Some rain, and cooler air arrived in Northeastern Pennsylvania last weekend. I still hoped to see a bear this year so I headed back to State Game Lands 119 in Dennison Township on Sunday. I had seen many bears in these game lands since I started hiking here a few years ago. As usual I parked at the main gate on Hollenback Road.
It was mostly cloudy , breezy and pleasant 60 degrees when I arrived. The woods were wet from the much needed rains we had the last few days. It felt like it was raining when the breeze shook the tall trees along the trail and drops of water fell from the leaves.
I followed my usual route on the main access road lined with trees, shrubs and ferns. As I observed in earlier blog posts the bracken ferns were already starting to decay. It wasn’t Spring anymore in the Pocono Mountains.
As I began my hike I saw this bird scurrying in a tree. It was a seldom seen, by me anyway, a female rose- breasted grosbeak.
Further on my hike, I saw a much more colorful male rose-breasted grosbeak.
There was also a downy woodpecker searching for food in a nearby treetop. I haven’t been seeing many woodpecker on my hikes in the Game lands.
I have been seeing a lot of eastern towhees and I did again on my hike on Sunday. This female eastern towhee landed on a branch above the trail and burst into song.
It was beautiful.
Later on my hike I saw a few more, both female and male. This is the male.
And, near the wetlands across from Moosehead Lake I saw this one. I couldn’t identify it, but a friend on a Facebook birding group said it was a juvenile eastern towhee. I never have seen one before. It was the first time I have seen the both adult sexes and a juvenile on a hike.
A few hundreds yards into my my hike I also saw this pair of deer watching me as I approached.
They didn’t watch long and both quickly bolted across the road.
My hike again took me to the abandoned railroad right-of -way which I followed down to the D & L Trail. This time there were many puddles along the trail from the rainstorms the past few days.
The low bush blueberries or “huckleberries” were at there peak now and there were plenty growing on both sides of the trail.
There were also wildflowers growing such as the common selfheal which, as you can see from this photo, attracted plenty of bees.
I also saw a few more birds singing and scurrying in the trees and bushes along the trail including this common yellow throat,
this oven bird with a caterpillar it captured,
and I think a red breasted nuthatch.
The wet weather also brought out some of theses cute critters, eastern newts in their red eft phase of development.
The trail comes close to one of the few headwater streams of the Nescopeck Creek that arise in Dennison Township . Last week on my hike it had almost completely dried up. I was glad to see the rain we got had partially revived the flow of the creek.
Once again I followed the old railroad trail for about 1 1/2 miles where it intersected with the D & L trail.
I then proceeded north on the D & L Trail up to Moosehead Lake, where I again stopped to enjoy this pretty mountain lake.
Across from the lake is a large wetland. It was covered with lily pads and water lilies.
Here I finally was able to capture a photo of the belted kingfishers I have been hearing and seeing on my hike. They are beautiful birds.
I walked the shore of the wetlands looking for frogs and snakes. I didn’t find any but I did take some time observing the beautiful water lilies,
and pond lilies.
The water lilies are my favorite. I took a few photos of these delicate flowers and you can see them in the link to a gallery on my blog website I will share later in my blog post.
I left the wetlands and continued my walk along the trail finding more flowers along the way, including grass pinks,
prairie fleabane flowers,
Viper’s bugloss and
the foxglove I saw the past few weeks which still attracted swarms of bees and other insects.
There were also large patched of milkweed flowers blooming along the trail. These flowers also attracted bees, moths and butterflies, including a few
eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies and
spicebush swallowtail butterflies.
The strong July sun raised the temperature into the mid 80’s by the time I reached another lake situated on the trail.
It is here where I leave the D & L trail and follow another old railroad right-of -way for about a mile back to the Hollenback access road.
After a short way on the trail for I came to the other side of the lake and stopped and enjoyed the tranquil scene.
I saw some turtles sunning themselves on a log ,
and this great blue heron fishing on the lake. Here is a link to a gallery with some photographs some more of the birds on my hike in the Game Lands in Dennison Township. State Game Lands 119 July 4 2021.
After a short rest, I continued through the state Game Lands and through the thick woodlands.
Along the trail I found some mushrooms growing after the recent rains,
and some ghostly looking Indian pipes, which are actually plants and not a fungus as many folks believe. The plant does not produce chlorophyll and doesn’t depend on photosynthesis.
Once again I may have overdid it in the heat and humidity. I was tired and thirsty as I hiked through the woodlands. I was glad to reach Hollenback Road but I still had almost a mile hike to my Jeep. The heat had also affected the wildlife and I did not see any more critters for the rest of my hike. It was still another great hike, having seen so much of the beauty of Nature which I can now share. My only disappointment was I didn’t see a bear. Well I will try again!!!Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in the game lands in Dennison Township. State Game Lands 119 July 4 2021.
Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it. —Ralph Waldo Emerson