Still No Bears In The State Game Lands 119 In Luzerne County

Still No Bears In The State Game Lands 119 In Luzerne County

State Game lands (39 of 47)
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I decided to hike in  State Game Lands 119 in Dennison Township Luzerne County again on Sunday.  This is the first Summer in ten years I haven’t seen a bear on my hikes in theses  game lands.  I don’t usually hike  here  this late in the Summer. I am usually looking for mushrooms in other areas of Northeastern Pennsylvania. . This year, because of the lack of rain, the mushrooms aren’t growing and  I decided  to return to the State Game Lands 119 and  try and find a bear. 

It was mostly sunny and a pleasant 60 degrees when I arrived at the game lands. The first thing I noticed was the silence. Usually I heard  singing of  many species of birds as soon as I left my Jeep.  There wasn’t single bird singing when I began my hike.  Many of the song birds have already began their migration south. 

There were other signs that the Summer was ending.  Most of  the bracken ferns were shriveled and brown already , 

and many of the eastern hay-scented ferns were also turning yellow. They will soon all be yellow and brown and will fill the Autumn area with their sweet fragrance. 

A lot of  plants in the heath family, like these low-bush blueberries,  were also already turning color.

A few late Summer wildflowers also bloomed along the trail, including white wood asters, and, 

pearly everlasting flowers. 

Finally, after I  had hiked about a 1/2  mile I heard some birds singing. There were a few red-eyed vireos, 

eastern towhees and

black-capped chickadees fluttering in the tree tops and along the trail. But, only in this area, as  I continued my hike it got quiet again.

After about a mile on the main access road trail I veered to the left and followed the old railroad right-of -way down the ridge to the 
Black Diamond section  of the D & L Trail.  The grass on the trail was green on my last visit. It has now turned brown because of the  lack of rain and the approaching Autumn. 

It is about a 1 1/2 hike on this old railroad right-of-way.   Once again  the trail was quiet , there were  very few birds active, just a few common yellow throats and gray black birds  I heard in the distance.  There are a lot of scrub oaks on the trail and it look like there will be a good crop of acorns. 

There were more wildflowers blooming along the trail here including white meadowsweet, 

a few of the last daisies of the season, 

this tawny cottongrass, and, 

many of this pretty flowers, bottle gentian. 

While taking a photo of this flower I saw a bumblebee crawl out of one of the flowers.

 I then watched a few other bees climb into and remain in the flowers. I learned another of Nature’s many secrets. 

This is wrinkleleaf golden rod,  another variety of this flower, I  never knew  there were so many different species  of this flower in our area, 

In addition to the wildflowers I finally found some  mushrooms, this is a fly agaric amanita mushrooms growing on the trail. There have been few  mushrooms growing this year because of the dry weather. This mushroom is poisonous.  

I  also found this edible  voluminous mill cap nearby.

The lack of rain could be seen in this photo. This is one of the headwater streams of the  Nescopeck Creek.  Most years the streams flows swiftly down this ridge. It is almost completely dry this year. 

I followed the  trail down to the Black Diamond Trail and hiked south toward Moosehead  Lake. 

Thee were many large patches of milkweed growing along the trail. 

In fact there were hundreds,  maybe thousands, of this plant along the 2 1/2 miles I hiked on the  Black Diamond Trail. Unfortunately, I only saw three of these beautiful  monarch butterfly caterpillars.   I was hoping to see a lot more. In previous years I would have seen hundreds of them, But the monarch butterfly is now endangered.  I only saw a  few monarch butterflies all  Summer. The loss of habitat both here and in their wintering areas in Mexico are the reason for their dwindling numbers.

There were only a few tussock moth caterpillars on the milkweed plants.  There are  usually a lot more of these caterpillars too. 

There were some other insects on the milkweed and other plants along the trail on the rest of my hike including this spotted orb weaver spider,

this American dagger moth caterpillar, this

pecks skipper butterfly, 

and this lady bug beetle.  

When I arrived at Moosehead Lake  the lack of rain this Summer was apparent, the lake was low,

and the wetlands across from the lake was completely dried up in spots. 

A few wood ducks flew over the wetlands, and

this eastern wood peewee sang in a nearby tree.

I walked along the edge of the wetlands and enjoyed the beauty of the water lilies blooming on the shallow waters. 

These delicate flowers are one of my Summer favorites. 

Clouds moved in as I continued my hike on the Black Diamond trail. 

I saw a lot more milkweed plants and a few other wildflowers on my hike, including this viper bugloss,

some common mullein flowers and

these salsifies flowers that have gone to seed.

I encountered about a dozen bikers on my hike but once again not another fellow hiker. I don’t think I saw anyone hiking out here all Summer. I hiked  the two miles to  the small lake along the trail,

and then followed another old railroad right of way that would take me back up to the access road to State Game Lands 119. It is about a mile hike. 

I stopped at the lake, which was also low because of the lack  of rain.  I found some ripe  cranberries along the lake, which is unusual this early in the season, 

I  also saw dozens of frogs jump into the shallow waters of the lake,  but could only get a few  photos. These would be the last of the critters I would see on my  7 mile hike. Here is a link to a gallery with more photos of the birds and flowers I saw on my hike in State Game Lands 119. Dennison Township Game Lands Wildlife and Wildflowers. August 28 2022. 

I left the lake and hiked  on the  old railroad right-of -way for about a mile. The trail passes through s some thick  forested woodlands. At first there are some privately owned property on both sides of the trail,  but it eventually enters a private preserve and then back into State Game Lands 119.

There were only  few mushrooms along the trail,  including this red banded cort, 

and this russula. 

The woods along the trail were again quiet. I have heard and seen wood thrushes, scarlet tanagers and many other birds on my walks in the Spring and Summer. There were no singing birds on Sunday. 

I hiked up to the access road to the game lands. I l had an uphill mile hike to get to the parking lot. I often hear and see a lot of birds along the road but there were none here either. They know the Summer is ending and are heading to the southern Winter homes.  It seems like just yesterday the first robins were arriving. Summer went be so fast,  too fast for me. But It was a good one and this was another great 7 mile hike in the Game Lands, no bear, but  I saw a lot of  the beauty of Nature and I am glad to be able to share it here in my blog. And here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike.  Dennison Township Game Lands August 28 2022. 

Only a few more days of August were to run, and September seemed already to have claimed the gardens, the fields, and the skies. ~Jeanie Gwynne Bettany Kernahan,

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