A Quick Hike On A Different Route In The Susquehanna Riverlands And Wetlands
It had been two weeks since I last visited the Susquehanna Wetlands and Riverlands in Salem Township in Luzerne County. This, for me, was a long time. I have been hiking here for about a decade now and have come to know and love this small, private nature preserve and park. I started hiking and exploring these wetlands along the Susquehanna River when the woodlands I grew up on, and hiked for almost a half century, were destroyed by industrial parks and residential developments. It was sad to see the first roads and clear cut forests near my home in Hazle Township in Luzerne County. So I found other trails to hike near my home, and we are blessed to have many here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. My favorite has become the Susquehanna Riverlands and Wetlands.
Like the woodlands I grew up on, I have become familiar with the trees, ponds and trail in the wetlands and have learned where the many species of wildlife can be found. I try and visit at least once a week. I missed a week so I really wanted to return Sunday. But, I didn’t have a lot of time. I had an an important event to attend. My great niece Grace was being baptized at 11 a.m. so it had to be a short and quick hike. I usually hike five miles and it takes about 3 hours. And I always park in the wetlands and begin my hike there. On Sunday, I changed my routine and parked at Lake Took-A-While between the wetlands and riverlands.
If you read my previous blog you would know we had a late Winter storm here on Friday. Snow fell and create a Winter wonderland in woodlands near my home.. Well, I was surprised and pleased to find no snow in the Susquehanna Riverlands and Wetlands when I arrived around 8 am. Once again this was the result of the lower elevation. It certainly made a difference compared to my snowy hike in a winter wonderland the previous morning.
As I began my hike I saw this great blue heron perched on a branch on the far side of the lake. There were no geese, ducks or other water fowl on the lake.
I did hear the loud songs of the male red winged blackbirds along the lake.
Reversing my usual hike, I walked into the wetlands. where I found some of the many ponds ice free,
and others covered with a thin layer of ice. The temperature dropped into the low 20’s overnight and some ice formed on the ponds.
I soon encountered and scared a few pairs of wood duck. They have returned to the wetlands early this year. Unfortunately, as is often the case they saw me before I saw them and where flying off before I could photograph them. There were also a lot of mallard ducks on the ponds and canals. They weren’t as camera shy as their cousins the wood ducks.
There were also a lot of Canada geese, most of them .
now paired up and starting to nest .
I also saw a lot of other birds, including northern cardinals.
one of my favorite song birds, a northern mockingbird. It was nice seeing so much bird activity but also frustrating since I did not have the time to wait and try and get closer to the birds. I was walking much quicker through the wetlands than I normally would. Of course, if I saw a bald eagle, a bobcat ot a river otter I may have spent some time watching and trying to photograph them.
I walked down to the Susquehanna River, where I heard wood ducks, a belted kingfisher and a red tailed hawk but was unable to get photos of any of them.
Walking through the wetlands I observed some of the remains of last years flowers and plants , these are the withered remains of last years purple loosestrife flowers,
these last years evening primrose flowers,
and these roundleaf green briar berries.
wild rye also were seen on my hike.
There were signs of Spring too. The skunk cabbage continued to sprout through the cold earth throughout the wetlands,
and wild garlic mustard , both invasive and edible plants , were coming to life. The remained somewhat green through most of our mild Winter .
And the red maple buds were a very welcome sight. It was nice to see these signs of the approaching Spring.
I walked through the wetlands,
and to the Water Fowl pond. Both trails to the pond were flooded.
In the Spring there is always geese, ducks and other water birds on this pond. So I made my way around the flooded trail to the pond. Unfortunately, the noise I made scared some wood ducks, mallard ducks and a very large flock of maybe 50 ducks I was unable to identify,
I began my fast paced walk back to the riverlands,and didn’t have time to try and photograph the birds I saw. I did stop and watch these whitetail deer. They didn’t mind posing for a photo.
Back at the riverlands I walked for a short distance along the lake.
Here I saw some dark eyed junco,
and song sparrows feeding on the ground along the trail.
a few grackles perched on branches in the trees above the trail. . I had hoped, as I always do to see one of the bald eagles that live near the lake. Or at least a hawk or an osprey. I didn’t and it was time to go. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos of the birds I saw on my quick hike in the Susquehanna Riverlands. Susquehanna Wetlands birds March 12 2023.
I had only hiked 3 miles, not my usual 5 miles, and it was a bit frustrating not being able to watch and wait to see the wildlife in the wetlands. However, it was another nice hike in my favorite woodlands here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike on Sunday. Susquehanna Riverlands and Wetalands March 12 2023
I love watching the seasons change in the wetlands. And there will be a lot of changes soon. Spring is almost here. I left the wetlands and made it back to attend the baptism of my great niece Grace and spend a wonderful day with my family. I hope to return next week, , and, God willing, in a few years , and hike with my great niece Grace and her brother and cousins.
“If I couldn’t walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish.” CHARLES DICKENS