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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A Very Early Spring At The PPL Wetlands.

The record temperature today  here in my hometown of Hazleton, Pennsylvania,  is  16 degrees below zero. That is pretty darn cold.  Although it is not that cold every year, most years we still have some snow cover, cold temperatures and ice on the ponds and lakes  in our area in late February.  Not this year. In fact, the  temperatures were  in the  low 60’s  when I hiked in the PPL Wetlands near Berwick today.PPL Wetlands-1

I arrived early at the wetlands and found many of the canals and ponds were now ice free. Some years the ice is so thick this time of year you can drive a car across it. Not this year. PPL Wetlands-2

It was overcast in the morning as I began my hike with temperatures in the mid 40’s. I had hoped to see some early migrating water fowl and I did find a few geese.PPL Wetlands wildlife -8

There were still no ducks on the waters and only a few of the year long residents such as this cardinal fluttering in the thick, leafless, underbrush.PPL Wetlands wildlife -1

I saw a few  of the always present, and friendly, black capped chickadees,PPL Wetlands wildlife -4

and quite a few nuthatches scampering in the trees. This one was feeding on young, what looked like, maple buds. PPL Wetlands wildlife -5

I also saw this bird high in a tree top and I  am not sure if it were a flicker or a red headed wood pecker. I am guessing a flicker. PPL Wetlands wildlife -7

There was still a lot of ice on the ponds that were in areas shaded from the sun. With warm weather predicted for the next few days I am hoping it will all be gone by next weekend. PPL Wetlands-23

The  strengthening sun broke through the clouds as I walked into   the adjoining  river lands, and,  not only made for some nice scenery, but also quickly warmed the air up. PPL Wetlands-27

I made my way to the Susquehanna river, which was also ice free and which was high and flowing quickly from the melting ice up stream.PPL Wetlands-33

I was surprised that I didn’t see more  wildlife in the warm sunshine only  a few squirrels, some crows and this chipmunk.PPL Wetlands wildlife -11

I walked along the river a bit and returned where I found, very early this year,  the first sure sign of spring, the skunk cabbage. There were some growing during the warm spell we had in early January but I didn’t see them again until today. PPL Wetlands-6

There were still many of the old dead plants from last years  growing season.PPL Wetlands-25

and a few new hardy plants thriving in the warm temperatures we had this year. PPL Wetlands-17

As I returned to my car, the sun had warmed the air and the temperatures were in the low 60’s  As I walked I heard something in the brush near my feet and, looking down was surprised to find this critter on the ground. PPL Wetlands wildlife -17

I never saw a snake here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this early before, in fact I don’t remember seeing one until May. This fellow was sluggish, but did manage to crawl away before I could get some good photographs. PPL Wetlands wildlife -18

And I was in for another surprise. I found this turtle sunning himself on a log. Again, the  earliest I have seen one before was mid to late April.  Turtles and snakes in February, If you told me this a week ago, and if I hadn’t seen them with my own eyes I would never have believed it. Here is a link to some more photographs of the snake and other critters I saw today.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-wildlife-February-19-2017-PPL Wetlands-41

There is no guarantee this warm weather will last, we have had frigid temperatures and blizzards here in March and heavy snow and freezes in April. but every day like today in February is a blessing and it is looking like we will be blessed fro another week. No complaints from this guy. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the wetlands this morning. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-February-19-2017-PPL Wetlands-38

Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God. George Washington CarverPPL Wetlands wildlife -14

 

 

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It’s Been A Mild January But Still Ice, And Some Snow, At The PPL Wetlands

I decided to hike on one of my favorite trails this morning,  the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township.  Most years,  in January, I would find thick ice on the ponds and canals  and a deep snow cover  on the trails but  we  had  unseasonably mild weather here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, so I found no snow and only a thin layer of ice on the ponds and canals. PPL Wetlands -11

Some of the ponds actually had open water which is very unusual for January. PPL Wetlands -7

And the canals still had some green patches of duck weed growing beneath the ice, again an indication of the mild weather. PPL Wetlands -12

And most  surprising was what  find in the partially  frozen ground, the emerging sheaths of the skunk cabbage. Usually the first plants to emerge, in early March,  I have never found them growing in January before. I hope it is a sign of early Spring but it also may be proof our climate is changing. PPL Wetlands -10

It was cloudy, and the temperatures were seasonable, in the low 30’s , this morning as I walked along the trails and canals.  For the first few miles I did not see or hear a single bird or animal. Not a crow, squirrel, chipmunk or sparrow.  Clearly it was January since it is hard to walk a few feet in the Spring, Summer or Fall without seeing or hearing some type of wildlife. PPL Wetlands -3

