Milder Temperatures And Mallard Ducks On The Weissport Canal Trail
After a sudden, but brief, two day frigid arctic cold wave, milder temperatures returned to Northeastern Pennsylvania on Sunday. It was 24 degrees at my home in Hazle Township Luzerne County , 22 degrees warmer than the frigid 2 degrees a day earlier. I decided to drive south to the Weissport Canal in Carbon County. On a similar sudden arctic freeze a few years ago I saw wood ducks on open water on the canal. I hoped to see some wood ducks and other water fowl on my Sunday hike. . I thought some would flee the suddenly frozen ponds and lakes and head to the usually open waters on the canal in Weissport. I saw an unfortunate ruddy duck stranded at the Susquehanna Wetlands on Saturday. Check out my my last blog post for more on the ruddy duck.
There were ducks on the Weissport Canal when I arrived, dozens of them. But they were mallard ducks, mallard ducks that have become somewhat domesticated by the town folks. I was the first one there that morning and the large flock immediately flew toward me, thinking I was a local, and looking for food.
It was partly sunny, and now a above freezing, when I began my hike north on the trail along the old Lehigh Canal. The trail is part of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Trail. This 165 mile historic trail begins in Wilke-Barre and ends in Bristol. It explores the industrial and cultural history and the nature and environment of the area. I have included more history in prior blog posts which can be found using the search tool in my blog archives.
In the warmer months the canal is lined with a lot of folks fishing in the waters stocked with trout.
Before the temperatures plummeted on Friday, there was almost no ice on the rivers, streams, lakes and ponds here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. This is very unusual. On Sunday the ridge along the canal were lined with some newly formed icicles.
The many rhododendrons growing along the trail also showed how they were affected by the artic cold. The leaves of the rhododendrons curl when the temperatures drop below freezing. And the colder the temperature the tighter the curl. In the shade the leaves were tightly curled,
The sunshine continued to warm the temperatures and I heard some birds on the ridges above the canal and on the other side of the river including some American crows, black capped chickadees, and tufted titmice. I was only able to photograph this red- bellied woodpecker,
landed in a tree near the trail and began to sing a different song. I love these small birds and their beautiful songs. Near the end of my hike I noticed large patched of garlic mustard. This hardy invasive weed is actually edible and I gathered some and enjoyed some wild Winter greens with my dinner.
I finished my hike back at the parking lot where I found the large flock of mallard ducks swimming in the open water. It appeared that the ducks were now feed. They did not fly toward me looking for food.
before ending my hike. . Here is a link to a gallery of photos in my blog website with more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Weissport Canal birds February 6 2023.
I was disappointed not seeing any wood ducks or other more exotic water fowl but, as always, I enjoyed another great hike in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to another gallery with photos from my hike. Weissport Canal February 6 2023.