Finally Some Snow, And Bald Eagles, At The Susquehanna Wetlands

Finally Some Snow, And Bald Eagles, At The Susquehanna Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands (20 of 35)
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We have had a mild Winter here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We had little snow or ice until a storm dumped over a foot of snow on my home in Hazle Township, Luzerne County last week. . And we got  four more inches on Saturday.  I trudged through the deep snow  hiking on my local Rails to Trails on Saturday.  It was exhausting.  On Sunday I drove  to the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township. It is only 14 miles as the crow flies from my home but about a 1000 feet lower in elevation. I was hoping they got less snow  then we did, and, they did. There was only about 6 inches of snow on the ground when I arrived on the cold, sunny morning. The temperature was a cold 2o degrees.

The  access gate to the wetlands parking lot was still closed so I had to walk in the 1/4 mile to the parking lot area. It wasn’t bad here since  it seems that most of the snow melted on the surface of the road and it was only a few inches deep in some spots.

I often see song and white throated sparrows in the thick vegetation along the road but it was quiet on Sunday. The hairy woodpeckers weren’t around either, However I did see a pair of red-bellied woodpeckers,

pecking away on the dead trees along the trail. I always enjoy seeing  these colorful and noisy birds.

I also saw this female cardinal  deep in the woods along the trail.

I walked to the parking lot,and down to the ancient, historic and scenic Susquehanna River. I was surprised there was no ice floating in the river. We had some cold weather the past week but I think the strengthening February sun was strong enough to prevent new ice formation this late in the Winter.

I walked back up and  into wetlands where I  found  snow on the trail.  It varied in depth  from 2 to 6 inches, mostly the lower amounts, so it wasn’t bad walking.

I was surprised to find the  ponds and canals were mostly  ice free. This is unusual for February here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The wetlands were quiet. Only the loud calls of a few male red winged blackbirds were heard as I walked through the snow covered wetlands. I think this was only the third time this  year I hiked here with snow on the ground.  Some years the wetlands are covered with snow and ice from December to March. Not this year, we had another mild Winter. I am not complaining.

There was only a very thin layer of ice on some of the ponds and the open waters reflected the deep blue skies. There wasn’t much wind so it was a  nice morning for hiking

I was trying to get to the Water Fowl Pond but the back  trail was still flooded.

As I walked back to the other trail I saw a shadow move over my path and a bald eagle flew right overhead. It flew off  before  I could get any photos. I was disappointed at first, but then it circled back,

allowing me to get a few photos.

The adult eagle  was joined by this juvenile,

and they both flew off toward the river lands area of the small nature preserve.

It is always a good day when I see a majestic bald eagles  on my hikes in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And it wouldn’t be long until a saw another one.

I tried to get to the Water Fowl Pond on the main trail and it too, was still flooded.

I now turned  back and continue my hike toward the river lands, about a mile away,

and I am not sure if it was the same one, or different bird, but a juvenile bald eagle again flew overhead.

 I was delighted to again see this beautiful  bird.

There wasn’t much other wildlife activity as I continued my hike under blue skies. Shortly past the trail to te parking lot I came upon this huge tree that had fallen across the trail. I was the first person to see it as I was the only human footprints in the snow There were many deer hoof prints on the trail.

I walked past the fallen tree and left the wetlands seeing only a few song sparrows,

a golden crowned kinglet and

some white throated sparrows feeding on some staghorn sumac seeds. I didn’t see any of the large flocks of cedar waxwings I saw on my hike the previous week. 

The snow covered the few green ferns, moss and garlic mustard leaves that grow along the trail, and only the wilted bracken fern and

sensitive ferns fronds stood above the white carpet of snow.

I walked into the river lands, and Lake Took-A-While was also  ice free.

I had hoped to see the  bald eagles here but they were hunting and fishing elsewhere on this sunny morning.

The waters of the lake reflected the deep blue skies.

There were a few dozen Canada geese swimming on the blue waters.

I walked about half way to the end of the lake and then  began my hike back to the wetlands,

observing the wilted grasses and

flower stalks remaining  from last Summer.

  As walked along the lake under the brilliant February sun,

I saw a downy woodpecker,

and a small flock of tufted titmice along the trail.

As I walked through the snow covered wetlands,

and I saw a few white breasted nuthatches and

this hairy woodpecker  along the trail, enjoying, like me, the warm February sunshine. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the bald eagles and other birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds February 18 2024

I came past to the large fallen tree  and finished my five mile hike walking on the access road.  It was a nice hike, seeing the bald eagles and other birds, and I even enjoyed the snow covered wetlands, but not too much, I am hoping all the snow will be melted before my next hike. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my five mile hike. Susquehanna Wetlands  February 18 2024

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”  Lewis Carroll 


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