A Lot More Spring-Like At The Walnutport Canal Spur Trail

A Lot More Spring-Like At The Walnutport Canal Spur Trail

Walnutport birds (2 of 50)
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After my frigid, but enjoyable,   hike in the Salem Township on Saturday I decided to head south and hike  the Walnutport Canal Spur Trail in Northhampton County.  I hoped for warmer temperatures and  some more sightings of the birds migrating through our  area. Walnutport is located about 42 miles south of my home in Hazle Township. And what a difference those few miles made.  Spring was almost in full bloom in this  quaint little town along the Lehigh River. 

When I arrived at the parking lot for  the canal trail I first walked a  short distance down to the blue waters of the fast flowing Lehigh River. I enjoy my continuing explorations of this river and the path it carved from it’s headwaters of the Pocono Mountains to its merger with the Delaware River near Easton. 

I have written about, and posted links to  websites, on the history of the Lehigh River and the Lehigh Canal in prior blog posts. (You can search them using the search plugin on my blog page) So this blog will be about the natural beauty that can be found along both the river and canal. The Walnutport  Canal Spur Trail follows the old tow path of the Lehigh Canal and is situated between the waters of the  canal and  the Lehigh River. This is only my fourth hike here in Walnutport but  it didn’t take long for me to realize that there will be an abundance of birds and wildlife here, in addition to some beautiful scenery. 

As soon as I began my walk I was greeted by the cawing of a group of crows pursing a hawk above the canal. One of them caught up to the hawk and it dived  into the much larger bird causing him to retreat to the branches of a large tree. 

After a short walk on the trail I encountered a family of Canada geese  feeding along shore of the canal. The fluffy goslings new downy feathers shined in the morning sunlight. 

Mommy goose allowed me to get pretty close to her offspring and take photos, but as soon as I crossed here safety zone she let me know with a loud hiss. 

I watched the gosling swim and feed in the canal for a few minutes then continued my hike past the lock keepers house. It is closed now, because of the corona virus, but I hope to tour the interior of this historic structure when it reopens. 

There is also a visitor center along the trail which is closed but which I hope to visit in the future. Past the last home along the canal a trail enters the some woodlands between the river and the old Walnutport canal.  

Here I heard the songs of many migratory birds echoing in the treetops and bushes along the trail. I was able to photograph this phoebe and

I think an immature yellow-rumped warbler. 

Along the ground many new plants and wildflowers could be found including this native wildflower, the false solomon seal,

mandrake or may apples. 

Both of these wildflowers will bloom later in the Spring but the dames rocket or wild phlox was now blooming all along the trails . 

Large patches of rapidly growing skunk cabbage could be also found in the woodlands. I love the bright green color of its leaves shining in the early morning sunlight. 

During my entire seven mile hike I heard, and saw, many noisy red-winged blackbirds and catbirds singing from the trees and woods along the trail. 

There were also a few grackles, not my favorite bird, because of their aggressive behavior, seen along the canal. 

It was still a cool morning with temperatures in the 40’s but I didn’t mind it a bit walking under the large ancient trees, many sprouting their first leaves. It truly is a beautiful place to hike. 

The old canal ended  at one of the old locks about 1 1/2 miles from the start of the trail.

Here the waters flowed into a wetland. On my last hike I had heard and seen wood ducks and kingfishers and hoped to photograph some of these elusive birds. 

The trail now narrowed as it continued between the waters of the Lehigh River and the wetlands.

I heard a few kingfishers as they chattered during their flights up and down the river. I wasn’t able to seem them but I did see a few yellow warblers,

American redstarts,

and quite a few yellow-rumped warblers along the trail. 

I also saw this spotted sandpiper wading in the waters of a small pond.

Growing along the trail were some more wildflowers including the yellow bittercress, 

and Philadelphia fleabane. 

There were some ferns growing and this one, my PictureThis app identified as an eastern marsh fer, one I had not seen before. 

The trail ended where another large stream entered the river. An old bridge once spanned the stream but must have collapsed long ago, I began my 2 1/2 hike back. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to see or photograph any wood ducks or kingfishers but I did see this Carolina wren singing in a tree. 

Song sparrows also were adding their songs to the chorus of migratory birds that have returned to, or our passing through our area.

As I neared the end of my hike I saw this turkey vulture perched on one of the old trestles along the trail. 

I watched as it seemed to pose for my camera before it flew off .

I also found this blue jay, 

feeding on what appeared to be some some  sort of fruit. 

I saw two more birds before I finished my hike, an immature  pine warbler 

and, I think , a downy woodpecker because of its size. The downy woodpecker is larger than the very similar hairy woodpecker.  Here is a link to a gallery on my website with more photos from my hike. Walnutport hike birds May 10 2020 

It was midday when I completed my 7 mile hike. I was a little disappointed not seeing the wood ducks or king fishers but it was still a great hike. Every hike is, there is always something to see outdoors if you keep your eyes peeled.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my hike on the old Walnutport canal. Walnutport hike May 10 2020. 

And then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough? Vincent van Gogh

 

This is my first post

2 Comments

  1. Paul Sell on May 12, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    Hello Frank. I sorta bumped into you on Facebook; I think it was on the Historic Carbon page. From there I came over here to your blog. It looks like you really get around. I live fairly close to Walnutport, so am familiar with the walk you took. I try to get over there every once in a while to see what I can find. I also frequent the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, which I assume you’re familiar with, there’s plenty to see and photograph along their trails. I do get up towards your way quite a bit – Jim Thorpe, Glen Onoko, Hickory Run SP. I’ve been into waterfalls and streams lately, but I also like photographing historic buildings and ruins. Anyway, I look forward to checking out more of your posts. I’ve enjoyed your writing; I’m not much of a blogger, so I pretty much let my images speak for themselves.

    Take care, Paul

    • fskokoski@gmail.com on June 2, 2020 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Paul. Thanks and glad you found me. I love nature and history too and am always hiking somewhere on the weekends all year long. I only recently found Walnutport and love it. My favorite, as you may know from reading my blogs, is the PPL wetlands in Salem Township Luzerne County. By chance any relation to a Mr. Sell who sold me my first car, a 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass in Nesquhoning .

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