A Quick September Hike In The Susquehanna Wetlands, And Then A Successful Search For Mushrooms

A Quick September Hike In The Susquehanna Wetlands, And Then A Successful Search For Mushrooms

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It’s September already.  How did that happen? It seems like it was just yesterday when I was waiting for the first robin to return. Well it did happen. Summer is nearing it’s end. . It is September.  And September is usually the peak  mushroom season here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I enjoy foraging for  edible wild mushrooms. I’ve been doing it since I was four years old. So I had a dilemma. Even though it has been dry, and the mushrooms not growing, I still had to look. But  September is also when the migratory song birds leave their Summer homes in Canada and migrate south, passing through Pennsylvania on their journey. So the choice I had to make  was mushroom hunting or birding? 

I decided to do both. A quick hike looking for birds and other wildlife then off to search for mushrooms. I first drove to the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township in Luzerne County, about a 1/2 drive from my home in Hazle Township. It was a sunny and mild late Summer morning.  I arrived around 8 a.m. As is my custom I first walked down to the Susquehanna River,

before entering the wetlands and walking on the trail along the canal and ponds. 

As I neared the canal I was able to get a photo of one  the elusive wood ducks who usually fly off before I can take a photo. 

Well this time I got a quick photo but it didn’t wait around for me to get a closer one. 

It was quiet in the wetlands. The usual noisy calls of the red-winged blackbirds and catbirds were silent. No warblers or vireos were singing in the canopy of leaves over the trail. I did here an eastern wood pee wee and a Carolina wren singing in the distance but otherwise the wetlands were silent. I already miss the bird song that fills the wetlands in Spring and early Summer. 

There were not many wildflowers blooming either, I saw a few ironweed flowers, 

white snakeroots flowers, 

purple loosestrife flowers, 

and two species of the delicate jewelweed or touch-me-not flowers, orange jewelweed and

yellow jewelweed. This flowers were used by Native Americans to treat insect bites, poison ivy, burns and other skin irritations. 

This blusher amanita mushroom and 

these puffball mushrooms were also growing along the trail. A few days earlier and I would have  gathered them, they are a choice edible and one of my favorite wild mushrooms. 

And, as on my previous hike, there were many nightshade berries , 

autumn olive berries , 

and silky dogwood berries  in the wetlands. They will provide food for both the migrating birds and the birds that remain here for the Winter. 

There were also a lot of acorns on the ground, another sign the end of Summer is near. 

The path to the Water Fowl Pond was cleared  this week and the waters that flooded the trail had receded. 

At the Water Fowl Pond I saw a few more wood ducks on the pond, 

and this bird.  I am not sure but I think it is a flycatcher but Merlin tells me it is an eastern wood pee wee.

There was a small flock  of warbling vireos near the pond, 

and they sang loudly, as they  fluttered through the tree tops looking for food. 

I also saw a few gray catbirds that were now calling out with their noisy calls in the  in the wood along the trail. There  were other bird’s now singing in the tree tops. I think the sun  warmed up the wetlands and , as  the insects became active, the birds were now feeding on them. I didn’t spend the time I usually do to try and photograph the birds since I wanted  get in a quick hike and then forage for mushrooms. And I had to do this by 1 p.m.  so I could attend my nephew’s Labor Day  picnic.  

So I walked swiftly  through the wetlands, along  the duck weed covered ponds and towards the riverlands. 

The only critter I saw was this eastern chipmunk.  

As I neared the riverlands  I passed a field  full of goldenrod flowers. Many species of goldenrod flowers are native to Pennsylvania and bloom in late Summer and Fall. 

They attract many wasp, bees and other insects. This is  Canada or meadow goldenrod flower visited by a common eastern bumblebee in search of nectar and pollen. 

I also saw this Appalachia eyed brown butterfly in this field. 

I entered the riverlands area of the nature preserve,

and saw this great blue heron perched on a log on the shore of  Lake Took-A-While.

I was also surprised to see three wood ducks on the lake.

This seclusive ducks are usually found in the tree covered ponds of the wetlands.  

Pretty great blue lobelia flowers and

 cutleaf coneflower bloomed on the path along the lake. 

I did not walk to the far end of the lake as I usual do. I turned around and ended my hike so I could check out my mushroom spots. 

I walked back into the wetlands and now saw some turtles, I believe these turtles, covered in duck weed are invasive red slider turtles, 

and these are native painted turtles. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds and other critters I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands  wildlife September 3 2023. 


I finished my four mile hike under the shade of the large oak, maple and sycamore trees  in the wetland.

And, I found a mushroom , a scaly pholoiota, growing on a dead tree branch. I hoped it was a good omen for my  mushroom hunt.  Here is another link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos from my four mile hike. Susquehanna Wetlands September 3 2023. 

After my  quick hike in the wetlands  I headed to on of my  favorite mushroom area, I wasn’t expecting to find anything because of the dry weather , but,  surprisingly, I found these large  very nice ramshead mushrooms, as we  call them in my area.  They were growing around an oak tree. They are also known as hens of the woods. and maitake or ” dancing  mushroom ” in Japan where the people were so happy they danced when finding one. And for you technical folks the Latin  name is Grifola frondosa. I was happy and did a little dance.  I roamed some other woods but I found nothing. I was happy with the ones I found so I hurried home and made it to my nephew’s party on time. I shared  my find of ramsheads with family and friends, keeping enough for a couple of nice meals for myself. Hopefully there will be more. I am optimistic, it is pouring rain as I finish this blog . I love Summer and mushroom season. 

“By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.”  
–   Helen Hunt Jackson

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