And So It Begins: With The Lowly Skunk Cabbage, A Harbinger Of Spring At The PPL Wetlands
It was a mild morning for late February here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It was mostly sunny with temperatures in the low 50’s, and I decided to hike in the PPL Wetlands. It has been almost a month since I was last there and the wetlands were in the middle of the first long cold spell of Winter when I last visited. Not today, I was surprised to find that most of the ice had already melted on the ponds, canals and waterways. I only found this thin ice cover in the entire wetlands. Spring was coming.
And then , I was surprised to find the skunk cabbage pushing through the cold and muddy soil. For me, the appearance of this lowy and smelly plant, shown above and below, always means the beginning of Spring. I have seen it pushing through a deep snow cover some years, and one thing is always certain when it appears, Spring will soon follow!
I was now in full Spring mode and was hoping to see a lot of geese, ducks or other water fowl on the open waters of the wetlands or the nearby Susquehanna River. I heard some flocks flying north this morning and hoped they may have stopped here. However, I was only able to come across these few birds, two canadian geese and three mallard ducks during my entire walk.
I did come across a pair of blue birds. I am not sure if the migrate in the fall but they were out today. Beautiful little critters, aren’t they?
I walked through the wetlands. The turtles and frogs so common in the Spring and Summer were still buried deep in the grounds or muddy waters. I did, amazingly,, come across a snake. It was gray and I almost stepped on it but couldn’t get a photograph because I only had my zoom lens at the time. I never saw a snake this early and wish I could have got a photograph so I could have Identified it. I did see a lot of these fellows, It seemed there were chipmunks running around everywhere I walked today.
I was walking along the Susquehanna river when I saw some white birds landing on the river. At first I thought they were snow geese, but as I got closer I saw they were sea gulls, I occasionally see a few here on the river but today I counted over 250 of them and they still seemed to be more flying upstream on the river. I am not sure why they were there but it was nice to watch them and I felt I was back at the ocean.
Although there weren’t any other signs of Spring, and the bare trees and lifeless waters told me it was still Winter I just had a good feeling, especially after my skunk cabbage sighting, that warmer weather is on the way. Not soon enough for me, I hope to soon be posting photographs of the turtles, frogs, snakes and many song birds that will soon be out and about down here in the PPL Wetlands. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my walk today. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/ppl-wetlands-february-28-2016
Nature never hurries. Atom by atom, little by little she achieves her work. Ralph Waldo Emerson
The ducks with the geese are a blue bill or scaup and a pair of hooded mergansers.