A Very Early Spring At The PPL Wetlands.

A Very Early Spring At The PPL Wetlands.

PPL Wetlands-39
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The record temperature today  here in my hometown of Hazleton, Pennsylvania,  is  16 degrees below zero. That is pretty darn cold.  Although it is not that cold every year, most years we still have some snow cover, cold temperatures and ice on the ponds and lakes  in our area in late February.  Not this year. In fact, the  temperatures were  in the  low 60’s  when I hiked in the PPL Wetlands near Berwick today.PPL Wetlands-1

I arrived early at the wetlands and found many of the canals and ponds were now ice free. Some years the ice is so thick this time of year you can drive a car across it. Not this year. PPL Wetlands-2

It was overcast in the morning as I began my hike with temperatures in the mid 40’s. I had hoped to see some early migrating water fowl and I did find a few geese.PPL Wetlands wildlife -8

There were still no ducks on the waters and only a few of the year long residents such as this cardinal fluttering in the thick, leafless, underbrush.PPL Wetlands wildlife -1

I saw a few  of the always present, and friendly, black capped chickadees,PPL Wetlands wildlife -4

and quite a few nuthatches scampering in the trees. This one was feeding on young, what looked like, maple buds. PPL Wetlands wildlife -5

I also saw this bird high in a tree top and I  am not sure if it were a flicker or a red headed wood pecker. I am guessing a flicker. PPL Wetlands wildlife -7

There was still a lot of ice on the ponds that were in areas shaded from the sun. With warm weather predicted for the next few days I am hoping it will all be gone by next weekend. PPL Wetlands-23

The  strengthening sun broke through the clouds as I walked into   the adjoining  river lands, and,  not only made for some nice scenery, but also quickly warmed the air up. PPL Wetlands-27

I made my way to the Susquehanna river, which was also ice free and which was high and flowing quickly from the melting ice up stream.PPL Wetlands-33

I was surprised that I didn’t see more  wildlife in the warm sunshine only  a few squirrels, some crows and this chipmunk.PPL Wetlands wildlife -11

I walked along the river a bit and returned where I found, very early this year,  the first sure sign of spring, the skunk cabbage. There were some growing during the warm spell we had in early January but I didn’t see them again until today. PPL Wetlands-6

There were still many of the old dead plants from last years  growing season.PPL Wetlands-25

and a few new hardy plants thriving in the warm temperatures we had this year. PPL Wetlands-17

As I returned to my car, the sun had warmed the air and the temperatures were in the low 60’s  As I walked I heard something in the brush near my feet and, looking down was surprised to find this critter on the ground. PPL Wetlands wildlife -17

I never saw a snake here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this early before, in fact I don’t remember seeing one until May. This fellow was sluggish, but did manage to crawl away before I could get some good photographs. PPL Wetlands wildlife -18

And I was in for another surprise. I found this turtle sunning himself on a log. Again, the  earliest I have seen one before was mid to late April.  Turtles and snakes in February, If you told me this a week ago, and if I hadn’t seen them with my own eyes I would never have believed it. Here is a link to some more photographs of the snake and other critters I saw today.https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-wildlife-February-19-2017-PPL Wetlands-41

There is no guarantee this warm weather will last, we have had frigid temperatures and blizzards here in March and heavy snow and freezes in April. but every day like today in February is a blessing and it is looking like we will be blessed fro another week. No complaints from this guy. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the wetlands this morning. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-February-19-2017-PPL Wetlands-38

Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God. George Washington CarverPPL Wetlands wildlife -14

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Kent Jackson on February 20, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    I’m really surprised that you found a snake, too. Nice photos. I’m thinking your woodpecker isn’t a flicker but the strangely-named red-bellied woodpecker, which has a white belly. It’s head is red but not as red as that of the red-headed woodpecker.
    .