Back To The Gamelands, No Bears But Some Pretty Birds And Beautiful Scenery

Back To The Gamelands, No Bears But Some Pretty Birds And Beautiful Scenery

State Gamelands 119 birds (22 of 26)
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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. jeep at parking lot entrance to gamelands

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. tree lined trail

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.chestnut sided warbler on branch

In addition to the migrant song birds I saw a few year-long residents including this black-capped chickadee,black-capped chickadee

and this blue jay that flew over my head. It was in a hurry and I soon learned why. blue jay in flight

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.hawk in flight

I turned of the main trail, the old Hollenback county road, and on to a side trail that cut through a heath barren.heath barrens

I love these barrens.  They are good places to observe deer, birds and other wildlife, including bears. I heard plenty of birds on this trail.   tree-lined trail

 I didn’t see any  other animals or birds on Sunday , but I was able to see this butterfly. It’s was good to see butterflies return to  Northeastern Pennsylvania.butterfly on ground

I hiked back  to the main trail and walked up to where it intersected the old railroad right-of-way that  leads to the Black Diamond section of the D & L trail. tree-lined trail

 Here I saw a number of song birds including this red-eyed vireo,red-eyed vireo on perch

and this, I think,  a   least fly-catcher. flycatcher on branch

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. 

Nearby a  deer walked onto the trail, looked at me, and disappeared back into the forest.

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.

There were also some descendants of other ancient creatures crawling on the ground, some amphibians including this eastern newt in its red eft stage, 

and this  eastern American toad.

I followed the trail to its intersection with the Black Diamond trail. I followed it  south for about a half mile and came to Moosehead Lake.

I stooped to take a rest and enjoy this scenic lake when I saw this pretty bird. I never saw one before and thought it was some type of warbler. 

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,

and this deer peering out from the thick underbrush as I walked by. 

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.” 
― John Galsworthy