A Bear, Some Birds And A Beautiful Day In The Bruce Lake Natural Area And Promised Land State Park

A Bear, Some Birds And A Beautiful Day In The Bruce Lake Natural Area And Promised Land State Park

Promised Land motrning hike (46 of 50)
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I was up early last Saturday morning in my room  at the Rex Hotel,  adjacent to the Promised Land State Park in Pike County. After brewing my first pot of  coffee ever, I left the quaint  hotel as the sun was rising in the eastern sky.

It was only a mile drive  from my hotel to  the Bruce Lake Natural Area trailhead located on Route 390. Like the previous week, I was the only car on the parking lot.

I began my hike on the grassy wide trail that is used by park rangers to access the lakes.  There is more info about lakes in my previous blog.

The sun was up,  it was still dark in the  mature hardwood/ conifer woodlands along the trail.  Although I heard a lot of birds singing in the tree tops, it was difficult to see and photograph them in the dim light beneath the trees in  dense second growth forest .

Soon after I began my hike I saw a a large black bear in front of me on the trail.  We stared at each other for a few seconds. It would have been the perfect phot,  the large bear had an expression of shock on it’s face. when it saw me.  However, as I lifted my camera to get a photo it ran into the woods. This was the only photo I could get before it disappeared in the thick undergrowth along the trail.

Like my hike the week before I enjoyed the sounds of the early morning as I walked along the trail, one of them was  the eerie song of a few veeries. One landed near the trail allowing me to get  a photo even in the dim light.

It wasn’t until I got  to Egypt Meadow, about a 1 /2 mile hike,  when the sun appeared over the ridge in the east lighting up the woodlands. .  It was a beautiful scene as the brilliant  June sun rose over the lakes. .

I had hoped to see some more birds on the small lake created by the CCC in the 1930’s, maybe some heron, ducks or even a bald eagle. There were none but I wasn’t too disappointed, enjoying   the early morning scene.

And I was again serenaded by the songs of yellow warblers, common yellowthroats, eastern phoebes and Baltimore orioles.  I hoped I would see these birds on my hike to Bruce Lake so I didn’t spend any time to try and photograph them. It sometimes takes a 1/2 hour to get good photos of a  bird. However, this friendly yellow warbler landed in a tree near the bridge allowing me to get a few quick photos.

As I watched the yellow warbler fluttering in the tree, three men, lugging canoes, walked up the trail.  We had a pleasant chat about my bear sighting and their experiences hiking in the area, before they continued on their hike  up to Bruce Lake. I only saw one other person on my 8 mile hike.

Instead of hiking up to Bruce Lake I decided to take the trail along the shore of Egypt Lake. Although it was rocky and  a little overgrown I loved this trail and hoped to see some of the birds I saw on my hike the week before.

And I did, first this gray catbird, singing loudly near the trailhead.

I  then saw another pine warbler. I saw one of these elusive birds last week   and was able to get  better photos of this pretty little warbler on Saturday.

They are food high in the treetops of pine trees.

I continued on the trail which  meandered along the shore of the lake.

Many of the rocks and boulders near the path were covered with Appalachian rock ferns,

intermediate wood ferns also grew near the rocks.

Native mapleleaf viburnum was blooming along the trail,

as were the first mountain laurels flowers. It is always a good day walking in the woods of Pennsylvania when our State Flower the mountain laurel are in bloom.

I did see and hear many of the birds I saw on my hike the pervious Saturday, including this female American redstart,

a few chestnut sided warblers, and,

this pretty black throated blue warbler.. I usually see them in the dim light of deep forest. Here, because of the lake I was able to photograph this bird in the morning sunshine and it was easy to see the blue and black colors for which it got it’s name.

After about a 1/2 mile the trail joined the wider trail that led to Route 390.

Here, under some older and deeper woods near the lake i saw this yellow throated vireo

and, a Baltimore oriole singing in the trees.

I also saw many chipmunks on my hike, this one didn’t scurry away as most of them did as i approached.

