Quittapahilla Creek

After paging through our dogeared copy of the Susquehanna River Birding and Wildlife Trail guide, we decided to re-visit one of our favorite local nature parks, Quittie Creek Nature Park. Before we left I printed out a map of the park. Perusing the map we learned there are trails we'd not visited in the past, so we were excited to explore new habitats.

History is evident in five existing lime kilns that once produced lime from quarry limestone, the site of a water-powered mill on the Quittapahilla Creek that ground the lime for use in fertilizer and cement, and in the remains of a weir dam on the Quitapahilla that was used to provide deep water for pumping to elevated water tanks north of Annville.
— Quittie Park | Friends of Old Annville

I was eager to return to the woods! Although I've enjoyed spending time around our own property, I've missed discovering the flora and fauna of an unfamiliar place. The creek and especially its lush woodland trails offered me more than I expected...

Orchard Spider (Leucauge venusta) | Quittie Nature Park, Annville, PA | Lebanon County | © 2016 Jessica Allen

The Quittapahilla Creek is a popular destination for fly fisherman and in fact, we passed a gentleman on his way out of the water. Evidence of crayfish and freshwater bivalves are found along the rocky shore and mallard ducks paddle along searching for food. On occasion we've seen water snakes sunning themselves near the pedestrian bridge.  Snapping turtles are sometimes seen along the creek bank, too.

Quittapahilla Creek (nicknamed the “Quittie”) is a 16.8-mile-long tributary of Swatara Creek in south-central Pennsylvania. The original Lenape name for this waterway is Kuwektəpehəle, which means ‘it flows out from the pines’.
— from Wikipedia

On this day we spent little time in the creek and more time exploring the trails. We began our day on the main trail, entering at the Bachman Road Trailhead. Immediately, while still in the parking area, I discovered a diversity of life. Orchard spiders, bees and butterflies browsed the mostly native plant life.  On the trail I discovered treehoppers, fireflies, beetles and bugs.   

The buffalo treehopper nymph looks like a tiny, feathery, alien life-form. I was fortunate to capture the beautiful four-lined plant bug - let's just say he was not content to sit still for a photo! When I spotted the two-marked treehopper it was only because I noticed a recent molt (below the leaf on which it stands). The treehopper itself looks like a thorn! Oh! And it is always a pleasure to find a bright red wheel bug nymph -- we found this one alongside the Quarry Pond.

I enjoyed photographing an arrow-shaped micrathena (below) I discovered on the trail; unlike the skittish four-lined plant bug it was a more-than-patient subject.  I suppose spiders are used to sitting and waiting!  It wasn't until I arrived home that I noticed endangered prey had been my audience - click on the first photo (top left) to enlarge it and see the wee little green insect in the bottom left corner. 

I am eager to return to Quittie Nature Park - after discovering so many unexplored trails, my interest in the location has been entirely renewed. I also look forward to learning more about the Quittapahilla Watershed Association - dedicated to cleaner water flowing from the Quittie to the Swatara to the Susquehanna to the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic & beyond...