Birds, A Black Snake And A View At State Game Lands 141 In Carbon County

Birds, A Black Snake And A View At State Game Lands 141 In Carbon County

Tank Hollow (35 of 40)
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I planned to hike in the State Game Lands in Carbon County Sunday morning. I usually hike here when the mountain laurel are in bloom in early June. However, I have seen a lot of migratory song birds on my visit last year, , especially in the controlled burning areas,  so I decided to hike here a few weeks earlier this year. It was supposed to be a nice day but there were clouds, fogs and a light drizzle again when I awoke early Sunday morning. It seems it rains every weekend anymore here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

I decided to drive the 25 miles to the parking lot  for State Games Lands 141 anyway. The trailhead is located on the Behrens Road in Penn Forest Township. I had hoped the skies would clear, but they didn’t and it was overcast when I arrived around 8 a.m.  The gate to the access road to the Game Lands was open since it was Spring turkey hunting season in Pennsylvania. I wanted to walk on the road so I parked and began my hike through the lush green woodlands in the game lands.

Although it was overcast the woods along the trail were filled with the bird songs. I soon saw this chestnut sided  warbler singing in the trees,

and this ruby throated hummingbird perched high on a tree branch beneath the cloudy skies. This is the only hummingbird that breeds in Pennsylvania and migrates to Central and South America in the Winter. 

I walked through the area were the controlled burning took place a few years ago. it was done, partially,  to provide open habitat for deer and other wildlife and it was working. I have see many species of birds here on my hikes, and i  did on  my hike on Sunday, including,

this field sparrow,

a few eastern towhees and

common yellow throats, this is a female.

and this a  masked male yellowthroat.

A fog blew  in as I continued my hike through the controlled burn area and the fields on the other side of the road.  A light drizzle began to fall not the best conditions for looking for and photographing birds,

and I was hearing and seeing a lot of them including this beautiful male scarlet tanager. These birds migrate from their Winter homes in northern South America to breed here in our forest.

I also saw this colorful prairie warbler singing  in the woods along th6tyye road. These birds migrate from the Caribbean to breed here.

Higher in the tree tops I saw this great crested flycatcher. These graceful birds migrate from  the Caribbean Islands, Central America and South America where I saw them on my visits to Panama, Costa Rica and Florida this past Winter. They are beautiful birds and I was glad to see them on a foggy morning here in the State Game Lands.

And I saw and heard the unmistakable calls of a few gray catbirds, also a migratory bird in our area, spending the Winter on our eastern coast all the way to the Caribbean Islands.

The fog lifted and the drizzle stopped as I approached a second parking lot on the access road to the game lands. There is a gate here, which was also open  because it is hunting season. The road descends steeply down a ridge past the gate, and enters an older, denser woodlands.

Here I heard, and saw one of the many red eyed vireos that were singing in the woodlands on my six mile hike.

I also saw a few wildflowers growing along the road including many species of violets, including, common blue violets,

marsh blue violets,

and sweet white violets, all are native to our area.

I also saw some plantain leafed pussytoes,

and a few mushrooms, I believe this is a Spring entoloma  mushroom.

After about 1 1/2 miles I came to the trail that  goes down to the Tank Hollow Overlook.

The clouds were starting to break up as I walked through the green woodlands.

The trail is narrower here, and weaves through thickets of mountain laurel and rhododendron. In a few weeks it will be magical walking on this trail when the mountain laurel, then the rhododendron bloom.

In these deeper woods I  heard  the melodic, melancholy song of  this hermit thrush. These birds are migratory but they do not migrate long distance like the warblers and other song birds. They migrate to the southern United State for the Winter.

I saw a black and white warbler was also scampering on the branches of a tree. These birds also migrate to South and Central  America and the Caribbean in the Winter.

And, I saw and heard a few black throated green warblers fluttering in  the green canopy of leaves along the trail.  I had seen them here last year too. It also migrates from the same locations as the black and white warblers, and breeds here in the Summer.

