Not Much Wildlife But A Lot Of Wildflowers On A Hike At The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails

Not Much Wildlife But A Lot Of Wildflowers On A Hike At The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails

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I had a lot of chores to do, and there was an Eagles preseason game on at 1 p.m., so I decided to  hike early and close to home last  Sunday. It was overcast and a mild 67 degrees when I arrived at the Hazle Brook Road entrance to the Greater  Hazleton Rails to Trails.  The first thing I noticed when I walked into the mixed hardwood woodlands at the start of the trail was the silence. 

In the Spring these woodlands were filled with sounds of the song birds.  The singing of oven birds, red-eyed vireos,  warblers and vireos  echoed in the tree tops. On Sunday the woods were quiet. Many of the song birds have already started their migration south. 

Another sign of the approaching Fall was the many bracken ferns that have shriveled and turned brown. It seems like only yesterday they were bursting forth from the still cold Spring soil.

The eastern-hay scented ferns along the trail were still green, but soon, they too will be turning yellow and will fill the cool air with their sweet Autumn fragrance.

The only bird I saw on the first mile of my hike was this female eastern towhee. 

After about a mile the trail left the second growth woodlands and entered the active and reclaimed coal mining areas. The  fresh water stream that separated these old growth forest from the mining areas was dried up.  There were native trout in this stream in the Spring. 

I was surprised with the many wildflowers I saw growing along the trail. I must have seen over two dozen different wildflowers including the last of the daisies.

I will just identify some of  wildflowers I  saw on my five mile hike here and then continue with other observations form my hike. This i  pretty purple flower s a steeplebush, 

this an evening primrose,

 this a lanceleaf corepis, 

and a  lot of goldenrod flowers. These flowers get a bad rap. They do not cause allergies in humans. That would be ragweed. Goldenrod is an important late Summer source of food for many insects. And there are many different species, this is early goldenrod and this,

Canada goldenrod. 


purple loosestrife and

yellow loosestrife were blooming in the sunny drier areas of the trail. 

There were some interesting plants like wild basil

and the poisonous Carolina horsenettle. 

In the more shaded areas  I saw some pretty blue lobelia flowers, 

and I  was surprised to see these yellow star grass  flowers. I thought they only bloomed in the Spring. 

Common mullein grew along  the more barren areas of the trail, 

as did the prairie fleabane, 

bull thistle,

common crownvetch, 

white sweetclover, 

bird’s foot trefoil, 

field mustard. 

 white meadowsweet,

whirled wood asters.

 queen Anne’s lace and

spotted knapweed flowers.  I was amazed by the number of wildflowers  I saw along the trail. Unless you are looking for them, many would go unseen on a hike in our woodlands. I was glad I  was looking for them , and that  I was  able to share there beauty  here on my blog .This is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos of the wildflowers I saw on my hike. Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails wildflowers August 21 2022. 

I continued on my usual five mile hike on the trail, walking  through the culvert under the active mining haul road. The culvert will soon be complete. It will be graded tp prevent erosion and then landscaped. 

On the other side of the culvert the trail took me into the   reclamation areas. This area was once a large strip mine. I was again surprised that there was no bird activity in the birch, pine, locust and aspen trees along the trail. 

As I approached the bridge over the active railroad track, 

I saw this sign  posted along the trail. I  kept my eyes peeled for the critter, he  would be more interesting than a bear sighting. 

I followed the trail trough the former strip mined areas. Here I heard and saw an oven bird. This was the first one I have heard or seen since the Spring.

The trail continued on the abandoned road to the former beryllium plant.

  Here there were many scrub oak trees along the road.  The oaks had a large crop of acorns which surprised me considering how dry it has been.

I walked out to the pine and heath barrens and began my hike back. 

More clouds moved in as walked back over the bridge. 

On my walk back  did see come critters in the reclamation area, including a lot of grasshoppers, 

this chipmunk, which appears to be feeding on a snail, something I have never seen before, 

and, this monarch butterfly caterpillar. Sadly it was the only one I saw on my five mile hike,

even though I did see a lot of milkweed plants.   I used to see hundreds of these caterpillars on the milkweed plants on my hikes. Not these year. I only saw three monarch butterflies all  Summer.  Hundreds of these beautiful butterflies used to fly over our meadows and roadsides here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Not anymore, these  butterflies are now endangered and may soon be extinct  because of the loss milkweed plants due to land development. It is sad. 

I also saw a few of apple  like growths on scrub oaks trees along the trail. The aren’t apples they are growths  created by oak gall wasp and serve as nurseries for their young.  The wasp causes the oaks to create these galls. It is another amazing wonder of the natural worlds. 

As I was finishing my five my hike  I found this two color bolete mushroom along the trail. I missed in on my walk out on the trail.  I was glad to find it.  We have had little rain in our area this Summer and they have been very few mushrooms growing. This was one of my favorite edible mushrooms so it was a great way to end another great hike on the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trail . Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my five mile hike. Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails August 21 2022.

You belong among the wildflowers You belong in a boat out at sea You belong with your love on your arm You belong somewhere you feel free. ― Tom Petty

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