January Sunshine At The PPL Wetlands
Many days this month were dreary here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Cloudy, windy and cold they were. It was nice to see clear blue skies when I awoke last Saturday morning. It was a cold 18 degrees here in Hazle Township, Luzerne County. But I knew that the clear skies meant there would be abundant January sunshine and a great day to be outdoors.
As usual I decided to hike on this beautiful day in the PPL Wetlands and River lands in Salem Township. The skies were clear and it was 23 degrees when I arrived at the wetlands. After parking my car I walked down to the Susquehanna River. Its waters had receded considerably since my hike two weeks ago. It was still ice free which is somewhat unusual here in January.
Leaving the banks of the river I walked into the wetlands and was surprised, and glad, to find no snow on the ground! There was about two inches of annoying snow and ice on the ground at my home in Hazle Township. Of course, it is about 1,200 feet difference in elevation, but I still thought there would be some snow on my hike.
High in the treetops I saw two flocks of birds that were flying from tree top to tree top. I couldn’t identify either of the flocks while on my hike or from the photos I took. Fortunately some birder friends helped me with identifying them. The first was a flock of goldfinches. This through me off in the identification since I usually find them feeding much closer to the ground.
The second flock were red-winged blackbirds. I thought these birds usually migrate south for the Winter but my birder friend explained some stay in our area in the winter, mainly because it is near the river.
I also saw a third bird I couldn’t identify, for the same reason as the red-winged black birds. It was a hermit thrush. Again, I thought this birds also migrate south through our area but was told some do stay during our Winters. And I guess the fact that in November, December and the first week of January we have experienced above average temperatures.
Lake Took-A-While is located here and, on most of my hikes I find a lot of folks fishing in the lake, walking, biking, or jogging . On this cold January morning I didn’t see a soul. In fact, I didn’t see another person during my entire five mile hike.
However, there were quite a few birds active in the frigid air. On the lake there were some areas of open water and here I saw, across the lake a great blue heron wading in the cold waters. As I watched it decided to fly off, possibly to southern, and warmer lands.
I didn’t see any other animals on my hike but there was plenty of evidence they were still there, including many tracks in the mud and some on the ice. I’m not sure what critter made this daring walk across some pretty thin ice.
It was cold, but I still enjoyed my five mile hike under the clear blue skies and bright sunshine. This is a link to a gallery on my website with some more photographs from my hike in the January sunshine. PPL Wetlands January 9 2021.
“Withstanding the cold develops vigor for the relaxing days of spring and summer. Besides, in this matter as in many others, it is evident that nature abhors a quitter.”