Didn’t Take Long. Snow Arrives At The Wetlands

Didn’t Take Long. Snow Arrives At The Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands birds (24 of 31)
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In my last blog, from my Saturday hike, you may recall me complaining about the snow and ice that accumulated on the mountain ridge where I live in Luzerne County in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I don’t like ice and snow.   So I hiked in the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township, at a much lower elevation, where it was snow  free. I was happy. This was the access road to the wetlands Saturday morning. 

On Sunday I was planning to hike in  and explore the Penrose Swamp Barrens again. However, when I awoke, I not only found the ice and snow in my yard from our last storm,  but it was snowing again! The forecast was for clear skies and sunshine.  So,  I  walked , slipped and slid on another inch of snow on my morning 2 mile walk in my neighborhood. I wasn’t happy. When I finished, I was frustrated with the snow and decided to drive back to the wetlands for another snow and ice free hike, Well, as I drove the 24 miles, the snow continued, the roads were slick, and when I arrived at the wetlands I found them covered with,  snow!!! . This was the access road on Sunday. Again, I was not happy. 

But, after leaving my Jeep, I found it wasn’t to bad walking and the snow made for some nice winter scenery. So, making the best of it,  I was off to again look to share photos of the scenery and critters I may see on my five mile hike.  The gate to the parking lot was closed for the Winter,  ,so I walked on the snow covered access road  to the trails. As usual I walked to the banks of the Susquehanna River before beginning  my hike in the now snow covered wetlands. 

Shortly after I began my walk the skies started to clear and  the weak December sun lit up the wetlands.  I took my usual walk to the Water Fowl Pond.  The dusting of snow gave  all of the wetlands a different,  more Wintery look,  than the day before. 

As I  walked though the swamps, and along the ponds and canals,  I heard the Carolina wrens singing their joyous songs in the distance. And, as on Saturday, the winter wrens I had been observing were not around, 

I did see a few of the same winter resident birds as the day before, including this brown creeper scampering up a tree trunk looking for seeds and insects, 

I also saw this American goldfinch,

a few white-throated sparrows, and,

this downy woodpecker. 

and a white breasted nuthatch.

I was pleased to see a few of these pretty, colorful birds , eastern bluebirds. I didn’t see any of these birds for a few weeks in the wetlands. And I would see more. 

After viewing the Water Fowl Pond I continued my walk toward the river lands section of the nature preserve, 

Along the way I noticed the green intermediate ferns, 

Christmas ferns, 

garlic mustard,

and princess pine or flat-branched tree club moss covered with a dusting of snow. 

There were still a few red common winterberries along the trail (most were already eaten by the birds). 

On my way to the river lands I first walked back down to the river hoping to see a bald eagle but I wasn’t lucky on this hike, no bald eagles. 

Lake Took-A-While in the wetlands was also  covered in a sheet of ice and snow.

The snow, clouds and blue sky created a beautiful Winter scene. 

There were the usual Winter birds on the trail along the lake including this European starling perched high atop a tree,

a few dark-eyed juncos scampering on the ground, 

a few song sparrows, 

northern cardinals

another downy woodpecker, this one doing a morning stretch, 

a couple of tufted titmice, 

and another small flock of eastern bluebirds. 

I love seeing these colorful birds  in the sunshine. 

Unfortunately, the sunlight didn’t last. More clouds moved in as I began my hike back to the wetlands. 

The wind picked up too, making it feel colder on my walk back.  It wasn’t Winter on the calendar but, it was Winter in the wetlands. 

Back in the wetlands I saw many of the birds I had seen earlier on my hike I did see a flock of black- capped chickadees feeding on some poison ivy seeds. They are curious and friendly birds. 

I was hoping to see a bald eagle or a hawk. And, just as I neared my Jeep I just happened to glance into the woods and saw what I believe is a  Coopers Hawk perched on a tree branch and  watching me walk by.

It looked and me and flew off, but not before I captured a photo of  it taking a poop as it left the tree branch.  It isn’t often you see a bird pooping and so I did some research on the subject. Here is a link to an interesting article on the subject. https://www.10000birds.com/what-is-bird-poop.htm

The Coopers hawk was the last critter I  saw on my hike. Here is a link to a gallery with more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds December 18 2022. 

I finished my five mile hike near noon, but the  December sun was still low in the southern sky. It is only a week until the solstice and the sun will begin it’s journey north.  I know we will get colder weather and more snow before the Spring and  warmer weather returns to  Northeastern Pennsylvania but I am looking forward to the longer days that will began on the solstice. It will give me more daylight to enjoy the beauty of  nature and share some of it here on my blog. I would like to wish all of you and your families a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season.  Here is a link to some more photos from my hike in the snowy wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands December 18 2022. 

“I heard a bird sing in the dark of December. A magical thing. And sweet to remember. We are nearer to Spring than we were in September. I heard a bird sing in the dark of December.”
― Oliver Herford

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