Milkweed, Butterflies And A Mushroom : A Hike On The Black Diamond Trail.

Milkweed, Butterflies And A Mushroom : A Hike On The Black Diamond Trail.

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I returned to the Pennsylvania State Game lands last Sunday and decided to hike the Black Diamond section of the D&L trail  up to scenic Moosehead lake. Wooded access trail to Black diamond trail

I drove to White Have and proceeded north on Church Road which became Tunnel Road. It was my first time traveling on this old country road and it looks like it has a long history to tell.  I came to a small dirt access parking area about a mile before Tunnel Road’s  intersection with Route 447. The trail can be accessed by following a short uphill path and I was soon hiking the wide. well maintained Black Diamond Trail. Black Diamond trail

It was a cool morning with clear blue skies and a perfect day for a hike.  I walked the trail south and east, through second growth forest of birch, scrub oak, pine and maple.Black Diamond section of D&L Trail

There were patches of milkweed flowers in bloom all along the trail. This unique plant, which exudes a milky sap when broken or cut, attracts many insects, including flies, bees, wasps moths and butterflies when it’s flowers are in bloom. Aphrodite frlittiary butterfly on milkweed flower.

And, as I hiked the trail for the next four hours I must have seen thousands of insects and butterflies fluttering from flower to flower in the many patches of milkweed on the way. Aphrodite fritillary and eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies on milkweed flowers

I always enjoyed seeing the spectacular eastern tiger swallowtail eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly on milkweed flower

and the famous monarch butterflies, monarch butterfly on milkweed flower

but, upon closer observation of the milkweed flowers with my camera I discovered so many more colorful and beautiful butterflies that live in our area. I am not an expert but I tried to identify some of these beautiful insects  I saw on my hike. I believe this is a cloudless sulphur butterfly,cloudless sulphur butterfly on milweed flower

this one I believe is  a firey skipper butterfly,firey skipper butterfly

this, I believe, is an Aphrodite fritillary butterfly.Aphrodite fritillary butterfly. on milkweed flower

And this, I think, is a spicebush swallowtail butterfly. spicebush swallowtail butterfly on milkweed flower

This one I believe is a Horace’s Dusky wing. Again I could be wrong on my identifications and please feel free to correct me if am. Horace's dusky wing butterfly

There were also many bees, flies and other insects attracted to the milkweed and some of the other flowers now in bloom such as the common mullein and daisey flowers. Here is a link to some more photographs of the butterflies and other insects I saw on my hike. on milkweed flowers

As I continued on the trail it became  a gradual , but steady upward climb, and the woodlands became older and thicker as I approached Moosehead Lake.

There were some very old oak and pitch pine trees growing along the trail some of which could possibly had survived the heavy logging that took place throughout this area.large old oak tree and pitch pine trees

I soon crossed the headwaters of the Nescopeck Creek and continued to see the many butterflies and insects attracted to the  blooming milkweed flowers. I heard many  birds in the trees but had a hard time trying to photograph them in the thick foliage. I was able to capture this fellow, I think a titmouse that was fluttering with a few others in the forest area along the trail titmouse on tree branch

It was getting hot when I arrived at the scenic blue waters of Moosehead lake. There was once a town located here,associated with the ochre mines in the area. I need to research some more about the unique history of the area. clouds reflecting on waters of moosehead lake

I sat on one of the benches that line the lake and rested and enjoyed the view.clouds reflecting on waters of Moosehead lake  

After a short rest I hiked  to the nearby wetlands along the trail and saw this great blue heron stalking it’s lunch in the water lily filled waters. 

I decided to make my way through the thick brush and undergrowth that separates the trail from the wetlands, not a real good idea shirtless and in shorts but the effort was worth it.  I scared the heron away but did see some turtles, frogs, geese, ducks and a kingfisher. This was the only photograph I could get. belted kingfisher on tree branch

There were plenty of  mosquitoes and insects in the wetlands and quite a few flycatchers perched on dead limbs in the   waiting for a meal. 

I walked through the muck and thick brush and briars along the wetlands and again scared the blue heron as I unexpectedly approached again.

I was rewarded with this chicken mushroom growing on a fallen log. It was older but they usually  grow on the same tree every year so hopefully I will find it again next year. REMEMBER please don’t eat any wild mushroom unless you are positive it is edible since a mistake can make you very sick or even kill you. 

It was now past noon and the sun was hot. Once again I spent more time than I had planned observing and photographing the butterflies, insects and dragonflies and I had to head back. 

 I have become so much more aware of the complexity of our environment since I started hiking with my digital cameras. From birds to butterflies and bees to bears there is always something of interest to observe and photograph on a hike in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania or wherever you live on this small planet we share. just keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike on the Black diamond trail.

“Butterflies are self propelled flowers.” 
― Robert A. Heinlein