Most Of The Snow Is Gone, But Still It’s Not Looking Like Spring At The PPL Wetlands.
The bitter cold arctic weather we have had after the snow storm last week left the area yesterday. It was a mild 55 degrees near my house, here, in Northeastern Pennsylvania, this morning. I decided to head to the PPL Wetlands, along the Susquehanna River., about 25 miles from my home. It is at a lower elevation and it is usually warmer there. I hoped all of the snow cover would be gone.
I arrived at the wetlands under cloudy skies and was surprised to find the temperature a much cooler 43 degrees. Fortunately, most of the heavy snow cover , almost 20 inches, had melted leaving behind a lot of mud and some flooded paths.
It sure didn’t look like Spring in the wetlands. In fact, it was more springlike in January and February this year than it was today.
There were no turtles along the ponds nor was the sound of the spring peeper frogs heard. And the skunk cabbage, which were pushing through the soil in late January hadn’t grown, and in fact a lot of their leaves were damaged by the heavy snow. They are hardy plants, often pushing there way through, and melting the snow cover, but 20 inches of late snow was too much, even for them. And the snow must have been hard on the wildlife too, I have never seen a partially eaten skunk cabbage before.
It was still brown and barren along the ponds and canals, with only the maples showing some signs of putting forth buds.
There was, however, plenty of wildlife activity. I scared two deer, or I should say we scared each other, as we met unexpectedly on one of the paths. They took off in opposite directions.
I also saw many ducks on the ponds and canals. Wood ducks, and a few other species I couldn’t identify, including many like these two, eluded my camera, taking off before I could photograph them.
The mallard ducks were not so easily scared and I watched and photographed quite a few of them along the canals .
And, of course there were plenty of Canada geese.
As I walked to the river lands side of the preserve, I saw quite a few birds too, including, I think, this song sparrow as well as a few beautiful blue birds, one is shown above as the featured image of this post.
Overhead, I saw this sea gull soaring through the cloudy sky.
And this, I believe, cormorant.
There were a few folks walking along the always peaceful shores of Lake Took-A-While and I stopped to enjoy the scenery too.
I ran into a lot more mud, and snow, as the trail continued east toward and would wind it’s way down to the river.
I found my waterproof shoes were taking on water and noticed a small tear in the stitching. It was time to head back. You will notice I also had shorts on, not a good idea in the colder temperatures along the river.
The abundance of mud, I believe, was also the reason for the abundance of this welcome Spring birds, the robins. There were many of them hopping on the ground in search of a meal.
I made my way back to the wetlands and continued to see plenty ducks and geese on the canals and ponds. And along the path there was also a lot of bird activity. I heard the rapping of many woodpeckers and saw a few, such as, I believe, this downy woodpecker.
And they left some tangible evidence of their activity, like these newly created holes in a tree along the path.
I also came upon, mainly in heavily wooded areas, some ponds that were still frozen over, due to being shaded fro the strengthening March sun. Hopefully, next time I visit this I will see turtles and frogs in this pond.
I made my way back to my car, walking along the Susquehanna River. I continued to see, and hear, many species of birds, including nuthatches, robins, sparrows, and woodpeckers including a pileated and this, I believe to be, a red bellied woodpecker. Here is a link to some more photographs of the many birds I encountered on my hike. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-March-25-2017
I also ran into a father with his two young sons, maybe two and three years old. He had binoculars and was also watching the birds and other wildlife, and passing his love for nature on to his boys. It was a nice encounter and reminded me of my dad taking me and my brothers on our first walks into the woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania. He taught me to appreciate the beauty of nature and it was one of the best lessons I ever had. Thanks dad. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk in the wetlands. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-March-25-2017-
“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself- consciously to the soughing of the trees.” Valerie Andrews