It’s January, But, What?, No Snow Or Ice At The Susquehanna Wetlands?

It’s January, But, What?, No Snow Or Ice At The Susquehanna Wetlands?

Susquehanna Wetlands (20 of 29)
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Usually,  in January in Northeastern Pennsylvania,  the woodlands are covered with snow and the lakes, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds  have a  thick layer of ice. Not this year, after returning from a visit to South Florida,  I hiked in the  Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township, Luzerne County last Saturday. It was cloudy, dreary and a cold, but with  an above average,  31 degrees when I arrived. There was no snow on the ground. 

As usual I first  walked down to the Susquehanna River and found it ice free. It also was  filled to it’s banks for the first time in many months.  I think there was a lot of rain and melting snow in the northern watershed of the river  while I was away. 

I continued my hike into the wetlands and I found the ponds and canals to be completely ice free. This is very unusual in January. Most years you can walk across these waters on a thick layer of ice. 

Usually the woodlands are  white and snow covered but not this year, they were  drab and dreary.

  The branches of the leafless trees were gray. The brown  decaying leaves  covered the the ground, 

and the remains of last Summer’s once lush and green vegetation,  the bracken ferns, 

common burdock burs, 

cattails and

even the old artist conch mushrooms all added different shades of brown to the somber scenery. to the dreary landscape. 

However there were still, because of the lack of snow and mile weather,  some scattered shades of greens  in the wetlands and river lands. The hardy garlic mustard, 

and Dame’s Rocket leaves still grew in the bleak January weather. Both of these leaves are edible but I didn’t gather any on this hike. 

Christmas ferns and

intermediate ferns also provided some welcome green ,

as did the tree clubmoss and

haircap moss growing along the trails.

The only other color I found on my five mile hike were some blue green briar berries 

The wetlands and river lands are so different then the warmer months with so many shades of green and so many flowers blooming from Spring to Fall. 

And there was not much wildlife activity either.  Usually, even on the coldest Winter days I see a few birds, but not Saturday. It was  almost eerily quiet on my hike. I  saw a few Canada geese honking loudly on a pond in the wetlands, and a few common mergansers across the river, but there were none of the usually wrens, woodpeckers, sparrows or other winter resident birds. Not even any of the many black-capped chickadees. that remain here all winter. 

I walked through the wetlands and into the river lands section of the nature preserve. Lake Took-A-While was ice free  but there were no herons, hawks or bald eagles near the lake. 

I did see some more geese and this in eastern bluebird it was the only bird I was able to photograph. 

As usual I walked to the end of the lake and  began my hike back to the wetlands,

under the ominous looking clouds. 

I think this was one of the worst days I ever had for seeing wildlife on  my many hikes in the wetlands. It was so different then in warmer months. I ended my five mile hike, and the next day, there were less clouds and the forecast called for some clearing so  I decided to return to the wetlands. I was hoping I may see a bald eagle fishing on the ice free waters of the river, the ponds or the lake. 

Soon after I began my hike I saw a small flock of Canada geese on the Water Fowl pond. 

And as the sun broke through the clouds,

I saw some black-capped chickadees. 

Unlike the day before, the   sunshine brought out some of the resident  birds to feed. I saw  some American tree sparrows, 

a song sparrow,

and a pretty white throated sparrow as I continued my hike  in the wetlands. 

I left the wetlands and walked into the river lands again   

There was still a small flock of Canada geese on the lake,

and I saw a blue jay and

a red-bellied woodpecker along the trails, but that was it for any wildlife activity. 

I was  disappointed, there no bald eagles soaring above the lake. 

I walked back to the wetlands and the only other critter I saw was this downy woodpecker. Once again I was surprised at the few birds I saw on my hike. Usually ,even in January, there are more birds in the wetlands and river lands Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hikes in the wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands birds January 21, 22 2023. 

I am already looking forward to visiting the wetlands again this weekend. I know  there are eagles, hawks, bobcats and a lot of birds living out there, even in the Winter. I just got to find them.  And I am looking forward to the challenge. And, I am looking forward to Spring, when the wetlands and rover lands once again became alive.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my mid  January hikes in the wetlands.  Susquehanna Wetlands hike January 21, 22 2023

“The deep roots of winter is a vast silence of eternity that echos in the wilderness of your soul.”  ROBBIE GEORGE

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