Duck, Duck, Goose, Eagle: A Cold March Afternoon At The Susquehanna Wetlands.
It was a sunny and cold March Friday afternoon here at my home in Hazle Township, Luzerne County. I decided to drive to the Susquehanna Wetlands again for a late afternoon hike. It was 34 degrees when I arrived at the wetlands. This small private nature preserve is located in Salem Township about 20 miles from my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
After walking down to the Susquehanna River,
I began my hike in the wetlands and was pleased to find no snow or ice on the trails. The trails were icy and treacherous on my hike the pervious Saturday. Even more surprising, the ponds and canals were ice free. Last week they were still covered with a thick layer of ice.
However the biggest surprise came when I heard some fluttering of wings and heard a loud whistle like call. The wood ducks were back. I didn’t expect this. It didn’t them long to discover the waters in the wetlands were ice free. A few more wood ducks scattered as I continued my walk along the canal. I finally was able to photograph this pair on one of the ponds. This is early for the wood ducks but I am glad they are back.
I walked over to the Water Fowl pond and discovered the wood ducks weren’t the only member of the duck family in the wetlands.
There were dozens of ducks on the Water Fowl pond and another nearby pond. At first I thought this flock of ducks were wood ducks too. They weren’t. They were ring-necked ducks.
They quickly flew away as I got close but a pair flew over my head before heading to the river.
A pair of American wigeons swam on the pond . There were also some mallard ducks and more wood ducks but both flew away from me and my camera as I approached.
As I proceeded on my walk through the wetlands in the cold March air,
I heard the raspy cries of the red-winged blackbirds but didn’t see any. It’s good to have them back too. I missed their massive migration this year. They arrive in large flocks. The appear to be large black clouds swirling in the sky. It is an amazing thing to see. I did see a few northern cardinals,
and this brown creeper scrambling up a tree. Both these birds remain here during our cold, long Winters.
I now heard the honking of geese in the wetlands. The ice free waters had already attracted a few Canada geese. This pair looks like they began to establish a nesting area. This is early and is a risky. Many years a heavy freeze has driven the geese from their nests. For their sake, and mine, I am hoping they can remain on their nest until the goslings hatch.
The late Winter sunshine felt good but did little to warm the cold March air. I didn’t mine it and enjoyed walking under bare tall trees and deep blue skies.
This wonderful walk got even better when I saw these two bald eagles also enjoying the deep blue skies and sunshine.
It is always a good hike when I see one of these majestic birds soaring in our skies. It is even better when I see two. One flew off toward the river but this one circled one more time allowing me to get a couple more photos.
After seeing the bald eagles I continued my hike and walked back down to the river. I was hoping to see the bald eagles again, or one of their offspring. There were a couple of juvenile bald eagles in the wetlands and river lands a few weeks ago. However, with breeding season beginning the parents may push them out of their territory.
I didn’t see any eagles, just a pair of pretty hooded mergansers that quickly flew away as I approached the river. They wouldn’t be the last of these birds I would see on my walk.
As usual on my five mile hikes, I left the wetlands, walked back down to the river on the middle access road, and then walked into the river lands section of the nature preserve. This area is more developed. There are wider, better maintained walking trails and pets are allowed here. They are not allowed in the wetlands. There are picnic areas and pavilions. Lake Took-A-While attracts many fisherman throughout the year.
The waters of the lake were now completely ice free,
and I saw a large flock of hooded mergansers on the lake.
The male has the white patch on it’s head while the female’s head is all brown.
There were also some common mergansers swimming on the opposite shore of the lake.
Even with this distance between us they quickly flew off as I approached. Like their cousins the male is the white bird and the female has a brown head.
And, of course there were Canada geese. I saw three large flocks of them on the lake. I believe two were migrating and just resting on the lake. I think the third was the local flock and remain here, and on the river when the lake freezes, all year.
I believe this because when I approached two of the flock they began honking and immediately flew off the lake. They wanted nothing to do with this human.
The third flock, when I approached , just slowly swam a short distance from me and wasn’t disturbed by my presence. There were about 50 birds in each flock.
As usual I walked to the end of the lake and started back again.
On the way I finally saw on of the noisy male red-winged blackbirds singing on a treetop. The are very territorial birds and are laying claim to their breeding areas.
There were also some robins along the lake. The robins would be the last of the many duck and smaller birds I would see on my walk. This is a link to a gallery in my blog website with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds March 4 2022.
But, as I continued my return walk back along the lake I would see one more bird, and it was a majestic one, this bald eagle perched high on a treetop along the lake,
surveying the lake and surrounding area,
It seemed unconcerned as I approached and stopped to take some photographs.
I watched this beautiful bird, the symbol of our Nation, until it finally decided to fly off into the clear blue skies. It is always a wonderful experience to see a bald eagle soaring in the skies of our Commonwealth.
And to get this close to this beautiful bird was special. I so enjoy sharing this experience with you, the followers of my blog. Here is a link with some more photos of the bald eagles I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands bald eagle March 4 2022.
After watching the bald eagle I continued my walk into the wetlands as the sun was sinking in the western sky. The cold March air got colder. I didn’t expect to see much wildlife activity, and I knew if I did, if would be hard to photograph in the diminishing light. It was a quiet and peaceful walk back to my Jeep.
And, just near where the trail leaves the canal and heads to the parking lot I saw this muskrat swimming in the canal. Once again the wetlands provided me with a wonderful hike. It is a great place to observe, and connect with Nature. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike on this sunny but cold March afternoon. Susquehanna Wetlands March 4 2022.
A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky.Ta’ Shunke Witko
Loved these photos, as usual. Dan and I have got to head south and hit that trail!
Thanks I love sharing and that is a nice trail