I continued my hike to the overlook, the trail getting rocky and overgrown as I approached.

I love this overlook. I took in the view of the Lehigh River,

and the Broad Mountain across the river. I heard the sound of a passing   train in the gorge far below this rocky outcrop.

I usually see a few people out here but I was the only one on the trail and at the overlook. However, as the skies began to clear and the sun shone through the clouds, I thought that may change. The sunshine warmed the air and a few turkey vultures took advantage of the updrafts created by the warming air to soar above the gorge.

I began my hike back, and sure enough encountered three families hiking down to the overlook. I hiked back to the main access road and continued my hike into the State Game Lands

The sun was shining when I hiked back to the access road and I continued my hike into the State  Games lands.

It was later in the morning and there wasn’t as much bird activity in the woodlands along the trail. It was still a nice hike with so much green in the woodlands, with  many ferns growing along the trail including, cinnamon ferns,

hay scented ferns

and bracken ferns,

Some wildflowers also bloomed along the road here including, dwarf ginseng,

common cinquefoil and

yellow star grass flowers..

I hiked out about a mile from the Tank Hollow Trailhead, and came to the last parking lot on the access road. The road continues for a few more miles but it is gated and restricted to only official vehicles after the point. I have never hiked to the end of the road but I hope to do it this Summer.

I began my hike back and I saw this black throated blue warbler singing near the parking lot.

I began my  pleasant  2 1/2 mile hike under the now sunny May skies.  I saw and heard many of the birds I had seen earlier and this frog in a puddle along the road,

and this large black snake crawl across the road. 

I think it was a black rat snake, but I am not sure, it could have been a black racer, they are very similar, but it was huge. probably almost 6 feet long.

I followed it as it crawled into the woods along the road, thinking it will quickly slither into the leaf litter. It didn’t. It turned and took took a defense posture as it hissed at me.

It also shook it’s tail as if it were imitating a rattle snake. It was a beautiful creature.  Here is a link to a gallery on my webpage with some more photos of the large black rat snake I encountered on my hike. State Game Lands 141 black rat snake May 19 2024.

I hiked back up the steep ridge,

and back through the controlled burning area. Here I saw a steady parade of hikers walking down to the Tank Hollow Overlook, enjoying this beautiful May day in the State Game Lands.

I also saw a few new birds  along the road as I finished my hike, including, a colorful yellow throated vireo,

a Canada warbler,

a few brown-headed cowbirds, not my favorite bird since they do not build their own nest, but lay their eggs in the nest of other birds, the young brown headed cowbird chicks often hatching and pushing the nest builders offspring out of the nest.

and, my favorite, a few  rose breasted grosbeaks singing  in the tree tops and along the road. I love seeing these colorful birds in the Spring at my feeders in my back yard.

They are also  long distance   migrants, spending their Winters, in  the Caribbean and Central and South America. Here is a link to a gallery on my webpage with some more photos of the  birds  I encountered on my hike. State Game Lands 141 birds May 19 2024.

It was after 1 p.m. when I finished my 6 mile, almost 6 hour hike. It was another great morning in the woods of  Northeastern Pennsylvania. and once again I was lucky to se a lot of wildlife. A lot of folks ask on my social media post how I see so many species of birds. The answer is simple.  I walk a lot of miles, take my time and keep my eyed peeled.   I am lucky to see and photos a lot of birds and other critters. However, I also miss shots of almost as many as I am able to photograph on my hikes.  I don’t mind, I  l just seeing them and sharing whatever I can, I love Penn’s Woods especially in the Spring!  Here is a link to a gallery on my webpage with some more photos  on my hike. State Game Lands 141  May 19 2024.

May. — The very word makes the heart leap. Birds, Buds, Blossoms, Beauty! Break away from every bondage of circumstance or low spirits and go out into the sunshine. Answer back the bird-note in your heart, kiss your finger tips to every new blossom, and be a part of the spring. ~Eva D. Kellogg,

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