Sunshine And Another Sign Of Spring At The PPL Wetlands
Although we had a few cold days with temperatures plunging into the low teens this past week, our unusually mild Winter continued. This morning the skies were clear and I decided to return to the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township, Luzerne County.
It was 28 degrees when I arrived around 9 a.m. I wasn’t sure how much ice would be on the ponds and canals and I soon discovered they were covered in a thin layer of ice. The Canada geese did too. I found this pair standing on the ice and looking frustrated. They almost appeared to be waiting for it to melt.
As I observed in previous blog posts, a large flock of geese remained in the wetlands all Winter because of the mild weather. Many of the geese had paired up and established nesting territories much earlier than usual. I wondered what they would do if the waters froze. I think most flew to the nearby Susquehanna River. And it looks like some, like this pair, returned and decided to wait for the ice to melt. They really did look frustrated.
In addition to the honking of the geese I heard a sound that has been absent from the wetlands since last Fall. The noisy nasal son of the red-winged blackbird. I searched for the source and did confirm that these birds are back. Well a few of them. The return in large migratory flocks every Spring. I usually see them in March so they too, are early this year.
Crows are not friends of hawks and I often see them attack a hawk on my walks. However while cropping and editing my photographs, I realized it wasn’t a hawk being attacked but a juvenile bald eagle! I have even more respect of crows now. I always knew they were one of the more intelligent birds but they are pretty brave too.
The trail led to the Susquehanna River, where I stopped and sat and enjoyed the peaceful scene of the ice-free waters flowing past on their journey to the Chesapeake Bay, and eventually the Atlantic Ocean.
It was now late morning and the strengthening February sun was warming up the cold air. Temperatures were now near forty degrees. The result of the sunshine could be seen on the green leaves of the invasive Dame’s rocket flower.
On my return hike I was surprised that I did not see or hear many birds. It was quiet in the wetlands. I was particularly surprised not to see more of the red-winged blackbirds since they usually return in large flocks. It was still a pleasant in the warm sunshine. It always is a pleasant experience hiking in the PPl Wetlands and Riverlands. And the coming few weeks should bring back more of the wildlife that left in the fall. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands February 22 2020.