Bald Eagles, Some Birds And River Otters On A Dreary Early March Hike in the Susquehanna Wetlands

Bald Eagles, Some Birds And River Otters On A Dreary Early March Hike in the Susquehanna Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands (23 of 41)
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March is an unpredictable month here  in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Temperatures can range from  0 to near 80 degrees. We have had flooding from tropical rains and blizzards that have dumped over  two feet  of snow. And these variations  can occur overnight. I experienced a small sample of this on my hike in the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township in Luzerne County on Sunday.

It was cloudy and,  a mild, for March,  40 degrees when I arrived at the wetlands around 8 a.m. It has been mild the past week and there was no snow or ice on the waters or ground in the wetlands. Many years the ponds are still frozen and there is snow on the ground.   The access road to the wetlands parking lot was still closed so I had to walk the 1/2 mile in to the trailhead for the wetlands walking over a tree that fell since my last visit.

I don’t mind the walk since I often see some bird activity in the thick woods along the road.   On Sunday I saw  a few female,

and male cardinals singing in the treetops.

There were also a few goldfinches,

tufted titmice, and

song sparrows in the branches.

And I saw a downy woodpecker and

this ruby crowned kinglet this week. There usually are hairy woodpeckers,  Carolina wrens and white-throated sparrows along the road but they weren’t there on Sunday.

It had been two weeks since I was in the wetlands and the Dame’s rocket

and garlic mustard, sure signs of the approaching Spring, had grown a lot since my last visit.

I walked to the parking lot and then down to the Susquehanna River. The river was high and the water fast flowing from the  recent heavy rains.

I walked  into the wetlands and found more signs of Spring. The red maples were starting to bud,

and the skunk cabbages continued to push from the muddy soil.

The honking of Canada geese filled the wetlands. There were dozens of these birds, in pairs now, and preparing to nest and breed. This pair was sitting on a muskrat nest. It won’t be long until here are fluffy golden goslings seeming in the ponds and canals of the wetlands.

I was surprised I didn’t see or hear any wood ducks. I tried to  walk to the Water Fowl pond, where I often see them,

but both paths were flooded from the heavy rains.

There was some clearing and some brief periods of sunshine warming  the temperature into the mid 40’s making for a pleasant early March hike, for a short time anyway.

I saw another sign of Spring, some blackberry leaves sprouting on the canes along the trail.

I continued toward the river lands and had to cross this large tree that fell across the trail.

I also saw some witch’s butter, a type of edible jelly fungus.

I also saw another sign of Spring, and not edible, poison hemlock growing along the trail,

I  wasn’t able to take the trail to the river since it was also flooded.

As I neared the river lands I saw this red tailed hawk fly overhead. I could have been the reason I didn’t see many other birds in the wetlands this morning.

I walked into the river lands and took the trail between Lake Too-A-While and the remains of the old Susquehanna Canal

There was a flock of common mergansers swimming on the lake,

and they were joined by a flock of Canada geese on the shore.

Some of the common mergansers were also pairing off and will soon be looking for area to breed and nest.

Along the shore of the river I also saw some American robins,

a Carolina wren,

a few blue jays,

red- winged blackbirds,

song sparrows,

and northern cardinals.

I was excited and happy  to see a pair of bald eagles fly overhead,

and soar over the lake before flying toward the river.

They appeared to be a pair of adults. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the bald eagles and other birds I saw on my hike in the wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands birds March 9 2024.

I think the bald eagles and other birds knew what was coming, clouds appeared in the north,

and the temperatures dropped. A heavy rain began to fall so I started my almost two mile hike back to the wetlands. I was soon soaked and cold.

The rain stopped and it began to clear, only to begin raining again as I entered the wetlands. The rain continued and the winds picked up as I walked through the wetlands.

As I approached the canal I saw something in the water. There were two of them.  It was hard to see since the lenses in my  glasses were covered with rain drops. I assumed it was one of the muskrats I usually see here in the warmer months. I took my camera from under my coat, where i had it to protect it from the rain. I took some photos and, after revieing them, realized that they weren’t muskrats but  were river otters!

I was glad to see them again but disappointed it had to be in the middle of a rain squall.

I walked along the canal hoping to see the river otters again but they were gone, However I did see some wood ducks which I wasn’t able to photograph because of the rain. The temperature continued to drop and the rain turned to sleet and snow as I finished my five mile hike. I was glad it stopped when I  returned to my Jeep so I didn’t have to drive home in the snow. It wasn’t the most pleasant hike I took in the wetlands, but it was March, and this is the changeable weather we expect here in Northeastern Pennsylvania in March. It was still nice to be outdoors and to see the bald eagles and especially the river otters and to share some photos with my followers here on my blog and social media. It won’t be long until Mother Nature will provide me with a lot more of here beauty when Spring arrives. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my early March five mile hike in the wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands  March 9 2024.

“March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes, and a laugh in her voice.”
― Hal Borland

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