Mountain Laurel And Song Birds: A Hike To The Tank Hollow Overlook In Carbon County

Mountain Laurel And Song Birds: A Hike To The Tank Hollow Overlook In Carbon County

Tank Hollow (22 of 39)
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It is late June, and  that means  the mountain laurel are blooming here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Mountain laurel is our State Flower. It’s white, and pinkish flowers can be seen throughout the mountains of Pennsylvania. in mid to late June.

However, the intensity of the bloom varies from year to year. Last year was not a good year for the mountain laurel.  I had to take  a few hikes before I was able to find areas where it was blooming. Three years ago the mountain laurel bloom was magnificent. They were blooming everywhere along the  trail to Tank Hollow in the Game Lands in Carbon County. Last year there were almost no flowers blooming on the same trail. .  I heard that  this year  was a good year,   with a  lot of mountain laurel in bloom, so I decided to return to Tank Hollow and see for myself on Sunday morning. 

It was an unseasonably cool day for late June. Temperatures were in the 40’s when I awoke. A strong northwesterly wind made it feel even colder. The skies were clear.  The strong June sun warmed the temperature into the 50’s when I arrived at the game lands in Carbon County.

Despite the cold temperatures and wind, it was a beautiful day for a hike. The skies were deep blue and contrasted with the green oak, maple and pine trees along the access road in the game lands. The road is only open in hunting season, and it is about a one mile walk to the Tank Hollow trailhead.

I saw my first  mountain laurel blooming  on the access road.  There usually is not a lot of mountain laurel here so this was a good sign.   I enjoyed the beauty of the flowers from a distance and then up close   as I walked into the cold northwesterly wind. 

There were a lot of another of my favorite June flowers, daisies, looming along the access road too. 

There were many song birds singing in the  trees along the road, and I was abler to photograph a few of them, including this yellow prairie warbler, 

and this common yellow throat warbler.

This red-eyed vireo sang one of the prettiest songs as I walked past. 

There were a lot of eastern towhees  in the woods along the trail and their unmistakable “chewink” calls were common. 

I also saw on of my favorite birds, an indigo bunting in the trees along the trail. 

And another blue bird, an eastern bluebird. 

After I came to  a parking lot on the access road the trail proceeds down a steep hill, 

at the bottom of the hill I left the access and followed a trail into the woodlands.  I had not hiked it before but  my AllTrail Map  showed that it will eventually run into the Tank Hollow Trail. 

I loved hiking in the forest with the sun filtering through the trees and the wind rustling in the leaves. 

The woods echoed with the song of  ovenbirds. This common woodlands warblers seemed to be everywhere. 

As the trail approached the ridge where the Tank Hollow Overlook is located there were more ferns in the woods along the trail, 

And I saw a lot of what I was looking for mountain laurel flowers.

They were now everywhere along the trail, 

It was almost a magical feeling  pushing my way through the laurel bushes  covered with the pretty flowers and the sun filtered through the leaves. 

I made my way through the laurel thickets and came to the rocky ledge of the Tank Hollow Overlook. There was a family there with there young son enjoying the view  of the bend in the Lehigh River far below. We chatted a bit, 

and I sat and took in the majestic view. Their was a cold wind blowing but it did not in any way diminish the beauty of the moment. 

After taking in the view I followed the wider Tank Hollow Trail back to the access road. 

Along the way in addition to the beautiful mountain laurel, I also saw some more birds, this black and white warbler, 

this black throated blue warbler and, 

this beautiful bird, 

a scarlet tanager.  It was a good day for both the mountain laurel and the song birds. 

When I got to the access road  I walked back toward the river for about a half mile before heading back to my Jeep At the parking lot. 

On the was  saw a few more birds, including the three common birds, a black-capped chickadee, 

a chipping sparrow and

a tufted titmouse. 

I also saw this less common bird, an eastern wood peewee.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds i saw on my hike. Tank Hollow hike birds. June 19 2022. 

I walked back up the access road. It was a lot warmer with my back to the wind. The June sun felt good.

I  saw a few young families walking on the trail, probably heading to the Tank Overlook. It was Father’s Day and it was nice to see the young children spending the day in the woods with their dads. I spent many a day exploring the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania with my dad. And I cherish every memory I have of them. It was a successful adventure and i am glad to be able to share it with you.   Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my five mile hike. Tank Hollow June 19 202

 

My bonnie flower, with truest joy
Thy welcome face I see,
The world grows brighter to my eyes,
And summer comes with thee.
My solitude now finds a friend,
And after each hard day,
I in my mountain garden walk,
To rest, or sing, or pray.

All down the rocky slope is spread
Thy veil of rosy snow,
And in the valley by the brook,
Thy deeper blossoms grow.
The barren wilderness grows fair,
Such beauty dost thou give;
And human eyes and Nature’s heart
Rejoice that thou dost live.

Each year I wait thy coming, dear,
Each year I love thee more,
For life grows hard, and much I need
Thy honey for my store.
So, like a hungry bee, I sip
Sweet lessons from thy cup,
And sitting at a flower’s feet,
My soul learns to look up.

No laurels shall I ever win,
No splendid blossoms bear,
But gratefully receive and use
God’s blessed sun and air;
And, blooming where my lot is cast,
Grow happy and content,
Making some barren spot more fair,
For a humble life well spent.

Mountain Laurel  Louisa May Alcott

 

 

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