A Nice Hike But On The Wrong Trail At Tuscarora State Park
On Saturday morning I decided to hike on the Spirit of Tuscarora trail at Tuscarora State Park in Schuylkill County. When I hiked on the trail last Summer and thought the meadows along the Locust Creek would be a good place to see migrating birds in the Spring. Instead of hiking in from the camping and picnic area, as I usually do, I was going to try and follow the trail up along Locust Creek from the Tuscarora Mountain Drive. Well that was the plan. I only quickly glanced at the maps and I wound up at the trailhead for the Crow Trail instead of the Spirit of Tuscarora Trail.
I never hiked this trail before and I loved the large old oak tree I saw at the entrance so I decided to check it out. It was sunny and cool when I began my hike on the Crow Trail. I hoped it would eventually take me to the Spirit of Tuscarora Trail. My AllTrail iPhone app showed the two trail weren’t far apart near the lake.
As soon as I entered the mixed hardwood and pine woodlands I heard the familiar song of one of our common Summer residents, the ovenbird. Their loud songs echo in our forest even in mid afternoon heat of the summer. These small warblers are a long distance migrant. They spend the Winter months in Florida, the Caribbean ,Central and South America.
It was good to hear their songs again. There were dozens of them singing in the trees throughout my five mile hike.
I was surprised not to see more migratory birds or even our year long residents. I t was pretty quiet on my hike , except for the song of ovenbirds.
There were some wildflowers blooming along the trail including a few patches of wild oats,
some golden Alexander flowers and
many common blue violets, all native flowers .
The trail followed an old road and after passing some older woodlands, with huge white pines, it passed through some meadows and old farm fields.
I am guessing these were very old farm fields since there were ancient black walnut trees along the trail.
In the old fields I saw some old apple trees that were in full blossom,
a lot wild garlic mustard also with flowers,
Pretty bluet flowers were strewn along the trail.
The trail entered a oak/male and pine woodland again and here I saw some wood ferns unfurling their first leaves. I was disappointed I didn’t see more song birds or even our local resident birds.
I continued to hear the oven bird song and also heard, and then saw, a lot of common yellow throats. These small warblers winter in the southern United States, Central America and the Caribbean.
And I heard this bird perched on a branch and loudly singing it’s song to the forest, a black throated blue warbler. These birds are returning to our woodlands after sending the Winter in South Florida, Central America and the Caribbean Islands. It amazes me every Spring to see them here in our forests knowing how far they travel to get here.
I had walked about a 1 1/2 miles when I realized I was atop a ridge and the Locust Creek and the Spirit of Tuscarora Trail were about 400 feet below me. I looked for a path or trail down to the creek but couldn’t find one. I was going to have to follow the Crow Trail . It was a nice trail passing through areas of older woodlands and the old meadows fields.
The trail eventually led me off the ridge and down to the lake. I realized I had hiked here before. The Crow Trial met the Lake View trail which I had hiked for the first time last Summer. I walked past the intersection without seeing it.
At the lake I saw a few fishermen in small boats on the lake, a few Canada geese and this common loon swimming on the far side of the lake.
I enjoyed the views of the deep blue lake before hiking back up the ridge to the open fields where the Crow and Lake View Trails met. . I had see some folks camping here on my last visit. I followed a loop toward the Tuscarora Mountain Trial through the fields.
It was a nice hike seeing the oak and other trees and their light green new leaves contrasting the clear blue skies in the brilliant May sun It was a great day to ne outside.
In these fields I saw fringed polygala flowers in the grass along the trail, and,
I heard a Cape May warbler and saw this black and white warbler in the trees.
This pretty bird was traveled the furthest of all the warblers I saw on my hike. It winters in Central America, the Caribbean and South America. I continued to see hear the ovenbirds and common yellowthroats as I continued my hike.
I followed the trail and it looped back to the Crow Trial. I now realize I should have followed the Tuscarora Mountain Trail. I wanted to get five miles in so I walked back out on the Crow Trail.
I once again heard and saw the black throated blue warbler,
singing loudly in the same tree.
I also saw a pair of hairy woodpeckers in the treetops. They are larger and then their more common cousins the hairy woodpecker. Many remain here during our winter.
As do the red-bellied woodpeckers, I saw this one enjoying a grub for breakfast.
I saw only one more different bird on my hike this American crow cawing in a treetop. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Tuscarora State Park birds May 6 2023.
On my return hike the sun had warmed the cool morning air and there was more insect activity I saw flies, bees and these pretty morning cloak,
Well I didn’t follow my original plan and hike on the Spirit if Tuscarora Trail along the Locust Creek. I believe I would have seen more wildlife and migratory birds there. But I still enjoyed my hike on the Crow Trail. I am sure I will hike on this trail and the other trails in Tuscarora State Park again soon . It is one of the many great parks here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike. Tuscarora State Park May 6 2023
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