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Yes, the morning felt like the spring season has finally came to stay.  the woodlands certainly are looking like spring has “sprung.”

 

Wild Leek

Wildflowers are showing signs of a rapid spurt in growth. I checked past records of mine and many wildflowers at this time of the year were well on the way in regards to blossoms. Today’s jaunt had trillium species with buds, but I failed to see any in full blossom. Morels are non-existent, too. I have checked with other morel hunters across the state and few are finding any at this time.

The Wild Leek (Ramps) are up and doing very well. I checked on several large patches of them.  Mayapples are at different growth rates. Some areas show very young growth and other places have Mayapples around eight inches high. I have seen them much higher by this time of the year. The weather into April definitely affected their growth cycles.

Mayapples

I saw two male Ring-neck Pheasants this morning. I managed some photos of both of them. they looked beautiful with their colors. Their courtship is on!

I heard a distant gobble. Eventually, I was in the area and offered some yelps. Gil-obble-obble-obble was the response. I would hear three gobblers in short order. I called in all three of them. The underbrush caused only one photo. However, if the spring gobbler season had been on I would have filled out a tag.

 The one in the photo became alerted with my movement of trying to get a god focus. They all walked out uttering some alarm putts. They didn’t run away because the birds didn’t actually identify me as a man.

I circled a couple of hill and heard another gobbler at eleven o’clock. This turkey gobbled about four times deep within posted property.

I saw a Great Blue heron and two Canada Geese. One was at the nest.

Rattlesnake Flower

Chestnut hulls

Roadrunner

Handsome feller indeed!

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Wild Leeks or Ramps

This morning was planned to accomplish a number of items from my list. First in my mind was to be in the woods to hear gobblers at dawn. Surprisingly, I heard only one at this site.

  I had planted Wild Leeks, also known locally as Ramps, on my property. Last evening I dug up a few to transplant to an area where this native plant is missing. This area I often hunt and hike was in years past farmland with cattle and agriculture. This was way before my time. Today the area is a woodlands, however, those past farming practices often completely destroyed many native wild flowers. The Leek is one such plant.

The Leek is an interesting plant. Each bulb send up a couple of leaves that reach about six inches. This happens in April and by June the leaves are withered away and a stalk of small white flowers grows. The bulbs can be eaten for they have a onion-like flavor. In fact, some places actually have festivals and special feeds to commemorate the plant. I jus\t think the plants look great in the early spring woods. I know of some sites where the Leek grows dense and covers a large area.

Later in the morning I began skirting the property and planting a stalk at various places. I have hopes that in the future large areas of growth may, once again, find these hills home.

 

Canada Goose on nest

Another agenda item was to erect a bird house I recently made. Actually, I made three with leftover remodeling wood. I had one left and today the box was to find a home.

  I needed to visit my cousin, Donnie so I incorporated my traveling to stop at his home. I saw a number of turkeys at  several sites. Deer were everywhere!

I located a nesting Canada Goose. She stayed tight as the mate circled about giving me the evil eye. Two Mallard Ducks swam about as I watched.

 

 

 

 

 

Milkweed

 

 

 

 

The view overlooking Paige Run and Red Run

After a rather rough night for sleep I had the tent packed and was on the road prior to sunrise. The eastern sky was illuminated and a nice day was to be reality.

Red Run

I stopped along the Quehanna Highway and walked back through the woods to, hopefully, hear some gobbling. I didn’t hear any turkey talk at all. I didn’t allow a lot of time to listen, for a had an agenda to follow. I wanted to be overlooking some deep hollows early to take advantage of the morning sun casting deep shadows. This should give up a few nice photo opportunities.

One of many deer sightings.

I walked along a trail to a huge rock where I could see a great distances. The sun was doing what I had hoped and I took a number of photos.

I followed this trail down over a steep and rocky hill until I could see, and hear, Paige Run. (Paige Run meets up with Red Run.) What a beautiful stream with fast waters cascading over many rocks. Rhododendrons added a much needed color contrast with the deep and lush greens. I climbed the hollow and eventually crossed the stream to head up the other side. I reached the top and noticed the sounds of the fast water were almost absent. Suddenly I heard it…a gobble way off! I listened until I knew the direction and you guessed it… the bird was across the big hollow I had just come out of. Off I went in reverse to see if I could locate this turkey.

