The Lush, Green Splendor Of Spring At The Susquehanna Wetlands

The Lush, Green Splendor Of Spring At The Susquehanna Wetlands

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I returned last  Sunday morning,   to the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township, Luzerne. I usually hike  there at least once every weekend.  The previous weekend I was  in Pittsburgh. So,   two weeks passed since my last visit.  And what a difference those two weeks made.  

The wetlands had transformed to a lush, green almost magical place. All of the trees, even the always tardy oaks, were covered in newly sprouted leaves.  They glistened and gleamed  in the morning May sunshine as I began my hike. 

There were so many different shades of green as I walked on the trail in the wetlands.  The trees and grass was green,

The skunk cabbages, and 

the cinnamon ferns were green.

Even the waters of the ponds and canals was green, now covered with the new growth of duck weed. 

But not everything was green.  Providing a beautiful contrast to the green were the many wildflowers now blooming in the Susquehanna Wetlands and River Lands. The pretty white, purple and pink shades of the Dame’s Rocket flower were growing everywhere,

as were the fleabane flowers. 

There were also creeping buttercup and

bittercress flowers scattered throughout the wetlands and river lands.

And,  in the wetlands, I found delicate blue flag flowers blooming near the waters of the ponds and canals. It was a truly wonderful time to hike in the woods of Pennsylvania. 

As usual my walk starts in the wetlands where I walk past the ponds and canals remaining from the old North Branch Susquehanna Canal. It’s hard to believe this canal was built almost 200 years in  1828. And this beautiful nature preserve was created because of it. 

And it never fails to provide me with some wildlife observations. On this part of my hike, in May I always hope to see some wood ducks and their ducklings. No sightings of these pretty ducks on Sunday  but there were plenty of birds singing in the wetlands. I heard this song sparrow singing and enjoyed watching it hop from  branch to branch.

There are always red-winged blackbirds singing and squawking as the loud and territorial males defend  their females and nesting areas. 

The females, shown here,  are not as vocal  and harder to observe, tending their nest and staying out of sight. 

The wetlands were filled with the beautiful song of the yellow warblers singing high in the green foliage. some time they come down to allow a nice phot but not on Sunday. 

I always enjoy seeing the delicate blue-gray gnatcatcher fluttering in the tree branches.

After visiting the larger ponds at the western end of the preserve, I continue my hike along the old canal, hoping to see snakes, frogs and turtles, The waters have warmed and these cold blooded critters don’t have to bask in the sun to raise their body temperatures as they do in early Spring.  And many of the vernal ponds along the trail are drying up. So, I saw  no snakes or frogs and only one turtle soaking up the warm May sunshine. 

Leaving the wetlands, I followed my usual route  into the river lands part of the preserve. Here Lake Took-A-While  was also surrounded by trees displaying their  the new green leaves, and also some ornamental  and flowering trees such as dogwoods and crabapples that were planted along the lake shore. 

In these  trees I saw a few more birds, including a Baltimore Oriole, and

gray catbird.  

Overhead I saw a few turkey vultures circling above the lake. I usually an not too excited to see  or photograph these birds but I took a few photos anyway. 

I didn’t realize it until I came home but one of them wasn’t a turkey vulture, it was a juvenile bald eagle. I  regretted the opportunity to get more photos of this majestic bird. 

As I continued my walk along the lake, I was treated to another Spring surprise. Across the lake I saw this tiny fawn with her mommy wading in the water.

It may have been the first time this young deer has ever seen the water.

After exploring the lake she was hungry and mommy deer provided her with some nourishment. Another wonderful experience provided by the Susquehanna Wetlands. 

Usually I finish my hike at the far end of the lake, but since it was such a beautiful day I decided to continue my hike and walked another mile on the Susquehanna Warrior Trail, that followed an old railroad right-of-way.

I hiked out to a private pond along the trail. It was sunny and   the temperature rose into the low 80’s. I was thirsty, and hungry so decided to turn back. 

Along the way I saw a few more birds , including a couple of families of Canada geese, on the lake, and

this song sparrow with it’s morning meal. . Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike, Susquehanna Wetlands Birds may 22 2021. 

Although it was still warm and humid, it became overcast  as I walked back. 

I saw one more critter before I finished my hike, this frog enjoying the heat and humidity as much as I was. 

I always enjoy my hikes in the Susquehanna Wetlands, but especially in May, when the woodlands complete their transformation from the cold, lifeless and barren scenery of Winter to the magical, lush greens of Spring so filled with color and life. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs from my hike in the Susquehanna Wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands hike May 22 2021

May is the most beautiful month of the year, a month alive with warmth color. The flowers and trees are in full bloom and even the sun joins this rhapsody be emitting warmer rays. Lillian Berliner

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