Nature Awakens, And The Birds And Flowers Return To The Susquehanna Wetlands.

Nature Awakens, And The Birds And Flowers Return To The Susquehanna Wetlands.

Susquehanna Wetlands (38 of 39)
Previous Post
Next Post

It was early Saturday morning, and it was April.  I was more excited  than I usually  am  to visit the Susquehanna Wetlands in Luzerne County.  I usually hike  five mile hike here on a Saturday or Sunday. In  April  nature awakens.  Everyday  something new  appears in  our woodlands here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Another  plant or flowers sprouts or blooms, another migratory bird returns to our area or  a new butterfly, bee or other insect appear.  And every day the trees in the woodlands get greener. It’s my favorite time of year.  And I love to hike, explore and share some of the magic of Spring I find on my hikes.

It was mostly cloudy and chilly when I arrived at the wetlands. Temperatures were in the low 40’s. The gate to the access road to the trailhead parking lot was closed again.  I don’t mind  walking the 1/4 mile to the parking lot. I usually see some birds or other wildlife along the way. There was a lot more green in the woodlands along the road on Saturday , but the large hardwood trees , the sycamore, the oaks, and the ash were still leafless.

There were so many new plants and flowers sprouting everywhere,   I will just share a few that I saw and photographed.  The roadside and trails were strewn with many species of violets that had bloomed sine my last visit,  they  included  common blue violets,

marsh blue violets and

downy yellow violets.

Azure bluets,

and cuckooflowers also added to the colors appearing along the trails, although the cuckooflowers had not yet opened at this early hour.

And there were a lot of dandelion flowers,  many having already gone to seed.

 There were many birds singing  in the trees along the road, , mainly  Carolina wrens, song sparrows,    this northern cardinal

and a few eastern bluebirds.  All of these birds remain here in the wetlands during  the Winter. However, they were more active and singing louder now that Spring arrived.

I also saw a brown creeper , these birds  usually migrate from lower elevations in the Winter to higher evergreen forest in the Summer., so this one was probably just passing through the wetlands. I don’t see them here in the Summer. 

As I neared the parking lot I saw this deer cautiously watching me approach, before it ran into the woods.

As usual I first walk down to  the Susquehanna River when I get the parking lot, and then,

 I begin my hike in the wetlands. The wetlands part of the Susquehanna Riverlands  nature preserve. Pets and dogs are not allowed in the wetlands.  Fishing is not permitted either. Pets and fishing are permitted in the adjacent river lands. There are picnic and recreational facilities in the river lands too. There are three trails in the wetlands, one along the river, one along the old canal, and one between the two. I almost always hike along the canals and ponds.

Along the trail I again saw the skunk cabbages,


and mandrake flowers continuing to grow and develop.

I was delighted and surprised to see one new flower beginning to bloom, one of my favorite, the  pink azaleas. These were also one of my dad’s favorites. He called them “honeysuckles” and would take us into the woods every Spring to find these and his favorite lady slipper orchids or, as he called them “duck flowers” He loved nature and shared his love with us. It seems like only yesterday I watched them bloom and fade last year and half a century ago.

I walked out to the Water Fowl pond

and saw the pair of blue winged teals again.

They are beautiful birds. this is the male, and I hope they are nesting.

I also saw  a lot of Canada geese, all in pairs, and most sitting on or near their nest. I am sure I will see newly arrived fluffy yellow goslings on my next visit to the wetlands.

I left the Water Fowl pond and walked toward the river lands, about a mile away.

Along the way I saw a few more  of our year long resident birds, including this red-bellied woodpecker,

a hairy woodpecker,

and it’s smaller cousin a downy woodpecker.

a few black-capped chickadees,

a small flock of white throated sparrows,

and a tufted titmouse.  These birds can be seen in the wetlands on even the coldest Winter days. 

I was more excited to see these birds. The migratory song birds. I saw a  small flock of blue gray gnatcatchers, I love these  tiny birds.  They returned to the wetlands a few weeks ago, from their winter homes in the southern United States and Mexico,

as did the yellow rumped warblers.  They returned from the southern United States, Mexico and the Caribbean islands.

And I saw my first yellow warbler. These pretty and cheerful birds are one of my favorites.  They spend the winter in Central and South America.

As I continued through the wetlands I saw this striking brown thrasher. It is a beautiful bird and I hope it nests in the wetlands. All of these birds migrated south for the winter some as far a South America. It is good to see them back. And also to hear their beautiful songs add to the Spring chorus in the wetlands.

It wasn’t only the birds active on this April morning,  the many muskrats that live in the ponds and canals were busy foraging for food,

most were gathering the duck weed not growing on the ponds.

I must have seen a dozen of them on my 7 mile hike.  This was an unusual sight, a muskrat on the trail. They are always in the water or along the shore.

I left the wetlands area of the nature  preserve and waked into the river lands.

There are two trails here, one  between  scenic Lake-Took_ A-While  and a canal and the other on the other side of the canal.

I usually walk along the lake.

On Saturday there were dozens of fishermen along the lake since it was recently stocked with fish by the Fish Commission.  I usually see bald eagles or ospreys when the lake is stocked but not this weekend.

I did see a belted kingfisher flying over the lake and was able to get a photo of this elusive birds when I landed in a tree.

I also saw a few eastern phoebes,

American goldfinches,

field sparrows

and a lot of American robins  near the lake.

I walked along the lake ,and noticed many more signs of Spring. The staghorn sumac trees were  sprouting their first leaves,

wild strawberry flowers were blooming along the trail,

and the invasive honeysuckle trees were starting to bloom. Soon their heavenly fragrance will fill the air of the wetlands and river lands.

As usual I walked to the far end of the lake, to the access road, this week, since there was so much to see, I decided to continue my hike on the Susquehanna Warrior Trail. This trail followed the path of the Native Americans who used it for hundreds of years.  The trail follows an abandoned railroad right of way.

I usually see a lot of birds activity along the trail but it was quiet on Saturday. I walked to a small pond and grove,

and only seen this gray squirrel on the way.

 I ended my hike here and began my 3 mile hike back to the wetlands.  It was still overcast but it was still an nice walk.

I saw many of the same birds that I observed on my hike out, and also saw this warbling vireo. It is another long distance migrant and returns  from Mexico and Central America to breed in our area.  Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos of the  birds I saw on my  seven mile hike. Susquehanna Wetlands  birds  April 27 2024.

I walked through the wetlands,, noticing that the cuckoo flowers had now opened,

and I saw one last trout lily. This pretty, delicate and ephemeral flowers are gone for another year. However, nature will supply us with a steady stream of replacements during the next five months. And I will enjoy seeing them all appear. I didn’t get a photo of the last trout lily but I did see these pretty yellow greater celandine flowers. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos of the flowers and plants I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands flowers April 27 2024.

It was past noon when I finished my 7 mile hike. This is 2  more miles than I usually hike, so I was a thirsty, hungry and a little tired, I have seen many Springs now and each one makes my hikes seem a little longer. However, I hope to see many more. and I hope I can continue to share the beauty I find on these hikes.  Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos from my  seven mile hike. Susquehanna Wetlands   April 27 2024

April is a time of wonder, when the spring peepers emerge from hibernation and begin to call, when robins and redwing blackbirds come back north, and when new green life appears. That is one of the greatest of all wonders, the growth of a bud and a leaf from a seed or a root that has lain dormant in the earth all winter. ~Hal Borland