A Cloudy January Hike In The PPL Wetlands.

A Cloudy January Hike In The PPL Wetlands.

PPL Wetlands -12
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Although it had gotten colder this weekend here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, temperatures dropped into the 20’s, it was still above average and the the mild weather we have had so far this winter was evident during my hike in  the PPL Wetlands yesterday. PPL Wetlands -3

It was cloudy when I left my house, and I encountered a snow squall that whitened the roads atop the mountains  making my drive to the PPL Wetlands a bit difficult. However, when I neared the wetlands, at a much lower elevation, it was only cloudy and there was no snow on the ground.  I was surprised to find that almost all of the ponds and  canals PPL Wetlands -5were ice free. 

I have been visiting these wetlands for about seven years now and there was always ice on the waterways in January,  February and some years even in March. Not this year.  It seemed more like a day in early November or late March than the end of January.  PPL Wetlands -2

I walked the familiar paths, which, even though it has been mild, still were devoid of the many sounds of life that fill the air in the warmer months. Gone are the sounds of the insects buzzing, the song birds singing, and the frogs croaking. For the first mile I didn’t hear a sound until I ran into a flock of bluebirds, These pretty birds brave the cold and remain here for the winter. PPL Wetlands -1

The temperature remained around freezing, not bad for January in these parts. In fact, some of the fern species were still green and very much alive. PPL Wetlands -21

As was some patches of duckweed on the open waters, a rarity this time of year. PPL Wetlands -6

And there were still a lot of plants living in the middle of winter,  I am not sure what type of plant this is,  but, again it is not often you seen green plants in January in Northeastern Pennsylvania.PPL Wetlands -25

I walked from the wetlands to the river lands  and saw no animals and only a few birds.  I  was surprised, as I walked along the ice free waters of Lake  Took-A-While, to see a flock of geese on the waters.  I have not seen them in this area this time of year before. PPL Wetlands -19

On my return walk I also ran into the usual winter residents, two species of birds who seem to like to flock together, and flutter in the dense vegetation along the trails, the dark eyed or northern junco. PPL Wetlands -28

and the white throated sparrow.  PPL Wetlands -29

And high in the tree tops I saw this woodpecker looking for some insects in the tree bark. I am not sure if it were a hairy or a downy woodpecker. PPL Wetlands -22

I also found this tree which was visited by a woodpecker recently.  Judging from the size of the holes it may have been done by the larger, and beautiful pileated woodpecker. PPL Wetlands -18

The mild weather we have had also could be seen as I walked along the Susquehanna River.  On my last visit  ice had formed on the river and  floated downstream. Yesterday the river was completely ice free. I remember some year the river was frozen solid this time of year. PPL Wetlands -33

As I returned to my car, I hoped that the warm weather we have had continues. Even though the flowers, leaves and wildlife of the warm months are gone, it is still nice walking in these wooded wetlands in January without  having to trudge through knee deep snow. But I also remember many years were both February and March brought lots of snow and sub zero temperatures. I sure do hope this years isn’t one of them . Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike yesterday. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-January-28-2017-PPL Wetlands -2

“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you ….. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.” –  Ruth StoutPPL Wetlands -14