A Quiet, Somber October Hike in The Susquehanna Wetlands

A Quiet, Somber October Hike in The Susquehanna Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands (40 of 49)
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Like March in the Spring, October is a transitional month. Temperatures  could range from the mid 80’s to the 20’s. The weather could be warm and sunny one day or cloudy with snow flurries  the next day.  Almost as unpredictable as March, October is.  However, unlike March, things don’t get better in October for long day and  warm weather lovers like me. It is the beginning of the long,  cold and dark Winter season I have come to dislike in my older years.   It was a   cool and cloudy  October morning on Sunday when  I decided to visit the Susquehanna Wetlands in Luzerne County again. Ominous, a warning  of the bleak days ahead of us. 

Although the weather may vary from year to year one thing we can be sure of  in October here in Northeastern Pennsylvania is the spectacular show  Nature provides.  It occurs every year regardless of the weather. The leaves change color before they fall from the trees providing a spectacular display of color. .  On my hike the prior week  the first hints of color appeared in the wetlands. This week  there were more colors in the wetlands and river lands but they were still not at there peak. The woodlands along the banks of the Susquehanna River were still mostly green. 

However, once I entered the wetlands the trails had some color. The red maple, alder and willow and trees were already providing a preview of the annual display of Fall colors which will soon arrive. 

Many of their fallen  leaves already covered the trail. The gray overcast October sky made for a somber walk as I reflected the ending of another Summer and the cold and dark end to another year on this planet. I am very aware there are many more years behind me than are now ahead of me. 

The quiet in the wetlands added to the somber feeling. The songs of the migratory birds are silent, as are the frogs and insects that provide their serenades throughout the Spring and Summer. There were still a few wood ducks in the wetlands. 

And as usual, they quickly flew off as I approached. 

I walked over to the Water Fowl Pond. 

There were no ducks or herons on the pond, but there were some of our year round resident birds in the tree tops around the  pond, including, a northern flicker, 

a few American robins, 

an eastern  bluebird and,

a red bellied woodpecker. 

A few tufted titmice were also fluttering in the trees near the pond, searching for seeds or insects. All of these birds will still be here in the cold of January and I will look forward to seeing them on my Winter walks. 

I left the pond and walked toward the river land section of the trail.

There were a lot less wildflower along the trail this week. Only a few calico asters, 

and New England asters were still blooming. 

I did find a lot of shagbark hickory nuts on the ground along the trail but most of them were  opened and eaten by the chipmunks and squirrels. I did gather a few and roasted them at home. They were delicious. 

I also found a few brick top mushrooms. They are edible and I gathered some for my dinner. 

I walked on the now leaf covered trail in the wetlands.

I saw a few song sparrows but they weren’t singing as they seem to always do in the warmer months of Spring and Summer. 

And I saw this gray catbird, usually a very loud bird, but it was silent on this walk. It will be migrating south soon.

The silence under the  gray October skies added  to the somber feeling I had on my walk. As I continued my walk the silence was broken when  I heard the noisy chatter of a pair of belted kingfisher. I  don’t see them in the wetlands too often, They are usual  along the lake in the river lands. I watched as they flew nosily above the trail,

and was finally able to photograph one that landed in a tree. 

I walked  into the river lands section of the nature preserve. There were no eagles, geese or herons on the waters of the lake this week. 

Gray clouds hung over Lake Took-A-While,  further adding to the somber October scene. 

A few Fall wildflower still bloomed along the lake, including a lot of pretty blue wood-asters, 

and a few cutleaf coneflower, this one with one of the few insects I saw on my hike, a bumblebee. 

A few Japanese honeysuckle also bloomed for a second time. There are ,many of these  invasive but pretty flowers growing in the wetlands and river lands . They bloom in the Spring and fill the woods with there fragrance. 

I walked to the far end of the lake, and, as usual, I began my return hike to the wetlands under the thick gray October clouds.

I walked back into the wetlands and only saw a few  more birds, a female red -winged blackbird and a

small flock of black-capped chickadees. 

The red-winged blackbird will soon migrate south but the black-capped chickadees will remain for the  Winter.  I love seeing them on my frigid Winter walks. 

I finished my five mile hike under the still cloudy October skies.  I hope that there will be some sunshine this coming weekend, The leaves should be at their peak color and they look even more spectacular in the Autumn sunshine, However, the forecast now calls for more clouds so it will be another somber but more colorful walk.  Well, I will still enjoy it and hopefully will see more wildlife to share. Here is a link to a gallery on my website with some more photos from my hike in the wetlands and river lands. Susquehanna Wetlands October 8 2023. 

And I would have my soul look the same:
I cannot keep the look of youth,
But how October maples flame —
Age takes our beauty, gives us truth,
Age takes our wit, and makes us wise,
Age gives us life’s October skies
And old October’s mellower days,
A better time a thousand ways.
~Douglas Malloch 

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