No Bears, But A Lot More Birds In State Game Lands 119 In Dennison Township.
I haven’t seen any bears visit my backyard in Hazle Township, Luzerne County this year. So, on Sunday, I decided to hike in State Game Lands 119 in Dennison Township to try and find one. I have seen a lot of bears out here since I started hiking here about five years ago.
It was cool and mostly sunny when I arrived at the Game Lands. There was a steady breeze with temperatures in the low 40’s. Spring was about two weeks behind up here in these higher elevations. Most of the trees along the trail were still leafless.
Still, there were signs of Spring as I began my hike. Native bog white violets were strewn everywhere alone the trail, indicating the many wetlands in this area of the Game Lands.
And, like in the Susquehanna Wetlands the day before, the sounds of the song birds filled the chilly morning air. Many of the birds sang from high in the tree tops. I wanted to wait and watch if they would fly lower to the trail. But I wanted to get my seven mile hike in so I moved along, taking photos of the birds that came close to the trail. One of the first was this eastern male towhee. They are usually seen rustling in the leaf liter on the ground but this fellow perched on a tree limb long enough for me to get a photo.
Oven birds also scampered in the brush along the trail.
American redstarts, black and white warblers and yellow-rumped warblers, shown here, also sang from the tree tops. All of these birds are migratory and spent the Winter in Florida, the Caribbean and as far away as South America. I find this amazing.
I followed the main trail until I came to the old right of way of an old railroad track. I believe the Bear Creek Railroad built in the 1880 and carried blocks of ice from the lakes to the markets in Philadelphia and New York.
This trail descended the mountain and passed through a series of wetlands.
Highbush blueberries were abundant along the trail and were producing flowers.
As were the service berries. In the summer these berries will provide food for the birds and the bears.
I have encountered many bears on the trail on my hikes these past five years.
I was hoping to see one on Sunday but I didn’t. However there were dozens of birds in the woods along the trail. Most were hidden in the branches high in the tree tops but a few were near the trail, like this usually elusive northern parula.
And I was able to capture an image of the bird high in a tree top, I am glad I did. It is a new one for me, a Nashville warbler, according to the folks on the American Birding Association Facebook page. They are a great help for non-birders like me.
The trail crossed a small stream,
and joined a larger stream, that would eventually become the Nescopeck Creek.
The trail followed the creek down to the another old railroad right-of way, now the D & L Black Diamond trail. I believe this was once the Lehigh Valley Railroad and was built in the 1860’s.
I walked south and east on the trail up to Moosehead Lake. I only saw one person on my entire seven mile hike, a female biker on this trail. There were, however, a lot of birds along the trail including some beautiful Baltimore Orioles. Their song is beautiful.
I also saw these birds, this, a male,
and female black-throated blue warbler. I have never seen one of these before and so it was a real treat to see them both together.
There were many birds in the woods along the trail. Unfortunately, to try and wait to get a photo of each would take all day. So I would photograph only the ones that came into view. Like this white-throated sparrow.
The trail led up to scenic Moosehead Lake.
There is a also large wetland on the other side of the lake,
with a beaver lodge. I have never seen any beavers but I did see this Canada goose family swimming near the lodge on Sunday.
I followed the trail another 1 1/2 where there is an old railroad telephone booth.
Here, another trail heads back up the mountain. I believe it is also an old railroad right of way that serviced an old ochre mill on Wright Creek.
There is a large pond a at the start of the trail and here I saw this pair of wood decks perched on a log in the pond.
I followed the trail back onto the State Game Lands. Most of the D & L Trail I was hiking on is surrounded by private lands.
On the trail in the game lands I found a few more native wild flowers including dwarf ginseng,
in a wetland these green false hellebore plants. I found these last year but never returned when they flowered. I hope to get back and see them this year.
The songs of birds could be heard in the surrounding woods and, I was able to photograph one of them, an American redstart. It would be the last bird I’d photograph on my hike. Here is a link to a galley displaying more photos of the birds I saw on my hike in the State Game Lands. State Game Lands 119 birds May 9 2021.
The trail continued uphill for about a mile when it ended at the access road to the State game lands. I followed this dirt and rocky road for about a half mile to parking area where I began my seven mile hike. I was disappointed I didn’t see any bears but happy with the many birds I saw, some of which I was able to photograph and share. Hopefully next visit will result in some bear photos. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my seven mile hike. State Game Lands Hike May 9 2021
And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” – John Muir
What a great day you had for birding. You saw species that I’ve never seen.
Your photos, as always, are clear as a guidebook.
Thanks And It was a good day Kent. Did you see the photos from my hike on Saturday? I was able to photograph 18 species of birds! I love the Spring I want to find a bear!