Cool Clouds, Mushrooms And Birds: Another Afternoon Hike In Community Park

Cool Clouds, Mushrooms And Birds: Another Afternoon Hike In Community Park

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Just some quick observations, and a few photographs, from an afternoon  hike at the Community Park near my home in Hazle Township Luzerne County this past week. It was a typical late August day on Monday. It was warm and humid with temperatures in the 70’s. Cumulus clouds floated in the skies above Lake Irena when I arrived.

The first thing I noticed as I began my hike was the disappearance of the beautiful purple pickerelweed flowers that only a week earlier surrounded the lake. Most of the flowers were gone and the leave were withering and brown. 

As I continued my walk I found a few of the last of the pickerelweed flowers still in bloom.

The absence of the pickerelweed flowers also meant the absence of the many bees, wasps, butterflies, dragonflies and other insects that feed on their pollen and nectar.  I didn’t see any bees or butterflies on my hike and only a few dragonflies,

and some grasshoppers.

The beautiful water lilies also were gone leaving only the lily pads on the surface of the lake. 

The large flock of Canada geese had returned. The geese weren’t there on my last few hikes and I suspect they are feeding in the surrounding fields and farms, in anticipation of their migration next month. 

I walked around the lake, 

enjoying the peace and quiet of the woods and and scenic views of the  lake. For some reason there was no one else in the park on Monday. 

As I was finishing my walk around the lake I saw a great blue heron was wading in the reeds and pickerelweed.

It flew off as I approached,

and it’s flight took it over the flock of Canada geese, who honked and scattered as it flew over. I am sure they feared it might be a bald eagle. 

After seeing the great blue heron I left the lake and took the trail into the surrounding woodlands.

August was a very rainy, warm and humid month and there were many species of colorful mushrooms growing under the mainly oak and maple woodlands. This is one of the many varieties of red russula mushrooms, 

this pretty purple mushroom, I believe, is a variety of cort mushroom,

these are called poison pigskin puffballs but are actually a variety of earthball mushroom. They are poisonous. 

There were also a lot of bolete mushrooms. Many of these mushrooms are edible.  The aspen scaber and birch scaber bolete mushrooms are the only mushrooms my dad taught us to pick at a very young age. I didn’t find any of them but I did find, and took home, some edible burnt orange bolete, 

pallid bolete and 

two-colored bolete  mushrooms. 

This is also a bolete, the bitter bolete, but as the name implies it is too bitter to eat. 

I also found a nice edible cauliflower mushroom.

The prettiest mushrooms I saw were these jack-O-lantern mushroom. 

I love the  bright orange color. However they are very poisonous. 

In addition to the mushrooms, I also found some late Summer flowers blooming along the trails including spotted knapweed, 


common mullein and

rabbit tobacco. My dad called this Indian tobacco for some reason. 

I also found this  oak apple gall along the trail . These unusual plant growths are produced by a wasp. Through a complex process they somehow make an oak leaf produce the gall and they lay an egg inside of it. Pretty cool. 

While walking on  the wooded trails I also saw a few birds including this chipping sparrow, and

a small flock of black-capped chickadees. 

These birds, I think, are the friendliest birds in our woodlands and often land in branches right over my head. 

I left the woodlands and returned to the lake. 

It was another afternoon hike  three mile hike in this beautiful park so close to home. As I often say, you don’t have to travel the world to find the beauty of nature, it’s in our own back yards, you just got to keep you eyes peeled and go look for it. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos from another afternoon hike in Community Park. Community Park August 30 2021. 

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”- John Muir

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