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Archive for the ‘Hikes’ Category

I have been seeing many,  many turkeys over the last month here in western Pennsylvania. One day while out walking I saw four different flocks.  Some were concerned about poult survival rates due to the amount of rain we had had earlier this summer. I don’t believe the impact from the rain has had too much of an impact.

A few photos from various hiking adventures are below.

Foxtails in the dew.

 

Blue Vervain

 

 

 

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Indigo Bunting

I had planned to move out earlier than what I did this morning. Sometime after four in the morning I had one of those asthmatic coughing attacks. The coughing lasted only around five to seven seconds, but I almost blacked out. The result from such an episode is fatigue. Regardless, I forced myself to venture out for a couple of hours before the heat became too warm. I was glad I made the trek.

Yellowthroat Warbler

A light fog was about but was lifting fast as the warmth of the sun evaporated the moisture. I quickly noticed a couple of rabbits out and about in the

Mother trukey

dewy grasses. I, also, saw a couple of Groundhogs. As the dew evaporated the insect life began fluttering around. Most of the insects I enjoyed seeing, but the fruit flies were annoying. I managed to eliminate twelve or so. My other arch enemy the deer flies tried to get some blood. I killed about five of those pesky insect. The killings gave me satisfaction!

The butterflies and dragonflies are, always, enjoyable to watch.

I walked around a fence row only to see a hen turkey with nine poults. The little ones were the size of ring-neck pheasants. Ma ran off leaving the babes to stand around in wonderment. I could have enjoyed setting down and watching and listening to their kee-kee calls as they all got together again, but I wanted to make a circuit on this walk before the sun grew hotter.

I saw one small buck watching from the woodland edge. I managed a few pics.

I found a few bear tracks although recent rain weakened the sharpness of the tracks. This October Pennsylvania will be having a muzzleloader bear season. I may go out a couple of days depending on temperatures.

 

Turkey poults

 

Small buck

 

Monarch Butterfly

 

Beebalm or Oswego

 

Calico Pennant Skimmer Dragonfly

 

Downy Skullcap

 

Wild Bergamot

 

Black Cohosh or Black Snakeroot

 

Bear Track

 

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BEAR!

Low humidity and a temperature in the fifties pushed me to do a hike this morning. I began walking very early hoping to see wildlife and, of course, a bear.

The area was foggy as I watched hints of the sun glowing from behind the cover. As I walked I would see five deer in totality. I, also, saw one squirrel. I found eight or so bear tracks in muddy areas. That alone made for some hope of seeing a bear. This is mating season for bear so movement is highly likely anytime of the day.

The black form showed itself briefly. I couldn’t get the camera into position fast enough for the bear became lost in the dense woodlands quickly. I moved the thirty-five yards or so fast, but no bear was to be viewed.

Sun through the fog

 

 

Bear Track

 

Brown Thrasher

 

Cecropia Moth

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Wolf Rocks

I began this trek to the Laurel Highlands in the dark hours of the morning. I wanted to on the trail I selected early not long into sunrise. The temperature was in the thirty degree range as I began to walk to an area known as Wolf Rocks. I was at the Laurel Summit State Park for this particular hike.

Overlooking Linn Run

The traveling wasn’t easy due to many rocks on the trail, however, the walk was mostly level. I discovered why this area is known as Laurel Summit. Often times the areas to my right and to my left were covered with dense Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel.  Intermingled with these evergreen plants could be found our native green briar. I wasn’t very interested in trying to go through this mess, so I didn’t!

Rocky trail

I was surprised at the woodland silence this morning. Not one gobble was to be heard. I heard one raven. Very few other birds were heard. I saw some deer and heard and spotted an eagle flying over.

I moved a mile down the road to walk another trail. This trail is called Beam Rock Trail. I was impressed with these rocks once I arrived to them. Rock climbing is allowed on site and I hare to admit I did do some limited rock climbing.  The years kept telling me to not push this adventure. Body parts might break easier now! I could see snow and ice among some of these huge boulders.

Around noon I went down slope and hiked along Grove Run in the Linn Run area. Here I first saw green spring life. I found hepatica, Spring Beauty, Trout Lily and some young emergences of a few other species. I did not find any Morels. I left Linn Run around three o’clock. I hoped to have time in Ligonier to see the f Fort Ligonier Museum.

