Birds, Blossoms And Blue Sky At The Canal In Walnutport in Northampton County

Birds, Blossoms And Blue Sky At The Canal In Walnutport in Northampton County

Walnutort Canal Hike (32 of 41)
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I returned to the  peaceful and scenic Walnutport Canal Spur Trail for a hike on Saturday.  And,  for the record, the quaint town of Walnutport is located in Northampton County, not Lehigh County, as I  stated in my previous blog post. A reader corrected me, and please, I am an amateur at this so  please feel free to correct any mistakes I make in identifying  places, plants or critters. 

It was another cold April  morning  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  It was a freezing 32 degrees at my home in Luzerne County .  I  decided to head south.  I took  the  40 minute drive to Walnutport to  hike on the towpath remaining form the old Lehigh  Canal. I was hoping to see some of the birds migrating through our area now and to try and photograph  the wood ducks I had seen on the canal on previous hikes. 

The temperature was warmer, but was still a cool40 degrees,  when I arrived, but the rays from the  strong  late April sun felt good  as it shone in the deep blue skies.  This squirrel sitting in a tree above the trail was enjoying  a black walnut in the morning sunshine. 

I saw a few fishermen and Canada geese as I headed south on the scenic trail and past the historic  Kelchner Lockhouse. Built in 1828 it is one of the  two remaining lockhouses  along the  towpath of the Lehigh Canal. So much history on this trail. I have included more links in previous blogs which can be searched in the archives.  

I left the towpath trail and took a side trail in the woodlands that led through the woods to the Lehigh River. 

Here I saw my first migratory bird, a yellow-rumped warbler. It was one of many of these warblers I would see on my five mile hike.

I was delighted to hear the distinctive cries of the gray catbirds that have returned to our area. These active and noisy birds  are very common in our woodlands in the Spring and Summer. 

There were also a few of the usual resident birds, American robins and,

northern cardinals. This is a pretty female. 

The woodlands along the trail were bursting with new growth that Spring brings, the sassafras trees were budding, 

patches of mandrakes or may apples, 

and skunk cabbage were scattered in the wetlands along the trail.

Large patches of trout lilies were ready to burst forth with their delicate yellow flowers,

and the garlic mustard and

marsh blue violets added color to the trail.

I retuned to the tow path near the huge stone remains of a bridge that crossed the canal.  I continued on the trail lined with ancient oak and tulip trees that were starting to produce their first leaves. It is a beautiful time of year.

The warm rays of the sun brought some turtles out of the water to bask in the sunshine,

In a large tulip tree near the stone bridge remains I saw this bird perched on a branch. My Merlin app identified it’s song as a warbling vireo, a bird I haven’t seen before.

It  continued it’s beautiful song as I watched and listened, 

There were no other people on the trail and I enjoyed the peace and quiet. 

I came to a park where the ruins of another lockhouse are displayed . I love the large sycamore trees that  probably shaded the stone house. The children of the occupants could have played under their branches. 

Here I usually find some bird activity.  And I did on Saturday. I saw this blue-gray gnatcatcher singing on branch near one of the sycamore trees. 

I left this small park and continued on the trail.  The waters of the canal flow into a wetland here and the narrow trail follows the old towpath between the wetlands and Lehigh River below. I have seen a lot of  mallard and wood ducks  on the waters in the wetlands here on my last two visits. 

There were no ducks at the beginning of the wetlands but I saw a few eastern phoebes

and this beautiful pileated woodpecker.  I heard a loud rapping on  below the trail and this magnificent bird flew up and onto a tree. It quickly flew off as I approached

There was also this lone brown-headed  cowbird foraging in the grass along the stream flowing through the wetlands. 

My hike on the trail ended where the Bertsch Creek flowed into the Lehigh River.  I began my return hike as the sun continued to warm the cool morning air. There were now a lot more turtles in the wetlands and along the shores of the trail. 

I also saw a few more birds including a lot more yellow-rumped warblers, this photo helps explain their name, 

song sparrows ,

black-capped chickadees,

and this pretty bird I saw hopping along in the mud near the Lehigh River. I  think I had only seen one before a veery, a  small member of the thrush family. I learned that this bird migrates from central Brazil  and I find this amazing, 

I was disappointed I didn’t see any duck on the waters of the wetlands. In fact the only wild ducks I saw on my five mile hike were a couple of mallard  ducks swimming in the Lehigh River.  They were in  Northampton County. The river separates Northampton   County and Lehigh County. 

As I walked back along the trail I saw a lot more folks walking  or fishing in the waters of the canal. I once again returned to the wooded trail that led to the Lehigh River in the  hopes of seeing some more migrating songbirds. There were new song birds just the same cardinals, catbirds and yellow-rumped warblers. I did find that the trout lilies I saw earlier had bloomed.  I love these delicate flowers, 

and even the lowly dandelion looked pretty in the April sunshine. 

I returned to the towpath trail, and again reflected on the ancient trees and old houses across the canal. I often wonder about the many folks who lived their lived in these houses and watched the barges float down the canal. 

As I was finishing my hike I saw  a few more  large birds including a red-bellied woodpecker, 

an American crow and ,

a small flock of common grackles, whose iridescent feathers shone in the sunshine. 

To me these birds always have a mean look on their faces. This  one certainly did. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website  with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike on the Walnutport Canal in Northampton County. Walnutport Canal birds April 30 2022. 

The strong April sun warmed the cool air and the temperature was near 60 degrees as I  finished my hike walking past the old lockhouse and 

taking a walk to the Lehigh River.  It’s waters  reflected the deep blue skies. I didn’t see any wood ducks but I enjoyed my  five mile hike on old towpath along the canal and the many   birds,  wildflowers and pretty scenery I saw .  I hope to return soon  Here is a link to another link to another gallery with some  photos from my hike in on the Walnutport Canal Sur Trail  Northampton County . Walnutport Canal April 230 2022. 

“You start in April and cross to the time of May
One has you as it leaves, one as it comes
Since the edges of these months are yours and defer
To you, either of them suits your praises.
The Circus continues and the theatre’s lauded palm,
Let this song, too, join the Circus spectacle.”
–  Ovid, Fasti (V.185-190, CE)

This is my first post

1 Comment

  1. Paul on May 4, 2022 at 12:53 am

    You took some nice captures. I live fairly close to here and try to get over every once in a while, to walk and take pics. Sometimes I head south, and other times north. On the other (Slatington) of the Lehigh River, you can also walk the D&L TraiL Both north and south of the Main Street. Further north lies the Lehigh Gap Nature Center – I’m sure you would enjoy walking the “Three Ponds” wetlands area to experience its wildlife.

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