Some Critters, Wildflowers And Observations Form A Couple Afternoon Hikes At Community Park.

Some Critters, Wildflowers And Observations Form A Couple Afternoon Hikes At Community Park.

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As I did in July, during the month of August, I continued taking some occasional afternoon hikes at the Community Park near my home in Hazle Township, Luzerne County. Most of my afternoon hikes were on  dry days,  with either abundant sunshine or partial sunshine and cumulus clouds floating in the blue skies over Lake Irena. 

I would usually first hike  around the lake looking for whatever kind of critters, wildflower and mushrooms  I could find. Of course, I am always hoping to see a bald eagle osprey  or a kingfisher. This past month I didn’t see any of these birds. I did see, however, a couple of great blue herons on one of my hikes. 

It was the first time since Spring I saw these birds here and I believe it may have been a family starting to migrate south. 

There were at least three of them. One of them was hanging out with   some of the Canada geese that also returned to the lake. It flew off as I tried to get closer for a better photograph. 

For a few weeks there were no Canada geese on the lake.  On the same day I saw the great blue herons, I saw three separate families of geese on the lake. There were a total of about 60 geese on the lake. This was around the first week in August.  After that they were  gone and I haven’t seen them since. They,  too, may be looking for better feeding areas in anticipation of their  migration south next month. 

There was not a lot of other bird activity at the park , but I  did see a few, including an Eastern phoebe,

and quite a few black-capped chickadees.

These friendly birds are not afraid to get near us humans , always allowing for close up photos. 

There were also a few chipping sparrows. I believe this was a juvenile. 

In addition top the birds I also saw a few gray squirrels on my walks,

and a lot of frogs. There were mostly bull frogs  sitting in the pickerelweed along the lake, but occasionally, and fittingly, I also would see a pickerel frog  before it jumped into the warm waters of the lake. 

In addition to the birds, frogs and squirrels there were also a lot of dragonflies hoovering and darting around the lake. I often get my dragonfly identifications wrong but I believe this is an eastern amber wing dragonfly , 

I think this is an Halloween pennant dragonfly  

and this a slaty skimmer dragonfly. 

These insects, which where flying over our State before the dinosaurs,  always amaze me. 

There were also many wildflowers in bloom, both around on the lake,  like these beautiful water lilies, 

on the trail near  the lake, like the steeple bush 

and many more blooming along the trails in the surrounding woodlands including grass pinks,


and St. John’s Wort. I saw a lot more flowers and you can view them in the link to the gallery I will share. 

And, of course, these many wildflowers attracted insects. This bee was attracted to this sneezeweed flower.

I also saw a few butterflies on my hikes including this great spangled fritillary, 

this Peck’s  skipper,

this orange sulphur and 

this pearl crescent.

I also saw this interesting caterpillar on a milkweed flower. It is a smeared dagger moth caterpillar. I  cannot take credit for identifying these beautiful insects,

I had help from a butterfly and moth Facebook group. Here is a link to a gallery with some more of he critters I  saw on my afternoon hikes in Community Park. Community Park critters August 2021.

We had a lot of rain here in August and so a lot of mushrooms were also growing on the trails in the woodlands around the lake including this pretty purple one, which I think is a purple cort, 

this a species of red  russula, 

I was also delighted to find this edible cauliflower mushroom growing along one of the trails.

As I said most of my hikes were on mostly sunny days but I took a few hikes on cloudy days and got caught in a couple of afternoon thunderstorms. 

However, rain or shine I enjoyed my hikes in Community Park and the opportunity it gives me to see wildlife and the beauty of nature so close to my home. It is an asset to our area and we should all work together to preserve what is left of our environment and create more small local parks like this. Here is a link to another gallery with some more photographs from my afternoon walks. Community Park August 2021. 

Breathe the sweetness that hovers in August. Denise Levertov

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