No Bears, Again, But Another Nice, And Historic Hike In The State Game Lands In Dennison Township

No Bears, Again, But Another Nice, And Historic Hike In The State Game Lands In Dennison Township

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My desire and  mission to see and photograph a black bear continued on  Monday.  I decided to hike in  State Game Lands 119 in Dennison Township Luzerne County. I have seen many bears hiking here over the years. But so far not a one on about five hikes this year. I was hoping that would change as I drove on the dirt and rutted access road to the parking lot at the game lands. 

It was a partly cloudy and pleasant  July morning when I arrived at around 7:30 a.m. I left my Jeep and began my hike past the gate and onto an access road in the game lands.

It didn’t take long to  hear, and see some  bird activity,  a flock of  black-capped chickadees  were chatting and foraging in some shrubs and I was able to capture an image of this one. It is a very common bird in  our area in both the Summer and Winter months. 

A male common yellowthroat was also singing in a nearby tree. It is a common bird in the Spring and Summer. 

And I was able to hear and photograph this less  common bird , a veery, singing on a tree branch .This small thrush is related to our common American robin.

As usual there were many ovenbirds singing in the mixed pine/oak/maple second growth woodlands along the trail. 

And I saw a pair of another deep woods birds foraging near the floor of the woodlands, this female,

and this male eastern towhee. These birds were very common in the woods near my home when I was a child. 

I also seen chestnut sided warbler. I love these birds and did not see many this year. 

There were not many wildflowers blooming along trail, just a few  of the daisy-like Philadelphia fleabane flowers. 

I walked on the access road for about a mile and then took the old railroad right of way  on  the left side of the trail that would take me down the ridge to the Black Diamond  section of the D & L Trail after a little over a mile hike. 

I have seen many bears on this trail over  the years. 

They come here to feed on the many high bush blueberry or, as we called them in “coal country” , “swampers”.  Unfortunately, I found the plentiful berries were just beginning to ripen. 

So I knew my chances of seeing a bear here  had diminished.  But, you never know, so I kept my eyes peeled as I followed the trail through the swampy wetland. I  didn’t see any bears but I did see this beautiful bird, although not as colorful as the male, this female rose breasted grosbeak is still a pretty bird. I was surprised  there was no male around,

There were a lot of gray catbirds in the woods along the trail.

The trail approached  one of the headwater streams of the Nescopeck Creek. The lack of rainfall in our area was apparent here. The stream, which usually flows rapidly down this ridge, was almost dry. 

The trail  then entered   a deep pine/oak/hemlock woodlands. Here many ferns grow along the trail including interrupted and 

eastern-hay scented ferns. 

The trail  ended when it intersected with the Black  Diamond Trail. I now followed this  well maintained trail south and encountered a lot of folks on bicycles enjoying the early July morning.  I rarely see anyone  walking on this remote section of the trail. 

As I  walked along  the trail I immediately noticed the many milkweed flowers now in full bloom.  

These flowers are famous for their relationship with the monarch butterfly, but they also attract  many other bees, butterflies and other insects, including this fritillary butterfly, I think it is a meadow fritillary but not positive and 

I think this is a spicebush  swallowtail  butterfly, but not sure either 

There were other wildflowers blooming along the trail, including sanddune wallflowers, 

grass pinks and

common selfheal. 

I saw a few birds on the trail too, including this red-eyed vireo. 

The strong  July sun was shining when I reached scenic  Moosehead Lake. 

I always stop here and take in the view and  check out the large wetland on the other side of the lake. I

often see some birds here and  I did on this hike, including this belted kingfisher,

this eastern phoebe, and 

a few red winged blackbirds. all perched on branches in the wetlands  hoping to find an early meal.

I walked along the shores of the wetlands to see the hundreds of pretty water lilies that were blooming. 

I saw many frogs jump into the waters as I walked and I was only able to photograph this one. 

I left Moosehead Lake and the wetlands and  continued my walk on the trail.

The trail passes a  few  homes on the west side of the trail.  After about a 1/2 mile from the lake it also passes an old farm homestead  on the eastern side the trail.   I often  stopped and reflected a near the open fields of the  old farm. .

I often wondered who lived here and farmed these fields in the past. I knew a little of the history of the area . There was a large ochre mine here in the 19th century. I believe it burned down in the 1890’s.  There was a town here too, Moosehead.   But I didn’t know who lived on this farm. Well I now had the answer and it is pretty amazing.  I  recently learned this farm was the boyhood home of this man  A. Mitchell Palmer the 50th  Attorney  General  of the United States.  Yep,  he was born here in 1872 and grew up on  this  remote farm . The link I attached to his highlighted name will give you more information on the life of this famous man. Still hard to believe. I reflected on his life as a child here. How carefree it must have been.   It shows  how little  I knew about this area I live in. 

I continued on the trail for  about about mile. It took me through some more deeper woods until it came to another small lake. Here I left the Black Diamond Trail and followed another old railroad right of way for about a mile  back  up the access road to the game lands. 

I stopped at the small lake  and rested a bit, and enjoy the tranquil scene.

I listened to the croaking of frogs and singing of birds as I watched this great blue heron fly across the lake with a fish it had caught. 

After a short rest I followed the trail back into the game lands. 

seeing this hermit thrush , and a 

beautiful scarlet tanager on the way. 

I believe it is the same scarlet tanager I have seen on  my previous hikes this season. They would be the last birds I see and photograph on my hike. Here is a link to a gallery on my website were more photos of the birds and butterflies  I saw on my hike  are displayed. State Game Lands 119 birds and butterflies, July 4 2022. 

I walked through the deep woodlands up the ridge seeing a few chipmunks along the way, 

and this interesting flower, a waxflower shinleaf, a member  of the heath family I haven’t seen before.  

When I got to the access road I had already walked over  6 miles and the last mile was a bit of  a struggle .  The sun was intense  and I  was getting a little tired and  thirsty. However I was  still looking for  a bear. I have seen them on this road before. But not on this day. I ended my 7 mile hike with no bear sightings. But the blueberries are ripening and I will be back, hopefully while they are feasting on the blueberries.   Here is a link to a galley with more photos from my seven mile hike in the game lands. State Game Lands 119 July 4 2022.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.” – Edward Abbey

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