Blue Skies, Sunshine And Some Critters At Community Park.

Blue Skies, Sunshine And Some Critters At Community Park.

Community Park (3 of 8)
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These past few weeks we had a lot of clouds and rain here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Not this week. We had clear blue skies and sunshine for three days in a row.  On  Thursday. some cumulus clouds formed in the blue skies. It was still a bit cool on Monday afternoon,  when I took my first of four afternoon hikes around Lake Irena at the Community Park near my home in Hazle Township in Luzerne County. 

The  small, but scenic, lake reflected the clear blue skies. The cool temperature felt even colder with a strong northwesterly wind. Temperatures only reached into the mid- 50’s  but it was s nice walking around the lake in the brilliant sunshine. Despite the cool temperatures there were a lot of folks fishing and walking around the lake. 

Most of the trees were still bare  but some of the birch, 

and red maple trees  were starting to produce their first leaves, creating patches of color in the still  mostly brown and gray woodlands around the lake. 

There were also other signs of the advancing Spring as  I walked around the lake.  Patches of blue violet were blooming  in some areas along the lake. 

I saw the first skunk cabbages up here on the mountain. Community Park is located atop a ridge about 1500 feet about sea level. I had seen skunks cabbage at the Susquehanna Wetlands, with an elevation of 500 feet,  weeks ago. Elevation makes a big difference in snow amounts in the Winter and the growing season in the Summer. 

There were also low bush blueberry or as we locals called them, “huckleberry” flowers blooming along the trail. When I see these flowers I immediately reflect on  how quickly the time will pass between now and  the Summer solstice when the first delicious  berries will ripen.  I have so many wonderful memories picking this berries on the nearby ridges as a child. Good days they were.

Common serviceberries were also blooming along the lake. These, too, will  produce berries in June. 

I continued on my walk around the lake, and, despite the cool temperature saw a few turtles sunning them selves under the deep blue skies and  abundant sunshine. These are  red-eared slider turtles. I may have mistakenly referred to them as painted turtles in prior blog posts. In trying to identify them I looked up native Pennsylvania turtles and the closest resemblance  I found were painted turtles. I have since learned they are invasive red-eared sliders. 

I found this larger  red-eared slider turtles on the shore of the lake.  I didn’t think it  was  a a painted turtle. Sorry again, I am just an amateur and try my best. Please feel free to correct any other mistakes I make in my identifications of animals , plants or birds. . 

There was not much other wildlife activity on near the lake.  I did  see  a blue jay, a few chipping sparrows, and 

this  spotted sandpiper  I saw on previous hikes. I saw  the nesting pair of Canada geese and was saddened to see only one gosling with them.  It appears they lost the rest of family to predators.  There were six the previous week. They could have been taken by raccoons, skunks, bald eagles or even  feral cats. It was sad to see only one of these cute critters had survived.  

I finished up my three mile hike and  returned to the park the next day. It was a little warmer and the lake again reflected the clear deep blue skies. 

Walking around the lake I saw the spotted sandpiper again, the chipping sparrows and the Canada geese with the sole surviving gosling.

The watchful parents were keeping it close by their side.  I  left lake Irena an walked into the surrounding woodlands here I saw an eastern towhee 

and  my first oven bird sighting of the year. These are one of the few songbirds that sing in  mid-day. I heard a male singing on all of my walks but this was the first time I saw one. 

In the woodlands I also saw  a few wildflowers blooming the pretty yellow dwarf cinquefoil, 

and the pink fringed milkwort. 

I also found swarms of newly hatched tadpoles swimming in  one of the vermal ponds. 

When I walked back to  the lake I  saw my first green heron at Community Park of the Spring. I love these small herons, This one flew onto a log, 

and as I watched speared a large tadpole with it’s beak. 

I watched as it tried to consume the large amphibian. I watched it struggle with it’s prey until it flew off to t tree branch to finish it’s  meal. I took a lot of photos and  here is a link to a gallery on my website with more photos of the green heron. Community Park green heron May 10 2022. 

I  finished my three mile hike after seeing the green heron an returned to the park  on Wednesday. It was warmer with more clear blue skies. This afternoon some clouds floated in during my three mile hike. 

There wasn’t much  wildlife on this hike. I saw the robins , chipping sparrows,  oven birds I had seen on my previous hikes  and , I also saw this large American crow perched on a tree branch. 

The Canada geese were there with their only gosling who was growing larger  very quickly.

Hopefully it will soon be too large to be taken by a predator.

There was a lot more green in the woodlands now as the birch trees continued to produce their first leaves.

I finished up my third after noon hike and returned again the following day, Thursday. The were no clear blue skies on Thursday, a lot of cumulus clouds formed in the afternoon.  It was much warmer with temperatures near 80 degrees. 

Walking around the lake I saw the red slider turtles on the logs in the lake, and the chipping sparrows and a few rows. I didn’t see  the Canada geese and the gosling. I hope it is still around. There were a few other Canada geese on the lake. 

I also saw a tufted-titmouse and

another of my favorite Spring song birds, a common yellow-throat warbler. 

These masked birds are common in our woodlands.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hikes in the park. Community Park birds May 9 to 12 2022. 

As the  cumulus clouds thickened, they made for some nice scenery as I  continued my walk along the lake. 

I found these mushrooms,  which I couldn’t identify,  growing in the woods and,

saw this squirrel foraging along the trail. 

I walked into the surrounding woodlands, and although I didn’t see and wildlife,  I now found a lot more green color  the woods as the and  trees continued to produce new leaves. It won’t be long until all the trees in our woodlands are clothed in a lush green coat of new leaves.  Spring will be at it’s peak. This is my favorite time of the year. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hikes in Community Park. Community Park hikes May 9 to 12 2022. 

Yesterday the twig was brown and bare;
To-day the glint of green is there
To-morrow will be leaflets spare;
I know no thing so wondrous fair
No miracle so strangely rare.
I wonder what will next be there!
~L. H. Bailey


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