Back To The Wetlands, And A Hike On Another Rainy Saturday

Back To The Wetlands, And A Hike On Another Rainy Saturday

Susqehanna Wetlands (4 of 66)
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I returned to  my  “go to”  hiking trails on Saturday morning,  the Susquehanna Wetlands  and River  Lands in Salem Township,  Luzerne County.   It has been three weeks since I walked  in the wetlands and the ponds once part of  the abandoned North Branch of the Pennsylvania Canal. The  trails here are  also near the Great  Warrior Path a trail used  for centuries by the Native Americans.   In addition to the wildlife there is a lot of history here, and there should be, the Susquehanna River is one of the oldest rivers on our planet.

I had been away, visiting Chester County and then attending my niece and nephews graduations the past two weekends. Of course it rained on both of them and was raining again when I arrived at the wetlands early Saturday morning. I first stopped at the pond along the road into the wetlands area of this private nature preserve. As soon as I left my Jeep I  the deep earthy, musty  smell of the wetlands filled my lungs. I love this smell of Spring.

I discovered a trail was cleared from this pond   to the Water Fowl Pond.  This  trail provided another  view of  the Water Fowl pond pond where I have seen many wood ducks, heron and other water fowl on my hikes. There were no water fowl on the pond on Saturday but I did notice that the woodlands around the lake were now lush and green.

And, I was surprised to see  so many new flowers in bloom already,  the  northern blue flag ,

the pond or cow lilies.

the blackberries and

Dames rocket all had flowers.  It seems like just yesterday the trout lilies, one of the earliest flowers of  Spring, were in bloom.    The seasons move so quickly for me these days. 

I left the pond and drove to the access road.  I found the gate was open for the first time since last Fall so I  was able to drive to the parking lot.  

Again I enjoyed the lush green vegetation and the earthy aroma that filled the air as I walked down to the Susquehanna River and then,

into the wetlands. I heard many birds in the tree tops, warblers, sparrows, vireos and others but didn’t get photos because of the rain

Walking in  the wetlands I again was amazed, as I always am in the Spring, how quickly the plants have sprouted in two weeks, the skunk cabbage were huge, and probably at their maximum growth.

They were covered in slugs, which I haven’t seen before. They were probably active because of the wet and rainy conditions. I often wondered what would feed  on this pungent leaves, now I knew. 

The cinnamon ferns had also grown a lot since my last visit,

as did the bracken ferns,

and hay-scented ferns

The Gray’s sedge had already produced their burs,

and the mandrake or May apple flower were done blooming.

Black locust flowers now bloomed along the trails,

as did the invasive species of honeysuckle, filling the wetlands with their wonder fragrance.

The first wildlife I was able to photograph was this family of Canada geese swimming on a pond along the trail. They didn’t mind the rain. Again. it seems like yesterday the geese were pairing up and looking for nesting spots.

I walked to the Water Fowl Pond and found the trail was not flooded. There was a lot of maintenance work done in the wetlands since my last visit. The trails were cleared and the grass cut.

There were no water fowl on the Water Fowl pond so I began my hike to the river lands area of the nature preserve and park, about a mile away.

I found the  large tree that fell across the trail was removed.

Here  I was able to get a photograph of this gray catbird,

 

I also saw this yellow warbler, and

red winged blackbirds and took a quick photo in the rain.

This painted turtle was  on the trail. I  am guessing it was a female about to lay her eggs in the moist soil.

I continued my hike and found the second trail to the river was no longer flooded, again probably a result of the Spring maintenance in the wetlands.

As I entered the river lands,

I saw this muskrat swimming in the duck weed covered canal. It didn’t notice me,

and I watched as it gathered leaves and grass, stuffed them in it’s mouth,

and swam with them back to it’s den on the other side of the canal.

After watching the muskrat I walked into the river lands.

 

The rain let up a bit and  I saw, and was able to photograph a few birds in the trees along Lake Took-A-While.

including  a Baltimore oriole,

and an eastern phoebe, both their features wet from the rain.

As usual I walked to the far side of the lake, and started my return hike.

Along the way I saw some more  blue flag,

and Philadelphia fleabane flowers blooming along the trail.

The rain  picked up as I walked back. I had a plastic bag for my camera, and I tried to keep it dry on my five mile three hour hike, but condensation began to form on the lens.

I took a few more photos of the birds I saw including this common grackle,

and yellow-rumped  warbler before I decided to cover my camera when it really began to pour.  Here is a link to a gallery on my website with some more photos of the wildlife I saw  on my 5 mile hike in the wetlands and river lands. Susquehanna Wetlands  wildlife May 18 2024.

I had my rain gear on so I didn’t mind the heavy rains, and I enjoyed the lush greens  colors and earthy smell of the wetlands  as I walked back to my Jeep.  Here is a link to a gallery on my website with some more photos of the from  my 5 mile hike in the wetlands and river lands. Susquehanna Wetlands   May 18 2024.

It wasn’t the best weather but it was May and, in my opinion, there is no bad weather in the Spring or  in May. There is so much life here in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania and I enjoy every minute of this time of year. I have too,  because it passes so quickly for me as I continue to add more circles around the sun. God willing, I’ll have a lot more, and I hope to share my hikes and observations during  them here on my blog.

“Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;
There are four seasons in the mind of man:
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
Takes in all beauty with an easy span:
He has his Summer, when luxuriously
Spring’s honey’d cud of youthful thought he loves
To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
Is nearest unto Heaven: quiet coves
His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
He furleth close; contented so to look
On mists in idleness—to let fair things
Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.
He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,
Or else he would forego his mortal nature”.
~John Keats

 

 

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