Back To Winter At The PPL Wetlands

Back To Winter At The PPL Wetlands

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After a record setting week of warm temperatures,  more seasonable cold weather returned to Northeastern Pennsylvania today. I decided to see if the recent warm weather brought some early migrating water fowl to the PPL Wetlands. PPL Wetlands-9

I arrived under cloudy skies, temperatures in the upper 20’s and with  a few  passing snow showers.  I found the canals and ponds totally ice free and flooded from the heavy thunderstorms, and even a few tornadoes, that brought the cold air back to our area. Some of the paths were impassable from the overflowing ponds and canals. PPL Wetlands-5

I was surprised how quiet it was on my first mile walking in the wetlands. I did not see any wildlife and heard only a few crows in the distance. I thought there would be a number of species of migrating water fowl staying in the area after the storms yesterday. But not a one. PPL Wetlands-12

I walked over to the  adjoining river lands, not seeing any of the year long resident birds nor any squirrels, chipmunks or deer. I did see some of the effects of the recent warm weather. Plenty of green early plants pushing through the muddy soil.PPL Wetlands-2

And the skunk cabbages were now popping up throughout the wetlands, a few weeks earlier than usual. Just two years ago we had a week of cold weather with sub-zero temperatures.  There was no vegetation to be found for at least two more weeks that year. What a difference this year. PPL Wetlands-37

As I walked along the flooded swamps and wetlands I was greeted by the familiar sound of this common summer bird in the wet-lands. The red-winged blackbird. I was surprised since there were only two of them and they usually migrate in large flocks in the spring. PPL Wetlands-10

I continued onward to Lake Took-A-While where I found three common mergansers on the water. I watched these beautiful birds, shown below and above,  for awhile when I heard the sound of a large flock of birds in the distance. PPL Wetlands-18

I soon realized why I  had seen the two red-winged blackbirds earlier. They were  probably part of this  massive flock of red-winged blackbirds I saw roosting in the trees at the edge of a corn field. I uploaded a video of the flock to my You tube channel. You can see it by clicking on the red highlighted link above. And here is another as they moved to the corn fields.  This was one of the largest flocks I hve seen and they arrived much earlier then usual, PPL Wetlands-11

I soon saw another sign of Spring,  a robin, although many of  these birds stay here in the wetlands near the river year round. It was still nice to see one. PPL Wetlands-21

I also saw a few Canada geese on the lake, but not as many as I had anticipated. I am sure more will be joining them in the next few weeks, looking for an isolated corner of the wetlands to build their nest and lay their eggs. PPL Wetlands-25

While watching the geese I saw this bird flying low over the water. I  have been seeing it for a few months now but this was the first time  I was able to get a photograph. I am pretty sure it is a kingfisher. PPL Wetlands-27

I made my way back to the wetlands, and again noticed the absence of the usual winter birds, the juncos. nuthatches and black capped chickadees. I am not sure why they weren’t around today but I did see this song sparrow along the way. Hopefully they will return next visit, and will be joined by the returning song birds. PPL Wetlands-30

I walked along the Susquehanna River which was also ice free and which now filled it[s banks from the melting snow up river as well as the thunderstorms we had yesterday. PPL Wetlands-35

As I neared my car, the sun broke through the clouds, and, warmed the air enough to awaken another sign of spring. the spring peepers. I love the sound of these tiny frogs in early Spring. There were only a few, and this is the first time i heard them in February. Most years the starting peeping in late March or early April. Here is a link to another video I uploaded to YouTube.       PPL Wetlands-33

You can also hear  some birds, whose song I cant identify,  in the video, as well as some ducks in the distance. It may have been colder today, but there were still plenty of signs that Winter is ending. We may get some more cold weather, and even snow, but Winter’s back is broken and it won’t be long until the wetlands and all of Northeastern Pennsylvania is enjoying the beauty of Spring. I can’t wait, since it is my favorite time  of year. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today.

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“What kind of bird are you, if you can’t fly?” said he. To this the duck replied, “What kind of bird are you if you can’t swim?” and dived into the pond.
Sergei Prokofiev

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