Hiking On A Cloudy Summer Day In The Susquehanna Wetlands

Hiking On A Cloudy Summer Day In The Susquehanna Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands (28 of 37)
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The skies were cloudy when  I awoke early Saturday morning. Rain was in the forecast later in the morning.  I still decided to take my usual hike in the Susquehanna Wetlands and River Lands in Salem Township, Luzerne County. A thunderstorm caused a lot of damage in nearby Berwick on Thursday. I wanted to see if the wetlands were  damaged in the storm. On the drive  to the wetlands  I saw many of the large trees down in front of the homes along Route 11 in Berwick.

A light rain was falling when I arrived in the wetlands.  Before driving to the parking lot I  stopped at the Water Fowl Pond where I saw this  female wood duck with two of her  ducklings.

There were no other water birds on the pond so I drove to the parking lot, and,

as I usually do walked to the Susquehanna River.

Once again there were few eastern cottontail rabbits feeding on the clover in the picnic area near the river.

I followed the trail into the wetlands, under the large maple, oak and sycamore trees. The wetlands now had the musty woodsy smell of Summer. There were no downed  trees on this part of the trail.

The many flowers that bloom here in the  Spring were gone. The woodlands along the trail were still a lush green with only a few Summer flowers blooming now, the only wildflowers I saw were these nightshade flowers,

yellow loosestrife, both invasive species,

and these native swamp milkweed flowers.

Many of the flowers that bloomed in the Spring now produced berries including high bush blueberries,

blackberries, both native, edible and delicious for both humans and birds and other animals.

These poison ivy berries are not edible for humans but many birds enjoy them, especially in the Winter.

The cattails, sedges , reeds and grasses were now going to seed including the woolgrass growing along the canals and ponds.

I followed the Beaver Trail to the other side of the Water Fowl Ponds. I always hope to see some ducks or herons here  but there were none on this cloudy, humid morning.

I usually see a lot of bird activity in the woodlands along the pond but not on this hike, I only saw a few tree swallows,

one of the many gray catbirds,

and red-winged blackbirds I would see on my hike. The female caught a tadpole and I think was taking it to feed her young. I didn’t know these birds were able to catch the fast moving tadpoles.

The light rain had ended  but the skies remained cloudy as I  left the Water Fowl Pond and followed the trail toward the river lands  area of the nature preserve and park.

Along the way I saw another family of wood ducks. The ducklings quickly sawm into the reeds, as the mother watched. I was only able to get a quick photo of here before she followed them to the safety of the thick reeds and sedge grass.

I also heard, and saw this Carolina wren singing across a canal. I haven’t seen many of them since the early  Spring in the wetlands.

A tufted titmouse

and a few red winged blackbirds also were singing along the trail.

I scared another family of wood ducks, and then came upon this brilliantly colored male,

who was hanging out by himself.  They are beautiful birds.

The trail separates after about a half mile,  turning left would take you to the river lands, and right back down to the Susquehanna River, through a larger and more mature trees.

In these woods I saw this eastern wood pee wee,

and it’s close relative an eastern phoebe. These two small flycatchers look a lot alike but their songs are distinctive and unmistakable.

I walked back toward the river lands, past some of the damage done by the storm. The fallen trees were already removed and the trail was open.

Before entering the river lands one must cross to an access road to a facility associated with the nearby nuclear power plant, Along the right side of this road is a marsh where I often see birds. Here, out of the shade of the mature trees in the wetlands more wildflowers bloomed including, common mullein,

spotted knapweed and

creeping thistle, all invasive species.

Only the many milkweed flowers blooming along the road are native.

Here I also saw some birds including a downy woodpecker,

a song sparrow,

a swamp sparrow

and a flock of common yellow throats, this is the masked male

and this the female.

I walked into the river lands and along Lake Took-A-While under the overcast skies.

The large flock of Canada geese were along the lake but,

but decided to go for a swim as I approached

As usual I hike on the trail along the lake and an old canal to the far end of the lake.

There were only a few people hiking on the warm humid morning, Along the way I saw this common grackle,

a warbling vireo, 

a few American robins,

and gray catbirds

another eastern phoebe,

and this red-bellied woodpecker fledgling.

At the far end of the lake I began my 2 mile hike back under the still cloudy skies  to the wetlands parking lot. I saw many of the same birds I saw earlier but no new birds. I always hope to see a bald eagle along the lake but haven’t seen one in a few weeks now.

I did see a few gray squirrels scampering along the trail.

I walked into the wetlands and was finishing my five mile hike when I saw this rose breasted grosbeak feeding on some raspberries t on  branch near the trail,

I love seeing these birds on my feeders in the Spring and I am glad they are nesting in the wetlands this year. Here is a link to a gallery in my blog website with some more photos of  the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds June 29 2024.

The skies remained cloudy as I finished my hike but I wasn’t caught in the storms that would arrive a few h0urs later.   It wasn’t the nicest Summer day.  I didn’t see a lot of the more exotic  wildlife that I know live in the wetlands but it was still a great hike. Even a cloudy Summer day has so much more  beauty  than the warmest Winter day, in my opinion anyway. . I love Summer.  Here is a link to a gallery in my blog website with some more photos from my five on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds June 29 2024.

Go out, go out I beg of you    
And taste the beauty of the wild.    
Behold the miracle of the earth    
With all the wonder of a child.  Edna Jaques


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