The Winter Thaw Continues In Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The usually January thaw has become a winter thaw this year here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Unseasonably warm temperatures returned to the area last week. I drove to the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township and found this unusual scene, completely ice-free lakes and ponds!
Even the Susquehanna River was free of the usual chunks which, in most years, would float on its waters from the colder northern regions of its headwaters.
As I walked along the trails in the wetlands I heard the honking of geese. Sure enough I encountered a pair of Canada geese on one of the ponds. This was also very unusual for early February here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Some years there are geese on the river if there is some open, ice-free ,areas of water but never on the frozen ponds. Well this pair took off as soon as I approached.
The geese were the only birds I saw on my walk through the wetlands. The usual residents, the black-capped chickadees, white throated sparrows, Juncos and other birds were nowhere to be seen or heard. Most of the canals and ponds were ice-free, however some ponds still had a very thin layer ice.
Walking through the trail in the wetlands I was surprised to find them so quiet with no birds to be heard or seen.
I walked to Lake Took-A-While and found it, too, to be almost entirely free of ice as a result of this long winter thaw.
And I found that a flock of Canada geese also took notice to the unusual open waters. There was a flock of about 50 birds on the lake.
Swimming among the geese were a couple of mallard ducks.
And, also unusual for early February, there were some common mergansers swimming on the ice free waters. This pair took off as I approached.
Finally, and most unusual, I heard a kingfisher chattering in the distance near the river. I didn’t see the kingfisher but this downy or hairy woodpecker flew overhead.
In addition to the waterfowl I encountered on my hike there were other signs of the winter thaw, the growth of many wild plants including the garlic mustard and Dame’s rocket.
However most of the vegetation was dead and brown.
I walked back through the wetlands and, as I neared my car, snow started to fall from the overcast skies. Winter wasn’t over yet. We only got a few inches and it quickly melted. The warm weather appears to be with us for at least another week. No complaints from this warm weather lover.Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs from my hike PPL Wetlands hike February 2 2019,
“While it is February one can taste the full joys of anticipation. Spring stands at the gate with her finger on the latch”. Patience Strong