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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Birds, Butterflies and Blueberries At The Pennsylvania State Game Lands

We had clear skies and sunshine  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania last Sunday and I decided to drive to my new found hiking area in the State Game Lands 119. Located about 35  minutes from my house, on the edge of the Pocono Plateau, these woodlands remind me of the woods near my home that I hiked all of my life, until they were lost to land development.gate to trail on game lands

As I exited my jeep I noticed a number of butterflies fluttering on the ground and found they were enjoying one of their favorite foods, fox or coyote droppings. I believe these are spicebush swallowtail butterflies.spicebush swallowtails on coyote droppings

I walked north on the old railroad right of way into the game lands finding plenty  of now ripe low bush blueberries, or, as we called them huckleberries. The high bush, or “swamper” blueberries were also beginning to ripen now.  In my parents generation picking these berries and selling them supplemented the meager income of many coal mining families. I spent many hours and days picking them as a child. I continued to pick many quarts a year to supply my mom and aunts with the berries for pies, muffins and cakes but they are now too old to bake and I haven’t been out picking as much these past few years. .highbush blueberries or swampers

I decided to walk the more wooded path that led to The D&L trail. It was a narrow path through  scrub oaks, blueberry bushes and ferns growing  in the wetlands on both sides of the trail. grassy trail on state game lands

I decided to walk  this trail despite the numerous ticks I encountered on my last hike , I removed 18 of them that had crawled on me, hoping to see some wildlife in the wetlands. fern in sunlight

I was rewarded with my first sighting of this beautiful bird, a Canada warbler. It was an elusive bird and I followed it’s fluttering through the thick scrub oaks or about 15 minutes until I was able to get some photographs. Here is a link to some more photographs of this beautiful bird. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/birds-of-pennsylvania/nggallery/birds-of-pennsylvania/canada-warbler-canada warbler in tree

I also saw another elusive bird, which my birding friends helped me identify, an immature oven bird. oven bird in tree

And, as they are found almost everywhere here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, there were a number of catbirds in the woods along the trail. I observed a pair that were traveling together and they were much more quiet than usual. I suspect they had a nest nearby. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Game-Lands-119-birds-july-2-2017-catbird on tree branch

I followed the trail as it proceeded  downward  and crossed this little stream, one of the headwaters of the Nescopeck Creek. I thought to myself  how the water flowing beneath my feet would find it’s  way to the Nescopeck Creek, the Susquehanna River, the Chesapeake Bay and eventually the Atlantic Ocean, and eventually evaporate and once again fall as rain. We live on a wonderful planet. stream crossing road

As I stepped over the stream I spotted this fellow enjoying the cool waters. frog in stream

The woods along the trail grew thickerferns and trees along trail

and there were older hemlock and oak trees now shading the sun. sun filtering through leaves of large old oak tree

Eventually the wooded path intersected with the wider and more used D & L trail that will soon  lead to Easton . I encountered many folks walking and even more riding on bicycles on the trail and enjoying the intense early July sunshine.D&L rails to trails path

Along the trail were many patches of milkweed flowers that are now in bloom. And, milkweed flowers attract butterflies and there were plenty of than fluttering about, including the beautiful eastern tiger swallowtails.eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly on milkweed flower

 the Aphrodite fritillary butterflies Aphrodite fritillary butterfly on milkweed flower

and the spicebush swallowtail butterfly with another eastern tiger swallowtail. .swallow tail butterflies on milkweed flower

And the butterflies weren’t just found on the milkweed flowers as this common buckeye butterfly was found on a    leaf common buckeye butterfly on leaf

I walked the trail up about a half mile and come to the scenic Moosehead lake. I was hoping to see an eagle or an osprey, or as least some water birds but there I didn’t see anything on the lake on Sunday. view of moosehead lake

I walked to the wetlands on the other side of the lake where, while enjoying this view,  I met three bikers from Moldavia, Lithuania and Ukraine. They were  biking from Glen Summit  to  Jim Thorpe.  We had an interesting conversation about the beauty of our planet and what a small world it is, having just returned from  my visit to  neighboring Poland. water lily covered pond along trail

The sun was now intense and I decided to begin my journey back to my jeep. It was an uphill hike and a much more difficult walk. Still I enjoyed it observing more butterflies, blueberries and birds on the way, including another species of butterfly, I believe this is a clouded sulphur butterfly.

And there were a few dragonflies hovering about as I walked through some wetlands. 

