A Lot Of Green Herons, And A Few Other Critters, Including A Couple of Otters At The Susquehanna Wetlands

A Lot Of Green Herons, And A Few Other Critters, Including A Couple of Otters At The Susquehanna Wetlands

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It was overcast last Saturday morning, with rain in the forecast. Shortly after I awoke it began  pouring rain at my home in Hazle Township.  I had planned to meet a photographer  friend and hike in the Susquehanna Wetlands , twenty miles from my home in Salem Township Luzerne County.  I was thinking of canceling our hike,  but then  decided to drive to the wetlands anyway and, upon arriving  found overcast skies, but and no  rain. My friend arrived at the same time, and , fortunately, the rain stayed away for our entire five mile hike. 

We both  talked  about wanting see some green herons on our hike. They live here in the wetlands but are usually  elusive and hard to photograph.  However, on Saturday  we got our wish soon after we started our hike. Sitting on the banks of  one of the canals was this green heron. It would be the first of many herons we would see that morning. 

On the canal behind the green heron, there  were some wood ducks swimming on the duck weed covered green waters. This was the female and this, 

the male. 

Across the canal,  was a great blue heron standing in the reeds. 

While watching the herons and wood ducks, a  couple of  otters emerged from the green waters of the canal right under the feet of the green heron!  It was an amazing sight we were lucky to experience. 

I often see muskrats and beaver in the wetlands but rarely otters. It was  a great start to our  morning, to see all of these critters together,  It was the beginning of a morning of wildlife sightings, mainly  green herons  and great blue  herons. 

Most of the trees and plants along  trails in the wetland were still a lush green color,

but many plants, including the bracken ferns, were already turning brown. Fall is approaching.

Other signs of the approaching fall  were the black walnut ,and hazel or filbert nuts, shown here,  that were  now mature and starting to  fall to the ground.

As we continued our hike, it didn’t take long for  to see another green heron, well actually my friend saw it, and most of the other herons.  She has good eyes. It was perched on a log in another pond in the wetlands, staring intensely at the green waters hoping to see,  and, catch a fish. This one, while we watched, was  unsuccessful.

After  another  short walk we saw a third green heron.  This one caught a fish as we watched!

It was a great scene to watch and photograph. Unfortunately my mirrorless camera is not good in the low light on a cloudy day so these were the best photos I could capture of this exciting event. 

We watched as the green heron manipulated the fish until it finally was able to swallow the large fish whole.  There are a lot more photos of this encounter, and some of the other green and great blue  herons we saw on our hike ,  in this  link to a  gallery on my blog website.  Susquehanna Wetlands herons August 28 2021.

After watching the green heron devour the fish we continued our hike on the trail towards the river lands. 

The abundant rainfall we have had was good for the mushrooms and we saw many growing along the trails including this green russula, 

some two-colored bolete mushrooms ,

a white amanita which may be a deadly destroying angel mushroom, and

this brown amanita mushroom I believe a panther or blusher mushroom. 

This is a species of  coral  mushroom. 

This mushroom, a species of russula I think, was old and in the process of dispersing it’s spores and may have become infested with another fungus or mold. 

Wildflowers also grew along the trails in the wetlands. Beautiful ironweed flowers bloomed in the wetter parts of the trail,

as did purple loosestrife and

 broadleaf arrowhead flowers. 

Great blue lobelia and

white turtlehead flowers where in bloom on drier areas of the trails. 

Leaving the wetlands, we walked down to the rain swollen Susquehanna River hoping to see some water fowl,  ospreys or bald eagles.  We didn’t. 

But in the wetlands along the road we did see some birds, including this pretty male goldfinch,

this house wren, 

a few  gray catbirds and

this northern cardinal. A lot of the birds have already left the wetlands, and headed south, including the red-winged blackbirds and many of  migratory song birds. The wetlands were a lot quieter than they are in the Spring. 

It was still overcast and the skies threatened rain when we walked into the river lands area of the nature preserve. 

Our luck finding herons continued as we saw this great blue heron standing on the trail along the lake,

it watched as we approached,

 and then, when we got to close, flew off to quieter fishing grounds. 

There were still some wildflowers blooming in the river lands including jewel weed or touch-me- nots, 

and cutleaf coneflowers.

The nightshade plants have already produced their red berries.

We also observed this interesting insect. My friend  did some research and identified it as a spined soldier bug nymph , a species of stink bugs. They are a beneficial insects that feeds on gypsy moths, potato and bean beetles and other pests.   

We followed my usual route to the far end of Lake Took-A-While and began our hike back to the wetlands. 

The rains held off, and some breaks in the clouds let some sun through warming the temperatures. This brought the cicadas out and soon their singing echoed in the river lands and wetlands. A few turtles also crawled out of the waters to enjoy the sun.

Back in the wetlands we saw this muskrat and

a few more herons. This green heron was sitting on a log in one of the canals. 

Not far off was another great blue heron. 

This one,

watched us watching it before it flew off,

and landed in a nearby tree where we watched and photographed it.  Well, this would be the last heron we would see, but I have been hiking in the wetlands for ten years now and this was the most green and great blue herons I had seen on a hike. 

The rain held off  as we finished our five mile hike. It was a nice hike  enjoying the natural beauty of the wetlands and the many critters that live here. This time the herons provided us with  many  beautiful photographs to share with our friends.  It is  one of my favorite hikes here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to another gallery with more photographs from my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands August 28 2021. 

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
― Ansel Adams

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