It’s Been Three Long, Cold Months Since I Hiked Around Lake Irena At Community Park.

It’s Been Three Long, Cold Months Since I Hiked Around Lake Irena At Community Park.

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Spring weather has returned here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Temperatures rose into the 60’s  this past week.  The warmth quickly melted the 8 inches of snow that fell last weekend. I took advantage of the warm temperatures,  sunshine and  additional daylight and took a couple of hikes around Lake Irena at our local Community  Park  near my home in Hazle Township, Luzerne County. 

I decided to hike in Community Park late Tuesday afternoon. It was three months since I last hiked here in mid-December. The lake froze in December.  Snow and ice  covered the trails so I took  my afternoon walks on the plowed streets near my home. Now that the snow and ice are gone I was back at the park.   Temperatures  at the park were in the upper 50’s  when I arrived late Tuesday afternoon.   I  resumed  my  usual routine and hiked three mile the park. My hike would take  me around Lake Irena. 

The waters of the lake were also ice free. I soon saw some of the water fowl that had returned to our area.   There where some  Canada  geese, 

and mallard ducks along the shores of the lake. 

I believe these birds will remain near the lake and will begin  to establish their nesting territories. There  were also some ring-necked ducks on the lake. I  am pretty sure  these birds were just passing through our area. I  have never seen them here before. 

I walked along the lake hoping to see  the bald eagles and ospreys that occasional visit. They didn’t show up, but I did see this red-tailed hawk soaring high overhead. 

It was also nice seeing the painted turtles crawling out of the cold waters of the lake and basking in the mid-March sun. They are a sure sign Spring is near. 

But there weren’t many signs of Spring in the surrounding woodlands. No signs of life on the trees so I decided to continue my hike around the lake two more time. In addition to the ducks and geese the only other critter I saw was this downy woodpecker, 

searching for insects on the dead branches of a pine tree. I didn’t see any other wildlife on my three mile hike. 

I retuned to the park on Wednesday afternoon. The skies were clear and the warm March sun warmed the temperature into the mid 60’s. 

Once again I hiked around the deep blue waters of Lake Irena. I was greeted by representatives of three species of the water fowl I saw on my hike the previous day, Canada geese, mallard ducks and ring-necked ducks. All three of them posed for this photo. 

In addition to these birds there was one newcomer on the waters of the lake. A lone female hooded merganser. It appeared to have a punk rock hairdo. She same alone on the waters of the lake, 

occasional joining the mallard ducks or Canada geese on her swim. 

They ring-necked ducks were not at skittish  as they were on Tuesday and allowed me to get closer as I approached them on my three laps around the lake. These are a couple of males, 

and this a  male and female.

They are beautiful birds.  I didn’t see any  more wildlife on the rest of my three mile hike. 

I returned to the park and hiked around the  lake  a third time on Thursday.  It rained in the morning and the skies remained cloudy when I arrived in mid-afternoon, The temperatures were still mild, in the low 60’s. 

As there were  on my previous hikes , a few fishermen where trying to outsmart the fish along the shores of the lake. There were a few folks walking around the lake too. 

And, on the lake I again saw the Canada geese, mallard ducks and 

the ring-neck ducks swimming under the cloudy skies. 
This male ring-neck duck was swimming alone, 

and got pretty close to the shore. The rest of the flock, about 6 birds , swam in the middle of the lake. 

There was another critter swimming in the lake, a furry one, one of the beavers that have been gnawing on the trees  on the trails. 

It swam across the lake. As I continued my hike I saw it swimming back with these branches in it’s mouth. It didn’t appear to be repairing the ledge along the lake so I am guessing it may be feeding a young family in the lodge. 

There were some breaks in the clouds as I  continued my  three laps around the lake.

I saw the  male ring-neck duck  alone a few more times, 

 a few robins and,

 this friendly little bird I frequently see on my hikes in Northeastern Pennsylvania, a black-capped chickadee. There were a few of them feeding in the birch trees near along the trail. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photographs of the birds I saw on my hikes around Lake Irena this week. Community Park birds March 13-17 2022. 

A few painted turtles emerged from the waters as I finished my hike, and

I saw this gray squirrel which appeared to be munching on an old oak leaf. I never saw one do this before.  

I finished my three mile hike without seeing  any bald eagles, or ospreys. I often see these birds in the Spring. But I enjoyed seeing the other critters on my walks and hope to continue my daily afternoon hikes at Community park and Lake Irena. And, if I do I know I will eventually see one of our National birds soaring over the lake. Here is a link to a  gallery with some more photos from my hike Community park March 13-17 2022 

“By March, the worst of the winter would be over. The snow would thaw, the rivers begin to run and the world would wake into itself again.” ― Neil Gaiman

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