Despite The Snow And Cold The Ducks And Geese Know Spring Is Near At The PPL Wetlands

Despite The Snow And Cold The Ducks And Geese Know Spring Is Near At The PPL Wetlands

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I was hoping the weather was a lot warmer when I returned to Northeastern Pennsylvania after my three-week visit to New Zealand.  But it’s March and the weather here is always unpredictable It was cold and ground still covered in snow when I returned. And then we got more snow.  Well, cold and snow never stopped me before so this morning I decided to do what I did for three weeks in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy the beauty of nature and look for birds and animals. I had a feeling, even with the snow and cold, the ducks, geese other birds may start returning to our area.

Of course, my first choice was to visit the PPl Wetlands in Salem Township. In the past I  would hike in the woodlands near my home but they have been replaced with housing developments and industrial parks.  I now find the wetlands and riverlands  to be my favorite hiking grounds in my area.

There was no ice on the Susquehanna river when I arrived like there was on my last visit. It was  still very high from the many rain and snow  storms and the melting snows to the north.

I walked into the wetlands and found some of the canals and ponds to be still covered with ice.

However, many areas were now  ice-free.


And, on this ice-free areas, I found my suspicions were correct. The geese and ducks had returned.  I saw many mallards and a few wood ducks on the canals but they quickly flew off before I could get any photographs  I then  saw this group of Canada geese on one of the canals. They had been staying on Lake Too-A-While before it froze up in mid-January.

They were now pairing up and looking for areas to build their nests. They will vigorously defend this area once established.

As I walked through the wetlands I did not see any black-capped chickadees which are usually everywhere in the winter. I did see a few snow birds or juncos,

some white-throated sparrowswhite-throated sparrow

and quite a few cardinals. Many of the  bright red male cardinals were perched high in the tree-tops singing loudly trying  to attract a mate. I was surprised I didn’t see any robins on my walk.

I walked to the Lake Took-A-While  and found a few large flock of ducks. There were a number of different species in the flock. I am not a duck expert and had a hard time distinguishing the different ducks on the far side of the lack.

My brother Mike and his son helped me with the identification. The duck in flight at the top of this page are ring-necked ducks. There were bufflehead ducks,

common mergansers,

a few redhead ducks and scaups.

Unfortunately the overcast skies and  the distance of the ducks did not allow me to get any good photographs of the birds. However just seeing them, and knowing they are the first signs of the fast approaching Spring  was good enough for me.

I now returned to the wetlands and was again surprised to not see any of the usual winter resident birds such as the nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers and black-capped chickadees. I did see a few of this tiny moths fluttering about, another sign of Spring. moth on snow

And I did notice that the skunk cabbage did not look good. Usually it would just be sprouting around now. This year it started growing during a warm spell in December and then froze. I hope it recovers. skunk cabbage

I didn’t like walking in the cold and snow after spending a few weeks in summer in New Zealand but it was still an enjoyable hike. It always is, even in winter in Northeastern Pennsylvania. As long as you keep your eyes peeled you will find the beauty of nature in its woodlands. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands March 2 2019. ice covered lake

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” — Hal Borland

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