Back To the Lehigh Gap, What A Difference A Day Makes.

Back To the Lehigh Gap, What A Difference A Day Makes.

Lehigh Gap (8 of 50)
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We had our first thunderstorm of the Spring  on Saturday afternoon. It ushered in a cold front and it was windy and a lot colder  when I awoke Sunday morning. I decided to return to the Lehigh Gap  and hike one of the other trails near the Lehigh River. .  Trees along Lehigh & New England Trail

I again parked in Bowmanstown, this time near the entrance to the Lehgih and New England trail. I walked a short distance on this trail until it intersected with the Chestnut Oak Trail .trees along chestnut oak trail

It was breezy and a chilly 46 degrees as I began my hike under cloudy skies. 

The trail began under a young mixed birch, aspen and pines woods. As I climbed the slopes of the Blue Mountain the forest became more pine and chestnut oak. And the trees were older and larger. Sections of the trail became steep and rocky .rocky trail at Lehigh Gap

The trail leveled off and I had some nice views of the Lehigh River below. I also noticed the increasing wind and colder temperatures. I was dressed in shorts and a hoodie. I thought the sun would warm it up. I was wrong. It was cold up on the ridge above the Lehigh River. view of Lehigh River from chestnut oak trail at Lehigh Gap

It appeared the cold and wind also affected the wildlife. I didn’t see any deer, rabbits, squirrels or chipmunks on my hike.  Even more surprising I didn’t see one bird until I approached the Prairie Grass Trail. clouds and trees on Prairie Grass trail at Lehigh Gap

Here the trail became open with few trees surrounded by native grasses. clouds and trees and trails

It was here I saw this yellow rumped warbler. yellow rumped warbler in tree

I walked along the trail and enjoyed views of the mountains in the distance and the river below. clouds over mountains

This area of the Blue Mountain was devastated by pollution from the zinc plant that was active in Palmerton for almost a century. I remember the barren hillside as a child. It is now covered on the native grass managed by the park service.grasses and trees on trail

In addition to the warbler I saw a few sparrows along the trail, sparrow in tree branches

 this turkey vulture flying below me and,turkey vulture in flight

my first sighting of the elusive of an eastern towhee. These birds are usually found in the underbrush and were very common in the woods near my house when I was growing up.  eastern towhee in brush

I once again walked by the “haunted house” on the hilltop in Palmerton. This time it was below me rather than above me.

The trail now began a steady descent. Here I came upon some controlled burning which is needed to maintain the grasslands. burned section of trail

The path  again joined the Lehigh & New England Trail.  It was now a level hike on the old railroad right of way. trees and view of mountains and lehigh river on trail

 The trail became narrower as it approached the site of the abandoned railroad bridge that crossed the Lehigh River. I stopped to read the informational markers at the site of the remains of the  old bridge. lehigh river at Lehigh Gap

People have been walking through this gap for thousands of years. First the foot trail of the Native Americans and  the  Moravian settlers,  next the dirt roads, canals, railroads and finally paved highways of the new residents of what was once a vast wilderness.Lehigh Gap

I stood looking at the Lehigh River flow through the gap, wondering how beautiful it must have looked to the Native Americans and first settlers.

My thoughts took me to  the famous natural artists John James Audubon  and the journey he made up the Lehigh River in 1829. I wondered what he was thinking as he too a stage coach through this same gap. clouds over trail at Lehigh Gap

I walked down to the D & L trail and the Lehigh Gap Nature Trail where I found some of the same species of birds that may have inspired the drawings of Audubon.clouds and trees on trail

First I saw a pair of the always colorful bird in tree

There were also a number of goldfinches at the feeders at the nature center.goldfinch in tree

And there were a multitude of tree swallows darting over the waters of the Lehigh River. Some took a break on the trees and fences of the trail. tree swallow with mouth open

I now began my return walk on the D & L trail. I was now walking into a strong northwesterly wind. Even with the late April sunshine breaking through the clouds, it was still cold.clouds and trees on trail

Temperatures dropped to the low 40’s. Way to cold for this time of year especially when I was not dressed for it. clouds and trees on trail

The trail had a lot less people on it than the day before. However, I did still see a few birds migrating through our area including this pretty black and white warbler. black and white warbler

Well I think it is a black and white warbler. I incorrectly identified a black throated gray warbler as one yesterday. I continue to be amazed by the diversity of the birds that live in, and travel though Northeastern Pennsylvania. black and white warbler

I  also encountered this yellow rumped warbler enjoying one of the many insects now present along the river. yellow rumped warbler with insect in beak

I captured another one in flight. yellow rumped warbler in flight

And when there are insects there are flycatchers. I believe this is an eastern phoebe. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Lehigh Gap Hike birds April 29 2018 eastern phoebe in tree

Even in the strong late April sun, the northerly wind was cold and I walked briskly to return to my car. 

I will be honest and say I was more interested in getting warm than taking photographs. I walked to the Three Ponds Trail and followed it back up to the Lehigh and New England Trail. 

I followed it back a short distance to my car. It was about a 6 1/2 mile hike, a very cold 8 1/2 mile hike. It wasn’t the kind of Spring day I look forward  to during the Winter, but still a great day to be outdoors in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in the Lehigh Gap. Lehigh Gap hike April 29 2018.

“The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang the best.” 
― John James Audubon