A Close Encounter With A Thunderstorm On An Afternoon Hike In The Susquehanna Wetlands.

A Close Encounter With A Thunderstorm On An Afternoon Hike In The Susquehanna Wetlands.

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Last Friday I decided  to try something different and took  an afternoon hike in the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township Luzerne County. As you may know from my many blog posts  about the wetlands I usually arrive early in the morning when the temperatures are cool.  It was hazy, hot and humid when I arrived. The temperature was 90 degrees. I wasn’t expecting to see much wildlife activity in this heat but, one thing I learned about my many experiences exploring nature, you never know what you will find unless you look. 

I started my hike by walking to the Susquehanna River. We have had some severe thunderstorms and heavy rains for a few days and the river showed the results. The waters were high and a deep  brown color from the fast moving water run-off from the storms. 

As I approached the river I encountered this great blue heron who wasn’t happy with me disturbing his afternoon fishing. 

When I walked into the wetlands I was surprised to see a lot of turtles sitting on logs in the ponds and canals. I think the water may actually to warm for them in the mid-afternoon sun. 

Once again I saw, for a second or two, some wood ducks, these were young  ducklings, but as usual they didn’t stay still for long and this was the best photo I could get before they swam into the reeds. 

The wet, humid weather made for ideal conditions for mushroom to grow and I saw quite a few on my five mile hike, including this coral mushroom and 

this bolete mushroom. 

There were a lot of the delicate and interesting Indian pipes or ghosts plants too.

The blackberries were beginning to ripen a little early this year. 

I also saw some tasty , but still unripe , wild grapes,

and poisonous nightshade flowers growing along the trails.

The air in the wetlands was thick and sultry. There were few birds singing in the afternoon heat. 

I did hear a few catbirds and did  see this, I believe, yellow throated vireo in the trees but that was about it.  The other birds were smart and staying in the shade.  

I also encountered a few more great blue herons and  green herons on my hike. 

As I noted in prior blogs there were almost no mosquitoes in the wetlands and only a few other insects and dragonflies. 

I am not a fan of mosquitoes but I hope that by controlling these insects they are not harming the beautiful dragonflies and other insects that live in the wetlands.

It was still mostly sunny and hot when I left the shade of the wetlands and was in the more direct sun on the trail in the river lands along Lake Took-A-While. It was hot. 

I walked along the lake and past the flock of Canada geese,

and I also saw a few red-winged blackbirds in the reeds. This is a female.

 When I walked  about 3/4 of the trail along the lake, I noticed some cumulus clouds appearing on the northeastern horizon. The possibility of a thunderstorm  appearing totally slipped my mind.  The sound of thunder in the distance quickly reminded me of the always present possibility on an afternoon hike in the Summer. 

Of course, I decided to end my hike and head back to my Jeep as the storm clouds approached. I don’t mind walking in torrential rain but  thunderstorms, that’s a different story. I have had a few interesting experiences with lightning in my life. They were  not pleasant. 

I was out about a 1 1/2 from my Jeep, so I walked as fast as I could. The sky darkened and the sound of thunder got louder as I walked. However, I did have to stop and photograph this wood duck and

great blue heron on the way. 

Just as I approached my Jeep a loud clap of thunder had me run the last hundred yard.  However, the storm was more bark than bite, and after a full more  bolts of lightning and a sudden downpour the storm passed.  I was already driving out of the wetlands so I only hiked four miles instead of the five miles I had planned.  I didn’t expect to see much wildlife , and I didn’t, but it was nice to outrun a thunderstorm again. I haven’t done this in years.  But i will also remember to check the forecast next time I  walk on a hot afternoon.  Here is a link to some more photos from my afternoon hike in the wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands July 16 2021

“It was one of those heavy, sultry afternoons when nature seems to be saying to itself, ‘Now, shall I, or shall I not, scare the pants off these people with a hell of a thunderstorm?”
― P.G. Wodehouse

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