Frogs, Snakes, Birds and Turtles: A Relaxing Birthday Walk In The PPL Wetlands

Frogs, Snakes, Birds and Turtles: A Relaxing Birthday Walk In The PPL Wetlands

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I celebrated another birthday on Saturday. Another trip around the sun. I’ve always enjoyed my birthdays. For many years I would hike in the woods near my house,on my birthday. I would revisit the woods, ponds,  hills  and swamps where  I had so many pleasant childhood memories . About 10 years ago an industrial park, a residential development and finally a coal stip mine reclamation project forever altered this playground of my youth.  So I had to find new places to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. And that is how I came to know and love the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. tree lined wetlands

It is a perfect place to  enjoy the outdoors. Located next to  the Susquehanna river, the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands have a  number of diverse environments which provide homes to all sorts of birds and other wildlife. So I decided to spend a few hours hiking here on my birthday. I am glad I did. Soon after I began my hike I encountered this garter snake along the trail. I tried to catch it but it crawled into the brush just as I was grabbing its tail. I decided I was going to catch some wild critter on my  birthday just like I did as a child. My friends and I were always catching, and sometimes to the dismay of our mothers,  bringing home frogs, turtles, and  salamanders. garter snake

I usually see dozens of frogs and turtles in the wetlands.  I now wondered if I am still quick enough to catch one. The waters  have warmed and there were not as many turtles sunning themselves on the shore or on logs in the water. I did  see a lot  of frogs. I tried to catch this one but he got away as I approached. frog in pond

This one stared at me as I slowly approached. I got close. I thought for sure I’d catch him but he  hopped away  at the last second. . I was still determined to catch on of these critters  on my birthday.close up of frog  

I  walked through the wetlands seeing a few cardinals perched in the treetops.male cardinal in tree

I also saw this pretty bird and I am having trouble identifying it. I am not sure if it is a fly-catcher or a vireo. flycatcher or vireo in tree

The waters of the wetlands were once again becoming dark green,  covered in duckweedduck weed covered pond

Along the trail the exotic and beautiful blue flags were now in bloom. blue flag flower

The highbush blueberries or, as we called them “swampers’ were now fully developed. We have had abundant rain this spring. if we get some warm, sunny days there should be a good crop of berries in July. green blueberries

I left the wetlands and headed to the riverlands area of the park.  I  saw this pretty bird along the way a rose-breasted grosbeak. I don’t think I have seen one of these birds here in the wetlands before. rose breasted grosbeak

I did see, and hear a lot of these noisy critters, the red-winged blackbirds. The male , shown here, is always very territorial chattering and flying  overhead if you walk into his turf. male red winged blackbird

The females are now nesting and they too have become very territorial and get very agitated when you approach their nest. female red-winged blackbird

I was still looking for a frog, turtle or snake to catch but there were none to be found. .  I did discover that the turtles eggs hatched, There were remnants of the soft leathery eggs scattered along the trails near the canals and ponds. I have never saw a hatching turtle yet . I am going to try to plan to be there for the hatch next year.turtle nest and hatched eggs

I saw one more critter in the wetlands. this beaver was on the trail as I approached. It appeared to be eating grass. It saw me and quickly dived into the safety of the water. beaver in water

 I walked over to the riverlands and Lake Took-A-While. Once again I found it crowded with fisherman, picnickers and folks walking along the lake. Lake Took-A-While

As I walked along the lake I saw this critter swimming toward me. It cam to sure, stopped and watched me watching it.

I am not good at identifying snakes but I was told it may be a northern water snake.  I wasn’t sure if it was a copperhead so I didn’t try to catch it.  I wish I  had know it wasn’t poisonous  when I saw it. I was still determined to catch something on my birthday.

I was also surprised to find this bird swimming in the middle of the lake. At first I thought it was a Canada goose. Looking at it with my camera’s zoom lens  I knew it wasn’t a goose. I wasn’t sure what it was but my nephew identified it when I got home as a red-necked grebe. It was a pretty bird and wasn’t concerned with the many folks walking on the trails. 

I watched the grebe for a while and continued my walk on the Susquehanna Warrior trail. 

I walked out about a mile or so hoping to see some song birds on this wooded trail. It was not sunny and getting hot so there wasn’t a lot of bird activity but  I did see one of the many American redstarts I heard in the trees.

I also saw a few yellow warblers,

and this interesting insect. I think it’s some type of wasp. 

There were also a lot more dragonflies darting about in the midday heat. I was able to photograph this one taking a rest on a twig.  

It was a lot warmer on my return hike and there was not as much bird activity. I saw many red-winged blackbirds and a few catbirds. They don’t seem to mind the warmer temperatures as much as the song birds. This is a link to a gallery with more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. PPL Wetland hike June 1 2019 

I also saw a few more frogs in the ponds, puddles and canals. I made a few more attempts to catch one. I came pretty close a few times but I wasn’t able to capture one. I will try again next time.

It wasn’t the same as walking in the woods I grew up in, but I still had another enjoyable hike in the wetlands.  I grow more fond of this place with each hike. They is always something to see down here, if you keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike PPL Wetland hike June 2 2019

Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.” 
― Richard Louv,

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