A Lot Of Birds, And A Cool Frog, But No Bears: A Hike In The Pinchot State Forest.

A Lot Of Birds, And A Cool Frog, But No Bears: A Hike In The Pinchot State Forest.

Crystal Lake (32 of 40)
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I returned to the Crystal Lake access  in  the Pinchot State Forest in Luzerne County last Sunday. Once again I  was going to explore the swamps and wetlands around this large lake  in search of the bears. I know they live here,  I have encountered many bears on  hikes here in previous years. But not a one this year. 

It was a beautiful, clear, cool  and sunny August morning when I arrived at the Laurel Run Road parking lot early Sunday morning.  This week the woodlands along the trail were filled with the songs of birds as I set out on my hike. 

Friendly black-capped chickadees were fluttering in the tree branches  along the trail. 

There also was a small flock of eastern towhees scampering in the underbrush.

These are photos of the male eastern towhee. 

I also saw a female  but couldn’t get a photo, but I was able to photograph this juvenile. 

There were also a few common yellowthroat warblers  scrambling in the woods along the trail. This is a female.

I was very glad to have found this access trail  to the lake and the surrounding woodlands of the Pinchot State Forest.  

There were many large second growth trees towering over the trail. It made for a nice hike as the sun filtered through the trees in the cool morning air. 

I wasn’t alone in the forest, I didn’t see any bears yet but this red squirrel scampered across the trail. 

There were many ferns along the trail, and these New York ferns were already starting to fade into their Fall colors.  Summer is at it’s peak now and,  with the lengthening nights, cooler weather will soon be upon us.

But not on Sunday in the  Pinchot State Forest, the sun was warming it up very quickly. After about a mile I was near the lake and came to a clearing,

where I found a small cranberry bog. This will be a good place to look for bears in the fall. Bears love cranberries.

There were a number of birds perched on the trees tops in this clearing including this northern flicker, 

this  olive sided flycatcher, 

and this blue jay. 

I walked along the breast of the dam again and enjoyed the sparkling clear waters of Crystal lake  reflecting  the deep blue skies. 

In the distance the steam from the Susquehanna Nuclear plant could be seen on the horizon. The Susquehanna Wetlands  and River Lands nature preserve is next to the plant, one of my favorite hiking trails in our area. 

Unfortunately, the grass and vegetation along the breast of the dam was cut during the week. This included the many wild flowers I saw on my week the previous week. There were still some flowers along the trails below the dam breast including St. John wort, 



and these pearly everlasting flowers. 

The trail  continued around the lake  were large puddles had formed  from the recent rains. 

The trees in this area were older and the trail was shaded by their thick canopies. Here I found a lot of mushrooms including these painted suillus bolete mushrooms, 

this amanita, I believe it is either a yellow patches or fly agaric mushroom, 

this a panther or blusher amanita, and, 

this voluminous milker mushroom. 

Last week I thought I found a shortcut to the swamps where I had seen a lot of bears in the past. I explored some other trails so didn’t hike to these swamps last week. This week I realized Crystal Lake and this tract of the Pinchot State Forest  is much larger than I had originally thought it was. I walked in the direction of  the swamps and I was out 3 1/2 miles and still couldn’t find them . It will be just as easy to hike in from the Dennison Township State Game Lands access. However, it was  still a nice hike through the lush woodlands around the lake. 

Along the way I saw this brightly colored green frog who quickly hopped away. 

And I also ran into a small flock of common yellow throat warblers. I watched this male hop from branch to branch on the trees along the trail. 

I love the mask on the males face. 

I was also able to photograph this female. 

There were also a few red-eyed vireos singing in the woods.

They are usually perched high in the tree tops but  this one landed on a branch just over my head. 

A black and white warbler, 

and oven bird also were near the trail. It was a good day for observing and photographing birds..Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Crystal Lake hike birds August 8 2021.

After walking  3 1/2 miles I decided to begin my return hike.  I saw a few  more birds, including a this  song sparrow 

as I walked on the trails and along the lake under the bright August sun

I was also surprised, and delighted, to find some oyster mushrooms growing on a tree. These delicious edible mushrooms are more common in May.

This eastern phoebe was perched atop a tree near the lake. 

After I walked past the lake, 

the trail entered the shade of thick woodlands. I  walked the last mile of my seven mile hike under thick the canopy leaves. The late morning sun filtered down through the leaves. I failed in my mission to find and photograph a bear but it was an enjoyable hike. I was able to see, photograph and share some of the beautiful birds I saw on my hike,. But I really must find a bear, next week it will happen. I hope! Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike in the Pinchot State Forest. Crystal lake August 8 2021. 

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

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