I am really starting to love these trails, and hope to hike and explore them for many years to come,  but I still wish I could hike the trails of my childhood on Stony Mountain. Those were the days. Here are some more photographs from my hike in the Pennsylvania game lands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/State-game-Lands-hike-July-2-2017-

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” 
― Chris MaserForest Primeval

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An Unexpected Encounter With A Bear At The PPL Wetlands.

As any of you who follow my blog posts know, I love the Summer and I love hiking in the PPL Wetlands. The PPL Wetlands are about a 1/2 drive from my house and is home to many species of wildlife, flowers, trees and insects. I decided to hike there again on Saturday, hoping to see something interesting, and once again I wasn’t disappointed. wooded trail in wetlands

 As soon as I arrived  near  the parking area I saw this bird perched on an overhead wire, I believe it is a ruby-throated hummingbird. The skies were gray and overcast so I could not get a good photograph but I still wanted to share this somewhat uncommon sighting. humming bird on wire

I walked to one of the ponds where I saw the wood ducks last week and they were there again, this time a little further away. One of them was on a log but the other parent was swimming with the young ones in the duck weed covered water. They are a shy and reclusive bird so I was fortunate to see them again.wood ducks on pond

It was early when I arrived at the wetlands and there were not many dragonflies active yet. I saw a few but there were, once again swarms of mosquitoes  waiting for me. And many of them found me. dragonfly on reed

The Spring abundance of wildflowers is now over, but there are still some new flowers starting to bloom in the wetlands, such as the spotted wintergreen.wintergreen flower

And other which will be blooming soon such as this thistle. thistle on canal bank

And the delicate touch-me-nots were now in full bloom throughout the wetlands.  Their juicy flesh  helps sooth the sting of bees and bites of the many mosquitoes in the wetlands.touch-me-not flowers

The high bush blueberries are starting to ripen now and I was able to pick a few handfuls.  ripening blueberries

As I left the wetlands part of the preserve to head to the riverlands and Lake Took-A-While I turned a corner and walked into this big fellow.black bear on trail

I usually clap my hands loudly when I see a bear to scare them away  but I was to close to this big male and I didn’t want to scare him into attacking me. black bear on path

I extended my hands and legs and spoke firmly to him and he did, slowly,  decide to back away.  I have had many bears visit my backyard over the years but it is always a much more exciting  experience to see them in the outdoors. We stared each other down for a few minutes, and he turned around and made his way back down the trail and into the woods. black bear on path

I continued my walk, a little more cautiously now, toward the riverlands. However, I didn’t see any more bears, the biggest mammal I saw was this not so intimidating squirrel. squirrel running on ground

There were a number of birds about including the ever present catbirds.

And a number of flycatchers were darting over the warm waters of the wetlands and  now have plenty of insects to catch. flycatcher in tree

I was fortunate to see a great blue heron in flight across the waters of the lake. They are such graceful birds. great blue heron in flight

And the beautiful songs of the yellow warblers were heard throughout my hike. They now tend to remain in the thick leaf cover of the trees tops but a few got close enough to me to allow me to get a photograph.yellow warbler in tree

There were thunderstorms in the forecast and I was getting hungry after my four mile hike so I headed back to the parking area, this time walking under the large ancient trees that grow along the banks of the Susquehanna river.wooded trail on river

As I often do in this part of the trail, I wondered about the many generations of Native Americans who walked this same  trail, possibly while some of these same trees were alive.ancient oak tree

And this day I wondered how many of them may have had a close encounter with an almost 400 pound black bear and how many were as excited about it as I was. It was another great hike through the always interesting PPL Wetlands. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-July-1-2017-close up black bear face

“Always respect Mother Nature. Especially when she weighs 400 pounds and is guarding her baby.” 
― James Rollins

 

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Another Spring Walk Close To Home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I walked to the railroad tracksrailkroad hike -30

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

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

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

 

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

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

Unfortunately I had to head back home. I could spend the entire day out here in Spring, my favorite season. Well Summer is pretty good too, and looks like some Summer weather headed our way the next few days. I hope I can sneak out of the office early since a lot going on in the great outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania this time of year. Here is a link to some more photographs fro my hike today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Railroad-hike-May-18-2017-railkroad hike -19

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

 

 

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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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Most Of The Snow Is Gone, But Still It’s Not Looking Like Spring At The PPL Wetlands.

