Autumn Arrives At The Susquehanna Wetlands
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.
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,
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
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,
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.
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,
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.”