More Ducks And March Sunshine At The Wetlands.

More Ducks And March Sunshine At The Wetlands.

PPL Wetlands (28 of 47)
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The skies were clear when I awoke early Saturday morning. I knew this meant more March sunshine and I decided to head to the  PPL Wetlands in Salem Township, Luzerne County and look for wildlife.  The temperature was a pleasant Spring-like 48 degrees when I arrived. As I began my hike in the wetlands I immediately noticed the buds sprouting on the red maple trees along the trail. 

And some of the early plants continued to grow and provide more green color to the drab Winter landscape,  including the garlic mustard and 

skunk cabbages. Slowly, the wetlands were awakening. 

The sounds of Spring could also be heard.  The chorus of spring peeper frogs  echoed  throughout the wetlands. And the  shrill  cries  of the male red-winged blackbirds  perched on  the tree tops  resounded everywhere as they loudly, and boldly,  defended their territory. 

This song sparrow was also singing  on a tree top branch .

As I walked along the old canal I was surprised to already find this painted  turtle soaking up the early March sunshine. I had seen a few on my hike a week ago but not this early in the morning. 

I also saw a couple of wood ducks on the waters  but they quickly flew off as I  approached. 

And there was a pair of Canada geese that  appear to have nested in the wetlands. I heard more Canada geese on the larger water fowl pond but the trail to the pond was still flooded.

Looking for the hawks, eagles and ospreys that frequently visit the wetlands in the Spring I saw a couple of great blue herons perched high in the tree tops. I was disappointed again on this five mile hike since I wouldn’t see any of the eagles, hawks or ospreys on this  hike. 

There were a few more birds in the wetlands including this white-breasted nuthatch

and this woodpecker,  I think it was a downy woodpecker. 

I walked through the wetlands and past the beaver lodgers and muskrat dens  And, once again I saw no trace of these usually active critters. 

Continuing my walk, I observed  another sign of Spring on the trail, the  hazelnut tree catkins have appeared in the wetlands. 

I took the path that led to the banks of  Susquehanna River. I had seen kingfishers and wood ducks here the past two weeks. They weren’t there this week. However, as  I sat and watched the river I heard a splash, 

and a small flock of hooded mergansers landed on the river. 

This is the male,

and this the female. 

Now that Spring has arrived, instead of hiking directly over to the River lands area of the nature preserve , I have been walking along some wetlands on a road that leads to another area of  the river. This week my walk paid off when I saw this pair of pretty blue-winged teals on one of the small ponds. 

These ducks migrate long distances in the Spring and  Fall and our just passing through our area.This is the female. 

They breed in the interior of northern Canada and could migrate all the way to South America for the Winter. I love to find these  long distance travelers on my hikes. I wonder if they were photographed by some nature lover in the jungles of South America. just a few weeks ago. 

I walked over to Lake Took-A- While. It’s waters reflected the blue skies. The pretty lake and warm temperatures  attracted a large number of fishermen to it’s shores. 

The flock of ring-necked ducks I had seen the last two weeks were gone. They were replaced by a flock of very active  double-crested cormorants.

These birds which are also migrating to the interior of northern Canada to breed  were constantly land and taking off again as I walked along the lake. 

I didn’t see the kingfishers,  great blue herons  or large flock of Canada geese that usually are on the lake. it could have been the large crowd of people fishing and picnicking  on and near the lake that kept them away. There was a lone male mallard duck on a smaller pond near the far shore of the lake. 

And I didn’t see many of the Winter resident birds that reside in the wetlands and river lands on this hike, no  tit mice, black-capped chickadees  and only one woodpecker and nuthatch. I’m not sure where these birds were,  but it was still a good  hike, seeing the teals, cormorants and mergansers, as they pass through our area. I began my hike back to my car, as the March sun continued to warm  the cool morning air. Although I didn’t see any more birds or other wildlife, I sure saw a lot of turtles. 

They had crawled out of the cold waters and were soaking up the March sunshine on  rocks, logs and the banks of the ponds and canals of the wetlands. 

The chorus of the Spring peepers also got louder as I walked through the wetlands. It was another great hike  in  the wetlands.  I know I’ll be back again, hoping to see the eagles , ospreys and even the bears I have  seen here before, but I’ll settle for the ducks  and geese, or so many of the other wonders of nature I find here, walking with my eyes peeled. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my hike at the PPL Wetlands in the march sunshine. PPL Wetlands March 27 2021. 

March, when days are getting long, Let thy growing hours be strong to set right some wintry wrong. Caroline May

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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