 I heard the turkey once more as I entered the ridgeline from where the gobbling had occurred. I listened for a time and decided I should get to fishing. The first morning of trout season was already well on the way. I was to fish Red Run for native Brook Trout. There was one catch. (No pun intended.) I would not be fishing if the stream was crowded. I pulled over along the road to NO VEHICLES.  I was elated. The time was 9:30 in the morning.

 

Native Brook Trout

Action was fast. I began catching, and loosing, and missing Brook Trout immediately. I spent over two and a half  hours along the waters. I released all the trout. Native Brook trout never achieve and size in such streams, but that was fine with me for I was alone. Only two vehicles traveled the road during that time.

Wykoff Run

I was going to fish Jack Dent Run as I headed towards home only to find a lot of pressure on that stream. Apparently, the Pennsylvania Fish Commission had stocked these waters. I decided to travel slow on state forest roads to see what I could see and move on into Parker Dam to fish.

I arrived at Parker Dam and continued on. The people were everywhere fishing. I did some sketching for the upcoming painting before moving on towards home earlier than previously planned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reasons why my legs hurt!

Table Falls on Paige Run

Most know I love walking and exploring. Hiking was to be a big part of my excursion into the wild area of Quehanna within the Moshannon State Forest.

 

Porcupine gnawings

I checked the two areas for Osprey activity. (See a previous post.) Following watching the Fish Hawks for a time I moved on to the  hollow featuring Wykoff Run. I debated on what might be in store for Wykoff Run during the next morning since the first day of Pennsylvania’s trout season was to begin. I quickly determines the fishermen would be prevalent. However, the Quehanna Trail crosses over so I decided to hike a few hours and explore the area.

This hike began by crossing Wykoff Run and continuing up a continual grade  following a hollow. Approximately one third of the way up the hollow the terrain quickly changed. ROCKS! The slopes on both sides of my ascent were covered with rocks.  There were still trees growing up here and there wherever seeds managed to find soil, but they woodlands here was not dense. However, once you look approximately forty to fifty yards one could see changes in the vegetation. The hill on my right while climbing had a distinct line of thick rhododendrons. The opposite side had more woodlands and hemlocks. I kicked out a grouse here and the bird flew into the mass of rhododendrons. I was surprised to see a Ruffed Grouse within such habitat.

Eventually I reached the summit of this mountain and the habitat again changed quickly. I know was seeing short leafless shrubs and masses of last years Hayseed Ferns. I continued on the trail eventually intersecting another trail called the Old Sinnemahoning Trail. I moved on for a distance before turning around to head back towards the jeep.                                                                    

I could hear something in the distance. With the windy conditions of this day I speculated if the sound s were from turkeys. The noises had a feel to me of turkey’s cackling and determining pecking orders. BUT, I knew that Wood Frogs can sound like distant turkeys. I have been fooled before on these reptiles. I eased along and realized I was hearing the frogs.  I visited a couple of these water holes on the mountain’s top. Besides the frogs many Red-spotted Newts could be viewed swimming about. I saw some tadpoles, also.

 I returned to the jeep several hours later and drove to Red Run Road. I walked several miles of the Quehanna Trail here, too.  I scrambled along to see parts of

Red-spotted Newt

Paige Run including the Table Falls. Paige Run intersects with Red Run making for a beautiful waterways with lots of cascading falls. (I would be exploring Paige Run higher up the mountainside tomorrow.)

I knew this Red Run would be holding native Brook Trout. I would be here tomorrow.

I had three long bearded gobblers gobbling at my calls. I managed a few photos despite the small trees making it hard to keep a good focus. I would later see a lone hen.

I saw five elk this day, but I didn’t get any good photos.

  I had a lot of problems as to where to pitch a tent for the night. You can’t tent on Quehanna Wildlands forest lands. You can’t pull along the road and sleep in a jeep either. Just a bout an hour before dark I bit the bullet and rented some space at Benezette. The Spring Peepers were just a few yards from my tenting experience. Sad to say the road noise that evening was tremendous. Also, sad to say I am in need of additional things to use while tenting. Air mattress will be purchased before any other tenting. By one thirty in the morning I was as the Princess and the Pea

Boulder Ferns

play. In the play a pea was placed under many mattresses. The reasoning for the pea was to determine if the lady to sleep on it was truly a princess. Her royal blood for feel that pea causing for a restless night. I felt everything so I must be a prince.

