Sunshine, A Pair Of American Wigeons And No Snow On A Year End Walk In The Susquehanna Wetlands.

Sunshine, A Pair Of American Wigeons And No Snow On A Year End Walk In The Susquehanna Wetlands.

Susquehanna Wetlands birds (17 of 34)
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After seeing so much wildlife at the Susquehanna Wetlands on my walk in the  Christmas Eve snow on Friday,  I decided to return for a year end hike on Sunday morning.   I have come to love this small nature preserve a little more with each hike.  I enjoy hiking and searching for the many critters who live  and visit these  wet lands and river lands along  the Susquehanna River in Salem Township Luzerne County. And I saw a couple of new visitors on Sunday. 

It was mostly sunny  with seasonable temperatures in the mid 30’s when I arrived. As usual ,after walking to the banks of the river, I  entered the wetlands.

The snow that created the winter wonderland on Christmas Eve had all melted, exposing the brown and gray woodlands and trails now covered with  brown fallen leaves again.  The ponds and canals were ice free again and I hoped to see  some wildlife including the otter, muskrats or bald eagles I know live here. 

Unfortunately, there wasn’t  much wildlife activity as I began my year end hike in the wetlands.  I walked to the water fowl pond.  I usually see some herons or ducks on the water, even in the winter, and there are usually sparrows, woodpeckers and nuthatches feeding in the brush and small trees growing along the pond.  I didn’t see or hear anything on Sunday. 

I did see the waning quarter moon still faintly shining in the western sky,

as I walked under the leafless towering trees in the wetlands. 

The bright red common winterberries now stand out in the otherwise drab winter landscape.

The only other colors are the green mosses and ferns. This is a patch of big red stem moss ,

and this an intermediate wood fern. 

As I neared  the area where I observed the muskrat on my Christmas Eve hike , I finally heard the calls of a winter wren, and,  after waiting and watching for a while, I was able to get my first photo of this small, cute bird.  It was so different from my hike in the snow on Friday when there was so much bird activity in the wetlands.  It was very quiet on Sunday. 

But shortly after seeing  wren I say another bird on a branch in the wetlands. I was surprised to  see it was an eastern phoebe. These birds have usually migrated south long ago, since they are a small flycatcher and they feed on insects. I am not sure why it is still in our area. 

 I continued my walk in the wetlands and then walked back down to the river. 

Unfortunately, there was no juvenile bald eagle waiting to greet me on Sunday like the one I saw on Christmas Eve.  But  I saw a couple of song sparrows and

white-throated sparrows.

I usually see  a few species of woodpeckers on the trees in this field  but not a one on Sunday.

As always I left the wetlands. As  soon as I  crossed the access road and into the river lands I saw this bird walking along the canal. At first I thought it was an injured mallard duck since it did not fly off as I approached. With some help from my brother and nephew,   after seeing a  photo in a text I sent,  I learned it was a young male American wigeon.  It did not seem to fear me and waddled away as I approached, only flying away when I was almost on top of him. I don’t think I  had never seen an American wigeon in the wetlands before. They are not usually seen here. 

I continued my hike in the river lands  on the trail along Lake-Took-A- While.  Despite a strong northwesterly wind the late December sun warmed the air and the temperature was in the low 40’s. Nice winter walking weather. 

As I walked on the trail I saw another American wigeon standing in some tall grass along the lake.

It also allowed me to approach. It was another young male.  

It finally flew off, allowing me to get some photos of its beautiful wingspan. 

It only flew a short distance and landed in the grass along the lake.  Again, it flew off when I approached, but only when I was very near. It again landed a short distance away. It obviously was not afraid of me. I could have photographed it all day but I was hungry and wanted to get home in time  for the Philadelphia Eagles football game.

So I left the wigeons  and continued my hike a along Lake Took-A-While.  Some more  clouds formed in the mostly clear blue sky  providing for some nice year end scenery  on the lake. 

There was  saw a small flock of Canada geese near the lake,

and a great blue heron across the lake.  I heard a kingfisher chattering in the distance but the great blue heron would  be the last bird I saw on my five mile hike.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my year end hike. Susquehanna Wetlands December 26 2021. 

I began my two mile hike back to the wetlands, 

and along the way I saw three red-tailed hawks soaring overhead. They were beautiful birds, but, unfortunately I was now under a  canopy of thick tree branches and unable to focus  my camera and take photos of the hawk. As always, it was  a wonderful experience to see them but I was disappointed I could not share their beauty here on my blog. 

I walked by the canals where the muskrats and otters live but I didn’t see them either.  Although I was a little disappointed in not seeing the eagles, otters or muskrat it was still a pleasant year end hike and I was glad to see the American wigeons which visited our area. I finished my hike knowing it would be the last in another year. But I was looking forward to my hikes in the wetlands and river lands the coming year, and the beauty of nature I will find there. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from my hike in the wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands December 26 2021. 

There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more. Lord Byron 

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