Sunshine, Ice And Birds At The PPL Wetlands
The cold weather continued in Northeastern Pennsylvania last week . On Saturday, it was windy and a frigid 16 degrees at my home in Hazle Township, Luzerne County. . The skies was clear and so I decided to walk in the sunshine at the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township and see if I could find some of the critters I know live there in the Winter.
When I arrived I immediately noticed that ice now floated on the Susquehanna River. I love watching the ice slowly float downstream, occasionally grinding against the ice forming along the shore. I can remember years the entire river was frozen solid. Here is a link to a video of the ice on the river at the PPL Wetlands I uploaded to my YouTube channel.https://youtu.be/s854O3ADvos.
Heading into the wetlands I found the trails covered with a dusting of snow and a thin layer of ice. This made walking difficult and I had to proceed gingerly over the icy trail. Most of the canals and ponds were now frozen solid, which meant the ducks, great blue herons, geese and kingfishers had to leave the wetlands to find open waters on the river or further south.
I am not good at distinguishing beavers from muskrats, who also share these wetlands. I know the beavers have wider tails but they are hard to see when they are swimming in the water. I was sure these were beavers when, as I approached, one loudly slapped it’s tail on the water. Only beavers are able to do this.
There are very few plants surviving in these frigid temperatures, however, some such as the Christmas and evergreen ferns can be seen along the trails, as well as areas of princess or ground pine, also known as rare clubmoss.
The chickadees were feeding on the berries of staghorn sumacs trees growing along the canals along the trail. Here is a link to a gallery of some more of the birds I saw at the PPL Wetlands. PPL Wetlands Birds. January 30 2021.
As I was nearing the end of my five mile hike I walked past the open water were I saw the beavers earlier. I hoped they may still be there but they weren’t. They were probably staying warm in their lodges located nearby. The ice on the water around the lodges was still to thin for me to walk on it, but I am hoping, as this cold spell continues, I may be able to walk out on the ice and investigate the lodges this weekend.
It was frigid five mile hike, but I was glad to once again enjoy these peaceful woodlands and to see so many birds on this cold Winter morning. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my hike at the PPL Wetlands. PPL Wetlands hike January 30 2021.
“…the winter is kind and leaves red berries on the boughs for hungry sparrows…”