A December Walk At The PPL Wetlands

A December Walk At The PPL Wetlands

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It’s early December and we are approaching the Winter Solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere. In two weeks, December 21, the shortest day, the sun will once again begin its slow return north.  In the middle latitudes of Northeastern Pennsylvania the light cast by  low December sun makes for some beautiful landscape photography. The skies were partially  clear this morning so I decided to drive out to the PPl Wetlands in Salem Township and check out the scenery. As well as look for the pair of bald eagles that I have been seeing there. 

  As soon as I arrived I searched the trees tops for the bald eagles and spotted them in the distance.

The towering cooling towers of the nuclear plant were in the background, about a mile away. 

I am not a bald eagle expert but I believe the birds are a young mated pair. I understand bald eagles mate for life. 

The bald eagles saw me from the distance and flew off into the wetlands. 

I followed the trail into the wetlands and walked along the bare trees in the early morning sunlight. 

I spotted the two bald eagles again. However, they saw me too and again flew off toward the Susquehanna River. It wasn’t a close encounter, but it is always an awe inspiring experience to see these majestic creatures in the wild. 

I continued my walk along the trail. Again the silence was so different then the many  sounds of summer that fill the wetlands. Gone were the chorus of insects, frogs and song birds. 

The trees were now bare. Browns and grays were the dominant colors, with  occasional green ferns,

or red winter berry providing a flash of color.

 I walked out to Lake Took-A-While  where I found a thin layer of ice forming on the waters. 

The great blue herons. kingfishers and wood ducks I have been seeing were gone. There was still a large flock of Canada geese on the lake but they too will fly south when its waters freeze over. 

I walked past the lake and along the Great Warrior Trail. Here I finally saw some birds. A few red-bellied and

I think hairy woodpeckers. I was surprised that I did not see the usual sparrows, nuthatches, titmice and black-capped chickadees on my hike. 

More clouds moved in as I began my return hike. I had hoped to see the bald eagles again but they were gone, probably looking for fish in the river. 

I did see some more green color along the trail, some clubmoss,

and still green dames rocket. Soon, well in most years anyway, the entire wetlands will be covered in a white blanket of snow. And I will be waiting for the first skunk cabbage to appear and announce that Spring is near. 

Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands 12/7/2019

“December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory…”
― John Geddes