I know I am getting boring. With so many wonderful places to hike in Northeastern Pennsylvania, I returned to State Game Lands 119 and the Black Diamond Trail in Luzerne County on Sunday morning. I like hiking here since I know the trails and I have seen many black bears on my previous hikes. here in past years. I haven’t seen one yet this year so I was back. I arrived early, 7 a.m. with hopes to catch a sleepy bear roaming the trails.
It was chilly when I began my hike with temperatures in the low 50’s. The skies were clear and the early morning sun filtered through the trees,
illuminating the leaves of the trees, and these New York ferns,
and sweetfern leaves.
The cool air was refreshing as I walked under the large oak, maple and occasionally pine trees.
The melodic song of a hermit thrush echoed in the woodlands and I soon this secretive birds on a tree branch.
A more common, and less secretive birds, an eastern towhee was also singing in the woodlands. These birds are often heard foraging in the leaf litter or singing on a tree top.
I continued on my usual hike and walked left the main access road trail and followed an ole railroad right of way down the ridge to the Black Diamond trail. There are many large oak trees growing along the trail ,
and smaller scrub oaks below their towering cousins. The small acorns were just beginning to form. A sign Summer advances and is nearing it’s peak.
The trail crosses a few swamps where there are plenty of high bush blueberries. Bears love to eat these berries and I have seen many bears in this area of the trail. Although some of the berries were ripe most were not. So no bear sighting on this hike but I will be back when the berries are at their peak.
Once again I found quite a few birds on this trail. A gray catbird was squawking loudly as I walked by.
I saw this male,
and female common yellow throats hopping in the shrubs and blueberry bushes along the trail.
This Canada warbler was singing in the trees tops,
as was this house wren.
A northern flicker was perched on this old dead tree,
and I saw this veery catching insects in a treetop.
This trail is narrow and there is high grass in many areas. In addition to the birds there are many ticks here too. I had on tick repellant but still had a few ticks attached when I got home. Enjoy the outdoors but be careful and always check for ticks after a hike. And there was evidence of some other tiny critters that live on here, ants, who live in this ant hills that are found all along the trail.
The trail passed the almost dry headwater stream of the Nescopeck Creek and entered a deeper woodland as it neared the Black Diamond Trail .I have seen many bears in these woods but none on my hike Sunday.
The trail intersected with the Black Diamond Trail where I again followed it south up to Moosehead lake. Here I saw the many milkweed blooming along the trail.
And, as usual, they attracted many bees and butterflies, including this fritillary butterfly, I think it is a meadow fritillary but I’m not sure,
this beautiful tiger swallowtail and this,
I think a spicebush swallowtail.
There were many other wildflowers blooming along the trail including these pretty grass pinks,
yarrow with it’s lacy leaves,
Philadelphia fleabane and
At scenic Moosehead Lake I stopped to take in the view
and to look for wildlife in the wetlands on the other side of the trail .
There weren’t many birds in the wetlands this week but I saw a few dragonflies ,
There were a lot of delicate flowers of the waterlilies blooming in the warm waters of the ponds in the wetland,
and a few cow or pond lilies in bloom too.
I continued my hike on the Black Diamond Trail passing the boyhood homestead of the 50th United States Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. and again reflecting on this famous man’s humble childhood in these woodlands.
As I did on my previous hikes, I walked another mile and, at a small lake . hiked up another trail on an abandoned railroad right-of way to the access road to Game Lands 119.
I stopped at the lake, watched a kingfisher and a lot of frogs,
before I continued my in the an older and thicker forest.
Here I saw a scarlet tanager but did not see the hermit thrush that has also been on this area of the trail.
After a mile hike I came to the access road and saw this pretty yellow-throated vireo singing in a tree on the trail Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds and butterflies I saw on my hike . State Game Lands 119 birds July 10 2022.
It is about another 3/4 of a mile hike to the parking lot, and I was hoping I would have one more chance to see a bear as I completed my hike.
I didn’t. I was glad to see my Jeep after my 7 mile 5 1/2 mile hike. Once again no bear but I did see a lot if birds and wildflowers and enjoyed the peace and quiet of Penn’s Woods.
And, I finally did see a bear, this youngster, this morning, in my backyard at my home in Hazle Township. I was happy. I hope that this weekend I see one in the State Game Lands too. They are beautiful creatures. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my seven mile hike. State Game Lands 119 July 10 2022.
If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere. —Laura Ingalls Wilder