A Few Photos Of The River Otters And Resident Birds From a Walk In The Susquehanna Wetlands

A Few Photos Of The River Otters And Resident Birds From a Walk In The Susquehanna Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands (25 of 38)
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I was looking forward to hiking  in the Susquehanna Wetlands this weekend after my trip to Mississippi and Alabama. On my last hike, two weeks ago, I saw a family of river otters playing in  a pond in the wetlands. Seeing these graceful and playful   beautiful animals is always a wonderful experience. And I am so happy they were living in the wetlands.  I was hoping they were still around.  It was  mostly sunny, windy and a seasonably cold 35 degrees when I arrived at  early Sunday morning,.  The trees are are leafless now and contrasted the blue skies overhead and the blue waters of a pond below at the entrance to the wetlands. 

As usual,  I walked down to the the Susquehanna River after parking my Jeep. I  like to observe the water level and always hope to see some water fowl, kingfishers or even a bald eagle. There were none of the above on Sunday. The river was sill pretty high, in some years  ice  can be seen floating on the river, but not this year. 

I left the river and walked into the wetlands.  As soon as I came to the  old Susquehanna canal I got my wish.  I saw some movement in the waters. It was the river otters. But it was too late, I wish I had been quieter on my approach. 

They saw me too.  They  quickly dived under the water. One, I am guessing a watchful mother otter  lifted it’s head above the water and peeked at me.  It quickly dived under the waters. I waited for about 10 minutes but they did not re-surface. 

I continued my walk along the canal. It was quiet and bleak even in the bright December sun. The  low angle of the sun, and the absence of leaves,  lights up areas of the woodlands you don’t see in the warmer months. 

Almost all of the leaves have fallen from the trees. Those that remain, and those that have fallen to the ground, are mostly brown now. A few , like the leaves on the blackberry canes and brambles still have some shades of orange and red. 

And the bright red winterberries also provide some color to the drab brown wetlands and river lands.

There is still some green too, not much but some, such as the autumn olive  leaves,

 and the green Christmas ferns,

and spinulose woodfern.

Patches of  green big-red stem moss also provide  some green. The fronds of these ferns  and patches of moss will remain green all winter providing some color to  contrast the brown and grays that wills dominate the wetlands. 

On my walk back through the wetlands I was more quiet and looking for the otters. A  short distance  past where I saw them, I saw ripples in the water, I looked, heard some splashes and saw an otter disappearing in the water right in front of me. Once again I watched and waited and they did not reappear. As I looked for the otters this red-tailed hawk landed in a tree on the other side of a large pond along the path.

I decided to leave when another hiker in the wetlands approached. I told her about the otters and wished her luck in seeing them. 

I walked down to river again, and walked under the old oak trees along its banks. I often see deer and squirrels in this area, and have seen  belted kingfishers, wood ducks, and even bald eagles here too.  There were  no critters here on Sunday.  Just some pretty December scenery, brown and leafless as it was. The sun always makes things look better, even in winter. 

Walking toward the river lands section of the nature preserve I came to the area where the trees are covered with poison ivy vines. And where t here are  poison ivy vines , These vines provide food and cover for the birds that remain in our area through the cold months.  I have learned many birds love the berries. And they were birds  here on Sunday,  including this female or juvenile  cardinal,  it was beautiful in the   December sunlight  

There were white-throated , and

song sparrows scurrying  on the ground and lower branches of shrubs under the poison ivy  covered trees. 

There were tufted titmice,.

downy woodpeckers, and 

a red-bellied woodpeckers feeding on the poison ivy  berries and the berries of the  green brier vines that also grew on the trees.

Nearby there was a small flock of goldfinches feeding on the seeds of  hazel alders trees.  Both the male,

and female goldfinches were now wearing their drab winter feathers and not the bright yellow colors of spring and summer. 

Also in the hazel alder trees were  some dark-eyed juncos. These birds are more commonly seen feeding on  or near the ground.  This small area in the wetlands really was a feeding station for the winter resident birds in the wetlands, if you are there at the right time of the day.

This area is not far from the road that divides the wetlands and river lands and I was soon walking into the river lands. There were no fishermen  along the shores of Lake Took-A-While on Sunday

The waters of the lake reflected the blue skies and cumulus clouds creating some  nice photos.  

I walked to the far end of the lake. There were no great blue herons, kingfishers or other water fowl on the lake  that I always hope to find,  And no bald eagles , ospreys or red-tailed hawks, flew over either. These are rarer but can be seen on occasion flying over the lake. The only birds I saw were the usual flock of about 30 Canada geese that have  not flown south yet. And depending on the weather could remain all winter if there is no ice on the Susquehanna River. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the many birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands hike birds December 12 2021. 

I walked back to my Jeep in the wetlands under the December sun. It was a nice day for this time of year and I always enjoy sunshine, even the low sun of late Fall. I was hoping to see the river otters on my return hike but they weren’t around. The birds near the poison ivy covered trees were gone too. I didn’t  see another critter on my walk, just a young couple enjoying the beauty of the wetlands. And it is a beautiful place, even in  December. But  I am still looking forward to Spring, and the return of  my  many critter friends that flew south or are sleeping. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the otters and scenery from my hike on Sunday. Susquehanna Wetlands hike December 12 2021. 

 Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth. —Henry David Thoreau

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