The Mild Winter Continues At The PPL Wetlands
Mild winter weather returned to Northeastern Pennsylvania this weekend. After a brief cold spell this past week, with seasonably cold temperatures and a few inches of snow, Saturday brought rain and warmer temperatures. Returning to the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township I again found the Susquehanna River completely ice-free. This is not normal for late January.
Most years the river has at least some ice along the edges with large area of ice flowing downstream. Many year the ice cover almost totally covers the river. Not this year. There was no ice on the river. Since the river was ice-free I hoped to see the bald eagles that have been visiting the wetlands. Not sign of them today. I did see, and hear, a couple of red tailed hawks but not close enough to photograph.
I walked into the wetlands. Here I did find some ice on the canals and ponds. However it was much thinner than most year when I can walk on it in January . Not this year.
Another sign of the mild winter was the appearance of some early spring plants. It is unusual to see any new growth in January but this year there were many green leaves of the invasive and noxious garlic mustard
and dame’s rocket. Both of these non-native flowers escaped cultivation and are endangering native species.
Also found on the forest floor was the native ground pine or rare clubmoss. This plant which resembles a miniature pine tree can be found even when the ground id snow-covered and temperatures below zero.
The woods were silent in the wetlands. Unlike in the warmer months, when the song birds, frogs and insect add to a constant chorus of sounds, the winter months are much more quiet. And today not even the usual black-capped chickadees, white-throated sparrows, crows or cardinals were heard.
The sun broke through the clouds as I approached the river lands area of the park.
I found a thin layer of ice on Lake Took-A-While. Thick enough to have caused the geese, ducks and other water birds to leave.
The clouds moved back in on my return walk.
Unfortunately, too, because, I saw a pileated woodpecker high in a tree top. I love seeing this beautiful birds but because of the poor lighting and distance this was the best photograph I could take. It is heavily cropped.
I also saw a flock of common winter resident dark-eyed juncos on the ground.
And a few sparrows, swamp or song sparrows I think but I have a hard time identifying these birds. Any help would be appreciated. Sorry for the poor quality photograph.
I heard some crows as I made my way back to the wetlands but I didn’t see any more wildlife on my hike. It won’t be long until the geese and ducks start to return to the wetlands. And I hope the weather remains mild until they do. This is a link to a gallery with more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands January 26 2020.
“When we lose these woods, we lose our soul. Not simply as individuals, but as a people.”