A Pleasant Late November Hike In The Susquehanna Wetlands: And Me Thinks I Am Becoming A Birder

A Pleasant Late November Hike In The Susquehanna Wetlands: And Me Thinks I Am Becoming A Birder

Susquehanna Wetlands (26 of 28)
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The Mirriam-Webster  dictionary defines a  birder as ” a person who observes or identifies wild birds in their habitats”. I guess this could include a lot of my friends and folks I know. Everyone likes to see and hear the birds in their back yard. However, I always thought of birder as one of the folks who had a greater love for birds, who  were  intensely passionate in  their pursuit to observe and  identify the different species of our feathered friends.  It seemed almost like an obsession. Birders I have met knew all of the birds on their ” lifer” list and where they first saw them.  They would spend countless hours  and travel to exotic places trying to find birds to add to their “lifer” lists. .  And,  on my travels, many birders  would rather see an exotic and rare bird then a lion, a kangaroo or a rattlesnake. Not me, I was always looking for the bigger and more dangerous critters. 

 It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in seeing birds. I always loved all of nature. When I was young, and exploring the woods near my home in Green Ridge,  my friends and  I was more interested in the larger  more exciting,  interesting  and dangerous critters like bears, foxes, snakes, frogs and spiders. I knew a few of our common birds here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. the robins, blue jays, and crows. And I knew what sparrows and woodpeckers were but I couldn’t tell them apart. It was only after I purchased my digital camera and  first zoom lens about 10 years ago did I begin to  slowly learn about the many different, colorful and interesting species of birds that live around us and often go un-noticed. 

Over the years, as I photographed more birds on my hikes I became more interested, and I slowly I learned to distinguish sparrows, warblers and vireos. I spent more time looking for them. And now I can say   I have become more  passionate in my search to observe, identify and photograph the many species of birds  I see here on my hikes in  Northeastern Pennsylvania,  and my travels around our beautiful planet. 

I find myself spending hours on my hikes looking for and photographing them. I  love sharing their beauty.  However, I probably would still rather photograph a bear, bobcat  or rattlesnake up close.  But there are many opportunities to photograph birds and I now enjoy  adding new species I see to my own “life list”.  So, to you regular followers of my blog, I apologize for the increase in the photos of birds I now share. I am addicted.  I think I may have become a  birder.  And, so I will  did see  share a few more , from another five mile hike in  the Susquehanna Wetlands on Saturday. It was a  sunny and cool morning ,  with an above average temperature in the low 40’s when I arrive at the  wetlands in Salem Township Luzerne County.  After walking down to the Susquehanna River, 

I walked into the wetlands. It was strangely quiet as  I walked beneath the  leafless  trees. 

So unlike the in the warmer months when  the wetlands would be filled with the sound of the song birds,  frogs, cicadas and other insects. There wasn’t a sound on Saturday,

until a heard the call of  a white breasted nuthatch, and I soon saw this one scrambling down the trunk, then along  the branches of a tree. 

There were not many other birds active along the trail. However when I walked into  a swamp,

filled with cattails, 

I heard , and saw a small flock of winter wrens fluttering among  the cattail reeds. 

I also saw an American robin who remained in the area and was perched in a tree. 

I walked to the Water Fowl pond. I usually see a lot of duck, herons and other birds here. There weren’t  any on Saturday. 

The  wetlands. look so different now that the leaves have fallen from the trees and the vegetation withered and died. There was little color, just  some oak leaves with some hints of red, 

a few blackberry leaves that survived the frost and freezes, 

some green briar and

common winterberry leaves.

As I was leaving he wetlands, and nearing the river lands area of the nature preserve  I saw  a beautiful pileated woodpecker on  the ground in front of me. I rarely see these magnificent birds on the ground. I flew onto a tree branch before I could get a photo.

I flew off again before I could be any closer. I was still glad to capture, and share a few photos of this brilliantly colored  bird. 

As I have learned , that in  the colder months, the birds that remain in our area feed in groups. I also saw a northern flicker nearby, 

there was also a flock of black-capped chickadees feeding in the trees. I think the other birds follow these noisy chattering birds as they feed in the woodlands.

One of the chickadees was feeding on a mushroom growing on a tree trunk. I have never seen a bird eating a mushroom before. 

There were a few tufted titmice feeding on the ground

and in the trees. 

And  a few  downy woodpeckers also joined this group of birds.

I left the wetlands and walked into the river lands. 

There was  not a lot  of bird activity until I saw this red-tailed hawk soaring high overhead. 

I  continued my hike along Lake Took-A-While,

and saw a few more birds along the trail, including a few northern cardinals, this is a brightly colored male 

American goldfinches,

and a few eastern bluebirds.

I also saw a flock of European starlingsThese birds are invasive and I don’t like them. They were introduced into North America in Central Park , New York City in the 1890s. A 100 birds were released by Shakespeare enthusiasts. 

They  threaten our native species of birds and  I rarely photograph them. However, I on my hike Saturday I photographed this one by mistake. I thought it was a red-winged blackbird. I never realized that the too, are pretty birds when seen more closely.

I walked to the far end of Lake Took-A-While and then began my hike back to the wetlands parking lot. It was a pleasant late November morning under the weak  late Autumn sun. . 

As I neared the end of my five mile hike in the wetlands, 

I heard the song of this beautiful bird, a Carolina  wren. I soon saw this petite birds singing loudly on a branch along the trail. I love hearing the songs, especially in the Spring. Here is a link to a  gallery with some more of he birds I saw on my hike in he wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands birds  November 26 2022. 

Before I ended my hike I saw one more critter, this time not a bird, but rather a muskrat feeding on some duckweed in a canal. He quickly dived into the waters as I  approached. 

There is less life in the wetlands now, nature is taking its annual winter slumber. However I enjoy looking for the critters, and birds that remain here in the cold. And I will be out here on the coldest of days trying to photograph and share  my photos here  on my blog. . This is a link to  a gallery with some more photos from my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands November 26 2022. 

“Sometimes I think that the point of birdwatching is not the actual seeing of the birds, but the cultivation of patience. Of course, each time we set out, there’s a certain amount of expectation we’ll see something, maybe even a species we’ve never seen before, and that it will fill us with light. But even if we don’t see anything remarkable – and sometimes that happens – we come home filled with light anyway.”
― Lynn Thomson,


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