Bald Eagles, A Red Tailed Hawk And A Kingfisher On Another Dark And Dreary December Day In the Susquehanna Wetlands
It was another dark and dreary December day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Sunday. Temperatures were near freezing with a strong westerly wind. I decided to return to the Susquehanna Wetlands in Luzerne County. I had just hiked there Friday afternoon, on another dark and dreary day. I know there are dozens of beautiful hiking trails in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And I do like to explore them, especially in the warmer months. However, I have become very familiar with the wetlands in Salem Township. It is home to so much wildlife, even in the cold months. I have learned where the birds and animals feed and I enjoy trying to find and photograph them.
So on Sunday I was back at the wetlands, hoping to see some wildlife, especially the playful river otter family has been living in the canals and ponds for the last few weeks. The skies were overcast and gray when I arrived. As is my custom, I first walked to the Susquehanna River. I always hope to see an eagle, osprey or some water fowl on the river. There were none to be seen on Sunday.
After seeing the river I walked to the trails in the wetlands. They follow the ponds and canals, the remains of the old North Branch of the Pennsylvania Canal. I was disappointed, I didn’t see the river otters. Like my hike on Friday it was quiet, dreary and dark.
As I continued my walk I met a couple of fellow photographers. They told me they had seen the river otters earlier in the morning. I was glad to hear they are still in the wetlands After a pleasant conversation, I continued my hike along the canal. My hope to observe some wildlife on my hike was soon realized, first I saw a downy woodpecker high in a treetop ,
and a couple of white breasted nuthatches scampering on the branches of the same tree.
Then, as I walked toward the water fowl pond at the edge of the wetlands I was delighted to see two majestic bald eagles perched in a tree. Well, to be honest, they were pretty far away, and, at first I thought they were hawks or turkey vultures.
It was only when I looked at them through the lens of my camera that I realized they were eagles.
One flew off of it’s perch, circled the pond and returned to the tree.
Unfortunately the clouds and low sun didn’t make for the best of photographs. However, it is always a wonderful experience to see these beautiful birds living free in our woodlands again, and I am glad to share this experience, and to remind everyone how we humans almost, we our disregard of their environment, brought them to the brink of extinction. Preserve what is left of our natural resources we must.
After seeing the bald eagles I continued walking through the dreary , brown and bleak wetlands.
It was quiet, I saw only a few more woodpeckers and heard some crows in the distance. As I observed in my blog post from my Friday hike I found mostly the drab brown and grays of winter on my walk.
Once again there were some green ferns and few hardy plants still growing in the wetlands. And the clusters of bright red common winterberries addded some color to the dull brown landscape.
However, on this hike I may have seen the last flower of the season, a purple New England aster. It was shriveled from the cold but it was nice to still see a flower blooming in bleak December..
Walking back down to the river I found more shades of brown, the dead grasses growing along the river banks.
Brown dried wild teasel flowers were seen along the trails too, adding to the bleak December landscape.
I continued my walk into into the river lands.
There were no fishermen on the shores of the lake on this dreary December morning,
There were no water fowl either, not even the usual flock of Canada geese.
As I walked to the far end of the lake I heard the shrill call of a red tailed hawk and saw this one soaring high overhead in the overcast sky.
As I was watching the hawk soar above me, I heard the chatter of a belted kingfisher and looked across the lake and saw this one perched in a tree.
It kept flying away as I approached but i was able to get a few photos, but not the best because of overcast sky and poor dim lighting conditions. It was still nice to see the kingfisher, since they are so elusive and hard to photograph.
It was late morning when I began my hike back to my Jeep in the parking area of the wetlands. The skies were still overcast.
I kept my eyes peeled as I walked in the wetlands hoping to see the eagles again or maybe even the family of river otters. I didn’t see either, I only saw a few song sparrows as I walked along the ponds and canals in the wetlands.
I finished my hike and was satisfied with my decision to visit the wetlands again. Seeing the bald eagles, the belted kingfisher and red-tailed hawk made for a good day of observing wildlife in the dark and dreary days of December. Once again I enjoyed my walk in the wetlands and river lands. And I know I will return again soon. Here is a link to a gallery on my website with some more photographs from my five mile hike. Susquehanna Wetlands hike December 19 2021.
Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled . Fyodor Dostoyevsky