Spring At The Susquehanna Wetlands: The Turtles, Phoebes, Warblers And Frogs Are Back!

Spring At The Susquehanna Wetlands: The Turtles, Phoebes, Warblers And Frogs Are Back!

Susquehanna Wetlands (25 of 38)
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I took my first hike of the Spring in the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township  on Saturday. I had just returned from a trip to South Florida where I had hoped to see a lot of song birds migrating north. I was disappointed and only saw few migrating birds. It was still a good trip. Always something to see in Florida.  However, I missed the first two weeks of Spring here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And I love Spring here. I love when the woodlands come alive.  You can notice something new growing, or showing up,   in the woodlands  every day in April and May. 

So I was looking forward to this hike. I arrived at the wetlands around 8;30. It was mostly sunny and a cool 34 degrees. I wasn’t the first one there. Three  other vehicles were at the parking lot. Before starting my hike I walked down to the Susquehanna River to look  for some water fowl. Seeing none I walked into the wetlands. I immediately noticed the first hints of green buds on some of the trees and the red buds on the maples trees. 

And there were  more signs of Spring. The skunk cabbages had grown and unfurled new leaves since my last visit. the created bright green patches throughout the wetlands. 

The blackberry canes were unfurling  their first leaves, 

and garlic mustard . Dames Rocket,  stinging nettle, shown here, and 

bitter dock leaves, all edible,   created more little patches of green along the trail.  It was a welcome change from the dull browns and grays of Winter. 

The wetlands also were filled with bird song.  I heard northern cardinals and red-winged blackbirds,  perched  high on  the tree tops, singling and loudly as if to welcome me back to my favorite hiking trails. This is a male red winged blackbird. 

Looking upward  I also spotted this great blue heron perched high in a tree top. They are usually wading  in the waters of the wetlands and river lands. 

I didn’t  see any woods duck or mallard ducks, probably because  the other three people walking in the wetlands before me had already scared them off of the canals and ponds. . I did see a  couple of Canada geese, this pair swimming on a canal in the wetlands,

and this one sitting on his or her nest. 

I continued my wonderful Spring hike, feeling like a child again,  as I explored, and  found,  so much new life, under the towering ancient oaks ,

on the trails in the wetlands. 

I  was even happy to see the lowly dandelion flowers in bloom..

But here was more, the yellow spice bush buds added more hints of the explosion of color soon to come. 

And, I was surprised to find the delicate trout lily flowers  about to bloom. These delicate flowers only bloom for a few days in April but they are glorious days. As I said it seems like everywhere you walk  on an April day you find something  new and beautiful.

And I saw  so much  on my wonderful  Saturday morning hike . Continuing my hike I saw  my first warblers of the season, a small flock of  pretty palm warblers  near the ground along the trail. These small birds migrate to South Florida, the Caribbean and Central America for the Winter. 

It amazes me they can travel so far.  Palm warblers  were some of the few    migrating birds I saw on my visit to South Florida. Could they have traveled form the Everglades where I saw them 10 days ago? It may be possible, although unlikely these were the same birds. But they could have been! 

I also saw a few of the birds that remain with us here all through the Winter, some song sparrows, 

a white breasted nuthatch,

a tufted titmouse,  on the ground which is somewhat unusual for these birds, 

a red-bellied woodpecker,

and this American robin catching a worm.  Most robins also migrate south, but many stay here near the river, especially during milder Winters, 

I then came across  a few black-capped chickadees feeding among the last years  cattail staminates.  I had seen these chickadees tearing the old spikes apart before and thought they were feeding on the seeds. They are not,

they are actually for the grubs of insects that live in the staminates and have kept them from dispersing their seeds last Fall. 

After walking back to the river,  where I saw a couple of elusive belted kingfisher and heard a bald eagle, but couldn’t  see or photograph them. 

I continued my hike toward the river lands section of the nature preserve. Along the way I saw more signs of Spring. mandrake or  may apples ,

a magnolia trees about to bloom. 

and blue flag growing in the canals. 

When I reached the  river lands I saw my first turtle of the season basking in the warm April sun. It was another very welcome sight. I knew it would soon be joined by  hundreds of others. 

The trail into the river lands  continues between Lake Took-A-While and the remains of the old Susquehanna Canal. 

There were a lot of fishermen along the shores of the scenic lake.

A few double-crested cormorants were swimming on the lake, 

but flew off as I approached. 

I heard a lot more red-winged blackbirds near the lake, the males were perched high in the treetops, and, I did see one female near the ground. 

I also encountered another migratory bird, an eastern phoebe. Their songs are unmistakable. They are not long distance migrants traveling only to the southern United States and Mexico for the Winter and they are one of the first migratory birds to return. 

As I usually do I walked to the far end of the lake and began my hike back to the wetlands. 

In the wetlands I saw a lot of the same birds I saw earlier, and also this male goldfinch perched high in a tree top.   Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds April 8 2023. 

Some high clouds had moved in but the strong sun was still able to warm the cold morning air, and bring out dozens of turtles.  They were on rocks., logs and along the shore of the canals. 

I love seeing the turtles return. I also saw a few frogs but they were too quick for my camera . Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of my Spring hike in the Wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands April 8 2023. 

I finished my five mile hike and was very satisfied with the birds, flowers and other signs of Spring I saw. Every visit will now will uncover  many more wonders of nature of Nature. . I love the Spring in Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

Yesterday the twig was brown and bare;
To-day the glint of green is there
To-morrow will be leaflets spare;
I know no thing so wondrous fair
No miracle so strangely rare.
I wonder what will next be there!
~L. H. Bailey, “Miracle,”

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