I continued on the trail and came to the creek that flowed from the lake. It looks like there was once a bridge across the creek. The water was flowing faster since my visit the week before. many of the rock I used to cross the stream where now under water. They were slippery when I crossed them then, I actually did twist my back crossing the creek.

I thought about wading through the creek, I am not afraid to get my feet wet in the cold water, but I changed my mind when I realized the rocks were slippery and the current of the stream was pretty strong. It would have been no big deal in my younger years but i decided to be cautious and not attempt to cross the creek

Also, I was interested in exploring the Panther Swamp trail which would take me back to the Bruce Lake Trail. I was glad I made this choice.  The Panther Swamp Trail was wide and grassy but took me through a more open and mature hardwood conifer forest.

There were ancient pitch pine trees along the trail,

and many wildflowers in bloom, including,  meadow buttercups,

starflowers,

wild geraniums,

and Canada mayflowers.

I was also excited to see and hear a few Blackburnian warblers singing in the trees along the trail, not far from where I saw one the week before. It is always nice to be able to photograph these elusive birds.

There were also black and white warblers,

cedar waxwings

and a Canada warbler. 

The Panther Swamp took me back to the Bruce Lake Trail and I retraced me earlier route to the bridge at the Meadow Lake. I was surprised there was no one fishing here this week. There are usually a few people fishing on and around the bridge. And there were only a couple water snakes on the rocks near the bridge on Saturday. The previous week I counted five of them.

I had already hiked 3 1/2 miles, and it was another 1 1/2 up to Bruce Lake but it was a beautiful day and so I started up the ridge to this ancient and scenic glacial lake. I did not see another person on my hike to the lake, under the lush green canopy of leaves on  the second growth trees.

but I did see a few more song birds including this brilliantly colored scarlet tanager,

and a just as colorful red breasted grosbeak.

I enjoyed my peaceful hike up to the lake,

and when I  arrived I finally sat down for a few minutes along it’s shore and took in this beautiful scene that has existed since the  Ice Age. I love seeing natural lakes and I imagined the three men I had seen earlier, and who were now on the lake in their canoes, were Native Americans.

After my short rest at the lake I began my 3 mile  hike back to the parking lot at  trailhead. It was nearing noon and a lot warmer now.  It was nice walking under the shade of the trees on the trail .

I saw and heard many of the same birds I had seen on my hike up to the lake and I was able to get a photo of this eastern towhee an

this ovenbird. I was hearing them all along my 8 mile hike.

I also saw this “daddy long legs” spider. It actually isn’t a spider but a harvestmen, they are a  species of arachnid, as are spiders but in a different order. They are not venomous and are harmless.

These two insects getting romantic in the afternoon I believe are a species of cranefly.

I walked back down to the bridge at Egypt Meadows were I saw the water snakes again, but there still wasn’t anyone fishing on the bridge.

In fact I only saw one woman hiking up the trail in addition to the three men with the canoes. I did see one more bird, this eastern phoebe feeding on a moth. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Bruce Lake Natural Area birds June 1 2024.

It was now near 1 p.m. when I finished my 8 mile hike. I was hungry and drove to the where I had a wholesome breakfast at the Backroads Cafe and Dairy Bar in nearby Newfoundland.

I returned to my room, showered, edited photos and rested a bit, but, was soon out again exploring Conservation Island in the Promised Land State Park.

It was about a 1 mile hike on the trail along the shore of the island.

The only wildlife I saw was this great crested flycatcher and a few gray squirrels but it was a nice late afternoon hike. .  Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from my hike to Bruce Lake. Bruce Lake Natural Area  June 1 2024. 

It was now early evening and I was hungry. I drove to  the Old Rangers Inn, right across the street from Rex Hotel where I was staying. I enjoyed a delicious,  well deserved,  dinner after hiking almost 10 miles. I started with a salad,

then had a broiled  seafood combination platter,

with a side of linguine in garlic sauce. 

Although the meal was filling, I couldn’t pass up the  peanut explosion dessert. It was delicious too. I was now very full, and exhausted. The sun was setting when I returned to my room. It was another great day. I was beginning to fall in love with this beautiful natural paradise in Pike County.  

Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes – every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man.  Orison Swett Marden

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