It’s Sunday, And, As Usual, Another Great Hike In The Susquehanna Wetlands

It’s Sunday, And, As Usual, Another Great Hike In The Susquehanna Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands (6 of 26)
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It was Sunday morning, and,  as usual, I had many great hiking trails to chose from near my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania.   I thought about the trails in the many State Parks and Forest a short drive from my home. But as I often do, I decided to return to the Susquehanna Wetlands and River lands in  Salem Township Luzerne County.  I make this decision because I am so familiar with these woodlands and pretty much know where to locate the wildlife that lives there throughout the year. 

So I was back in the parking lot in the wetlands  early Sunday morning taking my usually short walk down to the banks of the Susquehanna River, one of the oldest rivers on our planet. It was partly  sunny but a freezing 28 degrees when I started my hike in the wetlands. The frosts and freezes of the past few weeks have  done their work in ending  the growing season of wildflowers, trees and other vegetation in the woodlands. And the frogs,  insects and song birds are gone too, making the walk through the once noisy and lush wetlands  a dreary and somber one. 

The trails were littered with dead leaves, 

and the only color were the many bright red winterberries still clinging to the many bushes throughout the wetlands. 

But there was still life here in the wetlands and river lands and the many birds that remain here throughout the Winter were active on this cold Sunday morning.  I soon heard a few northern flickers in the treetops, 

and also saw this hairy woodpecker  on the trunk of a dead tree. 

There were also some smaller downy woodpeckers looking for insects on the trees trunks. You can see that the hairy woodpecker has a much larger beak. 

A red bellied woodpecker soon joined the other woodpeckers on this cold morning. I believe they were active because even the weak November sun may have stirred the grubs, worms and other insects living under the bark of the trees. I was able to see four of the seven species of woodpeckers that reside in our Commonwealth ( the others are  the yellow-bellied sapsucker, the read-headed woodpecker and the pileated woodpecker)

As I often do I also saw a lot of Winter resident birds feeding in an area of wetlands along the trail. There was a large flock of white throated sparrows, 

a few swamp sparrows 

and song sparrows gathering seeds and berries from the flowers that bloomed during the Summer. 

A flock of goldfinches, now clad in their dull brown Winter feathers were also active, 

as were both Carolina,

and winter wrens. The Carolina wrens filled the wetlands with their cheerful songs even on this cold November day. 

A few yellow-rumped warblers  were still in the wetlands feeding on posison ivy berries.  They are here late this year and should be migrating south soon. 

Although some golden crowned kinglets remain in Pennsylvania during the Winter I don’t see them here in the wetlands this late either.  Howver, our winters have been getting milder and they may decide to stay. 

I also saw a flock of non breeding  rusty blackbirds traveling through the wetlands. These birds breed in the boreal forests of Canada and migrate through Pennsylvania to spend the Winter in the southern United States. 

They are pretty birds but their population has rapidly declined for  unknown reasons. I always like to see them passing through in the Spring and Fall. 

I took my usual walk to  the Water Fowl Pond but found both paths that led to it flooded. I often see water fowl and other birds  on and around the pond. I saw no wood ducks on this hike and they may have migrated south since my last visit. 

I walked through the wetands on my way to the river lands section of this small private nature preserve. On the way I saw this whitetail  deer,

\who stopped to say hello before running into the wetlands. 

Clouds moved in,

making the dreary morning even more dark and dreary,as I walked beneath the bare trees.

I walked into the river lands and on the trail  along Lake Took-A-While. 

They only water bird I saw was this great blue heron on the far side of the lake. I also heard a belted kingfisher.

As usual I walked to the far end of the lake before beginning my hike back. 

On the way I saw  a few eastern blue birds 

and one of my favorite birds , a northern mockingbird along the lake.  I believe this is the same mockingbird that has remained  near the lake for two years now during the Winter. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds  I saw on my hike in the wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands birds November 12 2023. 

I walked back along the lake noticing the seed pods of the milkweed flowers, 

and finding a few wildflowers still blooming  on this cold and dreay Sunday,  these native  prairie fleabane flowers 

and these invasive Japaenese honeysuckle flowers. I was surprised to see these flower bloom in the Fall. They always bloom in Spring and early Summer filling the wetlands and river lands with their heavanly  fragrance.

  I finished my five mile hike under the gray cloudy skies. It seemed as the clouds thickened the birds became less active. I don’t think they like the  dark and cold day of Winter, but like me, they will be out in the cold making the best of it.  Spring is only four month away! Here is a link to a gallery on my blog webpage with some more photos of my five mile hike in the wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands November 12 21023. 

A barren realm of withered fields,
      Bleak woods, and falling leaves,
      The palest morns that ever dawned;
      The dreariest of eves.
It is no wonder that she comes,
      Poor month! with tears of pain;
      For what can one so hopeless do
      But weep, and weep again.
~R.H. Stoddard