Mushrooms, A Bald Eagle And Mild Temperatures At The PPL Wetlands. Can’t Get Much Better In December
We are having record warm weather here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this December. There has been no measurable snow recorded and temperatures were in the 60’s yesterday. It was cooler today, in the low 40’s this morning but still well above normal. As a result of the warm weather, the grass has remained green, there have been robin sightings and spring plants and flowers are starting to emerge. I heard reports of folks hearing the spring peepers, a species of frog that usually is heard in late March or early April. I decided to hike in the PPL Wetlands this morning and try and hear them. It was overcast and somber but at least it was mild for this time of year.
Usually this time of year the woods have at least some snow cover and the ponds, lakes and canals are partially covered in ice. Some years there is a deep snow cover and the waterways are frozen solid. Not this year. Not only were the ponds and canals ice free, some of the paths still had green grass growing on them.
The wetlands were not teaming with life like they are in the spring, summer and fall seasons, The numerous turtles, frogs, snakes and song birds that usually are found in and near canals and ponds are gone. The trees and shrubs are now leafless and brown and gray.
There were still a lot of winter residents in the woods including squirrels, deer, woodpeckers, nuthatches, juncos, blue jays and black-capped chickadees. It’s not easy photographing these critters on a dim and cloudy December day but I was able to capture these two geese who decided not to fly south just yet.
And I heard what I thought was a hawk in the distance along the Susquehanna River. I slowly walked towards the sound and I was fortunate to see a bald eagle fly out of a tree and over my head. It took me by surprise but I did manage to at least get this photograph. Was a magnificent bird. I always feel blessed to see one in the wild.
I continued on my hike along the river and was pleasantly surprised to find these fallen tree stump covered with oyster mushrooms. I have found a few in winter during periods of warm rain but never this many. They have an anise flavor and are choice eating, especially these since they were completely free of insects. In the spring you have to pick them early since the insects love them too. This isn’t a problem in December.
I walked to the riverlands but didn’t see any more birds or animals. I walked under the bare shrubs, trees and dead plants many adorned with the last of the berries, fruits and seeds of last seasons growth.
The leafless trees also exposed many kinds of birds nest. It was amazing to see how many there were and how close to the path some were built. It was hard to imagine walking so close to these nests, with their noisy young occupants and not noticing them.
It certainly was a different walk then most years when it is cold and frozen out here and usually blanketed in white. I enjoyed this mild winter walk and will be enjoying the oyster mushrooms tonight for dinner. This is my kind of Winter. here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike this morning. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/ppl-wetlands-december-26-2015
“He who knows what sweets and virtues are in the ground, the waters, the plants, the heavens, and how to come at these enchantments, is the rich and royal man.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson