Migrating Birds And More Autumn Colors, Again, At The Susquehanna Wetlands

Migrating Birds And More Autumn Colors, Again, At The Susquehanna Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands (14 of 23)
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After seeing the large flocks of migrating birds at the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township, Luzerne County last week I was looking forward to  hiking there again this weekend. I wanted to see if any of the birds remained or if new birds showed up. It is late in the season but I think the mild weather has also delayed the migration this year. It was overcast and unseasonably mild when I arrived at the wetlands. Temperatures were in the mid 60’s. I also wanted to see how much new Fall colors appeared in the Wetlands. 

As I always do I walked down to the Susquehanna River before I began my  five mile hike. We haven’t had rain for over a week now but the river is still high from the heavy rains we had the past few months. Leaving the river and walking into the wetlands I found that there was a lot more Fall colors since my visit last week.  And a lot more fallen leaves on the trails too.  It was a beautiful scene.  We are now close to our peak Fall colors  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

When I got to the trail along the old Susquehanna Canal I quietly creeped up to the pond where I was seeing the wood ducks. I thought for sure I’d see them this week.  When I saw the pond, not a single wood duck was there. So I walked past this pond, looking to the other side of trail, and, sure enough a dozen wood ducks right beside me on the opposite side of the trail. Needless to say, before I could turn and focus my camera they were long gone. Had I been  focused on that side of the trail I would have had some  close up photographs of these beautiful birds. I saw more wood ducks on the distant shore of the ponds and had to settle for these photos. It’s sad but this may have been my last chance to capture some good photos of these birds. They will soon be migrating south.

Continuing my  walk in the wetlands,  I immediately knew that, either the migrating birds from last week hadn’t left, or they were replaced with new flocks of birds. The noisy chatter of  red-winged blackbirds filled the air. The trees were filled with these migrating birds. I saw smaller flocks of the red-winged blackbird everywhere in the wetlands and river lands. Here is a photograph of a male, 

and this is a female perched high in a tree top. 

There was a large flock of yellow-rumped warblers,

feeding on some poison ivy berries growing on vines that reached almost to the treetops. 

I have learned that a lot of the wildlife in our area feed on these berries in the Winter months. 

Some northern cardinals were also feeding on these and other berries in the wetlands. 

I also saw a few blue-headed vireos in the trees along the trail

In addition to the many migrating birds I also saw this deer watching me as I walked past. 

There were not too many wildflowers blooming in the wetlands and river lands this week. Besides a few goldenrod flowers I only saw these frost asters and

these New  England asters growing in the wetlands. 

The were, however,  still many berries providing some additional vivid colors to the wetlands including these common winterberry and

Asiatic tearthumb berries. I just learned that these berries are edible and hope to find some on my next hike in the wetlands. 

It got windy as I continued my hike and  the trees rained leaves covering the paths and waterways, 

I left the wetlands and walked down to the river again. Here I saw some more birds including a flock of robins,

a tufted titmouse, 

an eastern phoebe  and

a couple of red-bellied woodpeckers. 

As I always do, I next walked into the river lands  section of the nature preserve and took the path  between Lake Took-A-While and the old canals. 

Crawling along the ground was this woolly bear caterpillar. Some folks believe that one can predict the Winter weather that is coming by the size of their bands.  I think this fellow is saying a mild Winter with no snow. Well, that’s what I hope it is saying anyway. 

There were some nice October skies over the scenic lake and I took in the view before hiking to the far end of the lake.

On my return walk I saw another red-bellied woodpecker who had speared a black walnut. I wondered how  it managed to get the black walnut to the tree tops.  It had to take  some effort to fly with the huge walnut stuck on it’s beak. 

I heard the belted kingfishers chattering again  but didn’t see them. I did see this great blue heron, 

and was able to get some photos as it flew off as I approached. 

I also had a close encounter with this female ruby crowned kinglet. 

This skittish birds are always moving but  plenty of patience and a lot of shots let me get some nice close up photographs. This  was the last bird I would photograph on my hike.  I saw many more birds but nothing new so I decided not to photograph them. There is only so much time in a day and I wish I could spend more time trying to capture the many birds that live in , and pass through our area. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the year long resident and  migrating birds  I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds October 16 2021.  

After seeing the ruby crowned kinglet I finished my hike in the wetlands, 

finding the only mushrooms I saw on my five mile hike, some older honey mushrooms growing on the trail. 

I decided to return the next day to the wetlands. I hope to finally capture some close up photographs of the wood ducks It was overcast and a lot cooler on Sunday. 

Once again the wood ducks eluded my camera, I saw most of the same birds I did on my hike the day before. The only  new birds I saw was a flock of white-throated sparrows, 

and a large  flock of Canada geese swimming on one of the ponds and filling the wetlands with their honking. As I approached a few wood ducks that were swimming with the geese quickly flew off,

and as I continued to approach so did the flock of Canada geese. I am guessing  this was a flock of migrating birds since the local geese are almost domestic. They don’t fly off, and often hiss and threaten if you approach them. 

I took my usual five mile walk, but I had to rush, I had a retirement party to attend in the afternoon, so I didn’t take many photos. It was still a nice hike under the menacing October skies. However, I think with the cooler weather in the forecast most of the birds will be gone on my next visit. Here is  a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my hikes in the wetlands and river lands. Susquehanna Wetlands October 16 2021. 

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” Emily Bronte 

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