After some cooler and rainy days, summer weather returned to Northeastern Pennsylvania on Saturday. It was sunny and already near 80 degrees when I decided to visit the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands in Salem Township. I got a late start and arrived at the wetland around 9 a.m. As I drove in I spotted this deer watching my arrival.
It has been two weeks since I visited the wetlands. It is one of favorite places to enjoy wildlife and nature in our area. Immediately upon leaving my car I observed signs that summer was reaching it’s peak. The buzzing sounds of the cicadas could now be heard from high in the tree tops. These are the annual cicadas that appear every year and not one of the 17 year periodic broods.
The smell of the wetlands and woodlands has also changed. It is a deeper smell of maturing plant life. A smell of summer I have learned from having experienced so many of them in our woods and forests.
Many of the early spring plants such as the skunk cabbage, the jack-in the-pulpits and the mandrakes or may apples have already begun to decay adding to this smell of mid summer at its peak.
Very few flowers are in bloom now. One of the few I found were the delicate blue flowers of American germander or wood sage.
The almost ripe blackberries also were an indication were were deep into summer.
Walking into the wetlands I was greeted by swarms of mosquitoes. They enjoy the warm summer weather, as do the countless dragonflies that now dart and hover near the canals and ponds in the wetlands.
Walking to a the largest of the ponds I observed, and was finally able to photograph this green heron. I have been seeing and hearing them for weeks but couldn’t get a picture.
A few frogs and turtles emerged from the duck weed covered waters to lay in the warm rays of the July suns. The duck weed clinging to their bodies make a perfect camouflage.
And they may need it, I saw about a dozen green herons, a great blue heron and this great egret, all of which would include small turtles and frogs in their diet. I was surprised to see the great egret. It was on the far side of a large pond. At first I thought it was a blue heron. While focusing with my zoom lens, I realized it was a white great egret, an endangered bird in Pennsylvania. I saw one here last year too, and then another at Lake Irena in my local Community Park.
There was not much other bird activity in the wetlands, probably because of the heat. Even the always present catbirds and red-winged blackbirds were quiet.
Once again I saw the wood ducks, for a few seconds, before they flew off. And this muskrat wasn’t in the mood to be photographed either. He dived under the duckweed as soon as he saw me
On my over to the river lands section of the preserve I found this amanita mushroom growing along the trail. I was hoping to find a few edible species on my hike but this was the only one I found.
There were a few folks fishing along the shores of Lake Took-A While in the late morning heat. The temperature was approaching 90 degrees.
Once again I walked to the end of the trail along the lake and began my walk back.
There were now hundreds of dragonflies darting along the edge of he lake.
I enjoy watching and photographing these delicate and beautiful insects that have roamed our wetlands before the dinosaurs.
I also saw a few moths,
and butterflies on my return walk.
A few mid-summer flowers were blooming along the lake including yellow loosestrife and
Returning to the wetlands I saw a few cardinals,
and a few more green herons. I’m not sure why but I heard or saw about a dozen of them on my hike. It was now early afternoon and the temperature was near 90 degrees. I had walked over five miles and I was exhausted. Every year the summer heat takes more out of me.But once again I enjoyed experiencing, and sharing some of the beauty I saw on my hike. Here is a link to a gallery on my website with more photographs from my hike in the summer heat. PPL Wetlands hike July 18 2020.
Do you know the legend about cicadas? They say they are the souls of poets who cannot keep quiet because, when they were alive, they never wrote the poems they wanted to. John Berger