A Quick Five Mile Hike In The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge In Philadelphia

A Quick Five Mile Hike In The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge In Philadelphia

Philadelphia John Heinz hike (15 of 30)
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I was up early Saturday morning  during my  recent overnight stay in Philadelphia . I wanted to hike and continue my  exploration of  the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge located in South Philadelphia.     I also wanted to enjoy the breakfast at the Gables Bed and Breakfast where I was staying. And,  to see some of the University City neighborhood before I headed home. Breakfast was served from 8 a.m. to 9 :30 a.m.  So I didn’t have a lot of time.  I was at the  wildlife refuge by 6:30 a.m.,  about 20 minutes before sunrise. 

I  was  hoping the trails would be open this early, and they where. I was soon walking  on the trail,

between  the lake

and the Darby Creek in the morning twilight. It was cold, 28 degrees, and windy. I didn’t expect it to be this cold here in Philadelphia and I wasn’t dressed for it.

I continued my hike on the  Wetland Loop listening to the honking geese and quacking ducks  barely visible on the lake. There were a lot of them. 

I watched the sky slowly lighten with an orange glow on the southeastern horizon through the  branches of the ancient red maple trees along the trail. 

After about one mile,  I approached an observation tower.  as the sun rose  over the horizon.

The top of the observation deck was a perfect place to watch the sun rise. 

I walked on as the sun slowly climbed in the eastern sky,

 and illuminated the trail with a golden glow.  Except for the cold and wind, it was a beautiful morning for a hike. 

 I came to the inlet where I saw the flocks of ducks and geese the previous evening. They were there again, but not as many as the night before. There were northern shoveler ducks, 

ring-necked ducks

and plenty of mallard ducks and Canada geese. 

Ring billed seagulls flew over the swimming ducks and geese. I planned on seeing more water fowl on my hike so I   didn’t take many photos. 

Flocks of  of swallows  were darting over the lake in the morning sun. I am not sure of the exact species. 

I continued on my hike,

and  heard the noisy calls of the red-winged blackbirds in the tree tops. 

I hiked out to the  board walk that led to the Tinicum Marsh overlook. This is a far as I hiked on Friday. I continued on the   Turkey Foot Trail. It left the lake and marsh and proceeded into an older, drier woodland. 

Here I heard the beautiful songs of   Carolina wrens  in the tree  tops.

This one came close enough to let me get a photo. 

The Turkey Foot Trail intersected with the Tinicum Trail. I had hoped  to follow this trail and explore more of the 1000 acres wildlife refuge. I now realized I would not be able to so , not on this trip. I had hiked out about two miles. I would never make it back for breakfast at 9:30 a.m. I decided to follow the Tinicum Trail back to the Wetland Loop.  This was not a quiet hike. The trail followed along busy Interstate 95. 

It was noisy  but I was surprised with the many birds in the woodlands along the trail. I saw and heard, dark-eyed juncos, white-throated sparrows, and was able to take a photos of this American robin,

and song sparrow. 

The trail  continued along  Interstate 95  for about a quarter mile. It then met up with the Wetland Loop Trail and continued along the lake for a short distance. 

I saw some  more mallard ducks on the blue waters of the lake  swaying in the waves created by the strong, cold northerly wind, 

I also saw a pair of mute swans on the lake. 

Canada geese,

and mallard ducks continually flew over the waters of the lake. 

And I was excited to see this juvenile bald eagle soaring in the blue skies over the lake. I was impressed with the abundance of wildlife so close to the center of the city. 

The trail took me away form the lake and into a older woodlands. 

I was impressed with the many birds I saw along this  wooded trail.  There were white-throated sparrows, 

northern cardinals, this is a female, 

song sparrows, 

black-capped chickadees, 

and downy woodpeckers and many other resident Winter birds. I did not have a lot of time to  wait and try and photo many of the birds I saw and heard.  I am sure this will be a great place to see  migratory song birds in the Spring. 

I continued on my hike on the Wetland Loop, leaving the trail to investigate a  water fowl blind and.

and a frog pond. There were a  a few more side trails leading to the lake. I wish I had more time to explore them. 

When I began my hike I was alone on the trail. I saw only a few couples for most of my hike. but as I was completing the five mile hike the trail became crowded with hikers, runners and dog walkers. 

I was nearing the end of my hike and wanted to get my five miles in. I walked back to the lake,  and saw  another juvenile bald eagle fly directly over my head. I didn’t have time to adjust the settings on my camera, and it had already flow some distance before I finally was able to get this photos. It was a beautiful bird. 

I also saw this pair of female common mergansers swimming on the lake.   Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos  of the birds I saw on my hike in the wildlife refuge. Philadelphia John Heinz birds February 18 2023.

I wish I could have continued my hike. It was  now after 9 a.m. and I wanted to get back to the Gables  for breakfast. I ended my five mile exploratory hike with the determination to return soon. I love the city of Philadelphia and this wonderful wildlife refuge gives me another reason to visit. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from my hike in the wildlife refuge. Philadelphia John Hein z February 18 2023.

There was not much traffic early Saturday morning and I made it back to the Gables Bed and Breakfast to enjoy a  delicious breakfast. 

“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plan to protect man.” – Stewart Udall


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