End Of A July Hike At The Susquehanna Wetlands And A Rare Pennsylvania Sighting Of A Roseate Spoonbill

End Of A July Hike At The Susquehanna Wetlands And A Rare Pennsylvania Sighting Of A Roseate Spoonbill

Susquehanna Wetlands birds (38 of 39)
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A cold front passed through Northeastern Pennsylvania Saturday night and I awoke to much cooler temperatures and less humidity Sunday morning.  I decided to head back to the Susquehanna Wetlands in Luzerne County to hike in the brilliant morning sunshine.  I was the only one there,  which, I hoped would mean some good wildlife photo opportunities walking through the   wetlands. 

However, the wildlife wasn’t cooperating and it was quiet as  I walked down to the Susquehanna River, and into the wetlands. I only heard the chattering of a few catbirds. I think that many of the  migratory birds  and their offspring may already be heading south.

The rays of the morning sun filtered through the thick  canopy of leaves. as I walked along the grassy trail. 

Ancient oak, maple, 

and sycamore trees tower over the trail in the wetlands.  

There are not many flowers  blooming in the wetlands in mid Summer, I only saw a few  tall meadow-rue flowers, 

many purple loosestrife flowers 

and  some pretty America bladderwort flowers.

There were no wood ducks or herons on the scenic  canals or ponds,

and the first bird I saw  was this Carolina wren. I   enjoyed it’s cheerful song that filled the wetlands. 

I walked to the  Water Fowl pond where I  saw two wood ducks  on the far side of the pond, too far to get a good photo.

 There was a kingbird perched atop a dead tree,

a great blue heron was perched in another tree top,

and a few song sparrows in the shrubs along the pond, but otherwise it was a very quiet morning in the wetlands. 

Following my usual routine I walked toward the river lands,

seeing a few mushrooms growing along the trail. The plentiful rains this year have  resulted in the appearance of many species of mushrooms. This is a firm russula, 

this, what  I believe;  is a type of white coral mushroom ,and 

a few of these two color bolete mushrooms. 

The blackberries continued to ripen and were plentiful along the trails. 

I came across a    tufted titmouse in a tree above the trail  with an autumn olive berry in it’s beak. 

It looked like it was  really enjoying  eating  the berry,

It seemed to  be taking it’s time.

enjoying every bite. I took a lot of photos and more can be seen in a gallery  in my blog. There is a link later in this post. with  a lot more photos of the tufted titmouse. 

I saw a lot of insects visiting the purple loosestrife flowers along the trail, this is a common eastern honeybee,

and this a western honeybee,

and this cabbage white butterfly.

A few dragonflies were darting over the waters in the ponds and canals, occasionally resting on a leaf or branch. 

As I was walking into the river lands I received a message from a friend that there was a roseate spoonbill sighing nearby, at a wetland near Plymouth in Luzerne County. These birds  live in South America and southern Florida, It is rare to see one this far north.

I  cut my hike short and quickly walked  to the river lands area of the preserve, hoping to see a bald eagle, there were none  so I began my hike  through the wetlands back to my Jeep.

On the way I saw a few critters including this  swamp sparrow and   

a gray catbird in the wetlands.  Here is a link to a gallery on my blog webpage with some more photos of the tufted titmouse and other birds I saw in the wetlands. . Susquehanna  Wetlands birds August 1 2023. 

As I was finishing my hike in the wetlands, 

I also saw a few fury critters, one  one a tree trunk, this eastern chipmunk, 

and one in the water, this  muskrat swimming in  a duck weed covered canal. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike . Susquehanna  Wetlands August 1 2023 

I left the wetlands and drove 20 miles north to the Plymouth Flats to look for the roseate spoonbill.  I  was never here before. It is another wetland area along the Susquehanna River. When I arrived I received conflicting information as to whether it was accessible to the public. I was told by some folks,  a local birding group, they  had access. Some other  folks, on dirt bikes said it was private but the owners don’t care who walks here. Another person said  it was okay to be on the property but not to publish the location.  I decided to take the short walk to the wetlands. (Later I learned there was a news report  on the roseate spoonbill sighting  and the location was on a local television station so no need to not disclose it now) 

There were a few birders standing near the edge of a pond. They told me the roseate spoonbill was there earlier but they thought it was  now behind a wooded island in the pond. I waited for about 15 minutes, hoping the roseate spoonbill would return, and chatting with the birders about this rare sighting. 

There were great egrets and Canada geese on the pond but no roseate spoonbill.

While engaged in conversation with a gentleman who often visits this site,  another birder shouted that the  roseate spoonbill  appeared on the far side of  the pond. 

Although it wasn’t close enough to get good photos I was  happy to see this beautiful bird so far away from it’s usual range. 

Roseate spoonbills are not migratory birds. They are found mainly  on the coast and in the jungles of South America, with some also inhabiting the shores of southern Florida. I  eagerly search for them on my annual Spring visits to the  Florida Everglades. I often, but not always,  see a few in Eco Pond near Flamingo in the southern Everglades. They are beautiful birds and I love when I see them in Florida.  I watched the roseate spoonbill for about 10 minutes, when, it decided to fly back into some woodlands.  Unfortunately, I had to leave,

but I was glad to have experienced seeing this rare visitor to our area. There have been a number of sightings of this sub-tropical species in the Northeastern United  States the past few years.  Climate change is the most agreed upon reason for the  roseate spoonbills appearing this far north. .  Florida is experiencing record heat. The coral reefs are endangered as water temperatures are now 90’s degrees or more.  Hopefully, folks will come to realize the damage we are doing to this beautiful planet we all share. We must protect it.  

“I’ve starred in a lot of science fiction movies and, let me tell you something, climate change is not science fiction. This is a battle in the real world, it is impacting us right now.”   Arnold Schwarzenegger