No Bears But A Lot Of Migratory Birds And A Snake At The State Game Lands in Dennison Township

No Bears But A Lot Of Migratory Birds And A Snake At The State Game Lands in Dennison Township

State Game lands 119 (44 of 47)
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After my hikes on Friday and Saturday I knew the migratory birds were passing through our woodlands here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I was looking forward to my Sunday hike to try and see and photograph some more of these beautiful long distance travelers. The question was,  where?  I haven’t seen  a black bear this Spring. I usually have a few of them visit my backyard in Hazle Township, Luzerne County. I wanted to see a bear, and maybe a snake,  so I decided to drive the State Game Lands 119 in Dennison Township where I have seen many bears  and a few snakes on my hikes there. 

It was cloudy and mild when I arrived at the game lands around 7:30 a.m. It didn’t take me long to fulfill the first part of my mission, finding and photographing migratory birds.  This  scarlet tanager was singing in a tree top near the parking lot to the trail in the game lands. If you haven’t  seen it check out my previous blog where I include more information on the scarlet tanager and it’s migration.

While watching  the scarlet tanager sing I  heard a chorus of other birds singing in the treetops. The overcast skies made it difficult to see and photograph the birds but I was able to get an image of this one, which, is a bay breasted warbler, a lifer for me.

I also was able to photograph this red-eyed vireo.  

The game lands are located on a high ridge so the trees here were only beginning to sprout their first new leaves. 

The birch and maple had some leaves but most of the oak trees were still leafless and bare. 

There were some wildflowers growing along the trail. Sweet white violets, 

marsh blue violets and

 starflowers, all native to our Pennsylvania woodlands, were in bloom. 

There were flowers on the low bush blue berries or “huckleberries” too. 

A lot of  migratory song birds were  high in the treetops of the mixed hardwood/pine forest, but were hard to photograph. This ovenbird, however, must have been building a nest near the ground along the trail,

it had some leaves in it’s beak, but dropped them and seemed to be almost curious of my presence or protecting it’s nest as it watched me walk past. 

I followed this main access trail into the game lands for about a mile, where an old railroad right-of way  that led to the Black Diamond trail, and followed it  through a wetland and down a ridge.  There were breaks in the clouds and occasionally the bright May sun shone through the clouds. 

As I walked along the trail I found more new Spring growth in the woodlands. The high bush blueberry bushed or “swampers’ were covered with flowers. 

Fringed  polygala flowers, 

dwarf ginseng and

cinnamon ferns grew in the different   eco-zones along the   one mile trail that  took me past one of the headwaters stream of the Nescopeck Creek. You can read more about the history of this area  in my prior blogs and you can find them by using the search tool to the archives of all me blog post. 

I also saw a few  of the many migratory song birds now in our woodlands as I walked on the trail . I will just identify the birds I saw and link them to the Cornell Bird website where you will find more info on these beautiful long distance visitors. This is an eastern towhee,

this a Baltimore oriole, 

this a Canada warbler,

this a magnolia warbler, 

this a Nashville warbler,

and this a swamp sparrow, the only one of these birds that may remain in our area in the Winter. 

I also saw another beautiful scarlet tanager.The  trail took me to the wider and better maintained Black Diamond trail . I followed it for about a 1/2 mile where it took me past scenic Moosehead lake.

Here I saw a few more migratory birds, a least flycatcher, 

a yellow warbler and 

an American redstart. 

I walked past the large wetland on the other side of the lake but did not see any of the great blue or green herons I often see there. 

I know had about a 1 1/2 walk on the trail to another railroad  right of way. My hike was uneventful ,

 until, I saw a snake crawl into the grass along the trail. I searched the grass , and found this beautiful  garter snake.

It stood motionless as I  took some photos,

 but quickly sped off when it thought I was getting too close. 

After seeing the snake I continued on the Black Diamond Trail until I came to another old railroad right of way. Here I left the Black Diamond trail and followed this trail back up the ridge to Hollenback Road,  the unpaved  access road to the State Game lands. 

I stopped at a  small lake along the trail to take a short rest

.   It had warmed up and the temperature was  in the 80’s now. I had walked five mile at this point and had two more to go. As I sat along the lake I saw a few chipmunks scurrying in the woods,

and a lot of frogs hopping into the lake. This was the only one I could photograph.

I continued my hike on he trail which now entered some thicker and older woodlands.

Here I first heard, than saw this wood thrush. I love hearing their melodic flutelike song on my hikes. 

I also saw this black and white warbler and

a chestnut sided warbler on my hike back to the parking area.    Here is a link to a gallery on my blog with some more photos of the migratory and other birds I saw on my hike. State Game Lands birds 119 May 15 2022. 

I finished the last 1/2 mile of my seven mile hike on  thre unpaved  and rutted Hollenback Road  to the parking lot at the game lands.  The road passes an old ochre mill and a few summer cabins.  I was glad to see my Jeep at the parking lot. I take no water on my hikes, so I was thirsty. I also didn’t eat and was pretty hungry too. And  I will admit I was little tired from hiking in the heat. I am not a kid anymore. However, I enjoy every minute of my hikes this time of year. It is a blessing to see the forests turn green again, to see the Spring wildflowers, and to hear and see the many beautiful  birds returning to, and migrating through our woodlands. And, of  course to share this beauty with my social media and blog followers.   Here is a link to a gallery on my website with some more photos from my hike. State Game Lands 119 May 15 2022.

Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that hope traversed them at night and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.” – Charlotte Brontë 


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