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Archive for the ‘Misc. Nature’ Category

Mountain Laurel

This past week I enjoyed some hiking and photography on more than one occasion. The weather during this same time frame was a hodgepodge of   varying conditions. One morning I hiked the Laurel point Trail at Crooked Creek lake area. I was searching for an elusive eagle’s nest. This day reminded me of an early spring day. I had a sweat shirt on and was actually warm. The sun was out shining with a warmth. The lake was a little high and brown.

I failed to find the nest, but I did see throughout the morning seven deer, mergansers and geese on the lake. I saw three Red-Tailed Hawks as well.

    Friday, March 10, produced a much different type of weather condition. This day had about four and five inches of snow overnight. Everything was beautiful come light. Every limb bowed to the weight of snow. Yes, this was a winter wonderland. I really wanted to spend much time afield with camera ready. However, plans would not allow for that.

 

Note Killdeers flying

The jeep was scheduled in the morning time for tire replacements. Also, a local computer company was to call after nine to work from their end to install and tweak a new virus software. The server I deal with, Windstream, was not cooperating at all. After much failure, they requested I pack up the ‘puter and bring it to them. The computer worked find under their server.

 

I left their establishment around 1:30 to a snow squall and high winds. Luckily, I had my camera with me and I traveled a back road towards home. I did get some interesting shots.                                                                                         

This morning, March 11, I left early for a walk despite the high winds and cold temperatures. We had a single digit wind chill around the area. My walk proved refreshing. Unfortunately, much of the snow-laden limbs had lost their weight from the winds. The first critter I saw was a rabbit among the briars. I tried to find a good opening to get a shot, but that wasn’t to be.

  Deer sightings were plentiful all morning. Overall, I had thirty deer sightings. One time I viewed down over a steep hill only to see six deer walking along. they didn’t see me. I was offered some pics. They angled up hill to about twenty-five paces. Unfortunately, at this distance downed trees and limbs obscured any photos.                                                     

I saw, at least, eight turkeys. I could see two with 7-8 inches of dangling beard material. I intercepted their tracks several times. They circled my approach and back tracked. Hunting this same situation without snow would have  found me not knowing the birds were so close at different times.                                                                   

I saw a woodcock flying from the snow depth and some ringnecks. I came along a bluebird box I had erected several years ago. I opened the front to see a Flying squirrel gazing at me.

   I would see some Evening Grosbeaks at one time.                 

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dsc_0006  I looked outside in the pre-dawn moments to see snow covering everything. Seemed like a great day to get out in the elements. I

Killdeer

Killdeer

chose   to venture back to Crooked Creek lake area to see what critters I could find.

I parked alongside a friend as she watched the horizon line for camera opportunities. She was surprised to look over and see me.

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I was dressed for walking and would soon begin a trek through the woods to the lake hoping to see eagles.

 

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The waters, as usual, yielded Canada Geese and Mergansers. I saw some gulls fluttering around and occasionally diving into the waters. I saw two Killdeers along the shoreline. Later I saw a large bird flying about. A second appeared as I identified them as bald eagles. Unfortunately I could never get close enough for any photos.

Later I managed some photos of Cardinals and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

Female Cardinal

Female Cardinal

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Spring in February

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Ring-billed Gulls

dsc_0006 What can one do when the temperatures are in the sixty and even into the seventy degree range in Pennsylvania? One can get outside and enjoy the  days! With that in mind I spent two mornings in the area of Crooked Creek Lake.

 

Hemlock cones

Hemlock cones

 

Teaberry in moss

Teaberry in moss

The first morning out was a joy with one exception. I aimed the camera at a male bluebird finding out the camera wasn’t

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

working. I had forgotten to place the memory card back into the camera’s body. I felt so stupid. I had done this one time before and the act takes the punch out of photo taking on any given day! Oh well, I can still walk and observe.

