A Tundra Swan At The Susquehanna River Lands! You Never Know What You Will Find Down Here
I returned to the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township, Luzerne County on Sunday. It’s Spring and I hoped to see some wildlife activity. As usual I was hoping to see, and photograph, the bald eagles, wood ducks, river otters and many other critters that live here. On Friday I was surprised to see the snapping turtles mating . I always expect the to be surprised on my hikes here but I wasn’t expecting to see a tundra swan. These graceful birds should have already migrated to their breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic this late in March. Well, one didn’t. More about this unusual sighting later.
It was a seasonably cool, cloudy and raw day when I arrived at the wetlands with temperatures in the low 40’s,As usual I walked to the banks of the Susquehanna River hoping to see an eagle, osprey or some water fowl. There weren’t any on Sunday.
The spring peeper frogs were quiet because of the cool temperatures but I heard a couple of other sounds of Spring. The shrill nasal sounds of the red-winged blackbirds perched in the tree tops echoed in the wetlands,
There were no ducks on the water fowl pond so I made my way toward the river lands. On the way I saw a pair of red-bellied woodpeckers searching for insects under the bark of a dead tree. It appeared the one was last year’s juvenile and still tagging along with it’s parent.
This week, in addition to the skunk cabbages sprouting along the trail, there were more plants sprouting in the woodlands of the wetlands, including the garlic mustard and,
and Dames’s rocket. It was good to see green leaves again. Although Dame’s rocket produces beautiful flowers and garlic mustard is edible both of these plants are invasive and are endangering native plants.
Walking through the wetlands I saw a few wood ducks that quickly flew away before I could get a photo. It was an overcast and dreary day as I walked toward the river again. At the river I saw the flock of common mergansers on the far shore, but, because of the clouds and poor light didn’t take any photos.
On the way a passing fisherman and his son told me of a swan in the field on the other side of the entrance road. I walked to the field to investigate and found this juvenile tundra swan feeding in a corn field.
This was an unusual sight for a number of reasons. First, these beautiful and graceful birds migrate in large flocks from the Mid-Atlantic coastal areas where the spend the Winter to their breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra. They never migrate alone.
They also migrate much earlier in March, and usually rest and feed on larger lakes on their migration routes. I have never seen one anywhere near the wetlands or Susquehanna River before. This juvenile must have been injured or somehow got separated from it’s flock. After seeing me approach it wandered over to a small puddle in the corn field. And even more unusual it was hanging out with a mallard duck.
And I finally was able to get a not so good photo of the elusive kingfisher that has returned to the river lands. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the birds and tundra swan I saw in the wetlands and river lands. Susquehanna River birds March 20 2022.
Although I didn’t see the eagles, otters, and other wildlife I hoped to see, the wetlands again provided me with an opportunity to see the juvenile tundra swan. There is always something to see in this natural refuge along the ancient Susquehanna River. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike in the wetlands and river lands. Susquehanna Wetlands March 20 2022,
“If you can add a great beauty to something which is already beautiful, then you must be very beautiful like a white swan adding beauty to a misty lake!”