Can It Be July Already? Another Hike In The Susquehanna Wetlands

Can It Be July Already? Another Hike In The Susquehanna Wetlands

Suqquehnna wetlands birds (2 of 42)
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It was Saturday morning and, even though I had many great places to hike here in Northeastern  Pennsylvania, I was going to the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township, Luzerne County. It seems I always find something interesting  here. I was still amazed at my trifecta sighting of a bald eagle,  belted kingfisher and wood ducks the week before. I search for these elusive critters every week  and sometimes don’t see any of them. Last week I saw all three in the same place at the same time. I hoped to repeat this remarkable scene, 

It was cloudy when I arrived at the wetlands around 7: 30 a.m. A cold front passed through during the night lowering the temperature and humidity. The cold  front did  not produce as much rain as was forecast. And we could use the rain. I walked down to the  Susquehanna River and found it was very low. So low I was able to walk along it’s rocky shore.

I always get reflective when I  see round river rocks.  They are round from the waters of the river  churning, tumbling and eroding them for thousands of years. 

I left the river and walked into the lush green woods along the ponds and canals in the wetlands.   Here I realized I forgot to apply my insect repellent. The mosquitoes were happy.

There were no birds singing at the start of my trip.  This was unusual but  I did see this cottontail rabbit,

and gray squirrel as I walked along the trail. 

Finally I heard the cries of  this male red-winged blackbird perched high on a treetop. 

And then  heard the rapping sound of this downy woodpecker looking for grubs and insects on a tree trunk. 

I walked over to the  large ponds at the end of the trail .  There is a trail that leads to another  water fowl pond. It had been flooded most of the season but, probably due to lack of rainfall, was passable on  Saturday. 

My shoes  were a little wet and muddy but  I made it to the water fowl pond. There were no wood duck or herons on the ponds.

But this Carolina wren landed on a branch near the pond, 

and started singing, and, for such a small bird it has a loud  and beautiful song. While the Carolina wren sang it’s song some American goldfinches, 

this yellow warbler, 

an eastern phoebe 

and this tiny blue-gray gnatcatcher  fluttered in the dense shrubs near the shores  of the pond. It seemed like they enjoyed the song of the wren too. 

The gnatcatcher had caught  some sort of insect and it looked a lot bigger than a gnat.

The clouds had dissipated and the sun was  now shinning brightly.  I could have stood  near the edge of the water fowl pond all day and watch the birds but I  had to move on, 

As I walked back to the trail I saw this green heron on the pond. It usually see a lot of these  birds in the wetlands but not this year. I had only seen a few on my hikes in the wetlands. From the stare  it gave me it  didn’t appear to like getting it’s photo taken. 

 I didn’t see many other birds or wildlife as  I walked through the wetlands towards the River Lands, just this chipmunk.  I did hear a few snakes slithering into the woods but wasn’t able to see them .

I walked back down to the river, and to the branch where I saw the belted kingfisher, bald eagle and wood ducks the week before.  There was nothing there on Saturday.  Instead of walking to the River lands I decided to hike along the river

and under the shade of the ancient oak and sycamore trees growing here. 

There were no wild life growing here, but I did see these Indian pipes. They  look like fungi but they are actually flowers that do not produce chlorophyll.

I walked along the river, then back to the main trail and made my way to the  river lands .   There is an open field  along the trail  and I often see a lot of song birds here.

And  I did again on Sunday. A indigo bunting was singing high in the tree tops neat the field

There were  a few song sparrows  singing too,

and I was surprised to see this yellow throated vireo in the treetops. Unfortunately it would be the last bird I would see on my five mile hike. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos of the birds I  saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds  July 3 2022. 

I walked into the river lands, 

and along the trail between Lake Took-A-While and the canal formed from the remains of the old Susquehanna Canal. 

There were a lot of wildflowers growing along the trail including yellow toadflax. We knew this  pretty invasive wildflower as butter and eggs when I was a child. It brought back many wonderful memories from my childhood. It also reminded me Summer was nearing it’s peak. These flowers would bloom throughout July and August. 

Yellow loosestrife, 

moth mullein, and 

both swamp

and common milkweed also bloomed along the trail. 

I was surprised there were not many bees or butterflies  attracted to the flowers. They usually are. There were some dragonflies  darting along the shores of the lake and canal.

Again I have not been able to identify the many species I see on my hikes. 

They are beautiful insects. 

I walked to the end of the lake and began my hike back. I heard the belted kingfisher but wasn’t able to see it in the trees on the other side of the lake.

The strong July sun warmed it up and the warm temperatures probably was responsible for the decreased bird activity. 

On my hike back I noticed the flowers, 

and berries of  this nightshade plant growing along the trail. 

Partridge berries were also blooming  along the trail.

I saw one more critter, a spider on my hike back.

I finished up my five mile hike under the shade of the ancient trees in the wetlands. I didn’t see as many exciting  critters as on my previous hike but it was still another great hike in the wetlands I will be back, and soon. Here is a link to another gallery with some more photos from my five mile hike in the wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands July 3 2022. 

“For him in vain the envious seasons roll
Who bears eternal summer in his soul.”
–  Oliver Wendell Holmes


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