A Very Wintery Last Day Of Winter At The Wetlands

A Very Wintery Last Day Of Winter At The Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands - (19 of 32)
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Winter wasn’t giving up without a fight this year.  A howling northwesterly wind was blowing and it was a frigid 17 degrees when  I awoke last  Sunday morning. It was the last day of Winter. After freezing on my morning walk near my home, I drove to the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township, Luzerne County  for my usual weekend nature hike. As I  have stated often in my blogs, this is my favorite place to hike here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and to enjoy nature and look for wildlife. 

It was 20 degree with clear skies and sunshine when I arrived at the wetlands. The wind was gusting over 30 miles an hour.   It was cold. The access road to the parking lot was still gated for the Winter and I had to walk about a 1/4 mile to the trail.

As usual I first walked down to the banks of the Susquehanna River. It was high from the recent rains and the melting snow in the north. 

I started my hike in the wetlands and looked up at the bare branches of the tall sycamore, oak and maple trees.  Soon they will be covered in buds and then the first leaves of Spring. 

Some of the red maple trees along the trail  already budding despite the frigid winter-like weather. 

And the sprouting skunk cabbages were another sign of Spring.

As I walked along the canals in the wetlands, I heard the honking of  Canada geese and quacking of mallard ducks. As I approached the mallard  ducks and Canada geese, I saw a few wood ducks, but as usual they saw me and quickly flew away. However, I was able to get a not so good photo of at least one of these colorful ducks. 

I walked to the Water Fowl pond and another nearby pond. There was a large flock of mallard ducks and woods ducks on the ponds but they flew off as I approached. 

There wasn’t a lot of bird activity because of the  cold temperatures and wind. ( and it was too cold for me to stand and wait to get a photo of thr few birds I did see). I only saw  a few song sparrows,

and a tufted titmouse in the trees along the trails in the wetlands. 

I did see a few more mallard ducks, and

 these beautiful  American wigeons. There were about a dozen of them on the canal.

I didn’t see or hear any more birds on rest of  my walk through the wetlands, but I didn’t stop and look and listen for them either, it was cold and I kept moving. I should have dressed warmer  but I didn’t anticipate it being this cold in late March. It was the gusting wind that was making it feel so much colder than the temperature. 

I walked back down to the Susquehanna River as clouds moved in making it feel even colder. I heard a belted kingfisher but didn’t see it. 

When I walked into the riverlands area of the nature preserve the wind was even stronger . There were no trees to break the wind as it  blew across Lake Took-A-While.  It was the third coldest hike I took all Winter. 

Despite the cold, there were a few red-winged black birds  

and American robins in  the trees along the trail. Seeing this birds reminded me Spring arrived the next day. 

 I also saw this great blue heron on the other side of the lake. It looked like it was shivering. 

There were three double-crested cormorants swimming in the lake, 

and flying overhead to another part of the lake when I  approached them.

A  flock of Canada geese also swam on the lake. 

The cold wind made it difficult to take photos and I quickly walked to the end of the lake,

and started my cold hike back to the wetlands. 

On the way I saw this pair of belted kingfishers in a tree across the lake,

and, as I was watching them, I spotted a  bald eagle perched in a tree top.

You can see from it’s  ruffled  feathers how intense the wind was.

It saw me, and took off into the windy skies. 

I love seeing these magnificent birds on my hikes.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds March 19 2023 

After seeing the bald eagle I was glad to  get back into the wetlands, where the trees provided some shelter from the strong winds.  It was a cold five mile hike and felt more like January then the last day of Winter. But that is to be expected here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. There will be more cold days, and probably some snow, but it will be Spring. And the wetlands will awaken. Soon, the Spring peepers will be peeping, the returning song  birds singing and the tress and flowers blooming. And I will be enjoying every minute of my hike here in the wetlands and riverlands. Here is a link to a gallery with more photos from my five mile hike in the wetlands.  Susquehanna Wetlands March 19 2023.

March is when some days are winter and some days are spring, but it’s not a smooth gradient from the beginning of the month to the end..”
― Jarod Kintz,

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