A Reflective October Hike In The Susquehanna Wetlands

A Reflective October Hike In The Susquehanna Wetlands

Susquehanna wetlands 10_2_2021-58 (23)
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October 2 will always be a sad day for me and my family. It was the day we lost my beloved sister Linda and her husband Charles in a tragic motor vehicle accident. It was four years on Saturday. It is still so hard to believe. I spent the day  hiking alone in the beautiful Susquehanna Wetlands near my home in Luzerne County and  reflecting on her life, our world travels together, her love of travel and nature and especially  her and her husband’s love of her four children. I still question why this happened, and have no answer. I do know my sister would want me to continue to live life and do the things I love to do. And one of them is hiking in the forests and woodlands of our State, Country and planet and sharing the beauty I find.  And  I seem to always find peace, and a lot of wildlife in the Susquehanna Wetlands. 

It was mostly cloudy and a seasonably cool 48 degrees when I arrived at the wetlands.  Some fog formed on the Susquehanna River, which was still high from all of the recent rains. 

After watching the river flow for a few minutes I walked into the wetlands section of the Nature preserve. Here I found there were more yellows, browns and reds appearing on the trees, shrubs and plants in the woodlands along the trail. 

The leaves on some trees and plants,  like the dogwoods and 

the Virginia creeper vines, have already turned a brilliant red

And many of the trees including the red maples and even the oaks had some of their leaves turns brown and fall to the ground.

Others, like the roundleaf greenbrier were becoming blemished and were getting a yellow tint to them. In a week or so our annual October Fall display of colors will be at it’s peak.

And many of the trees and plants have finished  producing  their fruits, berries and nuts, adding some more color to the woods in the wetlands. The bright red northern spicebush berries and

common winterberry berries  contrasted with the 

bright blue Asiatic tearthumb berries. 

There were many acorns, hazel nuts and black walnuts on the ground but many still clung to the branches of their trees. 

Along the trail some late blooming flowers, mainly various species of asters continued to bloom. These included purplestem asters, 

blue-wood asters, 

white-wood asters,

Panicled asters, and, one of my favorites, 

New England asters. I never realized how many different species of asters bloom in our Fall woodlands. 

There were a few other flowers still blooming in the wetlands including the interesting native white turtlehead flower,

and white snakeroot flowers. I am hoping I keep seeing all of these flowers blooming until the end of October. So far, so good, not frost yet, but this could change in  short notice, and many a year we had a few inches of snow in October. 

Once again I found  silence as I walked through the wetlands. There was no chorus of frogs, cicadas or crickets and no song birds were singing.

However, when I approached one of the many ponds and canals I heard the calls of a large flock of wood ducks as they flew off as I approached.  A few landed on a large pond and I was able to get a few photos of the ducks, including the brightly colored male, as they swam on the deep green duck weed covered waters. 

Waking to the large water fowl ponds or lakes I saw an osprey perched in a tree across the lake. 

And watched this great blue heron fly overhead.

After visiting the large ponds I hiked toward the river lands section of the nature preserve. On the way I encountered a large flock of migrating yellow-rumped warblers.   

I watched as they fed on the berries of poison ivy vines that have grown up the side of trees. I have learned many birds feed on these berries in the Winter months. 

Near the flock of yellow rumped warblers were a few tufted nuthatches. I love seeing, and hearing the songs of these birds. especially in Spring. They will remain in the wetlands all year long. 

As will the friendly black-capped chickadees. They was a small flock joining the yellow rumped warblers feeding on the poison ivy berries. 

A white-breasted nuthatch  scurried up and down a nearby tree. 

I also saw a few woodpeckers near  this large flock of birds, including a northern flicker, 

a  hairy  woodpecker, 

and a couple of red-bellied woodpeckers.

Leaving the wetlands I found  these migratory birds perched high on the branches of a dead tree. A robin and a couple of red-winged blackbirds. 

This was the first red-winged blackbird I have seen in weeks and I am sure they are migrating through our area from Summer homes in the north.

There was also an American robin perched nearby, also probably migrating south. 

I left the wetlands, walked down to the river again. and finally saw a  belted kingfisher perched on a branch. These birds are constantly on the move, chattering above the wetlands and river lands and eluding my camera. 

After seeing the kingfisher I  then hiked into the river lands and the trail along Lake Took-A-While, 

Here, I saw this great blue heron perched on the trail. 

It flew off as I approached. 

I encountered it a few more time on my walk along the lake. Here is a link to a gallery with  some more photos of the great blue heron on my blog website. Susquehanna Wetlands Great blue heron October 2 2021. 

After my encounter with the great blue heron I walked to the far end of the lake and began my hike back to the wetlands. The skies had cleared and the lake looked beautiful in the early October sunlight. 

On my return hike I saw a few birds and critters, This red squirrel was busy burying black walnuts for a cold Winter day.

I saw this song sparrow, and 

white-throated sparrow. 

The birds were really active on the early October morning. Back near  the wetlands I watched a flock of cedar waxwings feeding on some common winterberries.

Unfortunately, they were on the other side of a cannel so I didn’t get any great photos but I  still enjoyed watching these pretty birds feed. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs of the many birds I saw on early October hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds October 2 2021. 

It was sunny and warmer when I walked back into the wetlands. I saw a few folks walking along the trails, and scaring the critters but the warmer temperatures brought out some mating dragonflies, 

and a few painted turtles. 

Once again I found so much of nature’s beauty here in the wetlands. And peace too. I remember the first hike I took with my camera after the accident, it was here in the wetlands.  Here is the link a blog I wrote after that hike. https://wp.me/p5GeDV-pkT   I traveled in many countries on four continents with my sister. She  enjoyed travel and observing the beauty of nature. I knew then walking in the wetlands on that beautiful day ,  observing and sharing the beauty of nature, and encouraging people to protect and preserve it is what she would want me to do. She and her husband are missed so much. But their legacy, their four children, and two grandchildren are a tribute to their love. They are making them proud. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike in the wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands October 2 2021. 

Aye thou art welcome—heaven’s delicious breath!—
When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf,
And suns grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief,
And the year smiles as it draws near its death.
~William Cullen Bryant

“My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.”
― Jandy Nelson,

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  1. Susan Geib Moyer on October 4, 2021 at 6:40 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. You and your sister obviously shared a wonderful life traveling and appreciating the wonders of nature. Your writing and photos are a lovely tribute to her, and a joy to those of us who get to read and see them.

    • fskokoski@gmail.com on December 6, 2021 at 3:57 am

      Thanks you so much It is still so hard on me. We planned to travel a lot. She has to grandchildren now and she would have adored them