A Sunny Hike On The Last Sunday In Spring At The Susquehanna Wetlands

A Sunny Hike On The Last Sunday In Spring At The Susquehanna Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands (27 of 40)
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It was another cool June morning last Sunday.  It was hard to believe, but it was also the last Sunday in Spring.  It went so fast, and seems to get faster each year now.  I decided to enjoy the brilliant sunshine and last hours of the Spring  back at the Susquehanna Wetlands in Luzerne County.  I arrived early, around 7:30 a.m., and first stopped at the new path to the  Water Fowl pond before the access road to the wetlands.  I hoped to see some wildlife but was disappointed to find nothing stirring on the water or in the surrounding woods.

I did find the first ripe wild raspberries near the pond, a sure sign that Spring is ending. There were raspberries in both my paternal grandmother’s yard and my maternal grandfather’s yard when I was a child and I remember gathering them in late June. The ripened a little earlier here at the lower elevations near the river.

As usual, now the the gate is open, I next drove to the parking lot and first walked down to the Susquehanna River before heading into the wetlands.

I walked back up to the trail that took me into the wetlands, and followed  turned to the left at  Beaver Trail  which took me along the ponds and canals that were once part of the North Branch Division of the Pennsylvania Canal.

I have come to know and love these canals and ponds and the many species of  wildlife that live here. There wasn’t a lot of wildlife or bird activity as I began my hike under the still green and lush green leaf canopy in the wetlands.

There are two paths to the Water Fowl Pond. During the Winter and most of the Spring they were flooded. It appears there was some work done one the drainage in the wetlands and both paths were not open and passable.

I walked to the shore of the pond, and saw this family of wood ducks across the water. They didn’t seem to mind me at this distance and swam unconcerned with my presence which is unusual for wood ducks. I was surprised how fast the ducklings had grown.

I usually see a lot of bird activity near the pond and I did  again  on Sunday. The first bird I saw was the yellow warbler.

The I saw this tree swallow perched high on a tree across the pond.

Nearby this common grackle was also perched on a treetop.

A warbling vireo sang in the branches near the pond,

and I saw the first of many gray catbirds I would hear and see on my hike. I think these were young fledging catbirds that were very curious and some seemed to follow me as I walked through the wetlands.

As I was leaving the Water Fowl Pond this eastern cottontail rabbit hopped out in front of me, and quickly scurried into the woods when it saw me.

I walked back along the Beaver Trail toward the river lands area of the private nature preserve,

noticing the edible high bush blueberries, 

 the poisonous nightshade berries and,

 the Morrow’s honeysuckle berries  along the way. The appearance of these berries are another sign the Summer approaches.

The splendid profusion of the many species of wildflowers that bloom in the wetlands in the Spring was over.  There were almost no flowers blooming along the trails. However,  I enjoyed the shadows the sun cast on the leaves as it filtered through the trees. This is a wild grape leaf,

and this a tulip tree leaf.

In the shade of the canopy of leaves I saw this American toad hopping along the trail.

As I approached the river lands I came into an older and more dense woodlands,

here I saw a few more birds including this hermit thrush,

a yellow throated vireo,

an eastern phoebe

a tufted titmouse,

an American cardinal.

and a few more gray catbirds.

As I left the wetlands there is a marsh along another access road to the river lands. Here, in the open sun there were some wildflowers blooming including the last of the Dame’s rocket flowers, very plentiful in the wetlands and river lands a few weeks ago,

field mustard flowers,

and spotted knapweed flowers, this one being visited by a clouded sulphur butterfly.

Here I saw a few swamp sparrows,

American robins, 

and this colorful rose breasted grosbeak. I am glad there are a few nesting in the wetlands this year, they are beautiful birds.

I walked into the river lands, and along Lake Took-A-While. As always I hoped to see a bald eagle or osprey but I haven’t seen one on over a month.

The only birds I saw on the lake were this  great blue heron,

and the large flock of Canada geese. The goslings are almost as big as their parents now,

but the parents still didn’t want me getting to close and let me know it with their loud hissing sounds.

There were a lot of folks, including many families enjoying this beautiful June morning. And there were a couple of small boats and kayaks on the lake,

As usual I hiked to the end of the lake and the main access road into the river lands before starting back to my Jeep.

I looked for the nesting eastern phoebes near a bridge on the trail but this was the first time they weren’t there this Spring, I hope they were just gathering insects for their young ones and nothing happened to them. I did see this song  sparrow singing in a tree,

and this red squirrel ,

and gray squirrel feeding on the mulberry fruit on  tree near the canal.

A few eastern chipmunks also scampered along the trail.

I walked back under the pleasant June sunshine,

it was near noon when I returned back in the wetlands.

The sun warmed the cool morning air and their were now a few dragonflies darting along the canals, including, I believe an widow skimmer,

and eastern pondhawk.

I saw many of the same birds I photographed earlier and, as I neared the end of my hike I saw a fledging northern flicker scurrying on the ground,

one of it’s parents flew on a branch above the frightened bird, watching as it awkwardly fluttered into the woods.

I also saw a  red bellied woodpecker and

a hairy woodpecker nearby,

And, just as I neared the parking lot this striking scarlet tanager began to sing.  It was a great way to end my last Spring hike on another circle around the sun. 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 wetlands and river lands. Susquehanna Wetlands birds June 15 2024.

The year continues to move on, the Summer solstice will soon be  here, and the days will start getting shorter. I will try and spend as much time of these days here in the wetlands and other state parks, forests and trails in Northeastern Pennsylvania and share some of the beauty I find. I will keep hiking in the cold winter months but I won’t enjoy my hikes like I do now, when our woodlands are green and so alive. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from  my hike in the wetlands and river lands. Susquehanna Wetlands  June 15 2024.

June comes, and ours is so green a world that we quite forget the all but leafless days of January, so warm and beneficent a world that we can’t quite remember those zero mornings when the land was white with snow and ice. Now it is June, it is warm, it is summer… Robins have found their voices and brown thrashers celebrate morning, afternoon, and evening. ~Hal Borland

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