I returned to the Susquehanna Wetlands on Saturday, once again hoping to observe some cool critters to share here on my blog and social media. I always loved hiking and now it is even more enjoyable being able to share photos and reflections from my hikes, . Two weeks ago I saw wood ducks, a bald eagle and a belted kingfisher at the same time on my hike. . These are the most elusive birds living in the wetlands and I hoped to see them again on this hike . The skies were partly cloudy when I arrived at the wetlands. It was a mild 68 degrees .
As usual I first walked down to the Susquehanna River and saw that it was still low from the lack of rain. We haven’t had a good rainfall in over a month.
I walked into the wetlands and most of the foliage was, despite the dry weather, still lush and green.
However there were exceptions. Many of the first plants to appear in Spring, including the May apples or mandrakes and the skunk cabbage where already wilted and decaying. Even some of the bracken ferns were turning brown .
Summer was advancing, and near it’s peak. One can tell this from observing the wildflowers and berries growing in the wetlands Soon highbush blueberries that grow on the trail in the wetlands will ripen,
as will the blackberries. These berries are edible and delicious. I have picked hundreds of quarts of these wild berries in the heat of Summer over the years.
And there were some non -edible berries ripening too, such as the poisonous nightshade berries and
poison ivy berries. I never realized how important they are in feeding the wildlife, especially the poison ivy berries. I find many birds feeding on these berries on the coldest Winter days.
Other Summer flowers now blooming on the trails were, lacy yarrow flowers,
tall meadow rue
and wild forget-me-nots along the trails in the deeper woods,
and purple and
yellow loosestrife along the canals and ponds in the wetlands.
Broadfruit bur-reed seeds were also seen in the waters in the wetlands. And I heard one more sure sign Summer was here. I heard, briefly, the first cicada. Soon their chorus will fill the wetlands.
There wasn’t a lot of bird activity as I began my hike in the wetlands. I heard some gray catbirds, and red-winged blackbirds and only saw a few goldfinches until
I saw one of the birds was hoping to see, a belted kingfisher. It was perched on the branch of a dead tree across a canal. I usually see them along the river or near Lake- Took -A -While.
A cottontail rabbit hopped into the woods as I walked toward the water fowl pond.
The path to the pond was not completely dry from our lack of rain. It was flooded for much of the Spring.
Last week I saw dozens of song birds along the shores of the pond. This week not a single bird. I am not sure why, there could have been a hatch of fliesor other insects, or some flowers blooming last week. Or a hawk or eagle may have been hunting in the area this week and scared them away.
Walking back to the main trail I did see a green heron perched on a log.
And was able to get a couple of photos,
as it flew away. I commented in my log last week I hadn’t seen many green herons this year and, of course I saw about a dozen of them in the river lands and wetlands on this hike.
After seeing the green heron I walked through the wetlands,
toward the river land , seeing a few turtles covered in duck weed along the way.
Most of the turtles now stay submerged in the warm waters of the ponds and canals.
There were also a lot of dragonflies darting about in the wetlands and river lands.
A red-bellied woodpecker,
with some juveniles were fluttering i about in the treetops.
And I saw this female mallard duck swimming in a pond. It was the first mallard duck I had seen since the Spring.
I walked back down to the river to the tree branch where I saw the belted kingfisher, bald eagle, and wood ducks last week. There was no kingfisher but this bald eagle was perched on a nearby branch and quickly flew away as I approached. This was the best photo I was able to get as this magnificent bird flew away.
I walked along the river and saw the large flock of young wood ducks again.
There were almost two dozen of them swimming together. I believe the appearance of the bald eagle and the wood ducks is not s coincidence. I believe that wood ducks are a part if the eagle’s diet.
I continued my hike toward the river lands and, saw a few more birds on the way including this Carolina wren. I love hearing their loud and happy songs in the woodlands on my walks.
A song sparrow also sang in a tree top, and,
I also saw this downy woodpecker
I walked in the river lands area of the nature preserve and, as usual, walked the trail between Lake Took-A-While and the remains of the old canal. There were no water fowl on the lake and no eagles, hawks or ospreys flying overhead.
Part of the lake were overgrown with some sort of water plants.
Along the trail I saw some more wildflowers blooming including common mullein,
great St. John’s wort and,
these pretty northern catalpa tree flowers.
As usual I walked to the end of the lake before walking back. And I usually walk along the lake. I do this in the hopes of seeing water fowl on the lake, or an eagles flying overhead. On Saturday, I decided to walk on the other side of the canal, next to some woodlands and farm fields.
Here I saw a warbling vireo,
and this male common yellowthroat. I love hearing these birds sing and hop form branch to branch in the shrubs along the trail.
I walked backed into the wetlands. It was now near noon and the strong July sun had raised the temperatures into the 80’s. As usual the heat of the afternoon cause many of the birds and other wildlife to be less active. But I still saw a tufted titmouse,
and a red-eyed vireo in the wetlands. The songs of the red- eyed vireo are heard throughout our woodlands in the Summer. This is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands Birds July 9 2022.
I finished my five mile hike under the shade of the ancient oak trees that grow in the wetlands. I love how the mid-day sun filters down through the leaves. I didn’t get any exciting or action photos on this hike but I enjoyed the walk and search for wildlife . There is always beauty out here if you walk and keep your eyes peeled. I am glad to find some of it and share it here on my blog. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photo from my hike in the wetlands and river lands. Susquehanna Wetlands July 9 2022.
“Actually, it’s nature itself that creates the most beautiful pictures, I’m only choosing the perspective.”
― Katja Michael