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