The bitter cold arctic weather we have had after the snow storm last week left the area yesterday. It was a mild 55 degrees near my house, here,  in Northeastern Pennsylvania,  this morning.  I decided to head  to the PPL Wetlands, along the Susquehanna River., about 25 miles from my home.  It is at a lower elevation  and  it is usually warmer there.  I hoped all of the snow cover would be gone. PPL Wetlands -29

I arrived at the wetlands under cloudy skies and was surprised to find the temperature a much cooler 43 degrees. Fortunately, most of the heavy snow cover , almost 20 inches, had melted leaving behind a lot of mud and some flooded paths.PPL Wetlands -7

It sure didn’t look like Spring in the wetlands. In fact, it was more springlike in January and February this year than it was today.  PPL Wetlands -5

There were no turtles along the ponds nor was the sound of the spring peeper frogs heard. And  the skunk cabbage, which were pushing through the soil in late January  hadn’t grown, and in fact a lot of their leaves were damaged by the heavy snow. They are hardy plants, often pushing there way through, and melting the snow cover, but 20 inches of late snow was too much, even for them. And the snow must have been hard on  the wildlife too, I have never seen  a partially eaten skunk cabbage  before. PPL Wetlands -10

It was still brown and barren along the ponds and canals, with only the maples showing some signs of putting forth buds. PPL Wetlands -3

There was, however, plenty of wildlife activity. I scared two deer,   or I should say we scared each other, as we met unexpectedly on one of the paths.  They took off in opposite directions. PPL Wetlands -6

I also saw many ducks on the ponds and canals. Wood ducks, and a few other species I couldn’t identify, including many like these two,   eluded my camera, taking off before I could photograph them. PPL Wetlands birds -3

The mallard  ducks were not so easily scared and I watched and photographed quite a few of them along the canals . PPL Wetlands -24

And, of course there were plenty of  Canada geese.PPL Wetlands birds -10

As I walked to the river lands side of the preserve, I saw quite a few birds too, including, I think,  this song sparrow as well as a few beautiful  blue birds, one is shown above as the featured image of this post. PPL Wetlands birds -16

Overhead, I saw this sea gull soaring through the cloudy sky. PPL Wetlands birds -10

And this, I believe, cormorant.PPL Wetlands birds -9

There were a few folks walking along the always peaceful shores of Lake Took-A-While and I stopped to enjoy the scenery too. PPL Wetlands -19

I ran into a lot more mud, and snow,  as the trail continued east toward and would wind it’s way down to the river.PPL Wetlands -22

I  found my waterproof shoes were taking on water and noticed  a small tear in the stitching. It was time to head back.  You will notice I also had shorts on, not a good idea in the colder temperatures along the river.  PPL Wetlands -12

The abundance of mud, I believe, was  also the reason for the abundance of this welcome Spring birds, the robins. There were  many of them hopping on the ground in search of  a meal. PPL Wetlands birds -8

I made my way back to the wetlands and continued to see plenty ducks and geese on the canals and ponds. And along the path there was also a lot of  bird activity. I heard the rapping of many woodpeckers and saw a few, such as, I believe, this downy woodpecker. PPL Wetlands birds -13

And they left some tangible evidence of their activity, like these newly created holes in a tree along the path. PPL Wetlands -20

I also came upon, mainly in heavily wooded areas, some ponds that were still frozen over,  due to being shaded fro the strengthening March sun. Hopefully, next time I visit this I will see turtles and frogs in this pond. PPL Wetlands -28

I made my way back to my car, walking along the Susquehanna River. I continued to see, and hear, many species of birds, including nuthatches, robins, sparrows, and woodpeckers including a pileated and this, I believe to be, a red bellied woodpecker. Here is a link to some more photographs of the many birds I encountered on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-March-25-2017PPL Wetlands birds -21

I also ran into a father with his two young sons, maybe two and three years old. He had binoculars and was also watching the birds and other wildlife, and passing his love for nature on to his boys. It was a nice encounter and  reminded me of my dad taking me and my brothers on our first walks into the woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania. He taught me to appreciate the beauty of nature and it was one of the best lessons I ever had. Thanks dad. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk in the wetlands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-March-25-2017-PPL Wetlands birds -7

“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself- consciously to the soughing of the trees.” Valerie Andrews 

 

 

 

 

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Finally, Ice And Cold Arrive At The PPL Wetlands

Just a few weeks ago temperatures were  in the 70’s and I was seeing turtles at the PPL Wetlands. Not today,  the unseasonably warm weather ended and temperatures plummeted here in Northeastern Pennsylvania these  past few day. There  was ice on the ponds and canals when I hiked there this morning. ppl-wetlands-11

