The Song Birds Are Back At The PPL Wetlands And Two Bald Eaglets Too!
We had heavy winds and rains here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this past week. I was thinking the strong southerly winds that brought the rain may also help the return of the migratory song birds on their long journey to our area. On Thursday there were rose-breasted grosbeaks and cowbirds in my backyard. So, on Saturday morning, I decided a hike through the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township would be a good place to find out. Every Spring, for the past decade I eagerly await their return to the wetlands
. On Saturday I left early for the wetlands. We finally had sunshine and seasonable temperatures in the upper 40’s. I arrived around 8 a.m. and first checked out the bald eagles nest. The view of the nest is becoming obstructed by the appearance of leaves on the trees. I did not see the usual white heads of the adult birds through the zoom lens of my camera. . However, on closer inspection I saw first, one and then, a second eaglet in the nest! What a wonderful surprise. The pair of birds that have been soaring over the wetlands since late last summer have started a new family in the wetlands.
Unfortunately, it appears the leaves on the trees will soon obstruct my view of the nest. And it is important to maintain a safe distance from the nesting bald eagles. First they are protected by law, and secondly even if they weren’t it is not safe to disturb the nest of any bird, or any animal for that matter. The disturbance causes stress to the parents and may harm the new family. Here is a link to an article about bald eagle nest etiquette.
After observing the eaglets, from a safe distance, I continued my hike in the wetlands and my search for song birds that may have returned. And it didn’t take long for me to see the first common yellowthroat scampering along the banks of the canals in the wetlands.
There were also a few of the petite blue-gray gnatcatchers fluttering in the tree tops.
The woodlands were filled with the songs of these and other newly arrived birds. Many I could not even see, let alone photograph but this pretty yellow warbler got close enough to let me get a picture. .
The Susquehanna River was swollen from the rains we had last week.
As I walked through walk the wetlands I found the wildflowers and plants continued to bloom and sprout. Bluets created patches of color on the trails.
And the cuckoo or milkmaids flowers, also growing in small patches, added more color to the forest floors.
Various species of ferns continue appear.
As did the jack-in-the-pulpit flowers.
Even the new leaves of the dreaded poison ivy vines looked pretty in the early morning sunshine.
There were no signs of the wood ducks or kingfishers in the wetlands this week. I didn’t see any, but I heard the booming splash of a beaver smashing its tail on the water. It does this as a warning I think. Sure startled me it did. Unlike the quiet of Winter, there was plenty more sounds in the woodlands, including the constant raspy songs of the red-winged black birds
and the crying of the catbirds.
As I walked toward the river lands and Lake-Took-A-While,
I saw two more newly arrived song birds, a yellow-rumped warbler,
you can tell, from this picture, how it got its name.
At the lake, once again I found it was crowded with fishermen and folks out for a walk. No eagles or ospreys. There were a few cormorants on the lake and a second Canada goose family. The proud parents were showing off the rapidly growing goslings.
The Baltimore orioles also returned to wetlands and river lands adding not only their beautiful appearance but also a delightful song sung loudly from the treetops. \
Except for some occasional high clouds it was a mostly sunny day and I continued my hike on the Susquehanna Warrior trail for another 1 1/2 where there is a private pond along the river. The clear waters of the pond provided a good contrast to the brown, muddy waters of the rain swollen Susquehanna River.
I began my 3 1/2 mile hike back observing some more of the same birds I saw on my hike. However there were a few new ones including this flicker,
and this bird that was perched high in a treetop singing in an almost frantic manner. I think it is a brown thrasher. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs of the song birds I observed on my hike. PPL Wetlands hike birds May 2 2020.
Well,I didn’t see many more birds on my return hike but I did see more signs of the new life that is Spring, the turtles returned to their logs and were enjoying the sunshine,
and one of the first butterflies of the spring.
And I also saw a few more wildflowers and plants including two native species, wild oats or bellwort and,
wood anemones. I love all wildflowers but they are even more special, and in my eyes beautiful if they are native to our area.
So much to see this time of year. So different than the bleakness of Winter. Every hike is magical. I have loved hiking in the woodlands in Spring since my dad took me looking for Lady Slipper orchids (duck flowers) early azalea (honeysuckle). As we searched for these flowers he would tell me and my siblings to ” keep your eyes peeled”. My love of nature began with him. Thanks dad. Miss you always. Here is a link to a gallery with some photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands hike May 2 2020.
“And the birds sang their songs of love. And the flowers serenaded with their sublime fragrances. And the whole world fell in love in spring!” ― Avijeet Das