Back To The Gamelands, No Bears But Some Pretty Birds And Beautiful Scenery
I am really enjoying my hikes in State Gamelands 119 and the surrounding Pinchot State Forest. Located in Dennison Township, Luzerne County they are only about a half hour ride from my home. They gave me the opportunity to encounter the magnificent black bears that live there.I returned on Sunday morning. This time I drove to the entrance near Penn Lake. I arrived at the entrance to the gamelands just as an unexpected rain shower was ending.
As I began my hike, the clouds broke and the brilliant late May sun shone on the wet new leaves of the trees and plants along the trail. It a magical scene. . There is nothing quite like this experience. You really feel you have entered a different, more perfect place. The songs of the many birds that make this forest their home added to the enchantment.
Once again many of the birds fluttered through the thick leaf cover of the trees. However, the trails are wider here and there is a better chance to see some of the song birds at the edges of the trail. on Sunday I was able to see, and photograph, this pretty chestnut-sided warbler in the scrub oaks.
It dived into a tree and this hawk immediately flew out of the branches of the tree. I believe it is a juvenile red-tailed hawk but not positive. I am sure the hawk was getting too close to the blue jays nest.
It flew from tree top to tree top over the trail perching on branches the fresh green foliage and letting the forest know of its presence with its beautiful song. As I was photographing this bird, I heard something I have never heard this late in the day. The unmistakable song of a whip-poor-will. I heard this song many times as a child. We had many of them near my home in the Green Ridge section of Hazle Township. I spent many evenings listening to their songs with my dad in the evening twilight. They are active at night and sing in the morning and evening twilights. Their song instantly takes me back to those wonderful days, when I was first learning about the beauty of the natural world from my dad. I stopped and tried to get my iPhone out to record this haunting sound. Unfortunately it didn’t sing again. I waited hoping to see this elusive bird in the daylight. It was gone, but I am going to try to return to this area some evening to hear that beautiful song.
I now walked down the railroad right-of way that passed through the middle of a wetland. It was on this narrow trail I encountered the two bears last week. I had my camera ready but no luck this week. I didn’t walk in a huge black bear this time. Only some birds, including this eastern towhee.
The were a lot more dragonflies darting about as I walked through the wetlands. Occasionally one would land on a branch allowing me to get a photograph of their delicate wings. I always think of how their ancestors roamed the skies of the ancient swamps before the dinosaurs roamed the earth.
When I returned home I looked through my bird identification field guides and couldn’t identify it. It was only by a stroke of luck that I saw a photograph of a female American redstart as I was closing the guide. I believe this is that bird. Please correct me if I am wrong. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. State Gameland 119 birds May 26 2019.
I ended my hike at the wetlands a few hundred yards further up the trail.
There is beaver lodge in the middle of the wetlands but I didn’t see any beavers on Sunday. I sat on a bench and listened to the soothing sounds of the wetlands, including the frogs, birds and insects as I watched the cumulus clouds float in the blue skies. It was very relaxing. I could spend a day sitting out here. Here is a video I took of the wetlands and posted on my YouTube channel.
After spending some time in this peaceful solitude I began my walk back. I was out about 3 miles. I hoped to see some more wildlife on my return hike. I had my camera ready as I walked through the area of the wetlands where I encountered the two bears last week. No bear. I was disappointed. There were not many birds out in the midday sun. I saw a few red-winged blackbirds,
I was soon out of the wetlands and walking the trail back to my jeep. Although I didn’t see any black bears it was still perfect day to hike on the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. State Gameland 119 May 26 2019.
“It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.”