The past few weeks my blog post talked about the mild Winter we have been having here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Well, an arctic front arrived on Friday bringing with it frigid temperatures and sunshine. It was 3 degrees in my backyard this morning. I was curious to see how the cold affected the geese, ducks and common mergansers that have been enjoying the ice-free waters at the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands in Salem Township.
I arrived early at the wetlands and found a thin layer of ice had covered all of the ponds and canals. It was 10 degrees when I arrived around 8 a.m. with plenty of February sunshine.
The waning gibbous moon was setting in the west in the clear blue skies.
The river was still completely ice-free but next week there may be some ice floating downstream from the colder regions further north.
As I noted in my previous blog post, many Canada geese had already established nesting territories on the ice-free waters of the ponds and canals in the wetlands. Usually it is mid to late March before the ice has melted these waters. I wondered what the geese would do should they freeze up. Sure enough they were gone. They cannot swim on ice. I am sure they are still nearby on the ice-free waters of the Susquehanna River. My question is will they try to reclaim the same nesting territories? Or will they find new ones? Whatever they do, the frigid temperatures certainly will weaken them and may harm some of them.
As I walked through the wetlands I heard the gentle rapping of a number of woodpeckers in the tree tops. This is a hairy or downy woodpecker. I have difficulty telling them apart.
I am not sure if the frigid temperatures contribute to their activity but there were plenty of them including a number of flickers.
There were also a few flocks of white-throated sparrows fluttering about.
There was also a female cardinal,
feeding on the left over seeds of a tree I couldn’t identify.
I walked toward the riverlands area of the preserve and saw four hawks fly overhead. I think they were red-tailed hawks but again I am not certain.
At Lake Took-A-While I found a thin new layer ice on its waters and no geese, mergansers or duck could swim on the frozen waters.
I soon found this flock of Canada geese looking unhappily upon the frozen waters and hoping they would thaw soon.
Not being able to swim to safety as they usually do they took to the skies as I approached.
I believe the ducks and mergansers were on the waters of the river awaiting the arrival of warmer weather. As I made my why back to the wetlands I came upon this woodpecker using it’s pointed bill to dig insects from under the bark of a tree.
I watched it rapidly pound its bill into the tree until it was able to get under the outer bark. It then shoved its head in to pull out the insects.
And enjoyed eating them in the cold morning air.
Even on the coldest days one finds something of interest here in the wetlands.
And I was to discovery one more surprise, a beautiful pileated woodpecker. I love these birds and i was able to get a few photographs before it flew off as I approached.
I had hoped to see the bald eagles in the sunshine but they were no where to be found. I still had a nice morning in the frigid temperatures and bright sunshine. I always do when I’m out doors in beautiful Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my hike today. PPL Wetlands hike February 15 2020.
Three feet of ice does not result from one day of cold weather. Chinese Proverbs