A Mid Summer Hike In The Penrose Swamp Barrens Preserve.

A Mid Summer Hike In The Penrose Swamp Barrens Preserve.

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Cooler and less humid weather  arrived here in Northeastern Pennsylvania last Saturday. It was sunny with temperatures in the mid 50’s,  Saturday morning, perfect hiking weather.  I decided to  hike in the Penrose Swamp Barrens again.  It is becoming another one of my  favorite hiking trails. The newly acquired 2700 acre tract of pristine woodlands is now part of the Weiser Stare Forest. It is located mostly in Carbon County and I accessed it on the Buck Mountain Road. 

I walked in on an access road that took me to a utility power line.  I was surprised there was  no bird song in the woodlands. I have encountered many birds here on my previous hikes. It was very quiet on this cool morning. I think the insects are inactive in the cool temperatures and so are the birds that feed on them. It’s  just a theory, not really sure.  

On the utility right of way I did see this deer that watched me as walked past. 

It is mid Summer now and the profusion of Spring flowers is over. There were not many flowers blooming along the trail, there were a few oxeye daisies, look closely and you will the white crab spider on the flower.

The most common flower was now the steeple bush. 

There were large patches of the American climbing or Hartford fern. 

These ferns are endangered due  to loss of habitat, but are plentiful in the Penrose Swamp Barrens. 

The heavy  rains we had  the past few days made the trail wet and muddy, 

and also produced a lot of mushrooms, this is a bitter bolete, one of the many growing along the utility line, 

The only birds I saw were some common yellow throats, 

a mourning dove perched on a utility wire,

and this pretty  song bird a black throated green warbler. 

It was singing in the trees along the trail. 

This colorful bird will soon be leaving our area, on it’s long journey to Central America, the Caribbean and South America. The distances these tiny birds travel continues to amaze me. 

I left the utility line at the old Buck Mountain Railroad right of way.

I followed the trail into a swamp with a thick growth of hemlock and  hardwood trees. The heavy rains of the previous days flooded the trail and I had to wade through this knee deep puddle. 

There was a wetland on one side of the trail and a small pond on the other. I saw a great blue heron fly off as I approached the pond. 

The trail continued through the thick forest of oak and hemlock trees. There were also large rhododendron bushes along the trail. 

Only a few of the beautiful flowers remained. 

There were more mushrooms growing in these deep woods including blusher and

cleft footed amanita. 

And  the Indian or ghost pipes were also  prevalent in the woodlands  along the trail. This strange looking plant is not a fungus but a flowering member of the blueberry family that does not produce chlorophyll. 

This   trail took me to an active railroad right of way.

This was once known as Hazle Junction where the Beaver Meadows, the Hazleton and the Buck Mountain railroads intersected.  All three first hauled coal down to the Lehigh Canal. The Beaver Meadows was the first. It was  established in the 1830’s. I followed a road along railroad tracks ,

to the old Penrose Reservoir. I had see a lot of critters on this reservoir over the years. On Saturday,  there was nothing stirring on the scenic reservoir. 

I  walked to the other end of the lake. saw a pair of fleeing wood ducks. 

and a few female mallard ducks. .

There were also a lot of dragonflies darting above the waters of the reservoir. . This is a male widow skimmer, 

this a slaty skimmer 

and this an ebony jewelwing damselfly. 

I sat on a fallen tree near the wetlands where the Penrose Creek enters the reservoir and listened to, and watched a kingfisher chattering as it flew over the  reservoir. 

I wasn’t able to  photograph the kingfisher, but I did see and photograph this eastern phoebe,

an eastern wood pee wee, 

and a few eastern towhees . Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Penrose Swamp Barrens  birds July 22 2023. 

I had walked out about 2 1/2 miles and decided to start my hike back to my Jeep.  The strong July sun had warmed the cool morning air causing cumulus clouds to form in the clear blue skies. It was perfect walking weather. 

It was nice to leave the railroad track right of way and get out of the  now midday sun.

After wading through the knee deep puddle again, I came to the utility right of way and now found the thistle and knapweed flowers were being visited by many  species of bees and butterflies. The most common were the great spangled fritillary butterflies. There were dozens of them feeding  on the nectar of the many knapweed and bull thistle  flowers blooming along the trail. 

There were also a few very similar Aphrodite fritillary butterflies, 

a few common wood nymph butterflies.,

this ocola skipper moth .

a dun skipper moth .  

an American or  small copper butterfly

and a spice bush swallowtail butterfly. .

I only saw one monarch butterfly. I relied on my insect ID apps on my iPhone for these identifications so I hope they are correct. Please feel free to correct me if I  am wrong.   Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the butterflies I saw on my hike. Penrose Swamp Barrens butterflies July 22 2023. 

Although I didn’t see many species of birds on this hike, or a bear or rattle snake, I was content to enjoy the delicate beauty of the butterflies and dragonflies.  There is  beauty in nature everywhere, if you just keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photos from my five mile hike. Penrose Swamp Barrens July 22 2023. 

“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.“ – Albert Einstein

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