The Bitter Cold Continues At The Susquehanna Wetlands.

The Bitter Cold Continues At The Susquehanna Wetlands.

Susquehanna wetlands (2 of 40)
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It was another bitter cold day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Saturday. The temperature was -4  degrees when I awoke  at my home in Hazle Township Luzerne County .Although I had just hiked in the Susquehanna Wetlands  the previous evening,  I wanted to see  if any more ice formed  on the Susquehanna River and how the bitter cold was affecting the critters who live there. So I decided to take the 1/2 drive to Salem Township and hike in the wetlands again. . It was clear and cold when I arrived. The temperature was -2 degrees.  I walked down to the river  and,

learned the answer to my question. Yes more ice did form overnight.  I  gazed upon a beautiful winter scene. A cold mist was rising over the Susquehanna River. It covered the trees along the river in a thin coat of ice. 

Although the sun had risen over the Council Cup mountain it was still  frigid as I began my hike on the trails of the wetlands. 

As  approached  the main trail along the frozen canal I heard the shrill call of a red tailed hawk. I looked and saw it perched in a tree some distance away. It was hard to photograph because of the many tree branches between me and the hawk. As I neared it saw me and flew away. This was the best photo I could get. 

I continued my hike toward the waterfowl pond on the western edge of the wetlands. Along the way I observed the delicate ice crystals that were created by the mist rising from the river.  They  settled on everything in the wetlands including the common winterberries, 

the leaves of the Japanese honeysuckle, 

the princess or ground  moss,

and the brown, withered leaves of the bracken ferns.  The delicate  ice crystals  didn’t last long. They quickly melted  under the rays of the morning sun. 

As the  sun  slowly climbed  in the southeastern sky it warmed the frigid temperature in the wetlands, not much, but enough to notice. Well I noticed it anyway, and like me,  I think  some song sparrows, 

a northern cardinal and 

this white-breasted nuthatch were enjoying it too. However. like me they were still cold, as can be seen by the way they have fluffed out their feathers to keep to keep warm. 

Walking toward the waterfowl pond I was startled, and surprised,  by a large great blue heron that must have been perched along the shores of  the frozen pond right in front of me.

I wasn’t able to get a photo as it quickly flew away.  I watched it land on the other side of the pond. I went looking for it and was able to get to the area it landed by walking on the frozen pond. I hoped the ice was thick enough to support me. Thankfully,  I discovered it was. When I got to the area I thought it had flown too,  it was gone. It probably flew to the open waters on the river. 

I continued my walk through the  frigid and frost covered wetlands,

and came across this fellow who was enjoying the cold.  It seems someone else was out here enjoying the cold and created this snowman.  Unlike me, I  am sure he was not looking forward to Spring. 

I hiked another  trail back down to the river, 

Here I only saw one common merganser which quickly flew off as I approached.  While walking along the river I observed the recently fallen oak leaves atop the snow and covered in frost. 

As were the remains of the cutleaf teasel.

and wildflowers  from last season’s growing season. . There is beauty in nature in every season, even winter. I just don’t like looking for it in these frigid temperatures anymore. 

The low January sun still was able to slightly  warm the bitter cold morning air and the sunshine felt good as I walked into the river lands area of the nature preserve. 

Lake Took-A While was completely frozen. I was the only one walking on the trail. In fact I didn’t see another person on my five mile hike. 

I didn’t see any birds either as I walked to the far end of the lake. However, on my return hike I finally was able to see, and photograph the northern mockingbird  that has been eluding my camera for a few weeks.  I believe it may be the same one that has stayed here for the  winter for a couple of years now. 

I also saw a few more song sparrows, 

a downy woodpecker, and, 

some dark-eyed juncos along the lake as I walked back to the wetlands. 

In the wetlands a small Cooper’s hawk swooped over my head and landed on the ground in the brush across one of the ponds. It was stalking something on the ground. Unfortunately it  was hard to see, or photograph, in the thick undergrowth but I think it’s hunt was unsuccessful. This was the best photo I could get. And this would be the last bird I would see on my hike.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos  of  the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds. January 22 2022. 

There are more trees in the wetlands and the branches shaded the brilliant sun making it feel noticeably colder. I think this is why there was no birds active as I finished my five mile hike in the wetlands.  I certainly didn’t see as much wildlife activity as I would in the warmer months but I was satisfied finding a few critters out and about in the  bitter cold temperatures. I enjoy the challenge of finding them. But I hope warmer weather comes back and makes it easier for me and the frozen critters. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike in the  January bitter cold. Susquehanna Wetlands January 22 2022. 

“Withstanding the cold develops vigor for the relaxing days of spring and summer. Besides, in this matter as in many others, it is evident that nature abhors a quitter.”
― Arthur C. Crandall,

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