August Already! An Early And Quiet Walk In The PPL Wetlands

August Already! An Early And Quiet Walk In The PPL Wetlands

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August is here. Hard to believe the Summer is half over. Spring, Summer and Fall pass so quickly for me,  but Winter feels like it last forever. Anyone else  feel this way?   Anyway, I decided to  visit the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township Luzerne County again on Saturday . I love this place. Usually so much wildlife.  And I know there are families of wood ducks, bald eagles and kingfishers nesting there. I  was as  determined to photograph them as they are at eluding me. 

So I arrived early on Saturday, around 6:30 a.m.,  about a half hour after the sunrise. A fog had formed along the Susquehanna River making for a calm, quiet  and somber  walk in the wetlands. It was strangely quiet.. Almost no bird song, not even the usually noisy catbirds and red-winged blackbirds. No frogs croaking and it was too early for the cicadas . 

No squirrels , deer, rabbits or chipmunks. There was no insect activity either, except the mosquitoes, they were everywhere.   

Even without the wildlife activity you could still tell in was mid Summer. The ponds and canals in the wetlands were now covered in a thick green carpet  of duckweed. 

Although some of the trees were beginning to lose some leave the trails were still green and alive. 

Blackberries were now ripe, a sure sign Summer is near  its peak. 

And the native pokeweed berries have turned purple, the ones that remain,  although poisonous to humans the birds love them. 

Another native plant consumed by birds, but poisonous to humans,   Solomon’s seal, has also produced its black- blue berries. 

My quiet walk in the wetlands ended when I approached a small pond  I finally saw some  young wood ducks. A family of the ducks was swimming on the pond  but, by the time I could aim my camera ,  noisily flew off. I was only able to capture a photo of two of the young ducklings, and not the best in the foggy conditions. 

The only other birds I saw or heard in the wetlands was this downy or hairy woodpecker. 

As I left the woodlands, although it was a peaceful walk under the green canopy of ancient trees along the green duck wood covered ponds, I was disappointed at the complete lack of any wildlife activity. No beavers, muskrats, deer, squirrels chipmunks, no dragonflies bees or wasps, no frogs or turtles. No eagles, egrets herons or other birds. Only me and the mosquitoes. Still a nice place to walk and ponder the mysteries of life. And  I did. 

Upon arriving at the river lands and lake Took-A-While it was also quiet. No birds on the lake, not even the Canada geese. Just some noisy humans fishing. 

Along the lake the pretty, but invasive and poisonous,  purple loosestrife, and

the native coneflowers were still in blooms. 

And they were joined by the native evening primrose. This pretty yellow flower blooms at night and was  valued by the Native Americans fro both food and medicine. 

It was still early so I decided to continue my walk past the lake and along the Susquehanna Warrior Trail. In the Spring I  see many species of migratory songbirds in this area. And near the pond along the trail. On Saturday nothing.

I walked out a mile and returned to the lake. It was now mid- morning and the sun broke through the fog and clouds. It immediately warmed up and so did the insect activity.  Butterflies,and 

the cicada killer hornets were seen along the shores of the lake.  

As well as a couple,

of interesting wasps. Dragonflies soon appeared too. I am guessing the fog and humidity overnight may dampen the wings of the insects and they need the sun to dry them before they can fly. Only a theory, and any comments would be appreciated. 

Walking back into the wetlands I also found more signs of life. Their were now frogs and turtles along the shore or on logs in the canals and ponds. 

The insects were also active here. Dragonflies were darting about and the sound of the cicadas now filled the wetlands. Here is a link to a YouTube video of the relaxing  music of the cicadas.

As walked through  the wetlands  I  still didn’t see a single red-winged blackbird. Not one  on my eight mile hike. They may have already started their southward migration. I did see one catbird, far less then the dozens I usually see and hear. 

There were some wood ducks who flew off as I approached and these goldfinches feeding on the duck weed. 

I finally saw a green heron perched atop a tree and

this great blue heron. perched on a log. 

Both flew off as I approached. It was now afternoon and the temperatures reached the upper 80’s. The wetlands had come to life  in the heat but I was to hot, hungry  and thirsty to continue my hike. I didn’t get the photos I wanted but it was still an enjoyable August walk in the wetlands. Summer is half over and I am going to enjoy every day we have left. Here is a link to a gallery on my website  with more photographs from my early August hike. PPL Wetlands 8-8-2020

The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, lke the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone.     Natalie Babbitt


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