Christmas Eve At The PPL Wetlands. A December Thaw.

Christmas Eve At The PPL Wetlands. A December Thaw.

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Christmas Eve is not a day for last minute shopping for me. I dislike shopping most days and wasn’t going near a store on Christmas Eve. Instead, I decided, of course,  to spend my day outdoors.  After a cold snap two weeks ago, we had some rain and warmer weather here in  Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I decided to see how it affected  the PPL Wetlands. tree lined pond

I knew the warm weather would have melted the earlier snowfall but I was surprised to find this pond and some of the canals were  completely ice free. tree lined path along canal

I did find some duck weed that is still  struggling  to live for a few more days  under some remaining ice.duck weed under ice

Th e warmer temperatures and  rain even brought some life back to a few  species of ferns,green fern at wetlands

and these plants, green plant growth in wetlands

which I can’t identify, also came back to life. . It is not the lush growth found here in the wetlands in the Summer  but it already had  me thinking of and longing for Spring.sunlit green plant growth

And there certainly wasn’t the abundance of wildlife that is found in the warmer months but I did see a few species of birds including my first sighting of this yellow bellied sap sucker. yellow bellied sap sucker on tree trunk

I often heard jokes about this bird on cartoons and sitcoms when I was  a child and now I can say I finally have seen  one. 

I also encountered this beautiful bird. One that reminds me of my dad, a mockingbird. . It landed on a branch near me and seemed to be watching me. I love their singing and have never seen one in the Winter before. mockingbird on branch

I continued on my hike and found  some ponds still covered in a thin layer of ice.   There were no water fowl in the wetlands on my Christmas Eve hike, not even the usual Canada geese. And with colder weather on the way they may be gone until Spring.ice on pond

In addition to the unusual birds above I did see a few flocks of “snow birds” or dark eyed juncos. They were again enjoying the white berries of the poison ivy vines. junco on branch

There were also a few tufted  titmice fluttering in the bare underbrush.tufted titmouse on branch

And some nuthatches scampering  on the tree trunks. 

All of the birds, and the few squirrels and chipmunks I saw were very cautious and secretive. Probably because of the lack of leaf cover, the smaller number of other wildlife in the cold and the red tailed hawks soaring overhead looking for a Christmas Eve snack. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw at the wetlands. PPL Wetlands birds 12/24/2017red tailed hawk in flight

I was surprised when I got to Lake Took-A-While and found it still had some ice on it’s waters. Another reason that the Canada geese were not to be found. lake and trees

I walked down to the Susquehanna River and found that it was  ice free. Last week there was already ice sheets forming on the waters of the river. 

Not on Christmas Eve.No ice on the river on Sunday.  It was a pleasant and mild December with temperatures in the mid 30’s.  Mild weather was not going to last long.  The forecast for a white Christmas came true. We had a two inch snowfall later that evening. And temperatures plummeted on Christmas Day. It is four degrees  as I finish this post Friday  morning. And colder weather on the way.

I am not sure if I will find any wildlife at the PPL Wetlands this weekend, but I am sure of one thing, there will be a lot more ice on the river, ponds and canals. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike on Christmas Eve. PPL Wetlands 11/24/2017.

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, 
but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. 
~ Martin Luther ~mushroom on log

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