An Early September Hike At The PPL Wetlands: Beavers, Muskrats And Deer
September is mushroom season here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I spent my afternoons last week and all day Saturday looking for bolete, hen of the woods and chicken of the woods mushrooms. I didn’t find any. So,on Sunday, I decided to take a break from my mushroom hunting and return to the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township Luzerne County .
I enjoy my walks in the wetlands. There is always a good chance to see some wildlife. I arrived early, around 7:30 a.m. The September sun is rising later now and is much lower on the horizon.. It was cool and the skies were clear with temperatures in the low 50’s. The shadows are so much different now than they were in mid Summer.
Instead of walking to the canals and ponds I started this hike along the Susquehanna River. I did this because the river is low and I saw a few great blue herons wading along shore. Unfortunately, the flew off before I could get a photograph.
The trail along the river ended and as I was returning to the wetlands I encountered a few deer, including a buck and this doe with her fawn,
The wetlands are so much quieter now. No cicadas or crickets, No frogs. Very little bird song. Many of the birds have already started their southerly migration. No red-winged blackbirds, no song birds, but I did hear, and see, a few robins.
At one of the ponds I also was able to observe some of the wood ducks that raised their families in the wetlands. The ducklings are fledged now so the wood ducks are not as flighty as they are earlier in the summer.
Walking through the trail in the wetlands, I encountered a couple of aquatic mammals. First, I saw this muskrat. who I think was asleep when I first approached. It was just floating atop the duckweed covered water. As I took this photo it realized I was there and submerged into the water.
I soon realized how much smaller a muskrat is than a beaver. There are beavers in the wetlands but they are more elusive than the muskrats. However, on Sunday this one was sitting on the side of the trail right in front of me.
It scampered across the path and into the safety of the duckweed covered waters of the old canal.
Nearby a great blue heron was searching of a fish or frog for breakfast.
There are not many flowers in bloom now. A few colorful purple New York ironweed flowers and
a lot of the also purple loosestrife flowers scattered along the canals.
A sign of the approaching fall in the fruit of the jack-in-the-pulpit flower and
the appearance of many red leaves of some of the trees and vines.
I was leaving the wetlands and walking into the river lands area of the nature preserve when i saw this squirrel nibbling on some leaves. It would climb the tree grab a paw full of leaves and just eat the tips of the stem. I never saw this before.
The tree was an autumn olive or silverberry tree. These are the berries of the tree.
The September sun is still strong and it warmed up the cool morning air as I approached lake Took-A-While. There were no geese on the lake, There was a pair of kingfishers darting about but they didn’t get close enough for a photo.
I walked past the lake and visited the butterfly garden again. There were no butterflies but a lot of monarch butterfly caterpillars on the butterfly weed. Here is a link to a video I took of these caterpillars. https://youtu.be/EK3XTY2TrPA
There were also a few bees visiting the trumpet vine flowers.
It was now late morning and I saw my first dragonfly as I began my hike back to the wetlands.
And then I saw a few butterflies. There were no insects on the 3 1/2 miles I had walked until I got to the butterfly garden.
Back in the wetlands I saw a few more birds including this red-eyed vireo. Here is a link to some more photographs of the animals I saw on my seven hike. PPL Wetlands hike animals September 6 2020.
I also saw some more wildflowers including this pretty great blue lobelia.
And I got excited when I saw this mushroom in the distance. At first I thought it was an edible hen of the woods or ramshead mushroom. It turned out, I think, a black-staining polypore mushroom. These are edible but it was to old.
It was around noon when I got to my car. I took another walk down to the river to look for bald eagles or great blue herons. I didn’t see any but I again realized how low he river was. We have not had a lot of rain this Summer. And we need it. Especially for the mushrooms. Once again the wetlands provided me with some nice wildlife encounters as well as a peaceful walk . I love it down here. Here is a link to some more photographs from my early September hike in the wetlands. PPL Wetlands Hike September 6 2020.
“By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.”
– Helen Hunt Jackson