November passed so quickly this year, for me anyway. It was hard to believe it was the last weekend of November. December, and it’s usual cold and snow begin on Friday. But it wasn’t a bad November, weather wise. We had no snow and there still wasn’t much ice on the ponds and canals in the Susquehanna Wetlands, when I returned to hike last Saturday. This is unusual for Northeastern Pennsylvania. Many years there is snow and ice in the trails.
It was partly sunny and cold when I arrived at the wetlands around 9 a.m. Temperatures were in the upper 20’s. The weak November sun was low in the southern sky as it pee ked through the now bare treetops along the river. .
As I walked back from the banks of the river, I heard the loud calls of a red-bellied woodpecker. It was high in a treetop, waiting for the sun to warm it up so it could search for hibernating worms and grubs under the bark of the tree branches.
After checking out the river I walked into the now mostly lifeless wetlands. The paths were strewn with brown, decaying leavers.
The only greens were the the wood ferns,
the Christmas ferns,
and the frost covered garlic mustard leaves.
The bright red winterberry added some seasonal color along the trails,
And, like my visits the past two weeks, I found a flock of cedar wax wings,
enjoying the winterberries.
In the nearby shrubs I saw some American goldfinches,
and white-throated sparrows.
This white-breasted nuthatch was scurrying down a tree trunk searching for insects.
I also saw a few more red-bellied woodpeckers in the treetops.
I tried to walk to the Water Fowl pond,
but both path were flooded. In the Summer I would wade through the waters but I didn’t want to have soaked feet with the freezing temperatures.
I continued my walk to the river lands, about a mile from the parking lot in the wetlands.
Near the river lands there is a swamp along the access road with a large area of cattails. I often see red-winged blackbirds nesting here in the Spring and Summer.
However, I was surprised to see a small flock still here on Saturday. They usually leave the wetlands by now.
It appeared they were mostly juvenile males and probably remained because of the mild weather. Near this swamp, in addition to the cattails,
there were also dried up and withered goldenrod flowers,
Japanese bristle grass,
wild teasel flowers seeds and,
woodbine flower seeds.
Rose hips were also remaining on the wild roses scattered along the road. They are all that remain of last year lush growth.
I walked into the river lands section of the small private nature preserve,.
The waters of scenic Lake Took-A-While reflected the clear blue skies.
I saw a great blue heron near lake shore
but it flew off as I approached, displaying it’s beautiful wingspan before landing on the far shore of the lake.
I walked to the far end of the lake, where I saw three mallard ducks swimming in the blue waters, this pair,
and a solo male.
I began my hike back to the wetlands,
when I heard the chatter of a belted kingfisher,
it landed on a tree across the lake, and the3n dived for a fish.
It missed and flew off along the lake.
I returned to the wetlands, and saw this gray squirrel, and a few more birds before finishing my five mile hike,
including a few more red bellied woodpeckers,
a small flock of dark-eyed juncos (snow birds).
a downy woodpecker,
a Carolina wren,
and a cousin, a winter wren. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds November 25 2023.
December will come, and it is almost a guarantee that so will the snow and ice of Winter, and it will probably remain until March, But you never know, maybe this year will bring us record warmth and no snow. I will not complain. But it we get our usual miserable Winter weather, I am sure I will be here walking in the cold and snow and looking for the birds and other critters that didn’t hibernate or fly south. And I will be looking forward to the coming of the first signs of Spring. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos from my on my hike in the wetlands . Susquehanna Wetlands November 25 2023
Some of the days in November carry the whole memory of summer as a fire opal carries the color of moonrise. These are the days I especially love, when the air lies soft and quiet over the dreaming earth; it is a reflective and thoughtful time. ~Gladys Taber