After a few days of cool, refreshing weather, a warm front brought clouds, and heat and humidity, to my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania. As I often do, I decided to take my usual five mile hike in the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township, Luzerne County. I wanted to see how the many critters that live here were dealing with the heat and humidity.
Exiting my Jeep in the Wetlands parking area I could immediately sense and smell the advancing Summer in the air. The pleasant earthy smell of Spring has become the deep musty, woodsy smell of Summer. I believe this is cause by the heat and humidity and the decaying of many of the early Spring plants. The skunk cabbage, some ferns and the mandrake plants once provided the wetlands with the first splendid green color of the season. They were already being to decay and rot. Spring ends so quickly.
As I began my walk and approached the trail along the old canals I found another rabbit munching on some clover. I don’t think its the same one as last week since this one had a part of its ear missing. It probably was the rsult of a close encounter with an eagle, fox or other predator.
Nearby was a younger rabbit also enjoying the clover.
As usual, I continued my walk through the wetlands, searching the ponds, canals and surrounding woodlands for the many different critters that live there.
On Saturday I again encountered the wood ducks. A few flew off as I approached, before I could capture a photo, but a few didn’t. I love seeing these beautiful birds.
I am sure the ducklings were hidden nearby but soon they will be foraging the wetlands with there parents before they leave in the Fall.
The heat and humidity didn’t bother the muskrats.
I must have seen a dozen of them, a few young ones too, on my hike. This fellow was happily shoving duck weed into its mouth.
On the other side of the trail this great blue heron was perched in a branch in a tree. I watched it for ten minutes hoping to get some photos of it flying off, but, when it finally did, it flew behind the branches of the tree.
As usual , I walked down to the Susquehanna River to look for bald eagles, ospreys and kingfishers. This time I saw this pair of kingfishers that have been eluding me and my camera.
However, they didn’t stay around very long and quickly flew off down the river.
Near the kingfishers I heard a rapping on a tree. I looked up and saw this beautiful pileated woodpecker pecking away at a dead tree top searching for insects. It was right above my head, but unfortunately, I couldn’t get a clear shot with my camera because it was behind some branches. It was still a wonderful experience to see this pretty bird at work with it’s large beak.
Leaving the wetlands I saw this chipmunk, stopping and looking to see if the coast was clear, as it ran along the trail.
I followed an access road back down to the river.
Along the way and back I saw a family of wood ducks on a pond in the wetlands along the road.
I also saw this male Baltimore oriole and
beautiful yellow warbler singing in the tree tops.
I think the yellow warblers are one of our cutest Summer birds here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
There were also a few goldfinches feeding on last years cattails, this is the brightly colored male,
and this the female.
It was getting hot as I made my way to Lake Took-A-While in the river lands section of the nature preserve.
Here I encountered another great blue heron along the trail.
I watched it as I approached. There were no trees nearby so I knew I would get a photo of it taking flight as I got to close.
Overhead, just after I saw the blue heron, I saw his osprey soaring overhead.
It made a dive toward the lake, but it aborted the attack without reaching the waters. I am guessing the fish it had targeted had swam away. They are more photos of the osprey, blue heron and other birds I saw on my hike in a gallery on my website. This is the link. Susquehanna Wetlands birds June 26 2021.
As usual I walked to the far end of the lake. Along the way I found many Summer wildflowers in bloom including blue vervain,
spotted knotweed and
these toadflax or butter and eggs flowers. These were very common in the vacant lot near my yard when I was a child and I associate them with many pleasant memories of my childhood.
On my way back to the wetlands I saw a pair of phoebes near the lake.
I think the female was the same one I saw last week with the brood patch. Her feathers have started to grow back.
They were both darting above that canal across from the lake catching small dragonflies, as flycatchers do.
Walking back into the wetlands I found a patch of ripe raspberries, and
nearby this ladybug crawling on some poison hemlock flowers.
In the wetlands I saw a few more birds and this frog sitting on a log.
It was hot and I was tired after my five mile hike. But I saw a lot of critters on my hike. They didn’t seem to mind the heat and humidity, in fact, I think they were enjoying it as much as me. I love the Summer. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands June 26 2021.
No price is set on the lavish summer; June may be had by the poorest comer.James Russell Lowell