A Frigid January Late Afternoon Walk In the Susquehanna Wetlands And River Lands

A Frigid January Late Afternoon Walk In the Susquehanna Wetlands And River Lands

Susquehanna wetlands (19 of 43)
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It  was another frigid January day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Friday. However we had clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine. I decided to take  to visit the Susquehanna Wetlands late in the afternoon. It was a cold 13 degrees when I arrived at the wetlands in Salem Township, Luzerne County around 3;30 p.m.  Walking down from the parking lot to the Susquehanna River, I was surprised to find there was no ice on the river.  Last weekend there was already a considerable ice build up. 

We did have some milder weather during the week, but I  didn’t expect all of the ice to be gone. Well the snow and ice on the trails in the wetlands was still there,

the snow was covered with a thin layer of ice and crunched as I walked under the weak, but still brilliant,  January sun. 

I only found some open water on one of the ponds. I stopped here hoping to see an otter, muskrat, beaver or mink. I had seen all of these critters in the wetlands this past summer. Not a one was stirring in the frigid January cold. 

All of the other ponds and canals were now frozen solid and some covered in snow. 

The wetlands were now  a winter wonderland of brown, grays and white.  As usual the only other colors were the common winterberries, 

the purple green briar berries 

and the princess or ground moss. 

There was little wildlife activity of any kind  in the snow covered wetland

until I finally saw a couple white-throated sparrows, their feathers fluffed up to help protect them from the cold.

I also was very surprised to see this bird, a red-winged blackbird. I have never seen one in the wetlands in the winter before. They usually leave in very  large flocks in the fall. I can’t imagine what it would be feeding on in the frozen wetlands. . 

Since there was no ice on the river I next decided to walk back down to see if I could find some critters stirring there. Sure enough I saw a flock of common mergansers.    This is a female,

and this is a female having a bad hair day.

Some of the birds were swimming in a circle and diving beneath the frigid waters of the river. It was only later, when I was home editing the photos. that  I realized they were diving for, and catching small catfish. 

The heard me approach,

as I tried to get closer and flew up the river,  one still  clutching the fish he caught in his beak.. 

I left the river and walked back up to the trail in the wetlands.  Here I saw a tufted titmouse and 

a Carolina wren perched in tree branches in the rays of the setting sun. 

I also some woodpeckers. I am finally learning to distinguish the hairy and downy woodpeckers. This is a hairy, You can see the large protruding bill. It is a larger bird then it’s cousin, the downy woodpecker.

I saw a  downy woodpecker  nearby. Look at the size difference of their bills. The sun was getting low in the southwestern sky and these would be the last birds I would see on my five mile hike. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands January 21 2022. 

I walked into the river lands area of the nature preserve. Lake Took-A-While was now frozen solid and snow covered .

The sun was slowly  disappearing below the mountains in the west.

  The last rays of the sun covered the trees in a soft golden light. 

Soon the sun would set and I walked, for the first time, in the winter evening twilight.

Following my usual routine I walked to the end of the lake and began my walk back to the wetlands darkness gradually fell over the river lands and wetlands. 

The steam from the twin cooling towers of the nuclear plants towered up in the cold arctic air and was illuminated by the setting sun. 

I left the river lands and walked in the increasing darkness under the trees in the wetlands.

I decided to hike along the river where ancient trees still grow.

I had a  primeval feeling  walking under these old trees, thinking that Native Americans could have also walked here on there way home on a frigid January evening. 

I was cold, tired and hungry when I got back to my Jeep. I had a half hour ride home but I was glad I decided to hike out here in this wonderful retreat where I can enjoy nature in all four seasons.  Here is a link to a gallery  on my blog website with more photos from my four mile frigid January hike. Susquehanna Wetlands January 21 2022. 

“Little January
Tapped at my door today.
And said, “Put on your winter wraps,
And come outdoors to play.”
Little January
Is always full of fun;
Until the set of sun.
Little January
Will stay a month with me
And we will have such jolly times –
Just come along and see.”
–  Winifred C. Marshall


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