Mushrooms, Ducks, A Grebe, A Bald Eagle And Autumn Colors At Community Park

Mushrooms, Ducks, A Grebe, A Bald Eagle And Autumn Colors At Community Park

Community park (7 of 17)
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We had  five  days of cloudy skies last week here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It was cloudy all weekend. And it was cloudy when I began a hike at the Community Park near my home here in Hazle Township Luzerne County on Monday afternoon. I had forgotten what the sun looked like.

It was over a week since my last hike in Community Park and I found a lot more signs of the advancing Autumn  on my three mile hike. Many of the trees along Lake Irena were showing some reds and yellow colors and others, like the birch trees already lost most of their leaves.

The pickerelweed plants along the lake were shriveled and the cattails had turned brown and produced their brown spike-like flowers.

The trail along the north shore of lake passes through some woodlands.  Here I saw this gray squirrel scurrying up and down a tree. 

And this great blue heron wading in the creek that  enters the park on it’s northern shore.

It has been a warm and wet Summer and Fall and there has been an abundance of mushrooms growing in our woods. I have found hundreds of pounds of edible wild mushrooms this year, giving almost all of them away to family and friends. So I wasn’t looking for mushrooms on my hike, but I found them. First these nice honey mushrooms growing on a tree. ( in coal country we call them stumpers, and the Slavic folks around here call them popinkies).

I also was surprised to find this nice chicken of the woods mushroom growing nearby. These are excellent edible mushrooms. 

There were still some Fall wildflowers in bloom along the trails  including these frost asters, 

downy goldenrod flowers, 

Autumn hawkbit flowers, and 

spotted knapweed flowers. 

The cinnamon ferns that grow along the trail have turned from green to bright yellow. 

I continued my walk around Lake Irena, and, was delighted to see, for the first time in days, a break in the clouds and some October sunshine!

I left scenic Lake Irena and walked into the surrounding woodlands. Here, I found a lot more beautiful Fall colors displayed by the trees, mainly the sassafras trees. The leaves on all most all of these  trees have changed to yellow. 

Along the trail I found a few more Autumn  wildflowers including prairie fleabane,

this yellow toadflax, which I was surprised to see, since the usually are blooming in mid-summer, 

and many queen anne’s lace flowers or wild carrot. These flowers attracted some late season butterflies including,

I believe this pearl-crescent butterfly, and 

this  a   clouded sulpher butterfly

While walking in the woodlands I found some more mushrooms,  these pretty but poisonous jack- o-lantern mushrooms, 

these inky caps and

a few red russula mushrooms.

Most of the clouds had  dissipated when I  hiked back to Lake Irena and the lake reflected the deep blue October skies. It was a pretty scene. Temperatures rose into the mid 70’s. It seemed like Summer isn’t going to end this year.

As I left the lake, a few turkey vultures flew overhead,  on their migration south. I see many of our turkey vultures on my visits to Florida in the Winter. 

I left the park and decided to return the next afternoon. I debated whether I should return. It was overcast again and I didn’t think I’d see much wildlife. I was wrong. As soon as I walked to the lake I saw this pie-billed  grebe swimming close to shore. 

I saw one on the lake in the Spring but I  didn’t see one during the Summer and I am guessing this one was just passing through our area. I watched it as it dived in search of fish in the lake. 

While watching the grebe I was excited to see a bald eagle soaring in the skies on the other side of the lake.

Eagles are no longer endangered here in Pennsylvania and I see many on my hikes but it is always a wonderful experience to see these majestic birds soaring in our skies again. 

After seeing the grebe and eagle on the lake I took the same route as the day before. And I was again surprised to some interesting mushrooms. These strange fungi are stalked puffball-in-aspic mushrooms. I have never seen them before. 

I found some more jack-o-lantern mushrooms, and  this unusual mushroom 

a beefsteak polypore. I don’t find many of these. They are delicious edibles and this one was in it’s  prime. I enjoyed it at dinner that evening. 

On my hike back to my Jeep I saw a few more birds, this white-throated  sparrow, 

and this tufted titmouse.

I returned to Community Park on Thursday. It was another beautiful Fall day.  The lake again reflected the beautiful blue skies as warm weather cumulus clouds floated overhead.  

Once again I hiked the same route and once again I found some wildlife. There were  some mallard ducks sunning themselves along the shores of the lake, 

a few golden-crowned kinglets fluttering in the trees,

a few turtles  sitting on some logs in the lake and

this chipmunk that quickly scurried away as I approached.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the birds and other critters I saw on my three hikes in Community Park. Community Park birds October 12- 14 2021 

There were also some critters living near the lake that I didn’t see, but I knew they were around by these trees that the were gnawing. It appears the beaver family moved back to the area. I  love this busy critters but I am sure they will have to be remove as they cause considerable damage to the trees. 

I continued my three mile hike, enjoying the increasing  Fall foliage,

as I walked under the canopy of trees. It has been a remarkably mild and wet the past two months and I loved it. I am not a fan of the cold weather anymore so I hope the mild weather continues, if it does I will continue my afternoon hikes in Community Park. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my hike. Community Park October 12 -14 2021. 

“Each golden day was cherished to the full, for one had the feeling that each must be the last. Tomorrow it would be winter.”
― Elizabeth Enright

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