I am not a big fan of Winter anymore, it is hard to walk in the ice and snow,  but I enjoyed my hike this morning.  It was calm and cloudy, with temperatures  near 20 degrees. The wetlands had a somber but peaceful look and feel to them. ppl-wetlands-27

Gone now is the last of the duckweed  on the waters. it has been replaced with a still thin layer of ice, in many shades of white, blue and gray. ppl-wetlands-31

There was only a dusting of snow on the ground down here along the river. Near my house, at a much higher elevation, we got about two inches of snow. ppl-wetlands-24

As I walked along the canal I saw a few juncos, black-capped chickadees and a few sparrows, including this white -throated  sparrow that was fluttering about in the brush. ppl-wetlands-45

Overhead I hear the shrill cry of a red tailed hawk and saw this fellow fly into the topmost branches of this tree.  He, or she,  was pretty well hidden. I watched him/her for awhile hoping it would fly toward me.ppl-wetlands-9

Instead another hawk flew from a nearby tree, probably this ones mate, and they both flew away from me.  This was the best photograph I could get. as it flew away. ppl-wetlands-10

It amazes me, as I walked along the trails, how many different birds nests are now exposed in the branches of the leafless trees and shrubs. ppl-wetlands-38

Some are right along the path, a few feet from where I, and many others walked right next to the pair of birds raising their chicks without any of us noticing them.  Here is a photograph of one I found on one of the most used trails. I walked by it dozens of times and had no idea it was there. ppl-wetlands-39

As I walked I came across this somewhat unusual sight, a downy or hairy woodpecker, not looking for insects in the bark of a tree, but actually eating seeds or fruits on a tree. I never saw them eat anything other then insects before.ppl-wetlands-13

The ice on the canals made for a nice background for the many shriveled and dead plants and weeds that grew along the banks in the Summer. ppl-wetlands-33

It is not green or lush, like in the Spring or Summer, or colorful like in the fall but the dead vegetation still was beautiful in it’s own way. ppl-wetlands-44

And I did find some color, still clinging on in the cold and ice. A few of the last   fallen leaves of the year still holding on to some color.ppl-wetlands-49

The cones of the staghorn sumac also still remain a bright red color.  i believe they can be used as a spice or made into a lemonade like tea. ppl-wetlands-42

I also found some color among the birds in the wetlands, this cardinal  which was also feeding on the seeds of the now dead plants and shrubs. ppl-wetlands-36

And there were still some greens too,  few ferns fighting the coldppl-wetlands-55

and the evergreen plants, shrubs and trees that will provide  reminder of the coming Spring throughout the cold Winter that has now set in on the PPL Wetlands. ppl-wetlands-43

But, for the most part, the dominant  colors over the next few moths will be the subtle and varying  shades of brown, whites, and grays of winter. ppl-wetlands-53

It was cold but it was still nice to  out and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, even on a cold December day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this morning. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/PPL-Wetlands-hike-December-11-2016-

 

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Of winter’s lifeless world each tree


Now seems a perfect part;


Yet each one holds summer’s secret


Deep down within its heart.”


—Charles G. Stater

 

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It’s A Different Look In The PPL Wetlands In December. But Still A Lot Of Birds Staying Around For Winter

I headed out to one of my favorite hiking spots, the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township, this morning. Last time I was here, just two weeks ago, it was an unseasonably warm day and I saw turtles  on the water and some  green vegetation along the paths. It felt more like late Spring. Not today,.ppl-wetlands-5

It has still been mild here in Northeastern Pennsylvania these past two weeks, , but we had some more seasonable weather these past two days, near freezing temperatures this morning, and the wetlands are finally looking a lot like Winter. ppl-wetlands-18

All of the trees have now lost their leaves. Even the stubborn oaks only have a few brown ones clinging on.  The lush green canopy of Summer now is an intricate interweaving of bare branches. ppl-wetlands-3

Some of the trees still had red berries clinging to them.ppl-wetlands-26

As  did some of the shrubs and briers growing along the paths. ppl-wetlands-11

And I saw quite a few birds scampering in these shrubs feasting on the berries or seeds of the summer’s plants. such as the black capped chickadees shown here and on the featured image above. ppl-wetlands-birds-4

I am not good with sparrows but I am pretty sure this is a white-throated sparrow. ppl-wetlands-birds-14

