March Goes Out Like A Lion, But There Were Still Signs Of Spring At The Susquehanna Wetlands And Northeastern Pennsylvania
The warm March lamb -like weather we had two weeks ago was gone. The weather got cooler last week. On Sunday morning the temperatures had dropped into the low 30’s with a steady cold northwesterly wind. March was a lion again. As usual I decided to again hike at the Susquehanna Wetlands and River Lands in Salem Township Luzerne County. There was no snow or ice in the wetlands but it still felt more like a day in January rather then late March as I began my usual five mile hike.
The last few weeks the turtles could be seen in the ponds and canals in the wetlands. Not a one was out on Sunday. The spring peepers and wood frogs were also silent. It was too cold for these cold blooded critters.
However, there were some sounds of Spring in the wetlands. The red-winged blackbirds filled the cold March air with their raspy chattering and whistling calls. This is a male. The males are territorial and may have 15 female partners in the territory they fiercely defend. Their songs are a sure sign of Spring.
The song sparrows,
white-breasted nuthatches are with us all Winter but are much more vocal in the Spring. And they, too, were singing and chattering loudly in the cold morning air.
I have heard another bird that is a sure sign of Spring, the unmistakable song of the eastern phoebe. I love hearing their repeating song echo in the wetlands. They are flycatchers and I wondered what type of insects would they be feeding on in March. Shortly after seeing the phoebe I saw a swarm of small fly-like insects. Phoebe food. The birds know that they are doing.
There were other signs of Spring. The red maple continued to bud along the trail.
The skunk cabbages continued to unfurl their leaves and were creating a much welcome carpet of green in the wetlands along the trail.
As usual I continued my walk through the wetlands,
and hiked down to the nearby Susquehanna River with the hope of seeing a bald eagle, a river otter, a kingfisher or an osprey. I didn’t see any of these critters and only saw a few more song sparrows and downy woodpeckers.
I next walked into the river lands area of the private nature preserve. I took the trail the was between lake Took-A-While and the remains of old Susquehanna Canal.
There was a small flock of Canada geese on the lake,
and a couple of common mergansers were swimming near the trail. I usually see them swimming on the far side of the lake.
They are beautiful birds who spend their days searching for fish. Here is the male,
As I continued my walk under the overcast skies along the lake,
I saw at least six great blue herons perched along the shores of the lake.
The stand motionless waiting to strike at a passing fish,
and in the warmer months a small turtle, frog or snake.
A few took off and flew over the lake as I walked past.
Their were also a few other birds flying over the lake. Double-crested cormorants, and
I walked to the far end of the lake and, as usual, began my hike back. Along the way I saw a few more of the same birds I saw on my hike out including this song sparrow perched on a blackberry cane putting forth it’s leaves. Another sure sign of Spring. Here is a link to a gallery on my website with more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands March 27 2022.
As I walked back through the wetlands I again observed the skunk cabbage
and the red maple buds and the slight color they added to the still drab and lifeless woodlands. They won’t be lifeless long. Despite some frigid weather that was in the forecast Spring would soon be making it’s usual spectacular appearance in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And I will enjoy every minute of it. Here is a link to some more photos from my late March hike in the wetlands and river lands. Susquehanna Wetlands March 27 2022.
March, when days are getting long, Let thy growing hours be strong to set right some wintry wrong.”
― Caroline May