Another Summertime Hike On The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails

Another Summertime Hike On The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails

Rails to trils birds (22 of 49)
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The forecast called for some severe weather Saturday afternoon so I decided to play it safe and hike close to home, on the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails in Luzerne County Saturday morning. I decided to start on hike on the end of the trail, on the parking area near the village of Hazle Brook. It is about seven miles from my home.

It rained earlier in the morning, an unexpected downpour ( I got drenched). It  was cloudy and the woods were wet when I arrived.  The sun broke through the clouds when I started my hike and  the mid-Summer sun’s ray filtered through the leaves of the large oak and maple trees along the trail. . This  section of the trail passes through an older hardwood forest. Earlier in the Spring and Summer the songs of birds filled the woodlands.   I would hear, and see, many ovenbirds, red-eyed vireos, and other song birds when I walked here. Not on Saturday, The woodlands were quiet. I think many of the migratory song birds have begun their journey south . And I think the heavy rains had something to do with it too. More on that later. 

Soon after I started my hike I walked  down to  and  old pond built for the coal mining that took place near here this past century. 

 I usually see some birds here too, Not on Saturday, but I did see one of the beavers who live here. It saw me, splashed its tail and disappeared under the water, 

I was hoping, after all of the rain this past week, there would be some mushrooms growing in the woods along the trail. I love foraging for edible wild mushrooms. I was surprised to find only a few mushrooms on my five  hike, mainly russulas,  my  iPhone mushroom app tells me this pretty red mushroom is an emetic russula, It is poisonous. Some of  the mushrooms  in this species are edible but they are difficult to identify. 

This,  I think, is a brittlegill mushroom. They were the only mushrooms I would find on my hike. 

There were also  few  summer  wildflowers blooming along this  wooded section of  the trail including steeplebush flowers, 

prairie fleabane,

yellow stargrass  flowers , all of these are wildflowers native to Pennsylvania.

There were also some invasive red clover flowers. I looked, but I didn’t find any with four leaves.  . I believe there were no insects visiting the wildflowers because of the rain. I think they would wait for their wings to dry to allow them to fly. Not sure, just my theory. And if there are no insects flying it could explain why the birds weren’t  active. 

There was one, however, one  bird in the woodlands. I heard it’s beautiful song, as I was leaving the oak/maple woodlands, 

this hermit thrush. 

The trail leaves the older forest and follows a freshwater stream that separates the woodlands form  an area the was one strip mined.   This area has mainly pine, aspen and birch trees. On this trail there were some more wildflowers including  oxeye daisies, 

purple loosetrife,

 and yellow loosestrife flowers, 

bull thistle flowers,

and spotted knapweed flowers. All of these flowers are invasive but  they are still visited by bees , wasps, butterflies and other insects.  The still  strong August sun dried out the woodlands and plants along the trail and many insect began to visit the flowers. This flower was visited by a common eastern bumblebee.

Another common invasive wildflower is Queen Anne’s Lace. This one was visited by a potter wasp. 

There were also some wildflowers native to Pennsylvania that I saw along this section of the  trail, including common yarrow, 

native evening primrose flowers,

this, I think is  early or Canada goldenrod, both are native species. There are  30 different species of goldenrod that bloom in Pennsylvania. I am no expert, I am using an iPhone app, Picture This to help me with these identifications. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. 

This native rattlesnake hawkweed flowers  visited by a tiny long hover fly,

and this native monkeyflower   visited by a margined calligrapher hover fly. This tiny insects  often go unseen but they are important pollinators of out flowers, fruits and vegetables.

This silver spotted skipper was also seen visiting a spotted knapweed flower. 

Well, if there are insects there are birds that feed on them and I saw this small flycatcher, an eastern wood pee wee perched atop a pine tree.

I continued my hike, 

through  a mine reclamation area. The young, pine, aspen, black locust and birch trees are becoming great habitat for  birds, 

both the migratory song birds such as this  black and white warbler, feeding on a caterpillar, and

year round resident birds such as this song sparrow. This is a juvenile. 

I crossed the new bridge, 

over the active railroad right of way. As I often do, I reflected on the many railroad employees, passengers, immigrants and other folks who   used the train over the past 175 years. There is more information on the railroad history of  the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails in previous blog posts. You can find then using the research tool at the bottom of this blog post. 

After crossing the railroad tracks the trail again proceeds through some abandoned coal strip mines,  and then follows, for a short distance, the old Ashmore Yards road before continuing on the old Delaware Susquehanna & Schuylkill Railroad Company right of way,

where it continues through an area of heath and pine barrens. 

I had hiked out about 2 1/2 miles so I turned around and began my hike back. 

On the way I saw a few more birds including some eastern towhees, 

a common yellowthroat, 

a northern flicker perched in a tree,

a mourning dove on a rock ,

and this northern cardinal in flight.   I didn’t see a lot of wildlife on this hike and the birds I saw I wasn’t  able to get many close ups photos.  Here is a link to a gallery on my webpage with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails  birds August 12 2023. 

Despite not seeing a lot of wildlife, it was still a great hike.  Clouds moved back into our area as I made my way back to my Jeep, 

but I was able to get home before the thunderstorms came later in the afternoon Here is a link to another gallery with more photos from my five mile hike. Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails August 12 2023 

I think the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails is one of the nicest hiking trails in our area. It is a great place to hike, bike or run and to see the beauty of nature. And this is a result of the hard work  of the many volunteers who manage and maintain the trail. It is a lot of work and they can always use a helping hand. Anyone interested to help, or serve on the local Board should contact Cal  at the Hazleton Chamber of Commerce. (570) 455-1509 ext. 110 . You will be doing your community, and yourself, a great service. 

“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” – Sherry Anderson

 “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew


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