Summer is near it’s peak now. And I still haven’t seen a black bear in my backyard in Hazle Township or on any of my hikes. This is the first time I haven’t had a close encounter with a black bear in 25 years. I’m not giving up, so I headed to the State Game Lands in Dennison Township last Saturday where I have encountered many bears on previous hikes.
I arrived early, around 7 :30 a.m. It was mostly sunny and a pleasant 70 degrees when I began my hike. I followed the same route as my previous hikes. It was somewhat quiet as I started my hike. There are usually a lot of birds singing in the tree tops. Not on Saturday. I did see a lot of mushrooms popping up after the recent rains we had. This is a species of amanita mushroom,
this a russula mushroom, and this
a bolete mushroom. There are so many species of mushrooms in our woodlands and I love seeing them on my hikes. Unfortunately, none of these are the edible ones I search for.
I also found a few of these seldom seen and endangered wood lilies blooming along the trail. I love finding native this mid summer flowers.
Once again I hiked to the old railroad right of way and followed it down to the D & L trail. There are a lot of wetlands along this trail and a lot the high bush blueberries, or “swampers” grow here.
I believe this is what attracts the bears, and sure enough, I found some blueberry bushes pulled over and the ferns on the ground broken and crushed where a bear was feeding on the berries. I must have just missed it. I have seen many bears in this area in prior years.
So having missed another opportunity to see a bear, I continued on my hike and came upon this pretty bird fluttering around in a tree. I believe it is a female yellow throat warbler.
It had captured a moth, and it sat showing it off, which allowed me to phot0graph it as it consumed its prize. They usually don’t remain in one place very long.
Nearby I was also able to get a photo of the masked male yellowthroat warbler.
I followed the trail and hoped to see a bear near the now fast running stream that is on of the headwaters of the Nescopeck Creek that begins in Dennison Township. I have seen bears here before but not last Saturday.
The woods were wet here and I found a lot more mushrooms growing along the trail including some more species of amanita,
this bolete and
a lot of the pale white ghost plant or Indian pipes. As noted in pervious blogs these unique plants do not produce chlorophyll but is parasitic and feeds off of the roots of trees and mushrooms.
After about a 2 1/2 mile hike I met up with the D & L trail and followed it up to scenic Moosehead Lake. Along the way I saw some wildflowers in bloom including yellow salsify flowers,
bull thistle flowers,
oxeye daisies and
thousands of spotted knapweed flowers.
These pretty purple flowers attract bees, wasps, butterflies and moths.
In addition to the bees I saw what I think is a meadow fritillary butterfly.
Once again stopped at Moosehead Lake and took in the scenic view,
and then spent some time at the wetlands across the trail to see what I could find in the way of wildlife and wildflowers.
I didn’t see much in the way of wildlife, just some tree swallows.
an eastern male towhee high in a treetop and
a great blue heron. I wasn’t able to get any close up photos of any of these birds.
Once again I enjoyed the pretty water lilies that were in bloom,
and I found that the chokeberries were now ripe.
After spending some time at the wetlands I followed the trail another mile or so and once again followed another old railroad right of way back up to the Hollenback access road.
And once again I stopped at he small lake along the trail
where I saw some frogs
and another great blue heron perched on a tree top.
The trail now entered some thick woodlands,
where I saw some more mushrooms and
this red eft stage of the eastern (red-spotted ) newt.
I followed the trail to the game lands access road where I saw this hawk fly overhead and land on on a branch on a tree near the road.
I am not good at identifying hawks but I believe it is a sharp-shinned hawk. Here is a link to a gallery with some more images of the birds I saw on my hike in the game lands in Dennison Township . State Game Lands Birds 119 July 17 2021.
It was another hot day in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Temperatures were in the mid 80’s when I finished my hike. I was hungry, hot, thirsty and tired after my 7 1/2 mile hike. But I enjoyed it. The only regret I had was not seeing a bear. But there is always next time! Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in Dennison Township State Game Lands 119 July 17 2021.
“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” —Charles Bowden