Turtles, Wood Ducks, Skunk Cabbage And Blackbirds. More Signs Of Spring At The Susquehanna Wetlands
Last Friday, when I hiked in the Susquehanna Wetlands in Luzerne County, I was pleasantly surprised to see wood ducks had returned to the ice free waters of the wetlands. The previous week the waters were frozen solid. I returned to the wetlands on Friday . I was again pleasantly surprised . This time it was the appearance of the painted turtles. I saw many of them sunning themselves on logs and rocks on the canals and ponds in the wetlands. Another sure sign Spring is near here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
It was a partly sunny and cold afternoon as I continued my hike in the wetlands. Temperatures were in the mid 30’s.
It didn’t take me long to see another sign of Spring. There were skunk cabbages sprouting up all along the trails. These plants are always the first to appear in the Spring.
There was no ice to be seen anywhere on my five mile hike.
The wetlands were saturated and flooded from the melting ice and snow.
The path to the water fowl pond, where I often see ducks in early Spring, was flooded. So I got as close as I could and did see some water fowl on the pound. There was this solitary American coot,
a small flock or ring-necked ducks, and
a flock of wood ducks. The wood ducks immediately flew from the pond as I approached but, conveniently for me, flew around and right overhead,
allowing me to capture some photos of them in flight.
They are beautiful birds. This is a female leading her mate as they quickly flew away.
There were also a couple of pairs of Canada geese that are establishing their nesting territories in the wetlands.
I continued my walk along the canals, seeing a few northern cardinals along the way. The males are now usual perched high in the treetops in Spring , singing their beautiful songs, hoping to attract a mate.
I walked down to the Susquehanna River, where I always hope to see a bald eagle, but there weren’t any on Friday.
There were no water fowl on the river this week, except this small flock of common mergansers resting on the river banks across the river.
I left the river and headed to the river lands area of the nature preserve. On the way I encountered a tree full of the noisy rusty blackbirds , they breed in northern Canada and are only passing through out area, and
a flock of their cousins, the even noisier red-winged blackbirds. They migrate to our area every Spring to breed.
The males are very territorial and are loudly defending their nesting areas.
In the canal along Lake Took-A-While I encountered this furry critter feeding on some vegetation along the canal.
I love seeing the many muskrats who live in the wetlands and river lands. He took a look at me before diving into the cold waters and swimming away.
I was hoping to see the large flocks of geese and ducks that were at the wetlands the previous week. However, I only saw a few Canada geese, and
these ring-necked ducks on the lake. I’m not sure why there weren’t more water fowl since the migration season is just beginning. And there were no bald eagles this week either. As always I walked to the far end of the lake and began my 2 mike hike back to the wetlands parking area.
It was a cool but pleasant late Winter afternoon.
Along the way I saw some robins, this one perched in a red maple tree. It was a pleasant sight to see the buds on the trees.
And I also saw, high in the treetops along the lake, three species of woodpeckers. A downy woodpecker,
the always beautiful red-bellied woodpecker.
I think only the pileated woodpecker is more beautiful. I believe the woodpeckers were feeding on the insects stirring under the tree bark in the warm afternoon sun. They would be the last birds I would see on my five mile hike. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds. March 11 2022.
Although I didn’t see anymore birds I did see a lot more turtles in the wetlands on my walk back,
some already where starting their annual Spring courtship activities. And I also heard a few Spring peepers as I was finishing up my hike.
It was late in the afternoon now, the sun was getting low on the western horizon. I didn’t see as much wildlife as my hike the previous week but I was satisfied with observing the critters I encountered on my hike . I know there will be more on my next visit. I always look forward to seeing them and sharing them here on my blog. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs from my hike in the wetlands and river lands. Susquehanna Wetlands March 11 2022.
March, when days are getting long,
Let thy growing hours be strong
To set right some wintry wrong.