Hiking Close To Home In Hazle Township
Like most communities in Pennsylvania my hometown of Hazle Township is subject to both a stay at home order and a curfew. However there are exemptions. And two of them are outdoor recreation and fishing. Although the facilities at my local Community Park are closed to the public, fishing, pursuant to Fish Commission guidelines, is still allowed at nearby Lake Irena. The lake was stocked with fish this year. So last week I decided to join the fisherman and hike around the lake and in the surrounding woodlands. As I have mentioned in prior blog posts I have been visiting the park and lake since I was a young child.
We are experiencing the coldest May on record here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. When I arrived last Monday another cold front was passing through dropping the temperatures and making it feel more like late Fall and not early Spring.
I walked around the lake, and past a few fishermen. Even though it was May, there were few signs of Spring on the trail.
Most of the trees were still bare, only the service berry or June berry bushes were providing some early color and setting forth blossoms.
The low bush blueberry bushes were just beginning to flower, and,
and maple trees were putting forth new leaves.
There was little bird activity as a walked around the lake but I did see a few squirrels and chipmunks scampering in the trees.
I left the lake and took the trail that led past the Hazle Township Babe Ruth baseball field. The old access road was abandoned many years ago and it is now a nice walking trail.
I was again surprised to see little wildlife activity. It could have the cold northwesterly wind that was now blowing. It brought some sunshine for a while but then clouded up again as I made my way back to the lake.
A fisherman told me I missed a bald eagle that just flew over. No eagle but I did see a couple of sandpipers wading in the water, this, I believe is a spotted sandpiper and
this a solitary sandpiper. After watching these birds a few minutes I ended my three hike.
I returned to the lake on Tuesday , again it was overcast and chilly with temperatures in the mid 40’s. This time I was greeted by this family of Canada geese feeding near the lake.
I watched the cute goslings for little while.
Mom was okay with this as long as I didn’t get too close. After watching the geese I walked around the lake and took the same three mile walk as the previous day. No new wildlife sightings on this cold May walk.
The next day was also cold and cloudy when I again decided to return to the lake, On this three mile walk I only saw a few birds, including this chipping sparrow.
And this groundhog that quickly scurried to cover when it saw me.
I saw the sandpipers again but they quickly flew off as I approached them at the end of my three mile hike.
On Thursday it was still very cold but the skies were mostly sunny with occasional puffy cumulus clouds drifting overhead.
Temperatures rose into the 50’s and, the many turtles in the lake soaked up the strong May sun on a log or rock along the shore.
Like my previous hikes, I first walked long the lake and then followed the trails into the surrounding woods,this time under deep blue skies.
Here, in one of the ponds along the trail I found some amphibian eggs. At first I thought they were some type of salamander but I was told they were wood frog eggs. Whatever they were there were a lot of them.
Once again I found little wildlife in the woodlands, only a few robins and black-capped chickadees.
I returned to the lake and again found the solitary sandpiper wading in the deep blue waters.
It skipped atop the water and then began wading in some weeds along shore. It’s foraging was successful. It found this grub and enjoyed a nice lunch as I watched.
After devouring its catch the solitary sandpiper began wading in the weeds looking for another. I sat and watched from a rock on the shore, enjoying the warm May sunshine. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Community Park hike birds May 4 to 7 2020.
On my way back to my car I ran into this expert fisherman, my nephew Mike. He told me some fish stories, about the big ones that got away, and about the many memories he, his dad and my brother Joe had on the first day of fishing out here. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes near my home Hazle Township Community Park Hikes May 4 to 7 2020.
“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ―