Less Snow And More Ducks: A Hike Along The Walnutport Canal

Less Snow And More Ducks: A Hike Along The Walnutport Canal

Walnutport canal birds (20 of 44)
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A late Winter storm dumped over eight inches of snow around  my home in Luzerne County in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Saturday. Rather then trudge through the snow on my Sunday hike I decide to drive 30 miles south and hike on the Walnutport Canal Spur  Trail  in Lehigh County. 

A brilliant  sun was shining in clear blue skies when I arrived at the trailhead along the Lehigh River. It was a frigid 20 degrees here but this was 8 degrees warmer than the 12 degrees temperature back home in the mountains of Luzerne County. 

Walking up to the canal trail I was pleased to find only about two inches of snow on the ground. It was still more than I like to hike on but better than 8 inches back home. I headed south on the trail. This  trail is a spur of the Delaware  and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Trail (D & L Trail) .  The main trail  is across the river in Slatington. The  spur trail follows the remains of the   old Lehigh Canal.

Built in the 1820’s it remained in operation until the 1930’s. There is an old lockkeepers house along the trail. I have provided more information and links in previous  blog post from my hikes along the trail. You can locate them in my blog archives using the search tool.

On Sunday I was immediately greeted by the large flocks domestic ducks  and geese that live on  the canal. 

They we’re not shy in looking for a handout of some corn or bread from folks walking along the trail. 

There were a number of different styles species of domestic ducks on the canal, and some semi-domestic mallard ducks too. The iridescent head feathers of the male male mallards changed colors in the morning sunlight as the ducks moved on the cold waters. 

I was the only person out and about as  I followed the canal trail  past some  residences and  a Visitor Center. 
The sun shone brilliantly in the cold morning air. 

In addition to the domestic ducks and geese on the trail I saw some robins,

cardinals , 

a downy woodpecker, 

and a lot  song sparrows in the woods along the trail. 

These common birds were fluttering in the vegetation near the ground along the trail

There were many old oak and tulip trees towering over the trail, as well as, 

the massive  trestles of an abandoned railroad . 

The recent snowfall covered the woods  between the canal and Lehigh River. It looked more like a  Christmas scene from December  and not early March. 

There was no one  swimming in the Old Swimming hole on this cold Sunday morning. 

The trail took me past one of the locks of the old Lehigh Canal. 

After flowing through this last lock,  the waters of the canal  spread out and  created an area of wetlands. 

Here I found a large flock of wild mallard ducks. 

Most were males.  There main activity was were pursuing the few females  that were present in the flock.

There was still some ice on  waters here.  I watched as  some of  the mallard ducks  waddled over the ice in pursuit of the female ducks. 

For some reason the snow got deeper at this point on the trail. I was now trudging through about four inches  of powdery snow.

There were a lot more mallard ducks on the wetlands.   I saw some, apart from the flock,  in mating pairs in the thicker reeds in the wetlands. They were  already establishing nesting  territories.

There were also a  few wood ducks but, unlike the mallard ducks, they quickly flew off as I approached.  And a few mallard ducks followed, but most of the mallards didn’t mind my presence. . 

There were some other birds active along the trail, including a few white-breasted nuthatches, 

this red-bellied woodpecker,

and a lot more song sparrows.

The  trail abruptly ended  near an old bridge that at one time crossed the canal. 

I began my hike back as some high clouds moved in and obscured the sun. 

I again  saw the many mallard ducks in the wetlands, 

and,  many more song  sparrows that were feeding on some water plants growing along the edge of the canals. Here is a link to a gallery  in my blog website with more photos of the ducks and other birds I saw on my hike. Walnutport Canal birds March 13 2022. 

As I walked along the old canal I observed and reflected on the old trees that grew along the trail.  Ancient sycamore, 

and tulip popular trees towered overhead. 

Many of these trees could be well over a hundred years old. 

There were a few squirrels living in some of them. 

I walked past the  lockkeepers house and into the town. As I walked past  the old house  on the other side of the canal, I  reflected, as I often do, about the residents who lived there. The folks who were born, grew up and died here over the last two hundred year. The old trees  along the trail have memories of  many children going to school,  playing in the waters of the canal, growing up,   young couples staring at the moon, getting married. having children, raising families and getting old, under their branches. And now the will remember me enjoying their beauty on this cold  March morning. I hope to provide them with more memories over the next few decades, God willing. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike along the canal. Walnutport Canal March 13 2022. 

There’s a little white duck sitting in the water,
A little white duck doing what he oughter,
He took a bite of a lily pad,
Flapped his wings and he said, “I’m glad
I’m a little white duck sitting in the water,
Quack! Quack! Quack!”  [W. Barrows and B. Zaritzky,


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