Cloudy, Cold And Dreary But Its Still Spring In Salem Township At The PPL Wetlands

Cloudy, Cold And Dreary But Its Still Spring In Salem Township At The PPL Wetlands

PPL Wetlands (16 of 50)
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Well, it’s Saturday and I found myself at the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township in Luzerne county again this morning.  There are so many wonderful places to hike and observe nature here in Northeastern Pennsylvania but I have come to love these wetlands in Salem Township located about 20 miles from my home

It seems so long ago now, but it is only be about 10 years,  since the woodlands I loved here near my home have been destroyed by industrial parks, mine reclamation and housing developments. The  beloved woods and trails of my childhood, that  I hiked for decades,  were gone. I watched the seasons change along these same trails every years. I loved the continuity, to be able to see the familiar trees, rocks and creeks. And to see the wild critters return every Spring. But sadly they are gone now , and, I  had to find new trails to hike. The PPL Wetlands in Salem Township have become  one of my new favorites. 

So I was there on a cold, windy and cloudy April morning yesterday . It was 36 degrees when I arrived. Colder than I expected, and I was not dressed adequately for the cold. But  as soon as I started to walk  I didn’t mind it because my attention quickly turned to the many new signs of Spring. Along the trail I found more native wildflowers blooming including Dutchman’s breeches, and, 

the delicate  Virginia spring beauty

Bluets continued to bloom along the trail. 

As did the pretty trout lilies. However, the flowers close at night and were not yet open on my morning walk. 

The skunk cabbage continue to grow and remain an almost fluorescent green.  They are the first plant to hint of the color explosion that soon will occur in our woodlands. 

In addition to the flowers there were other signs of Spring. The pair of Canada geese are still tending their nest and  they now have neighbors. This noisy pair moved into the neighborhood. 

The wood ducks are still on the canals in the wetlands and they continue to elude my camera. However, I was able to see, and photograph, from a distance  a pair of green-winged teals. This is the male. 

More evidence that, despite the cold, Spring has arrived was another song bird sighting, I think this is a yellow-rumped warbler. 

I also saw another pretty little blue-gray gnatcatcher singing on a tree branch. 

There were also a few year round resident birds active at the wetlands, including cardinals, blue jays, sparrows and this nuthatch. 

It was a good day for wildlife, as I continued my hike toward the river lands I saw a pileated woodpecker, and some flickers, and downy and hairy woodpeckers. 

A few of the recently arrived  noisy red-winged blackbirds were also flying around  the wetlands.

Growing along the trail were large areas of  onion grass or wild garlic. It is edible and makes a delicious when mixed with wild dandelions. It is edible but I’m joking about it being delicious. I made such a salad as a joke with a friend. It was horrible. 

After leaving the wetlands I came to Lake Took-A-While which again had many fishermen braving the cold. on its shores. And cold and windy it was. I had hoped the clouds would have broken and some sun would have warmed it up. It didn’t happen and so I was cold. 

I walked briskly on the trail along the lake, hearing the chattering of a kingfisher as I did. It landed in a tree right above me but took off before I could get a photo. There was also a great blue heron in the canal on the other side of the trail. I was able to capture a photograph of it taking off from the water.

Along the trail the wild violets were now in bloom. These pretty flowers brightened up the dreary day.

It was windy, the clouds persisted, and it actually felt colder than when I first arrived. It was a cold hike back to my car. Unfortunately,  being tired and cold, one loses some of one’s observational skill. I was more interested in getting warm and fed than looking for the beauty of nature that is everywhere here in the wetlands.Simple things, like a willow tree in bloom, can be so beautiful.

Well I kept my eyes peeled and was rewarded with first, the sight of this great blue hearing landing atop a dead tree,

and by discovering a newly constructed bald eagles nest!  I was elated to see it high in a treetop, occupied by an eagle. I will  keep the location secret so as not to bother the nesting birds. If I see activity around the nest I will report it to the game commission. But, thanks to my 400 mm camera lens I can observe the birds from a distance that will not disturb them.

A truly wonderful find it was. As I said at the beginning of this post I love the wetlands in Salem Township and the opportunity they give me to see and share the beauty of nature. Here is a link to a gallery on my website with more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands hike April 18 2020.

“Nature is the art of God.” Dante Alghieri


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