And I believe this is a song sparrow. ppl-wetlands-birds-20

This one may be a tree sparrow or a chipping sparrow, not too sure but please correct me is I misidentify any of the birds, plants or trees here on my blog.ppl-wetlands-birds-11

In addition to these  birds which remain here for the Winter, I saw a few flocks of these birds which are not Summer residents but stay here for the Winter heading south from colder weather to the north, the northern juncos or snow birds. ppl-wetlands-birds-10

I also saw a few cardinals. a woodpecker, and this Summer resident who decided to stay here and enjoy the mild weather we’ve been having, a robin.  Hopefully he will stay here all Winter. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw this morning.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/PPL-Wetlands-birds-December-4-2016-ppl-wetlands-birds-1

I enjoyed watching the birds and spent sat for awhile near a thicket as they scampered about looking for food.  And I noticed this bright yellow object on the ground among the brown dead leaves, a flower! Yes it was only a lowly dandelion but it sure looked pretty amid the fallen leaves. And I thought of the Spring that will surely follow the dark and cold Winter that is in front of us. ppl-wetlands-44

And as I stopped to photograph the dandelion I heard a bird singing right over my head. As I turned this  bird, I believe a winter wren, perched on a branch almost atop my head. He was to quick to get a photograph at the close range but I did manage to capture this image before he flew off in the swamp. ppl-wetlands-birds-21

I walked along the banks of the Susquehanna River on my return and again felt a serene sadness as I walked under the leafless ancient trees. ppl-wetlands-46

Still I saw some plants still clinging to life during these cold short days of ppl-wetlands-42December. 

It wasn’t lush, green and teeming with life like it is in the Spring and Summer but still it was a nice day to roam the wilds of the wetlands, and, as always, I was glad I make the trip down here. I fear next time I come there may be a blanket of snow covering the ground, but i am sure there will still be many wonders to find in the snow. Here is a link to some more photographs. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/PPL-Wetlands-December-4-2016-ppl-wetlands-23

“Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own.”

— Charles Dickensppl-wetlands-13

 

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Turtles In November? A Warm And Sunny November Day At The PPL Wetlands.

We  had a Spring-like day here  today in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Temperatures neared 70 degrees with abundant,  but weak,  late Fall sunshine. I headed to one of my favorite hiking areas, the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands.ppl-wetlands-27

The temperature was warm but there is no mistaking it is late Fall, as almost all of the trees have shed their leaves now exposing the naked beauty of the limbs and branches. ppl-wetlands-35

The few remaining leaves added some beauty to the now brown landscape, glimmering in the bright sunlight. ppl-wetlands-2

And the warmer weather brought some of the birds to life, as there were a lot more fluttering about the trees than there have been the past few weeks. I saw this flicker high in the tree tops looking to pry some insects out of the tree bark. ppl-wetlands-1

And there were a lot of sparrows shuffling in the leafless undergrowth, including this, I believe , is a white -throated sparrow. ppl-wetlands-39

This, and I am not good at sparrows I think is a chipping sparrow,ppl-wetlands-4

And I am not sure of what kind of sparrow, if it is a sparrow, this fellow is. It looks like he was feeding on the last of the duckweed. ppl-wetlands-8

I also saw plenty of these friendly birds, the black capped chickadees, that remain here throughout the coldest of Winters. ppl-wetlands-13

As I walked along the canals I thought I heard a kerplunking sound, but decided it couldn’t be a turtle this late in the year, But sure enough I soon spotted a number of turtles talking advantage of the late sunshine and warm weather to bask on logs and the shore of the canals. I never have seen turtles this late in the season before. ppl-wetlands-14

I was also surprised to see a number of insects flying about including a few dragonflies. Again this is very late in the season for insect activity and I have never seen dragonflies in November before. bit there is a first time for everything, and after a number of tries I was finally able to get a photograph of one. ppl-wetlands-19

It was a lovely day to enjoy last beauty of Fall in the wetlands, knowing this weather won’t last, and as I type a cold front is passing through our area and there is ice and snow on my deck. I was glad we had this one last warm day. I am sure the turtles and dragonflies will be gone tomorrow, but, it is only four months until Spring and the entire cycle starts again.ppl-wetlands-40

And I  will be waiting anxiously too watch in unfold yet again.Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/PPL-Wetlands-November-19-2016-ppl-wetlands-23

It is a delightful pastime to sit in the pleasant sunshine of autumn, and gazing from this little spot of free earth over such a landscape, let the imagination luxuriate amid the thrilling associations of the scene! ~H.T. ppl-wetlands-33Tuckerman

 

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Spring Is Putting On A Show, And No Better Place To See It Than At The PPL Wetlands.

