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