February Ends With No Snow And Little Ice At The Susquehanna Wetlands.

February Ends With No Snow And Little Ice At The Susquehanna Wetlands.

Susquehanna Wetlands (16 of 25)
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It was the last weekend in February and there was still no snow on the ground or  thick ice on the rivers and lakes here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  The mild weather continued  most of last week. A cold front had came through the area on Friday night  dropping the temperatures into teens  on Saturday morning and into the 20’s on Sunday.  This was cold enough to create a thin layer of ice on some of the waters in the Susquehanna Wetlands when I arrived on Sunday morning. However there was no snow on the ground in the wetlands and the Susquehanna River was ice free. It was still  swollen from some recent rains but no ice floated on the river as it does in February in many years. 

It was mostly cloudy when I  at  the wetlands. I knew the thin layer of ice that had formed on the ponds and canals  would  keep  any ducks, geese or other water fowl off of the waters in the wetlands. 

Most years the ice in late February is many inches thick and covered with snow. Most years  I am able to walk across the frozen ponds and canals. 

But not this year.  The trails were flooded from the recent rains.  I tried to walk to the  Water Fowl pond  found the trail  was flooded . 

I walked to another trail and found it  flooded too. 

As I began my walk toward the river lands I saw this  winter wren hopping  on the ground along the trail . I  also  heard some Carolina wrens singing in the distance but too far to photograph. 

Nearby I watched some song sparrows  feeding on some grasses near the ice. They looked like there were   ice skating. 

A tufted titmouse landed in a tree above me and began to sing.  You could tell by their singing  that the birds knew Spring was approaching. 

The red winged blackbirds, who arrived   on my last hike, were still here and the males perched in the tree tops were  singing loudly, well not all of them. I saw a few  near the waters of the canals. 

This one seemed to be looking into it’s reflection in the water. 

A friend saw a flock of rusty blackbirds in the wetlands on Saturday  I was hoping to seem them on  my Sunday hike and I did, 

These birds often travel  with their cousins the red-winged blackbirds. .  I love their  piercing eyes.  The could easily appear in a scene in a horror movie. .

I walked back down to the river. I sometimes see bald eagles, belted kingfishers or wood ducks perched on the branches overlooking the river here.   They weren’t around on Sunday.

I walked  along the river, under the ancient oak trees  growing there, hoping to see some water fowl swimming on the river below,  but, again, I saw nothing, except some beautiful scenery. 

I continued on the the river lands and heard the unmistakable loud rapping sound of a pileated woodpecker. I quietly crept toward the sound and was rewarded with the sight of this magnificent  birds. 

I love seeing these large and colorful woodpeckers. 

I was lucky on Sunday when it flew to another tree and allowed me to get these photos before flying off.  

As I walked into the river lands, 

I almost experienced an even cooler scene. On the other side of this canal I saw a critter which at first I thought was a beaver or muskrat. I realized it was a mink.  It was just sitting and appeared to be focused on something. Unfortunately, my camera setting were set for  landscapes and, as I adjusted  my settings the mink fled. Continuing my walk, I noticed this juvenile great blue heron standing along the canal. I believe the mink may have had this beautiful bird on it’s breakfast menu. 

The heron may have been the same one I had seen on my  walk the previous  week. It  saw me,  flew a short distance then  seemed unconcerned with my presence.  After watching it for about 10 minutes it finally flew away, but into the woods away from my camera. 

The sun was now shining as I walked along scenic Lake Took-A-While. There was no ice on the lake,

and there was a small flock of Canada geese,  a couple of mallard ducks, this is a male, 

and   common mergansers swimming on the blue waters of the lake. 

Both the geese and. 

common mergansers flew away as I approached

I love watching, and trying to photograph, the elegance of  water fowl in  flight. 

After walking to the end of the lake, I began my hike back to the wetlands when a pair of red-tailed hawks soared high over head.   Here is a link to a gallery on my blog webpage with more photos of the pileated woodpecker and other birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds February 26 2023. 

Walking along the lake I noticed the intricate beauty of the shriveled  remains of the ironweed flowers,

purple loosestrife flowers, 


and milkweed pods along the lake.  It wasn’t too long ago they attracted  bees, butterflies and other insects and, soon, their seeds will be sprouting and the cycle of nature will begin again. 

I walked back into the wetlands. I had hoped the thin layer of ice would have melted. It didn’t and I did not see any more water fowl on my hike. I did see some of the birds I had seen earlier.  I also saw another sign of the approaching Spring.

I walked past the bald eagles nest that has been in the wetlands for a couple of years now.  Atop the nest I saw  the  head of a bald eagle. This could only mean this was a mommy or daddy eagle and they were incubating their eggs.  Hopefully, the parents will successfully raise another generation of bald eagles that will soar over the skies of the wetlands.   The  cycle of  nature  continues. I will enjoy the next  phase more than the last. Winter is my least favorite season. I love Spring and it is almost here! Here is a link to a gallery with more photos from my last February hike in the wetlands this year. Susquehanna Wetlands hike February 26 2023. 

Late February days; and now, at last,
Might you have thought that winter’s woe was past;
So fair the sky was, and so soft the air.
~William Morris

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