We had a taste of Summer here in Northeastern Pennsylvania yesterday. Temperature rose into the 70’s. It cooled off overnight and the temperatures were back to near freezing this morning. But Spring is only 4 days away and I was confident I’d find some ducks and other water birds at the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township.
It was overcast and 40 degrees when I arrived. They snow and ice were are gone.
It didn’t take me long to find some ducks on the waters in the wetlands. I was able to approach these ring-necked ducks that were swimming on a pond. (I am not a bird expert so please feel free to correct me if I misidentified a bird, or anything for that matter).
I also saw this downy or hairy woodpecker feeding on the young buds of a maple tree.
I still can’t tell the difference.
I walked through the muddy wetland trails.
I didn’t see many of the usual resident birds, like the nuthatches, titmice, black-capped chickadees etc. I did see a lot more ducks but most flew before I could get photographs. I think these are wood ducks.
I saw some geese on one of the ponds. As I approached they flew off also scaring a bald eagle that must have been roosting in a tree. I never saw a bald eagle in this part of the wetlands.
As I walked over to Lake Took-A-While I looked over a canal and found this deer looking back at me. I enjoy finding deer resting on the ground. It means I was walking pretty quietly. We watched each other for a few minutes but, as soon as I took a step in its direction. it ran off.
I arrived at the lake and found some more ducks and water birds. I saw this one bufflehead duck.
And a large flock of mixed ducks. I think most of them are lesser scaup.
There were also some common mergansers swimming with them.
The skies began to clear and it felt good walking in the warm March sunshine.
As I neared the other end of the lake I saw this blue heron standing motionless on the shore of the lake.
Once again we watched each other until I took a step in its direction. I flew off,
and perched on a tree.
Nearby I saw a pair of mallard ducks on the lake.
It is about a 2 1/2 mile walk from the wetlands to this side of the lake so I decided to end my hike and head back. As I did I saw a flock of red-winged blackbirds returning to the wetlands.
And I saw a few robins.
The vultures were back too.
It was nice to see so many birds returning to the wetlands. I loved hearing there songs. On the walk back I also saw a few of the winter resident birds, some black-capped chickadees,
I also found another sign of Spring, the skunk cabbage sprouting in the wetlands. A lot of it had died when it sprouted during a warm spell last December.
A bigger surprise awaited me as I neared my car. The sunshine warmed the waters enough to bring the first Spring peepers out. I enjoy their peeps and know it is always a sure sign Spring is near.
I started my drive back home, and, as I always do, I kept my eyes peeled. I was rewarded for my efforts. I spotted this juvenile bald eagle feeding on a deer carcass in a farm field.
This may have been its first meal on its own after leaving its parents nest. It was another good day in Northeastern Pa. They all are, but the ones in Spring are better than the ones in Winter. My humble opinion anyway. There will be a lot going on now, and I can’t wait to get out tomorrow. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPl Wetlands March 16 2019.
“The last fling of winter is over … The earth, the soil itself, has a dreaming quality about it. It is warm now to the touch; it has come alive; it hides secrets that in a moment, in a little while, it will tell.”
– Donald Culross Peattie