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