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Woodland Ramblings

I stopped at dawn to take the garbage down for my mother and Bob. They have been fighting colds and this carrying their garbage is a tradition I have done for a long time especially with their ages and Bob’s major health issue.. How can they manage to get so much garbage? … since I am down to about a half bag a week.

Because they are still coughing some, but improving, I elected to not go in and chance getting a cold. Early muzzleloading is next week for deer and bear. I would hate to be ill.

So I went a few miles from the homestead to walk about. Deer were moving well allowing for the sightings of two buck and twelve deer total. I caught one in her bed thinking she was concealed.

I saw two flocks of turkeys. I managed one quick shot in the darkened side of the shadow side of the hill . I am going to post it, but the quality is not present.

I saw some squirrels busy gathering mast crops which appear to have done very well this year. I saw three Wood Ducks, too.

I walked upon a resting groundhog. It was perched on a log pile. I whistled for the head to turn some allowing for a photo.

Dew-laden White Pine needles

Pileated Woodpecker

Over the last week I ventured out for some hikes. One such excursion lasted half a day. I hiked the southern section of my beloved Cherry Run hoping to see whatever ventured in front of my eyes.

Cherry Run

Heavy fog enveloped all areas very early, but once the sun gained some strength the heat quickly burned the fog through evaporation.

I try to hike along this area once a year if possible. The jaunt has become a tradition for me in a way, however, I usually enjoy walking this area with snow cover. The bottomland vegetation is often higher than my head so don’t expect any long range seeing.

I liked this calm water and strong reflections.

I would see a couple of deer at close yardages under such conditions. I saw two Belted Kingfishers acting interestingly. They were seemingly in some sort of territorial dispute and quite vocal. By the time I was back at the jeep I must confess I was getting very warm and these old knees hurt some.

One interesting find was a medium-sized Box Turtle. I usually see them during the spring, but I lucked out finding this one. I witnessed much erosion and deep muddy ruts along the bottomland. Four-wheel vehicles have cause much destruction along the vegetation. No wonder people post their lands.

Box Turtle

Another early walk occurred at a local state game lands. This, too, would be an interesting jaunt. I would see some deer, and squirrels.

If I would have been carrying my bow.

I was hearing the loud yaks of a Pileated Woodpecker and the big bird allowed several photos before vanishing among the trees. They are always a great sight to see. The cartoon character Woody Woodpecker was designed by an artist from the Pileated specie. I would have an opportunity to get some pics of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. These birds are not seen very often.

Immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Spicebush Berries

Red Squirrel trying to be invisible.

White-throated Sparrow

A vining plant is found in a few places here in Armstrong County. It is known as the Mile-A-Minute. This plant is a non-native and invasive specie. The plant is an annual meaning it grows from seeds during a summer season and freezes and dies back after frost time. The vines grow thick and heavy with the ability to kill native plants. These vines can grow twenty-five feet in one growing season.

The blue berries of the Mile-A-Minute.
Virginia Creeper, often called Five-leaf Ivy

The autumn season is showing off with hints of fall. Hickory nuts, Beech, Dogwood berries and acorns are falling to the ground or ripened on the tree. The mast seemed to produce well this season and the food sources are plentiful in the area where I recently walked.

Hickory nuts and hulls

On this day I saw around nine different deer and lots of squirrels. A noted the hints of autumn are all over. I loved the colors of the Virginia Creeper as the light shown through the colors. This plant doe not cause rashes as the Poison Ivy, although so many treat it as the same. I have seen this specie in gardening books for purchase.

Mockingbird

I lucked out with a curious Mockingbird. I waited patiently until the bird offered a clear photo op.

Dogwood berries

Autumn Gold-Bald eagle

I completed the painting, AUTUMN GOLD-BALD EAGLE in 2019. Earlier this year I learned the painting would be appearing on the Fall 2021 cover of the quarterly magazine called The CONSERVATION LANTERN. This magazine comes out through the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen and Conservationists and the Pennsylvania Wildlife Federation.

I am honored to see my art of their cover.

The original has a new home.

Trixie

Having a dog around the house again sure changes our lives. Trixie was owned by an elderly couple from the church we attended. They have had this Dachshund for around five years. They estimate the dog may be around eight years old.

Laurie with her good heart told the couple we would take care of the dog if ever the need would come upon them. She said we would take the dog before seeing it handed over to a dog orphanage place or such.

The couple earlier this year due to health reasons have ended up in a home. We obtained Trixie in early summer. We have had issues. Her legs gave her some trouble and we had to put her on steroids. Unfortunately, that causes the needs for nature calls frequently. Often times she didn’t get outside in time if you know what I mean. Also, we have been trying to train her to give us a communication of some sort so we know when she needs to go out. Sometimes this works sometimes it doesn’t, but things are improving with her.

Trixie loves to play and she has a lot of toys she continually drags out into the room. Another enjoyment for her is to bark at squirrels and chipmunks on the back deck, She’ll spend much time watching the steps and landings for these little pests to her. She barks at them until they are out of site.

Watching for critters on the deck.

Overall she is becoming a very good dog. She is a loving dog now wanting to be petted as her tail wags back and forth. She is a vocal dog when guests first arrive but she has proven to be a friendly dog with company.

The one negative we face now is we can not not go far and for any great time. We have no family who can take care of her anytime we might need to take a mini-trip. But that is alright with us especially with a world going off the deep end more daily. We three will be OK. We will give her the best life we can while she is here with us.

Trixie under her blanket.

