I was able to get in a hike every afternoon after work this past week at the Community Park near my home in Hazle Township Luzerne County. For those of you who are first time viewers of my blog, there are a lot of blog posts about this wonderful park and it’s history. You can find them in the archives on my blog website using the search tool I have installed. Those of you following my blog already know my routine of hiking around scenic Lake Irena and then into the surrounding woodlands. So I will just share some of the critter, wildflowers and beautiful green foliage I observed on my hikes in the park this past week.
Last Wednesday when I arrived at the park it was partly sunny with some high clouds and seasonable temperatures in the upper 60’s. The birch and maple trees around the lake were finally showing some green foliage.
The scrub oak trees were also putting forth their first leaves. Walking around Lake Irena I saw a few wild flowers starting to bloom including many violets and the pretty yellow common cinquefoil flowers.
There were also young skunk cabbage and cinnamon ferns sprouting along the trail.
I didn’t see much wildlife on this hike, just a common yellow throat , a few field sparrow,
and this not too friendly Canada goose who hissed aggressively as I walked by.
I also saw what I think is a black swallowtail butterfly,
and some red eared slider turtles on a log in the lake.
I returned to the park on Friday with warmer temperatures and threatening skies. There was a sever thunderstorm watch but I decided to try and get my three mile hike in before the rains came. I didn’t.
Once again I saw little wildlife as I walked around Lake Irena, just some Canada geese waiting for the rain,,
these two mallard ducks ,
a few turtles. I think they all like rain. I also saw this chipping sparrow searching for some food in the grass.
It looked like the rain would hold off so I decided to hike on the trail that led into the surrounding woodlands. here I found the the birch and maple trees clothed in new green leaves.
I also found many wildflowers blooming in the woodlands including yellow rocket,
black chokeberries and
primrose leaf violets.
Even though there were thunderstorms in the area I decided to hike to the woodlands near the Hazleton Airport. About 50 years ago the area was once cleared for another runway but was never utilized. Pine, birch, and aspen trees have grown on the abandoned runway. There are also may high bush blueberry or “swamper’ bushes growing here.
As i walked through these woodlands I observed the new needles growing on the many native jack pine,
and pitch pine trees along the trail.
I also saw this ovenbird singing in the woodlands.
I hiked back to the lake as the clouds grew darker and I heard the rumble in the distance. Instead of running for shelter, I photographed this bee on this pink azalea flower,
and this dwarf ginseng flower growing along the trail.
I shouldn’t have. I got caught in a torrential downpour, I was soaked, but not electrocuted, by the time I reached the picnic shelters in the park where I waited out the storm.
I didn’t hike in the Community Park over the weekend but returned on Monday. It was mostly sunny but with a cool northwesterly breeze. The cool temperatures made for a pleasant three mile hike.
I was excited to see this critter sitting on a log, a northern water snake.
I love seeing these harmless and misunderstood critters.
I observed the snake until it decided I was getting to close and swam off on the waters of the lake.
I saw a few other critters on my hike around the lake, this chipping sparrow taking a drink,
this gray squirrel,
a spotted sandpiper, and
this pretty pine warbler.
I walked on the trail into the surrounding woodlands and saw these tadpoles in a vernal puddle. Hopefully they will develop into frogs or toads before the puddle dries up.
Clouds returned for my hike in Community Park on Tuesday.
As I began my walk a small flock of Canada geese flew from the lake, probably to look for some grassy fields to feed.
I did see a few other critters, including this female scarlet tanager,
and a lot of frogs.
I am not a frog expert but believe these are bull frogs.
And finally I saw this chipmunk sitting on a rock.
The flowers I saw on previous hikes were still blooming and I saw this beautiful wild flowers a painted trillium. I would see many of these when I roamed the woods near my home as a child but they have become rare in our woodlands these days. They are pretty flowers.
I returned for a hike under sunny skies and cool temperatures on Wednesday. I saw a few critters on my three mile hike ,
including this eastern towhee that had captured a caterpillar or grub,
a few American robins,
and this eastern phoebe. I love the phoebes nesting near the picnic area and their distinctive songs. Here is a link to some more photos of the birds and other critters I saw on my hike in Community park. Community Park May 18 to 25 2022.
The woodlands have grown so much more green since my first hike in this blog post.
Even the oak trees were clothed in lush new green leaves. These May days are some of my favorite time of the year to hike in the woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania. And it gets even better in June. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike in Community Park Community Park May 18 to 25 2022.
. If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere. —Laura Ingalls Wilder