I did some field sketching while on this excursion. I am planning a painting that will feature rocks. I sketched and photographed reference photos of rock details. In fact the studying of rocks was a big reason I planned this adventure. (Expect a future entry on the painting.)                              

Turkey Vulture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shagger’s Inn shallow water impoundment

 

Osprey on the nest

Thursday around noon I was visiting my friend, Frank “Muskie” Maus to discuss hand-held GPS systems. I was heading out for a couple of days in the woodlands to hike and fish. Frank was going to give me some basics. While we sat on the porch I looked only to see an Osprey flying over. I always love seeing these birds. 

  The next morning found me at two separate sites in the Moshannon State Forest Quehanna Wild Area. The Ospreys each nests at these two sites. I saw, at least, four of the Fish Hawks either on the nests or in flight. Of course I needed to try to get some pics.

The one nest was out rather far for the lens I have on the camera, but I still took some photos. There were Canada Geese and various other species of waterfowl on the lake. The birds weren’t concerned with the Osprey flying about. They must have read the manual and knew the Osprey usually dines on fish thus the name “Fish hawk.”

The other site yielded an Osprey nest with a pair of active birds in the area. Last year this nest was surrounded with water, but not this time. The enclosure had been drained due to Beaver damage and is scheduled for repair completion later this year. Despite not having water all around the nest the birds returned as they have in past years.

I will add more entries with additional photos from my time afield.

 

Beaver lodge

The work of Beaver’s teeth.

Last Snow?

 

Junco

Saturday, April 7, yielded a two inch blanket of fresh snow. I desired to get out early and take photos for the snow

Robin

wasn’t expected to be on the Pennsylvania landscape much into the day.

The wilds were beautiful as snow was covering everything. The scenes were likened unto a winter wonderland although officially we are a couple of weeks into the spring season.

The first tracks I saw were from the White-footed Mouse. A set of Weasel tracks were in that area, too. I wonder if the Weasel had a meal. Other tracks I had seen this morning were Deer; Coyote; Robins and Squirrels. I would only see three deer this day. Later I watched a turkey feeding in an open area where the snow had already melted.

 

 

 

Burdock seed pods

A lot of birdlife was viewed. Besides Robins many Juncos and Song Sparrows were out and about. I saw a pair of Mallard Ducks on a pond and a Great-Blue Heron. A Red-tailed Hawk finished the view. A number of crows, apparently, had an owl secured in a pine. The raucous they created would have waken up the dead, so to speak.

Red-tailed Hawk

 

 

 

Ice

 

Sunrise

 

Skunk Cabbage in ice

This past week we had a snowfall of around six to eight inches. The trees were loaded down with their white snow-laden limbs. It was beautiful to behold. I really wanted and needed to get out into that element, but commitments thwarted my efforts. Wednesday, I spent all morning and into the early afternoon with my family at the hospital. My  mother was going through tests to determine possible reasons for acid-reflux and hoarseness. Thursday I had a Bible study class I have been doing for a number of years and in the morning the family had breakfast together. In between these agendas Laurie and I cleaned up the church in preparation for Sunday. Friday was to be the time afield and it was!

I was in the woods just prior to sunrise on the cold morning. I was hoping to hear a gobbler or two gobbling their heads off from the roost. My efforts failed. I did see some old tracks from the day before as they walked along side of a hill. The snow was very granulated on any areas that had received warming sun from the day before. The snow was melting and with the cold temperatures of night had become frozen again. this caused for some loud walking.

Various open areas were on the eastern slopes. One such open area yielded a pair of Woodcocks. Another larger area had six deer bedded down. I kep moving while avoiding eye contact. They remained at rest.                                                      

Deer were everywhere this day. I saw them in their beds and kicked up some. Later towards noon the deer were up and about feeding . I was seeing deer while traveling back roads back towards home. I know I saw, at least, sixty-five deer. That count could easily be higher.

  I left one area and drove south a couple of miles and walked along the Baker Trail. I, also, walked along Cherry Run looking for photo opportunities. I realized this could be our last snow of the season and wanted to take some shots. Four fresh sets of turkey tracks were visible on this walk. I only saw one squirrel today. They must have slept in.

 

 

 

 

Sunrise glow

Water over the rock