I love Spring here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The woodlands awaken from a long Winter sleep. One of my favorite places to watch the rebirth is the Susquehanna Wetlands in Luzerne County. It was cloudy and mild when I arrived early Saturday morning. We had a heat wave here in Northeastern Pennsylvania last week, with temperatures in the 80’s. I thought these warm temperatures would have accelerated the growth of the trees, flowers and plants in the wetlands.
And, they did.. Many of the trees now had buds creating a light green hue in the woodlands and hinted at the explosion of green soon to come.
After walking to the river I entered the wetlands and immediately saw how quickly they had changed in a week. The trails were now strewn with new flowers, downy yellow violets,
marsh blue violets, and,
one of my favorite Spring flowers, the trout lilies.
I may see the violets for a few weeks but I am pretty sure this will be the only and last time I see the delicate trout lilies.
They only bloom for a few days. They are native to Pennsylvania and are named because of their leaves resembling native trout.
There were also patches of bluets and,
Carolina pinks now blooming along the trail. It was an amazing to see so many flowers appear in a week since my last visit.
And the skunk cabbage,
and the mandrakes or may apples continued to grow and
create patches of green on the still brown and leaf littered ground.
The trees, too, were getting into the act, the red maples,
and sugar maples
and box elders were producing their samaras or winged seeds we called “helicopters”.
Service berries were also blooming along the trails.
A magnolia tree, not native to the wetlands , was now in bloom along the trails,
as wells as a Chinese crabapple whose seeds probably escaped from a local garden. Unlike some invasive species they at least provide some beauty to the wetlands.
As I walked along the trails I was serenaded by the familiar and loud “conk-la-ree!’ cries of the red-winged blackbirds. They were high in the treetops throughout the wetlands.
The females are seldom seen now, and stay closer to the ground I was able to photograph this one.
I saw a few of the elusive wood ducks in the wetlands but they saw me first and were long gone before I could get any photos. A few mallards flew off but I did see a few pair of Canada geese including the cover photo for this blog of the mommy goose ( or daddy?) I didn’t realize it when I took the photos but the first goslings of the year had arrived, the first new births I saw in the wetlands this year.
I walked to the Water Fowl pond and didn’t see any ducks, geese or herons there.
But I did see a few birds singing in trees along the trail, mostly our Winter resident friends. the song sparrows,
a tufted titmouse,
and black-capped chickadees.
There was also a new visitor to the wetlands, this blue-gray gnatcatcher. It breeds here in our woodlands after spending the winters in southern the United States, Mexico and Cuba. It was another welcome sign of Spring.
I walked toward the river lands area of the nature preserve,
seeing a few painted turtles,
and this bullfrog in the ponds and canals.
There were more spring “flowers’ , some folks may say “weeds” but even the common groundsel,
and lowly dandelions seeds were welcome sights after our long lifeless Winter.
There was even more colors of Spring when I walked along Lake Took-A-While in the river lands.
The trees here were more exposed to the warm Spring sunshine and many were now wearing their Spring coats of green and red hues.
There were ornamental crabapple trees planted along the lake and they provided more beauty to the Spring scenes.
There were a couple mallard ducks and
this flock of double-crested cormorants swimming in the lake, also new arrivals this Spring.
I walked to the far end of the lake and gathered some garlic mustard that had grown considerably since my last visit,
some plants already producing flowers. Thus invasive plant is edible and nutritious. I cooked up a large batch for my dinner. They were a little bitter but good.
While walking along the lake I saw a few American robins and.
I began my return hike to the wetlands, past the many fishermen along the lake.
In the wetlands I saw many of the critters I had photographed earlier , and this new arrival, a brown thrasher singing loudly high in a treetop. I usually see them on the ground during the Summer. Here is a link to a gallery in my blog website with some more photos of the birds and critters I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds and critters April 15 2023.
As I was finishing my hike I encountered a few painted turtles along the trail.
I took some photos of this one, I believe a female looking for a good sunny location to lay her eggs. I returned here to the same spot I found here,
Near the parking lot I found one more sign of Spring, something I look forward to every year. mushrooms. I believe these are inky caps. Soon I will be foraging for oyster mushrooms and the elusive morel mushrooms. It was another great hike in the wetlands, so much more fun then in the drab, lifeless Winter months, I will enjoy every hike in the woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania until the birds leave the leaves drop in the Fall. I think I may head south with the birds next year. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of my hike in the wetlands. Susquehanna Wetlands April 15 2023.
“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” William Shakespeare