Autumn Arrives At The Susquehanna Wetlands

Autumn Arrives At The Susquehanna Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands (14 of 39)
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It was two weeks since I last  hiked in the Susquehanna Wetlands in Luzerne County .   Autumn arrived here in Northeastern Pennsylvania  since my last visit.  On Saturday, when I returned, I found the wetlands and river lands  have begun their annual transformation  from the lush green colors  of Spring and Summer to  the many  shades of  red, yellow and brown   of Autumn.  Most of the trees were still green with only hints of yellow and red on the alder, birch and maple trees along the Susquehanna River. It was overcast with some mist on the river when I arrived. 

After walking down to the river I entered the wetlands and found more hints of yellow and brown in the once lush deepgreen woodlands. 

And some of trees and plant had already transformed into their brilliant red Fall colors,  including most of the  Virginia creeper vines growing in the wetlands and riverlands. 

Many ripening berries provided more brilliant  red colors to the wetlands, including nightshade berries, 


spicebush berries and

the unusual cucumber magnolia berries. 

Fallen leaves of the red maple trees in the wetlands added more red colors to the first colors of Fall.

And the tearthumb or mile-a minute  flowers produced pretty blue berries to contrast with the yellow and red colors now appearing in the wetlands.

The many flowers that bloomed in the wetlands and riverlands in the Spring and Summer have long faded but there were still some flowers blooming along the trails. There were a few species of asters brightening the trails  including calico asters, 

blue wood asters 

and New England asters. 

White snakeroot,

and many species of goldenrod, I believe this is wrinkled goldenrod, also bloomed along the trails. 

The wetlands were quiet again when I began my hike. The harsh calls of the red winged black birds and songs of the migratory birds were absent. They were on their way to southern latitudes for the Winter. And the frogs and insects were silent too. I walked through the silence under the changing leaves on the trees in the wetlands. 

I did see a few turkey vultures perched on dead trees in the wetlands. They,  too,  will be  migrating south soon.  The turkey vultures living here in Pennsylvania are short distance migrants, traveling to the  southern United States in the Winter. The turkey vultures in the western United States migrate through Central America to South America.  

I saw a few wood ducks on the long abandoned Susquehanna River Canal.  They will soon me flying south.

And there were a lot of our year long resident birds in the wetlands, There were a few woodpeckers high in the tree tops. I saw a this red-bellied woodpecker,

 and a couple of northern flickers. searching for insects on the dead limbs of the trees.

There were also a few white breasted nuthatches 

and American robins in the tree tops. Most robins migrate south but some remain in the wetlands and riverlands, especially during a mild Winter. I hope they all stay this year. 

There was a flock of tufted titmice

gathering some sort of berries in the treetops 

and this winter wren was scurrying about in  the cattails in one of the swamps along the trail. 

I soon heard the beautiful song of one of it’s cousins,  a Carolina wren,

and was able to get some photos of these year long residents. They continue to sing  their  cheerful songs the from early Spring until Autumn . 

I walked to the Water Fowl pond were I saw a few more wood  ducks on the other side of the pond. A great blue heron and a ted tailed hawks flew over but were obscured by trees so no photos. 

I left the pond and hiked through the wetlands toward the river lands section of the small  nature preserve. 

I saw another sign of the Autumn season, a few mushrooms along the way including this puffball and

these inky caps

Black walnut and

hickory nuts were falling from the trees and the squirrels in the wetlands were enjoying them. 

Near the river lands there is another swamp along the access road and here I saw a few song sparrows, and, 

swamp sparrows. The song sparrows will remain here all Winter but the swamp sparrows will migrate a little further south. 

I walked into the river lands.

and along scenic Lake Took-A-While. 

Here I  saw a belted kingfisher on the far side of the lake. I wish it were  closer it was flying with a fish it caught. 

As usual I walked along the lake with the old Susquehanna Canal on the other side of the trail. There were a lot of folks fishing along the lake and a couple of fishermen were in small boats on the lake. There were no  bald eagles looking for fish. I always hope to see on on my hikes along the lake. I walked to the end of the trail,

and began my hike back to the wetlands.

Along the way I saw a  great blue heron perched on the same branch on the same tree near the lake, Well, I think it was the same great blue heron. 

Like the one I saw on my previous hike it seemed unconcerned with me as I approached the tree. 

It allowed me to take it’s photo and this time it stayed and seemed quite comfortable with no intention of flying off.   Here is a link to a gallery on my website with more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds September 30 2023. 

I walked back into the wetlands. I had hoped to see the family of river otters I enjoyed watching a few weeks ago, but they weren’t around. It was quiet in the wetlands as the critters that live their have  migrated south, or, the ones that will remain, were looking for food to get them through out long dark and cold Winter. 

I usually walk along the canal on my return hike, but since there was not a lot of wildlife activity I walked along the river, and the  ancient oak, sycamore and maple trees that grow there. The woods here were still mostly green, the oak trees are the last to get their leaves in the Spring and also the last to turn color and drop in the Autumn. Here is link to a gallery on my  blog website with more photos from my five mile hike. Susquehanna Wetlands September 30 2023. 

I didn’t see as much wildlife as I do in the Spring and Summer months but it was still a nice five mile hike. I will still see some wildlife on my Winter hikes but it will be a lot more quiet now in the wetlands. I don’t think I am going to wait until Spring to wait for the return of our Spring and Summer residents. I am already planning to join them in the southern Winter homes, but not until I enjoy the magical, colorful show nature provides us in Autumn here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It is one you don’t want to miss. 

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
― Albert Camus

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