The Circle Spins, And The Familiar Flora And Fauna Of Spring Appear At The Susquehanna Wetlands

The Circle Spins, And The Familiar Flora And Fauna Of Spring Appear At The Susquehanna Wetlands

Susquehanna Wetlands (32 of 43)
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“All my life’s a circle;But I can’t tell you why;Season’s spinning round again;The years keep rollin’ by.” 

These are  the lyrics from a Harry Chapin song  “Circle”.   I found these lyrics to be so true on my hike on Saturday  in the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township,  Luzerne County.  Once again  I saw the familiar flowers, plants and birds  that return every Spring to  our woodlands in Northeastern Pennsylvania.   And every year seems to pass more quickly as I get older.  For most of my life I watched the changing seasons in the woods near my home in Hazle Township but most of those woods are now  gone, lost to residential, commercial and industrial land development.

So I have found the wetlands and enjoy hiking here on an almost weekly basis.  I arrived there early Saturday under partly cloudy skies. It was cold. temperatures were in the 30’s.  But the cold didn’t stop the burst of new growth taking place in the wetlands and riverlands.    It’s hard to believe a year has past since I  saw  so many new flowers on this hike, including   blue  violets,


and the exotic jack- in- the-pulpit flowers  and many other plants  sprouting throughout the wetlands.

And another year has passed since I welcomed he return of the tiny  blue-gray gnatcatchers, quietly fluttering in the trees singing their soft whispery song and

the warbling vireos perched on the trees tops singing their loud,  continual and  melodious songs.  I saw both on my hike on Saturday. Soon other migratory birds will join them, traveling from as far away as South America, where the spend the Winter.

As usual I will share some photos and observations from my usual five mile hike in the wetlands and riverlands.  And , in the Spring, there is a lot more to observe and share. It is when Nature comes back to life and creates  an almost daily show of new  beauty and growth.  I love Spring. However  it is still April and  many of the trees are still leafless.

The gate to the wetlands remained close so I had to walk to the parking lot. On the way  one can see the contrast between the leafless trees and the appearance of green leaves on   smaller shrubs and plants, such as the spicebush, honeysuckle, and blackberry below the still naked taller trees.  

As usual I  walked to the parking lot and down to the Susquehanna River, it’s waters still high from the Spring rains.

Near the river I saw this northern flicker,

and a few white throated sparrows, but as on my hikes the last few weeks  there wasn’t a lot of birds active in the woods along the access road. In the Winter I see many birds here including hairy, downy and red bellied woodpeckers,  songs sparrows,  tufted titmice, black-capped chickadees. and a lot of others. I think they have found new, and more nutritious sources of food in other locations  with the onset of the warmer weather.

I walked into the wetlands and found  more signs of Spring. flowers appeared on  the serviceberry ,

and the highbush blueberries flowers, or as we here in “coal country” call them , “swampers”.   This flowers reminded me, again, how quickly the seasons pass. I know  these purple serviceberries will be soon  ripe, and it will be mid-June ,  and then the blue berries  or “swampers” will ripen  in mid July and  we will be half way through another Summer, as we continue our journey on another circle around the sun.

The skunk cabbage were  growing everywhere in the wetlands and were  now green and lush.

But it was already providing food for the lowly, and seldom seen,  slugs that live in the wetlands.

I walked through the ponds and canals in the wetlands,

and made my way to the water Fowl pond.

The trail to the pond wasn’t flooded this week and I was able to walk  without  getting my feet soaked. 

Here I saw a pair of blue winged teals.

I also scared off some wood ducks,. There were a  few  pairs of honking Canada geese.. There seemed to be a lot more in the wetlands this year,

and I believe this is why I have seen less wood ducks.  Many were on their nest and any day now yellow, fuzzy goslings will appear in the wetlands. And soon they will be flying south with their parents in the Fall as the circle of seasons continues to spin.

I left the Water Fowl pond and began my hike toward the river lands. I saw a few more birds  along the way, including a song sparrow.

a swamp sparrow,

some American goldfinches,

American robins,

and a lot of red-winged blackbirds, mostly males singing high in the treetops,

but I also saw a few females closer to the ground. They do no look like they are the same species of bird.

I continued walking through the wetland  observing the many new flowers and plants appearing as the Spring season advances including the sensitive ferns,

the ground ivy flowers,

and these pretty flowers on this Chinese crab apple tree.. It always produces a large crop of fruit and, as the circle turns, I will see many cedar waxwings feeding here next Winter.

I walked into the river lands area of the  nature preserve, where fishing and dog walking are allowed and there were a lot of fishermen and dogwalkers on this chilly Saturday morning.

I walked along the trail between the lake

and a canal where I saw the warbling vireo  and a few other birds including a common grackle,

a chipping sparrow,

and a pair of eastern phoebes in the trees along the trail.

I also saw a few double crested cormorants and

 common mergansers on the lake.

I had walked out about 3 miles, and as usual I began my hike back to the wetlands under the partly  cloudy skies.

On the way, just like on  my recent trip to the Florida Everglades,  I thought about a bald eagle  landing in a tree, and sure enough a bald eagle flew over me,

and landed in a tree across the lake.

I watched it sit perched in the tree for about a 1/2 hour hoping in would dive for a fish but it didn’t move so I continued back to the wetlands.

The sun had warmed the old morning air and turtles now  were basking in the warm sun.

And I saw a few trout lilies still blooming.  These flowers are so fragile and fleeting. Last week the grounds in the wetlands were strewn with them. These week only a few remained, soon to be gone until another all too quick  the circle of seasons pass.

I saw one a few more birds as I finished my hike, a Carolina wren singing loudly in a tree,

a downy woodpecker,

and a turkey vulture that flew overhead. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog page with more photos of the birds I saw on my five mile hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds April 20 2024.

And just as I was nearing my Jeep I saw my first butterfly of the year, not the most beautiful, but still pretty, a white cabbage butterfly, soon to be followed my so many more insects.  I walk throughout the year. and although I find some beauty on my  Winter walks, I will admit, I enjoy my  warm weather walks many times more than those cold, lifeless Winter walks. I love Spring walks most of all, when all of Nature springs back to life, However, it is so short and passes so quickly. I try an enjoy and savor every minute of it, and every new flower, birds, insect or animal I see. And I love sharing this beauty here in my blog and on social media.  Here is a link to a gallery on my blog page with more photos  from my my five mile hike. Susquehanna Wetlands April 20 2024.

“To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.” Ralph Waldo Emerson 

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