 

 

 

 

Beam Rock view

 

 

 

Snow between rocks

 

Mountain laurel blossom remnant from last year.

Flowers from the lowland hike:

Round-lobed Hepatica

 

Trout Lily

 

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State Game Lands 304

I am guessing the last time I hiked on Pennsylvania Game Commission State Game Lands 304 was twelve to fifteen years ago. The timing of this venture was in late August or September. The Deer Tick explosion in my area of Pennsylvania was in full force. I parked along a township road and headed up and over a hill in that year. Memory and time cheats me of specifics, but I either called and had turkeys answer me or I simply hear turkeys and set up to call them in.

Skunk Cabbage

I set up armed with a camera and began turkey talk. Their interest was apparent as I waited to see the birds sneaking into camera zones.

Buffalo Creek

For whatever reason I looked down only to see many ticks crawling upon my camo pants and shirt. I began removing and killing before getting up and leaving. the turkeys would have to wait. I couldn’t stand all those ticks crawling on my clothes. I needed to act and remove and kill as needed!

Today, I revisited this particular game lands, but not at the exact place I had been those many years ago.

I walked down a slope and eventually walked alongside to Buffalo Creek. The creek was beautiful. As I walked along I went upslope before hearing the distinct sound of a hen turkey. She began yelping, cackling loudly followed by others. In short order a gobbler or two began gobbling. Fighting with loud purring was heard as well. The wings were beating  loudly as various birds pushed to maintain or gain positions in the pecking order. The birds were across the creek. I eased slowly in their direction and eventually could see turkey movement about a hundred yards away.

I soon saw a big strutting gobbler, his white “snowball” head could clearly be viewed as it appeared to glow. (Turkey hunters will know what that means.)  About a half-an-hour of this show ended abruptly with the turkeys starting to feed again. Sad to say I could not get any photos due to the thickness of limbs.

I heard and saw Wood Frogs. I, also, saw some Red-spotted Newts and a pair of Mallard Ducks.

 

 

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Yes, recently this week I ventured out in some cold weather with stiff breezes to hike around a game lands. I hunted bear at this site last fall and wanted to explore some areas I hadn’t ventured into as of date. Immediately upon leaving a gas well road to move upslope the signs of deer beds were prevalent.  This area was shielded from the wind gusts and I suspect the deer made use of that fact. Numerous tracks were present as I hiked this adventure. I would see three deer later during the hike.

I circled around the hill’s side and old long-abandoned highwalls to fight Multiflora Rose and autumn Olive. I still have several thorns embedded into my hands as I type.

Once I moved up onto the top flats of this hill the winds became more brisk. They felt, almost, as a personal attack on me. However, I was prepared for the cold.

Turkey scratchings

I spotted some exposed leaves among some downed trees and discovered turkeys had been scratching the day before. Several hundred yards away I

Deer bed

came across fresh tracks. the tracks soon led to six to eight turkeys. I managed a few quick photos. I actually broke the flock up. If the cold was so demanding and may have set up to call some back, but I elected to continue moving to keep the old blood moving.

I walked a quarter of a mile and heard something moving in the brush only to see an adult gobbler. The brush did not allow any photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cone of a Tamarack. (Larch)

 

Note the swollen left side of this deer’s head. 

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Fresh Morning Snow

Before dawn I was busy cleaning the driveway from the several inches of fresh snow. The tractor’s battery had died and I decided to manually clean the drive instead of taking time to put the charger on the battery,

White-throated Sparrow

Interestingly, I soon began to hear the mating sounds from various birds. the Cardinal and Tufted Titmouse’s chirps were distinctive.  Soon I heard Canada geese and a pair flew over me honking away. nature’s mating season is in full force.

Later this day I would need to be ready to play at two nearby rest homes, but I managed to get several hours of hiking.

Deer tracks were numerous as I moved along. Fortunately, I spotted a deer bedded down among the fallen trees. I quickly located three more. I clicked some phots and moved on without spooking any of the three deer.

Birdlife was plentiful this morning. Cardinals, Juncos, White-throated Sparrows were common. I succeeded with getting some decent pics.

 

 

Cardinal in flight

 

 

Peek-a-boo

 

 

 

 

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