It was a cool cloudy day yesterday in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but that won’t stop the Spring from unfolding, almost right  before our eyes. I love this time of year. Every new day brings  the excitement of seeing something new, whether it be plant or animal. All you have to do is open your eyes. And yesterday I decided to see what new wonders awaited me at one of my favorite hiking areas, the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. PPL Wetlands -9

I wasn’t alone, as I often am,  when I arrived yesterday.. It was nice to see a few other folks from a  photography club enjoying the show Spring is putting on. I was  surprised at how much greener the woods were since my visit a week ago. PPL Wetlands -34

My eyes were drawn immediately to the lush new fern growth sprouting up in the woods and adding so much to the new green appearance seen throughout the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -41

Although a lot of the trees, especially the oaks still only have the tiniest of buds, many others including the maples are covered in red and green buds and leaves. PPL Wetlands -33

The mandrakes or may apples also put forth a spurt of growth since my last visit, taking up entire patches of the woodland floor. PPL Wetlands -14

And there were flowers too. The woodland violets were everywhere both of the blue and now yellow varieties. PPL Wetlands -11

And that heavenly aroma of the honeysuckle filled the air. And all of this before I was 20 feet from my car!PPL Wetlands -23

I walked through the lush new plant growth and, of course, also found an abundance of wildlife,  enjoying this new  green wonderland. There were many of the familiar residents such as the titmice fluttering about. I am not sure if this is  a young chick being fed, or whether mommy or daddy  are deciding who is going to  deliver a meal for the family back at the nest.PPL Wetlands  birds titmice -2

And there were many red winged blackbirds scampering about, being their usual noisy selves. This is a female. PPL Wetlands  birds red winged blackbirds -1

It was cloudy and cool so there weren’t a lot of turtles or frogs about but I did  see a few, including this frog who let me get close enough for a photograph.PPL Wetlands -32

I also saw many different sparrows, which I have a hard time identifying. I believe this is a song sparrow but I am not certain .Please feel to correct me if i am wrong with any of my identifications.  Here is a link to some more photographs which may  help with the identification. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/birds-of-pennsylvania/nggallery/birds-of-pennsylvania/song-sparrowPPL Wetlands  birds song sparrow --1

I was fortunate to see two of my favorite birds. I saw a few of this beautiful, and colorful yellow warblers singing overhead and in the brush.  They are such pretty birds. Here is a link to some more photographs I took of these birds yesterday. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/ppl-wetlands-yellow-warbler-april-30-2016Yellow warbler -11

I also ran into a cedar waxwing feeding on some leftover fruit on a briar vine. They too are colorful and exotic birds and I love to find them. PPL Wetlands  birds cedar waxwing -1

Flying overhead were a number of turkey vultures. I also saw a few hawks but couldn’t get any photographs.PPL Wetlands -4

A mommy goose i found on a nest a few weeks ago was still there, patiently waiting for her eggs to hatch. I also ran into a few more pairs and was able to get to see one up close and personal. PPL Wetlands -44

I continued my walk, past the lush growth of the skunk cabbage which seems to grow everywhere in the swampy soils of the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -24

I also found one of my dad’s favorites flowers ready to bloom the early or pink azalea. He called them honeysuckles and he would drive us through the strip mine roads every Spring to gather these and the duck flowers or lady slippers. Such wonderful memories.PPL Wetlands -21

But it wasn’t all good. Nature also produces things which are not so beautiful to us such as these tent caterpillars, which will cause much destruction to the host trees .PPL Wetlands -3

Or this troublesome plant, very common in the wetlands. It looks pretty but don’t touch or pick it, it is the new leaves of the poison ivy vine.PPL Wetlands -16

And I was pleasantly surprised to find  some mushrooms growing. These are inky caps. PPL Wetlands -40

As I headed back to my car I found this red squirrel who looks like he bit off more than he could chew. He sure had his hands full of this black walnut. PPL Wetlands -28

There was so much  cool stuff I saw yesterday, but it would take a novel to write it all down, and it still could not describe the beauty of it all. It was raining hard today so I wasn’t able to take my camera out on my hike, but I am looking forward to next weekend to see what is new at the PPL Wetlands, I know there will be something. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike yesterday. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/ppl-wetlands-april-30-2016PPL Wetlands -27

 

April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go. ~Christopher MorleyPPL Wetlands -42

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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