Bats, Bees, Horned Grebes, Frog Eggs And Other Cool Stuff At Our Local Community Park.
I have always enjoyed walking and exploring the outdoors. I remember my first hikes in the strip mined woodlands with my dad searching for wild mushrooms. I may have been three years old. My dad developed, and continued to encourage my curiosity in, and love for nature. He would also take me and my siblings on hikes in the woods near our home looking for wild mushrooms, chestnuts, wildflowers and other cool stuff. And, occasionally, to the local parks including the newly opened Community Park in Hazle Township. Those exciting childhood romps in Community Park and it’s centerpiece, Lake Irena, seem like yesterday. I loved the amazing natural world I found there.
Well, that was many decades ago. Dad is gone but the curiosity and love for nature, adventure and the outdoors has remained with me. . It is one of many gifts he gave to me. Every hike I take is an adventure to me. I become childlike as I set out to discover, once again, the beauty of nature. I try to find new places to explore. But I also like to hike in areas I know to see what I can find.
And so, many years later, I still hike in that same local Community Park. I have been trying to take a daily afternoon hike there now that the warmer weather has arrived. I love observing nature nature awakening after it’s long Winter sleep. And, even here, after many hikes over the decades, nature reveals new secrets to me . Such was the case this past week.
It was mostly sunny with seasonable temperatures in the mid 50’s on Monday afternoon. There were a lot of folks enjoying the warmer weather and fishing on the shores of Lake Irena. And so were the many painted turtles that live in the lake.
and a song sparrow hopping on the woodland floor along the trail. These birds were beautiful and I love to see and share photos of them through my blog posts. But I have seen them before. I always hope to see something new on my hikes.
And this would not be the last new and interesting critter I would see on my hike. After seeing the bat I continued my walk around the lake and saw some water fowl swimming on the other side of the lake. Looking at them through my camera they looked like grebes but not like the pied billed grebe, the only ones I had seen before.
I was able to identify them with my Merlin app and learned they were horned grebes. These beautiful birds do not live in our area and were migrating from their winter homes on the southeastern coasts to their breeding grounds in northwestern Canada. It is always a great experience to see some new plant or animal on my hikes and to see the bats and grebes on the same day made for another great outing in the park.. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the birds I saw on my two hikes at the park . Community Park April 11 -14 2022.
Here I found some more signs of Spring. The fuzzy tufts appeared on the pussy willows along the trail. Pussy willow branches are use in the Eastern Orthodox churches in place of Palms on the Sunday before Easter. I would gather some every year for my mom when she was alive.
The skies darkened and I hurried back to finish my three mile hike. I made it back to my Jeep just as the rains began to fall. I enjoyed my hikes in Community Park this week, carrying the tradition my dad thought me, to walk in our woodlands and keep my eyes peeled.
I did and was rewarded with the sightings of the bat, the hooded grebes and the orange-belted bumblebees. a few more of the many yet undiscovered wonders I have yet to see. I will keep looking for them here in my local Community Park, in the woodlands of our beautiful Commonwealth, and God willing all over this beautiful planet we share. Here is a link to a gallery on my website with some more photographs from my hike in Community Park. Community Park April 11-14
We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us. —Albert Einstein