Only My Second, And Last, Hike In May At The Susquehanna Wetlands

Only My Second, And Last, Hike In May At The Susquehanna Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands (35 of 37)
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It  is hard to believe  this was  Memorial Day Weekend, the last weekend in May. The month passed so quickly, and I only was able to hike on my favorite trails in the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township, Luzerne County one time this month.   I love these wetlands and have become very familiar where the birds and wildlife are found. However, I did a lot of traveling this month, and explored some other beautiful parks and forests in our Commonwealth.  I didn’t get to see  much of the arrival of  Spring  at the wetlands this year so I was looking forward hiking there Sunday morning.

We had heavy rain the previous evening and it was foggy when I awoke Sunday morning.  It was supposed to clear up in the morning , but it was still cloudy when I arrived at the wetlands.  As soon as I left my Jeep I heard the cheerful song of a Carolina wren.  Instead of taking my usual walk to the Susquehanna River, I walked directly into the wetlands  looking for the wren, and found it singing on a tree branch. 

I also saw this whitetail deer, who gave me a  quick glance before running into the woods.

The woods were lush, green and wet from the recent heavy rains.

Dame’s rocket,

and multiflora roses, both invasive species, bloomed profusely along the paths in the wetlands.

As I walked on the path along the canal I first heard the loud rapping, then saw,  this red bellied woodpecker on a dead tree trunk.

I also this hairy woodpecker on a treetop,

and this gray catbird chattering in the shrubs along the trail.

I walked out to the Water Fowl Pond and was disappointed when I didn’t see any wood duck ducklings or Canada geese goslings on the pond. I was hoping to see some on my hike that morning.

As I was leaving the Water Fowl Pond I was dive bombed by this robin, with a beak full of warm, apparently for it’s  offspring in a nearby nest.

It and it’s partner, I am not sure which was the mommy and daddy birds, took turns flying at my head.  I soon learned why. They had built there nest in a hollow tree right next to the trail. I am sure they spent a good part of their days trying to scare the many visitors from the poorly chosen site of their nest.

I now hiked back toward the parking  area and then on the the river lands area of the private nature preserve. On the way I caught a glimpse of a wood duck and her ducklings. They quickly swam into some thick vegetation on a pond and the mother duck started flapping here wings, acting as if she were injured, trying to lead many away from here young ones. I tried to get some photos but the thick vegetation was in the way.

The advancing days of Spring were evident on the large leaves of the skunk cabbages along the trail. These are some of the first plants to appear in Spring. Once lush and green they were already showing signs of decay.

And the sensitive fern, one of the last ferns to appear, were lush and green and at their prime now.

Nightshade flowers,

meadow hawkweed flowers,

and beautiful blue flag flowers bloomed along the trail and near the waters in the ponds and canals. 

I also heard and saw a few colorful yellow warblers,

and this American redstart singing in the trees.

A little further on my hike I saw these large snapping turtles laying eggs on the opposite banks of the canal along the trail.

And  I then saw this muskrat feeding on some of the duck weed in the canal. It quickly dived into the murky waters as soon as it saw me.

As I neared the river lands I heard the melodic and flutelike calls of wood thrushes near the river. I walked toward the sound and saw this pretty wood thrush in the older trees near the river.

And I watched this elegant cedar waxwing feed on the unripe fruit on a shadberry tree.

I wasn’t sure why but it was enjoying the unripe fruit.

The skies didn’t clear as predicted but remained cloudy as I entered the river lands area of the preserve and walked along Lake Took-A-While. This part of the preserve allows pets and fishing . Their are also picnic areas, playgrounds, restrooms and pavilions here.

There were no bald eagles or osprey flying over the lake and no ducks, geese or other water fowl swimming on it’s waters on this cloudy May morning.

However, I did see some song birds in the trees along the lake, this Baltimore oriole was singing in a tree along the trail,

as were this plain colored warbling vireo

and this colorful yellow throated vireo .

Male red winged blackbirds sang along the canal opposite the lake,

as did the eastern phoebes ,that nest in three areas in the river lands and wetlands. I was walking quickly on Sunday since  I wanted to get back home and to my niece’s Memorial Day Party at 1 p.m.

I walked along the lake and came to a large flock of Canada geese on the trail.

I was surprised how large the goslings have grown. I then realized it was the end of May.  I was disappointed I wasn’t able to watch them grow this Spring because of my absence from the wetlands.

The parents of the goslings prodded weren’t happy as I approached, 

and prodded their offspring into the waters of the lake.

I walked to the other end of the lake, passing many fishermen on the shores of the lake.

The skies remained cloudy on my hike back to the wetlands.

On the way, I saw many of the same birds I had seen earlier, and also this pretty indigo bunting, another of my favorite birds that migrate here in the Spring.

In the wetlands I was surprised to see and hear the song of an eastern wood peewee. These small birds are usually found in the deeper woodlands.

It  was now near noon and I was already late, but I heard loud rapping in a tree across a canal in the wetlands, and saw this pileated woodpecker. Of course, I had to stop and photograph this beautiful bird. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike.  Susquehanna Wetlands birds May 26 2024.

I then finished my 5 mile hike, and, as soon as I started my Jeep, of course,  the sun broke through the clouds. I didn’t mind, the skies cleared, and although I was a little late I had a wonderful afternoon with family at my niece’s party. It was a great way to spend my last Sunday in May. Here is a link to a gallery  on my blog webpage with some more photos from my five mile hike in the wetlands.  Susquehanna Wetlands  May 26 2024

There is a sweetness of May verging on June that no other time in the whole year can equal. And by sweetness is meant more than flower fragrance or honey taste; this is the greater sweetness of understanding and emotion, the glow of pleasure in being. ~Hal Borland

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