Autumn is Official

Turtlehead

Last week I ventured to fish along the Allegheny River. Fishing was great for a little bit of time. The first three casts hooked two very nice Smallmouth Bass, however, after the second bass was caught the action stopped. I must have started fishing just as two rogue bass were patrolling for breakfast.

Eventually I began walking the shoreline casting and nothing happened. The fish stopped biting! was it something I said?

Purple Loosestrife




Cardinal Flower

At some point thoughts of fishing eased away and thoughts of recording some of the end-of summer wildflowers through photography. Now that the fall season has begun I realize the flowers will be subsiding quickly. A frost could occur anytime now.

Sneezeweed

As I record this entry the high is around 55 degrees. The sky is overcast. New thoughts are in my mind, now. I need to practice my latest firearm to see how it works. Hunting season for deer will be upon us quickly and I am not ready.

Exploring Some new Land

I took an early trip to northern Butler County to explore some more lands I had never been to hike. the land was State Game Lands 95 between Boyers and West Sunbury. The early darker hours had some very thick foggy areas that delayed my arrival plans, but that was not to bad. What delayed my arrival more than the early conditions was uncertainty as to where I needed to locate. I had some issues finding the parking areas at first, but eventually I unraveled the site.

I parked near a dam known as the Glades Dam Lake. This lake is a shallow site of about two and a half miles. The Pennsylvania Game Commission had signs placed all along the trail I was to walk. The area along the dam was a state propagation area and entry is always prohibited. I decided to go on and walk the trail to see what sights would be discovered.

After some time I entered a limestone road which led me to a parking and boat launching site. I crept through the treeline along this area and could get to the water’s edge. Here I saw some Wood Ducks and Great Blue Herons. I was blessed to watch an Osprey dive into the water and retrieve a fish. I failed to get any photographs.

Where I saw the Osprey.

The wetland vegetation was so dense that I could get through at very few sites. I fact at one grassy area I spotted a hen turkey and she, too struggled to find a place to easily get into the brush for safety. AT another area I saw four gobblers. I quickly got a few photos of running birds.

The Wood Ducks and Herons loved this spot.

I saw plenty of deer here and there including the buck shown above, he stopped and stood allowing some good photos.

Catfish Were Biting!

Yes, the catfish were biting well. every cast I was either catching a Bullhead Catfish, missing one or discovering my bait was stolen. Once the bait was gone I learned the catfish quit biting. Huh..who would have “thunked” that!

Praying Mantis

Shortly after the fishing began, I noticed something that didn’t look quite right. A closer observation proved what I suspected.. a Praying Mantis hanging upside down and in a semi-dormant state. It was chilly this particular morning. However, once the sun began to warm the air up I started to see movement/ I took several photos of this insect.

Puffball ready to shoot out spores

I did see about six different deer on this morning for I incorporated a walk with the fishing trip. many species of fungus are out at this time of the year. I know some, but I know far less when it comes to edibles. I can identify several edible varieties.

Spicebush

Widow Skimmer Dragonfly

Pearl Crescentspot

Buttermilk Falls

As stated previously, I like these cool autumn-like mornings and days. Laurie and I headed off early to visit the Buttermilk Falls Natural Area in Indiana County, Pennsylvania.

The name Buttermilk Falls is a common name for waterfall areas all over. I know in my native Armstrong County we have an area called Buttermilk Falls. I know of others, too.

This site consists of 48 acres of woodlands. Lots of Spicebush nestled amid sizable trees. The unusual- looking bridge shown in the above photo was erected in 2017. The watercourse for the falls is Hires Run and is in the Hires Run Valley flowing towards the Conemaugh River. The actual waterfall is 45 feet high.

Stone foundations can be viewed near the stream. This was the site of an ancestor of a man known by Mr., Roger’s fans named McFeely. At at time in the past, Fred Rogers known for the children’s show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood spent plenty of childhood visits to this area. A trail called, McFeely Trail winds through the park.

One of the interests of this site is the walkways that wind down and around allowing visitors to actually walk behind the falls. I have included a few photos showing this.

The McFeely Trailhead

A shot of the waterfall from behind looking down the hollow.

To learn more contact: http://www.VisitIndianaCountyPA.org

A Hint Of Autumn

Wild Turkey Breast Feather

After enduring some hot and muggy days I found the change of autumn-like mornings refreshing. With the cool and crisp change I left the house before sunrise heading to explore a Butler County property to see what I could find.

My planning was spot-on as I arrived at the time I had hoped for…dawn. The woodlands were bright enough to see, ut the sun had yet to get u and over the eastern hills.

The exploration had begun. The first sighting of wildlife was a doe and her fawn. Later I would watch two turkeys flush off the roost. Later, as I circled back around, I would talk some turkey talk with one of the birds. On the back side of this hill I spooked more turkeys feeding in the underbrush,

I came upon posted lands and returned to the road and walked an old road on the opposite side. here I saw a small buck. I noticed my first buck rubs during this walk.

An old spring.

Old springs are few and far between in these days. Over the years I have seen many closed down by the state. because they didn’t meet with the standards set forth by some “expert-in-their -field.” The interesting fact in most cases people were using them for years with no issue.

Red squirrels have been feasting on spruce cones.

One area had many mature spruce trees. As I walked I could hear the four-to five cones falling through the limbs. One could hear these cones falling for a long distance. The Red Squirrels were eating these cones. The photo shows a pile of cone parts placed by the squirrels.

Foxtails backlit from the morning sun.