Late Summer At The PPL Wetlands

Late Summer At The PPL Wetlands

PPL Wetlands (36 of 53)
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Although there is almost another full month of Summer, it felt a bit like Fall at the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township, Luzerne County last Sunday. It was overcast with temperatures in the low 50’s when I arrived at the wetlands early in the morning. pond in wetlands late Summer

A walk along trails confirmed that Summer was coming to an end. The ponds and canals are now covered in a dark green carpet of duckweedduckweed covered pond

This duckweed continues to provide food for the many critters that live in the wetlands.  Muskrats, beavers, birds ducks, turtles and frogs are among the many animals that use it as a main source of food. This year I didn’t see many mallard ducks in the wetlands but there was a number of nesting pairs of wood ducks.  On every visit I try to approach, and photograph, these beautiful ducks. Most times. like on Sunday, they fly off before I can get close. wood duck in flight

The clouds soon dissipated and the warm late Summer sun warmed up the air. This time of year waters of the ponds and canals are often warmer than air temperatures and the multitude of turtles that can be seen sunning themselves in the sunshine now remain in the warm waters. I  did not see one turtle on my hike. The frogs like the warm water too but they have to leave it to catch their food. I saw a few of them partially submerged in the duck weed covered waters. 

Many of the migratory birds have already began their long journey south. I haven’t seen a red-winged blackbird in weeks. Many of the song birds are gone to.  There were a few that remained including this goldfinch and

this green heron perched on a log. heron on log in wetlands late summer

As I left the wetlands section of the preserve, and walked into the river lands I came across various types of various. In late Summer many of the trees now produce colorful berries including the bluish/purple berries of the silver dogwoods,late summer dogwood berries

the white berries of the gray dogwoods,dogwood berries late summer

the bright red berries of the autumn olive ,

  and the now green, but soon to be bright red, berries of the spice bush. 

The shag bark hickory trees also now are loaded with a crop of almost ripe nuts. 

Late Summer flowers now in bloom along the trails  included the evening primrose, 

devils darning needles, 

and large stands of the colorful  purple loosestrife.

Along the ponds I found this willow grass flower

and this arrowhead flower. 

As I neared Lake-Took-A -While,  cumulus clouds were forming as the sun heated the air. 

In a tree near the lake I spotted a pair of kingfishers. kingfisher in tree

A great blue heron was wading along the lake looking for an unsuspecting  fish or frog to make into a meal.

There were some milkweed plants growing along the trail but I didn’t find any monarch butterfly caterpillars. I did find one covered in milkweed bugs. 

As I said before, many of the song birds have already begun to leave our area. I did see some orioles, warblers and sparrows but was unable to photograph them. I did capture this bird, I am not sure but it may be a female grosbeak. 

I also saw this catbird peering out at me from under the cover of a tree branch. 

Once again I followed the Susquehanna Warrior Trail out another mile or so before I began my walk back.

On the way back, the warming air brought out the dragonflies. 

There were hundreds of them darting along the shores of the lake. 

There are many species and I am not able to identify them, but they are intricate and beautiful creatures. 

I walked back through the wetlands, enjoying the late Summer sunshine and the singing of the cicadas. Fall is just around the corner so I am going to take advantage of every the remaining days of Summer. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands August 25 2019.

“August was nearly over – the month of apples and falling stars, the last care-free month for the school children. The days were not hot, but sunny and limpidly clear – the first sign of advancing autumn.” 
― Victor Nekrasov

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