My First Spring Hike in the Penrose Swamp Barrens In Carbon County.
My growing passion to find and photograph the many migrating birds that visit Northeastern Pennsylvania in the Spring took me to the Penrose Swamp Barrens in Carbon County early Sunday morning. The more I learn about the migration and breeding habits of the migratory birds that visit our area the more I want to find, photograph them on my weekly nature hikes. And of course share the photos on my blog.
On Sunday I decided to hike in the newly established Penrose Swamp Barrens Preserve, now a part of the Weiser State Forest. I have provided more information on this 2700 acre pristine wetland and woodland, acquired by the Wildlife Conservancy last year, in a past blog post. It can be found using the search tool for my blog. I thought this area, with the Black Creek flowing through the mountain ridge and the surrounding wetlands might be a great area to see some migrating birds.
And it was. As soon as I left my Jeep at the Buck Mountain Road access I heard the distinctive song of the eastern towhee,
and I saw a few black throated blue warblers feeding in the thickets of rhododendrons growing along the trail. The eastern towhee is a short distance migrant wintering in the southern United States and the black-throated blue warbler winters in the Caribbean Islands and Central America . Both will breed in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
This chestnut-sided warbler and
this scarlet tanager were singing high in the tree tops. Both of these birds are long distance migrants the chestnut sided warbler living in forest of the Caribbean Islands and Central and South America. The scarlet tanagers also travel from northern South America. Both breed in Northeastern Pennsylvania so I hope they are staying in the Penrose swamp barrens.
And I saw this black and white warbler in the trees closer to the ground along the trail. These active warblers also winter in Central and South America and breed here in our forests.
Along the trail there are many vernal ponds where I saw this solitary sandpiper. I was surprised to see one this late in the Spring. It is a long distance migrant passing through our area from it’s winter home in South America, as far away as Argentina, on it’s way to it’s breeding ground in Canada..
A few American crows flew overhead, cawing loudly as they did. These birds reside here through our winters. .
I did see this Nashville warbler singing in the trees along the trail. These pretty warblers winter in Mexico. and breed in our area and further north.
There were also a few ovenbirds, another migrant from Mexico and Central America near the pond.
After about a mile the trail ended at an active railroad track along Black or Hazle Creek. Hazle Creek Junction, as it was know, is where the Buck Mountain , the Beaver Meadows and the Lehigh Valley railroads met and was an active intersection over a century ago.
I saw this veery hopping on the ground near the tracks. This small thrush is one of the longest distance migrants wintering in the forests of central and southern Brazil.
After watching the veery I hiked to the Penrose Reservoir. The waters of the reservoir reflected the deep blue sky. I have seen beavers, otters and muskrats and many water fowl in this reservoir but there was no wildlife on this sunny Sunday morning.
Here I heard and saw this blue-headed vireo, a first time sighting for me.
I also heard, and saw, a relative of the veery I saw earlier, this hermit thrush. It was singing it’s lovely song on a branch along the trail .
I did see this pretty warbler near the ponds on the old Buck Mountain railroad right of way , a black throated green warbler.
The strong May sun had warmed the cool morning air and I was hoping to see some turtles, frog or snake on my hike back. I did see a huge snapping turtles in one of the wetlands and a large bull frog but they both submerged into the murky waters of the wetlands before I could get a photo. As I walked on the utility pole line,
I also saw a few turkey vultures fly overhead,
and a few more solitary sandpipers, this one with it’s head submerged in one of the vernal pools along the trail. Here is a link to a gallery where I share more photos of the beautiful birds I saw on my hike. Penrose Swam Barrens birds May 13 2023.
As I was finishing my five mile hike I saw a very large bull frog sitting on a log in the wetlands along the entrance trail. It also jumped into the water before I could get a photo. I think I would see a lot more frogs snakes and turtles on a a late afternoon hike in the Penrose swamp barrens and hope to find out later this Spring and Summer. I plan to continue to explore this wonderful addition to our state forests. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike . Penrose Swamp Barrens May 13 2023.
“I suspect that it was simply that I had admired the earth, and the universe. The more I say and think that I admire it, and love it, the more it gives me what I admire, or strange coincidences that leave me in more awe than I was before.”