And there was only a few signs of plant life too. The duck weed I mentioned above, and some frozen, but still green,  and  very much alive, ferns.PPL Wetlands -15

There were many ghost of last seasons growth, found in the dead or  dormant remains of last seasons plants, such as these berries from the green brier that grow along the canals. PPL Wetlands -4

Or the thorns on this tree.PPL Wetlands -21

Or these twisted vines. PPL Wetlands -25

I walked into the river lands section of the nature area and found. like I did in my last visit, a flock of white throated sparrows. These birds stayed close to the ground under the brambles and green brier vines but I was able to photograph this one resting in a tree branch. PPL Wetlands -35

Like  my last visit, I also found a number of other birds traveling with the sparrows,  including  this cardinal. PPL Wetlands -23

And this flicker high in a tree top.PPL Wetlands -2

And this downy or hairy woodpecker .PPL Wetlands -37

On my walk back I also encountered a few flocks of the northern or black eyed juncos scrambling on the ground looking for food, the main activity of all wildlife during the cold Winter months. I was surprised to only see one mammal, a gray squirrel, during my five mile hike. PPL Wetlands -24

On my way back I did get a  reminder that it is still Winter, a light, gentile snowfall. PPL Wetlands -38

By the time I got back near my car at the parking area the canals and ponds were again looking more like Winter from the new snow. PPL Wetlands -47

I decided to walked along the Susquehanna River for a bit  and took a few moment to sit and  watch the ice slowly flowing downriver. I find watching  it very relaxing since I first observed the ice on the Susquehanna River  a few miles down river in the Bloomsburg town park when I was a freshman at Bloomsburg College many years ago. Here is a link to a video of the ice flow on the river  I uploaded to YoutubePPL Wetlands -44

The light snowfall continued, covering the paths and ice on the canals and creating  some nice scenery.  I knew it was also making the 25 miles of roads I had to drive to my home icy and dangerous  so I decided it was time to leave the newly created winter wonderland, knowing, God willing, I can always return tomorrow. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-hike-January-14-2017-

“Natures beauty soothe my eyes,
Refreshes my soul,
Helps in imagination…”
Debolina

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How Can You Not Like June? A Cloudy, But Lush And Green Walk Through The PPL Wetlands

There were severe weather warnings here in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Sunday. The storms were to arrive around noon so I decided to hike in the PPL Wetlands since the trails are adjacent to shelters in the event the storms came early. PPL Wetlands -2

Upon entering the woods in the wetlands, I was immediately overtaken by the intense greenness of the plants and trees. Even the ponds and canals were green from the growth the the duckweed. It was a lush, almost jungle like atmosphere.Everything was so alive. PPL Wetlands -24

The air had a rich earthy smell to it. And there was still the fragrance of the late blooming honeysuckles lingering in the air.  It was overcast, but a delightful day to explore the late Spring magic of the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -30

Once again I heard the songs of many birds from the lush canopy of leaves above and  beside me on the trails. And once again had I had a hard time seeing, identifying and photographing them, although I had more luck than I did at the Nescopeck State Park the day before.  I saw this female red winged blackbird  making a ruckus because I was probably near her nest. She wasn’t eating the insect in her beak and I am sure it was breakfast for her family.PPL Wetlands -2

I also saw the song sparrow with a meal in it’s mouth. This one was not meant for family as I watched the caterpillar  disappear.PPL Wetlands -14

I had hoped to see the wood duck and her ducklings again but she wasn’t around. I kept hearing the call of the pileated woodpecker that has been avoiding me and did so again. I was able to photograph one of the many yellow warblers I heard high in the tree tops.  PPL Wetlands -11

Closer to the ground, and along the ponds and waterways  I was glad to see many dragonflies and damselflies hovering about.  I love watching these delicate insects. There were also hoards of an insect I love a lot less, the pesky mosquitoes. They were  buzzing about head, looking for a meal at my expense. PPL Wetlands -30

I walked over to the riverlands and down to the Susquehanna River.PPL Wetlands -37

It was a pleasant walk and again I enjoyed the songs of many birds hidden in the now lush foliage . I was able to photograph this baltimore oriole. PPL Wetlands -15

As I walked back to the wetlands ran into a few critters. I first saw this red squirrel enjoying some black walnuts that remained from last fall. PPL Wetlands -18

Here is a closer look at the  cute little fellow. PPL Wetlands -21

And I  saw these two gray squirrels on a tree. Be assured they were not engaging in squirrel games, The one higher up was defending his tree from the intruder, who took the hint and ran off. PPL Wetlands -17

