at the wetlands, with a temperature  near the freezing mark at 33 degrees.wildlife -17

All of the snow and ice had melted  and I knew the early April sun would warm it up quickly.  My hunch  about the water fowl was  correct. I immediately noticed a number of flocks of ducks and a few geese on the pond near the entrance to the wetlands. I believe these were, mainly,  ringed neck ducks. wildlife -2

As I watched the ducks and geese I also saw a number of, what I believe are, rough winged swallows  skimming above the water in search of insects. I  captured a photograph of  this one taking an early morning  dip.wildlife -5

After which he/she perched in a tree to dry off.wildlife -9

I hiked into the paths of the wetlands and discovered a few signs of Spring including the new growth of the duckweed. This will turn the waters of the wetlands a dark green by the need of summer and provide food and cover for many types of critters. wildlife -3

There were also clumps of wild garlic or onion grass growing along the paths throughout the wetlands.wildlife -2

Unfortunately I didn’t wear my muck boots and found my access to some of the trails blocked by the overflowing waterways, canals and ponds. wildlife -13

Many of the skunk cabbage, which had just recovered from the heavy snow cover,  were now growing were under a few inches of water. wildlife -11

As I walked under the large and ancient trees I heard the flapping of wings overhead. I couldn’t tell  immediately what the bird was,  until I saw two blue herons flying away before I could get a photograph.  I was able to photograph this red bellied woodpecker in a nearby tree. wildlife -14

I saw another year round resident in the wetlands , this blue bird. wildlife -13

The early April sun was warming the air and I started to hear the occasionally sound of a spring peeper. Also taking advantage of the sun was this garter snake that slithered into the woods before I could take a photograph. wildlife -2

And the turtles soon appeared on the logs and banks of the ponds and canals, a sure sign of  Spring. wildlife-7

I continued my walk from the wetlands area of the preserve to the riverlands and beautiful Lake Took-A-While.wildlife -22

 I found a number of new residents including  geese,  ducks and a few cormorants that  alternated from skimming the lake and flying overhead. wildlife -7

While looking at the cormorants I spotted a  beautiful osprey that appeared to be hovering in the air, looking for a fish for breakfast in the waters of Lake Took-A While. Here is a link to some more photographs of this magnificent bird. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Osprey-PPL-Wetlands-April-2-2017osprey -1

I watched this beautiful bird for a while and decided to head back to the wetlands. On the way I found this pair of, I believe, blue-winged teals, who also appeared to be looking for  a quiet place to build a nest and raise a family. Here is a link to some more photographs of these attractive ducks. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/birds-of-pennsylvania/nggallery/birds-of-pennsylvania/Blue-winged-teal-blue winged teal -10

The air was now filled with the songs of birds, perched high in trees, singing to attract a mate, such as this male cardinal,wildlife -12

And this song sparrow. wildlife -11

 

And, as the sun continued to warm the waters the sound of the spring peeper frogs grew louder in the ponds and canals. Here is a link to a my YouTube channel and the sound of the spring peepers. https://youtu.be/SFqrE5hI81Awildlife -10

I next walked to the path along the Susquehanna River, where I sat and watched the rapidly flowing waters and the many species of  ducks floating past as they took a free ride south, including wood ducks. Here is a link to a video I uploaded to YouTube. https://youtu.be/YzpS2VxbK_Mwildlife-6

As I returned to my car I saw this red tailed hawk soaring high overhead, probably, like me,  looking at all of the ducks, but with different intentions. wildlife-4

I returned to the flooded ponds, again scaring the many ducks and geese that were enjoying the warm April sunshine.  Here is a link to some more photographs  of the birds and wildlife I saw on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-wildlife-April-2-2017wildlife -19

It was nice to again see the wetlands coming to life after it’s rest this past winter. Even though it was a mild one, except for the last snow storm, I still enjoy the next three seasons much better than the last one. And I look forward to the the warm weather ahead and the rebirth it will bring to the woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in the wetlands on Sunday. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-April-2-2017-wildlife -25

 

For many of us, water simply flows from a faucet, and we think little about it beyond this point of contact. We have lost a sense of respect for the wild river, for the complex workings of a wetland, for the intricate web of life that water supports.  Sandra Postel wildlife -1

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