A Frigid February Hike In The Susquehanna Wetlands
It was a frigid February morning when I awoke Saturday at my home in Hazle Township Luzerne County. And here in Northeastern Pennsylvania frigid February mornings are not uncommon. We had an ice storm on Friday. The trees in my backyard were coated with a thick layer of ice. I was anxious to drive to the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township to see how much ice they got there. The wetlands are located about 25 miles from my home and are at a much lower elevation. So I wasn’t entirely surprised to find only a light coating of ice on the trees in the wetlands.
It was partly cloudy, a frigid 14 degrees with a strong northwesterly wind when I arrived at the wetlands around 8:30 a.m. As usual I walked down to the Susquehanna River to look for wildlife and check the water level. The river was high but I was surprised there wasn’t much ice on it’s waters. The only ice was along the shore.
Leaving the river, I walked into the wetlands and was surprised again when I found only an inch or so of snow on the trails. We still have over six inches of snow in my backyard up on the mountain. I was relieved since this made walking so much easier.
It was quiet again in the wetlands, even more then so on my previous Winter walks. Usually I will see a few song and white-throated sparrows, black capped-chickadees, woodpeckers or nuthatches, and, sometimes a hawk eagle, muskrat or otter. There was nothing stirring on this frigid February morning. It was cold, and I froze my fingers to take these, but I photographed the ice from the freezing rain on some of the plants and berries in the wetlands including this blackberry thorn,
It was cold walking into the strong northwesterly wind but I continued through the wetlands and was walking back down to the river when I saw a Cooper’s hawk on the ground. By the time I got my frozen hand out of my glove it had flown up on a tree branch. I was glad it didn’t fly off as I approached,
After seeing the hawk and sparrows I walked along the Susquehanna River again. I was hoping to see a bald eagle or at least ducks but there was no wildlife on the river. I headed to the river lands area of the nature preserve. The wildflowers of summer are long gone and only the seed pods of plants like the cutleaf teasel,
Here is a link to a gallery with more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds February 5 2022.
After watching the muskrat I finished up my five mile hike. Although I dislike the cold, I still enjoyed getting outside and seeing some wildlife feeding in the frigid weather. But I am counting the days until Spring and the return of the warm weather. This is a link to another gallery with some more photos from my frigid February hike in the wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands hike February 5 2022.
February, a form
Pale-vestured, wildly fair,—
One of the North Wind’s daughters,
With icicles in her hair.