And I noticed this deer peeking out from the thick foliage along the paths. Here is a link to some more of the wildlife I  encountered on my walk in the wetlands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/ppl-wetlands-wildlife-june-5-2016-1PPL Wetlands -24

I walked back toward my car, passing the canals now lined with the wild irises, roses and honeysuckles.PPL Wetlands -17

It was just starting to rain I neared my car and I heard the cry of the pileated woodpecker. And, lo and behold it landed in a tree in the distance but with an unobscured view which let me get a few photographs. I was surprised and delighted when it landed on a tree even closer to me and I discovered there were two of them!pileated woodpecker-8

I love to see these magnificent birds in the deep woods. I watched to two of them for a few minutes, they don’t seem to stay in one place for long periods of time and they didn’t this time either. I was still glad to have caught a glimpse of these elusive residents of the wetlands. Here is a link to some more photographs of these beautiful birds.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/pileated-woodpecker-1pileated woodpecker-14

I got to my car just as the rain started and got home just in time to enjoy the thunderstorms. Even though it was a cloudy stormy day it was June and the weather cannot dampen the beauty of the splendor of late spring. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/ppl-wetlands-june-5-2016PPL Wetlands -25

 

Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. ~Rainer Maria RilkePPL Wetlands -20

 

 

 

 

 

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A sultry PPL Wetlands Hike

It was another hazy, hot and humid day last Sunday here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I love  to hike in this kind of weather and decided to see if I  could find anything interesting  at  the PPL Wetlands.PPL Wetlands -1

Of course, just hiking along the ponds and canals,  under the now leafy canopy of ancient trees and along the flowing waters of the Susquehanna River, is always reason enough for me  to visit the wetlands. It is a very special place. PPL Wetlands -12

On Sunday the first thing I noticed was the absence of the many turtles usually sitting on the logs, rocks and banks of the ponds and canals.  The waters are now warm enough so that these cold blooded animals feel comfortable enough to remain in the waters even on a sunny day. The logs in this ponds are usually covered with turtles, but not a one on Sunday. PPL Wetlands -9

I did find one turtle stumbling along the path, a baby snapping turtle. I never found one this small and soon learned that even at this young age they are very aggressive.  This fellow took a number of snaps at me as I carried him to safety in the water. PPL Wetlands wildlife -14

I enjoyed seeing the many species of ferns growing along the paths and took some close ups of this beautiful and exotic plants with my macro lens. PPL Wetlands -14

I also noticed a lot more insects in the air, including flies, mosquitoes, and gnats. And where there are insects there are spiders.  It is too early for the larger orb weaver spiders but I saw quite a few of this spiders along the paths. PPL Wetlands -28

And the dragonflies are now making their appearance. I love watching these ancient creatures, one of the first insects to appear on earth, dart above the waters in search of food.PPL Wetlands wildlife -1

The  jack in  the pulpit plants, with their strange but pretty flowers,  were just about finished blooming. PPL Wetlands -2

As I was walking towards the riverlands I was delighted to find a female wood duck herding her large brood of ducklings through one of the canals. I watched them swim through the duckweed covered waters and into  the high reeds. I loved seeing  the little ones huddled so close to each other as they swam toward safety. PPL Wetlands wildlife -7

And of course the trees were still filled with the song of the birds. I now realized how much harder it is to  find them in the new  dense leaf cover of the trees. I could hear their singing but I had a hard time locating, and an even harder time photographing them.  I did manage to see a few, such as a pair of baltimore orioles feeding on the flowers of a locust tree. PPL Wetlands wildlife -26

It took awhile, but I finally managed to find  this yellow warbler singing high atop a treetop. Their song filled the woods. PPL Wetlands wildlife -17

As I was walking I happened to look overhead and saw the somewhat awkward flight off this blue heron. PPL Wetlands wildlife -23

And this flock of geese had me wondering why such a large flock  was  flying in a migration formation this time of year. PPL Wetlands wildlife -3

I also keep my eyes near the ground and found this tiny baby snail clinging to a plant along the water. PPL Wetlands -24

And I spotted this pair of  delicate damselflies doing what a lot of the wildlife does this time of year. Here is a link to some more photographs of the many critters I was able to capture  in the wetlands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/ppl-wetlands-wildlife-may-29-2016PPL Wetlands -31

It was hot and humid and the heat took a lot out, and I  was getting hungry, so I headed back to my car. But I was glad to explore the PPL wetlands when it is so alive. Sorry to my Winter loving friends but i love this time of year far more than the cold wintery months. Here is a link to some more photographs I took at the Wetlands on Sunday. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/ppl-wetlands-may-29-PPL Wetlands sparrow -2

“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”
Betty SmithPPL Wetlands -40

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