Bears And Birds: A Hike In The State Game Lands In Dennison Township
After the visit from the mother bear and her cubs to my backyard in Hazle Township last week, I decided to try and find some bears in their backyard. And the best place I know for finding them is the State Game lands in Dennison Township. Located about 20 miles from my house I have had many encounters with bears in these woodlands.
I arrived at the state game lands around 7;30 a.m. Sunday morning. The skies were overcast and temperatures were in the low 50’s. Unlike my visit to the PPL Wetlands on Friday, many of the trees at this higher elevation here were still without leaves.
Walking under the cloudy skies I heard a lot of birds singing in the tree tops, but they were hard to photograph in the cloudy conditions. This was the best photograph I could get of this red-eyed vireo who sang from high on a tree branch.
I also saw this scarlet tanager, and this,
I think, wood thrush. Whatever it was it had a beautiful song.
I now appreciate the beautiful photographs the professional nature photographers take, in all conditions. I just get lucky when there is good bright sunshine. And one does not only have to deal with the light when trying to take photographs of birds in the woods. This is a chestnut sided warbler. It is a small bird. This is the tree I heard it singing in the branches far above my head.
It took me ten minutes to find it, only to get these poor photos in the poor lighting under the cloudy sky. I sill enjoy just seeing them and listening to their song. And I am quite satisfied just getting lucky ever once in a while. I am sorry these photos don’t display the beautiful colors of these birds. This is a common yellow-throat below.
I walked along the main road until I came to the old railroad right-of way that connected with the Black Diamond portion of the D & L Trail. As I walked down the trail I saw this whitetail deer walking up toward me..
I followed this trail as it meandered through a wetland where I found the high bush blueberry flowers continuing to develop.
Ferns continue to unfold their fronds along the trail.
Whenever I hear a strange bird song I stop and investigate. I heard one Sunday and waited.This bird, which I have identified as a veery.
I had never seen one before and was lucky it stayed close enough to allow me to take some photographs.
As I continued my walk I noticed these strange animal droppings along the trail.
There was a pile of them near this storm drain. I learned later that they were left by a porcupine. I have never seen a porcupine in these woods but it appears he is hanging out in the storm drain. I hope to see him on one of my future hikes in the area.
After the trail descends the ridge it approaches the headwaters of the Nescopeck Creek. Here there are more older oaks and white pines. This large white pine survived the saw when these mountains were timbered.
In these older woods I heard some scratching on the forest floor. After watching for a few minutes I saw it was a brown thrasher. I was lucky again and able to take this photo of this beautiful bird.
Nearby I saw another bird fluttering near the ground, this one was an oven bird.
I was near the Black Diamond Trail now, and I looked down a ridge to the Nescopeck Creek below close to where it flows through a tunnel under the trail. I saw what I came for. A mommy bear and two cubs. Mission accomplished. I saw a bear!
And I was excited since I was in a perfect position to photograph the bears when they came into a clearing along the creek. But mommy’s ears perked up. She heard some bikers on the trail. And she quickly herded her one year old cubs away from the trail, and me and my camera. It was still nice to see this beautiful creatures in the wild, even if only for a few moments.
I walked up onto the Black Diamond trail and headed toward Moosehead Lake. I encountered a lot more folks on bicycles this week. Even though it was cloudy and cool it seems a lot of people wanted to escape outdoors. And the state game lands and the Black Diamond Trail were a good place to escape to.
I heard the honking of geese. It was the first time I heard or saw Canada geese on the lake. I didn’t see any goslings around and it may have been a young couple without a family this year.
An osprey flew overhead as I was leaving the lake. This tells me there must be fish in the lake and in the near by ponds.
I stopped at the wetlands and looked for ospreys, great blue herons or the beavers that built a lodge there but I only saw a few red-winged blackbirds along the shore
This female was pretty agitated and must have had a nest nearby.
I followed the trail for about a mile. Along the way I saw this downy or hairy woodpecker land on a tree trunk. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized she had a nest there and was feeding her young.
and came to the intersection with another old railroad right -of -way that led back up the mountain.
The right-of -way took me to another lake where I heard a kingfisher, some wood ducks and this hawk flying overhead.
Near the lake I found some of my favorite Spring flowers blooming along the trail, the pink lady slipper orchid or, as my dad called them “duck flowers”.
He would take us into the woods near his boyhood home and search for them and pink azalea or “honeysuckle” every Spring. I love finding this beautiful delicate flowers in the Spring.
The trail followed the old railroad right of way through beech and oak woodlands.
Here I heard the loud cries of a crow ahead of me on the trail. I knew something was wrong since the crow sounded agitated . Sure enough I saw a crow chasing a large owl through the trees. I couldn’t get a photo but it was a nice sight to see. I was able to photograph this pretty red-breasted grosbeak in a treetop. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs of some of the birds I saw on my hike. Dennison Township birds March 2 2020.
I followed the trail about a mile back to the access road to the game lands. There were some dogwood trees blooming along the way.
It was about a seven mile hike when I returned to my Jeep. I wanted to get some nicer photographs on this hike of the birds and bears, but it was still a nice hike. So much to see as Nature continues to bring forth new life as Spring advances to Summer. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs from my hike in the State Game lands. Dennison Township hike March 2 2020.
May, more than any other month of the year, wants us to feel most alive. Fennel Hudson