A Couple Of November Hikes in the PPL Wetlands
This past weekend I returned to the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. Luzerne County for a couple of late November hikes. The trees in the wetlands and river lands were now bare and the trails bleak.
And most of the abundant wildlife I observe in the warmer months has either left the wetlands and headed south or began their Winter slumber. However, some birds and mammals are still active . And, since we had a mild Autumn, I was hoping some of the wood ducks and kingfishers remained. And there is always my hope to see a bald eagle or hawk soaring overhead.
On Saturday, it was partly cloudy, breezy and somewhat mild, for November, when I started my hike in the wetlands section of the nature preserve. There were few bird singing as I walked on the thick carpet of fallen leaves.
Once again I saw some of these usual Winter resident birds, including a small flock of white-throated sparrows,
I was also surprised one of these birds was filling the wetlands with its melodic song,
a Carolina wren. I haven’t seen one this late in the year.
There were still a couple of wood ducks on on of the ponds. Unfortunately, as usual they saw me before I saw them and quickly flew off. They will be one gone once the ice appears on the waters of the wetlands.
Walking on the trails in the wetlands I saw a few colorful leaves ,
and berries still clinging to the green briar vines.
However, most of the trees had lost their leaves exposing their bare limbs. .
As I walked into the river lands and along Lake Took-A-While the clouds increased.
I saw a few great blue herons on the far shore of the lake but they also flew away as I approached. The pair of kingfishers I have seen all Summer were still here. One of them landed in a tree on the other side of the lake, allowing me to take this distant photo. I love watching these birds as they fly and chatter on their continually search for fish.
A large flock of Canada geese were on the lake. There were about 50 geese in the flock. I don’t know if they were the local geese that lived here during the Summer or whether they were a new flock resting on their journey south.
In a tree along the trail I saw this red squirrel hanging on to a large black walnut. It appeared he was trying to figure out how to open it.
Walking past the lake I followed the the river lands trails and I found one flower in bloom, I think it is a water chickweed.
It was not overcast as I began my walk back to the wetlands.
In wetlands I didn’t seen any muskrats or beavers but there was plenty of evidence that the beavers were still there.
After inspecting the trees they had gnawed I found their lodge in the waters not far from the trail. It wasn’t the most productive hike I had taken, in my constant search for wildlife but it was still a good way to spend an overcast November day. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike on Saturday. PPL Wetlands hike November 21 2020.
On Sunday I decided to again hike in the wetlands. November hikes are not the best for observing wildlife. However I knew the wood ducks, kingfishers and bald eagles still remained and decided to try again to capture a phot of one of them. It was overcast and cooler when I arrived early Sunday morning.
I followed the same trail as my five mile hike on Saturday. One again I observed some white-throated sparrows foraging for seeds along the trails.
There were also a few song sparrows.
and downy and hairy woodpeckers active in the woodlands along the trails.
Once again I left the wetlands and hiked into the river lands and lake Took-A-While. I didn’t see any geese, wood ducks or bald eagles on the lake on my Sunday hike. I only saw a few friendly black-capped chickadees,
gathering seeds as the hopped from branch to branch. They remain here in the Winter and are the only birds active on the coldest days.
Once again I found bare trees and fallen and decaying leaves on the trail. The only green I saw were the Christmas ferns and
intermediate wood ferns growing along the trail.
As I did on my previous hike I walked past the lake and began my return hike to the wetlands. It was another gloomy day and I didn’t see as much wildlife as I hoped to find. The wide diversity of life found in the warmer months has dwindled and will continue to dwindle as colder weather returns. to the wetlands. This will not stop me from continuing my hikes . Hopefully we will have another mild Winter and an early Spring. I will be looking forward to the sprouting of the first skink cabbages and the return of the robins. Here is another gallery with some more photographs from another of my late November hikes in the wetlands. PPL Wetlands November 22 2020.
In November, the trees are standing all sticks and bones. Without their leaves, how lovely they are, spreading their arms like dancers. They know it is time to be still. Cynthia Rylan