Goose track

Goose track

I saw  geese; gulls, and many mergansers. However, the one sight I truly enjoyed was the site of an eagle at about forty yards at eye level. I believe the bird was a Golden Eagle and not an immature Bald eagle. I was looking through tree limbs and the presence of this majestic bird was limited in time, so getting a positive ID wasn’t to be.                                                                    dsc_0022

dsc_0026 Friday, February 24, was a day that would reach into the seventies here in western Pennsylvania. I did a lot of yard work in the

Merganser

Merganser

afternoon, but all morning I was at the lake again walking and observing. This time, however, I was armed with a loaded camera.

I walked along the lake’s shoreline and some trails. The lake’s water level was down since we have had little rain as od recent. This allowed easy walking along the edge of the water.

Again, many mergansers were all about the lake. A number of Canada geese could be heard and viewed as well. Ring-billed Gulls were rather common today. A specie of goose was far off and sounded off occasionally. I never saw it close enough to positively identify. Maybe it was am immature Blue Goose or quite possibly a domesticated goose who left a farm.

 

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

I never saw an eagle this morning. I watched the skies closely.  I did see Ravens; Great Blue Herons; Killdeer; Bluebirds; deer; squirrels; and possibly an immature Red-headed Woodpecker.                                                                      dsc_0036

 

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Cold Walk

dsc_0004  I haven’t been out much and missed almost the entire two week deer season. I felt a walk would be good  dsc_0002for the soul on December 21. Once I had decided to go I asked the wife if she would be interested in walking. Surprisingly, she said yes!

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We prepared for this cold walk. We left the house around eight in the morning at eleven degrees. The sky was bright and blue at this time.

Upon arriving at our destination we could see the results of the cold night and morning. there was a frost covering everything. The sight was beautiful as the sun’s rays trickled through the woodland areas to make for some shiny diamond like sparkles on the ice.

dsc_0011 Various birdlife was abundant. The birds were feeding heavily attempting to include a high calorie count to   dsc_0006help them survive the cold. Blue jays and Cardinals were all over. Other species viewed were White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows, and Juncos. We saw a couple of hawks, too. Mammals were apparently “holed-up”. We saw a couple of Red squirrels.

Laurie would pull her scarf across her mouth occasionally. This action caused her blonde hair to be as white as snow. Her breath escaping along the sides of her cheeks caused immediate freezing to her hair. She was surprised to see her hair in the mirror.

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dsc_0165 Time was moving fast as it always does as I made my way towards Quehanna. I wanted to spend a little time at a placer a friend told

Osprey nest

Osprey nest

me  about. I arrived near 4:00 P.M. to begin my hike.

 

 

Red-Spotted Newt

Red-Spotted Newt

 

I soon discovered the wetland site known as the Beaver Run Shallow Impoundment. I circled the site via a trail. The ravens were talking boldly in the distant pines. The hooting of a Barred Owl pierced the solitude and peacefulness of the evening.

dsc_0166  An Osprey nest was visible in an old snag.  I thought seeing this next nesting season would be an enjoyable jaunt.    dsc_0158

Red-Spotted Newts were common in the waters. I watched a number of them swimming about as the temperatures began to drop.

 

Beaver

Beaver

Just before darkness I watched a beaver at another area swimming about. The beaver’s lodge was close to view as well.  darkness came way to fats as I began my trip home.                              dsc_0168

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dsc_0098 Continuing northeast I went through the little community of Driftwood before turning left at Sinnemahoning. I enjoyed the  dsc_0103contrasts between the deep shadows and fog and/or smoke still in the hollows.   The artistic nature of myself sees such things as beautiful. I was heading due north towards Austin, Pennsylvania to pick the stones with art prints applied to them. However, I had a few stops before reaching that destiny. One place I stopped at the George B. Stevenson Dam to walk about. Lots of Canada Geese were visible.

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dsc_0134  The water level behind the dam has been dropped due to construction work up creek from the dam. That fact alone pushed  me dsc_0136farther north on the Sinnemahoning. I wanted to fish in the area of construction for bass, bluegills and pickerel.  The area of this dam and watershed is part of the Sinnemahoning State park. The roads to this area were closed, too.

Native Indians called this area “Achsinnimahoni”. This meant “stony lick”. The 1800 era saw massive logging operations. In less than a century the mountains became denuded causing erosion and allowing for wildfires.

Wood Ducks

Wood Ducks

The  dam was built in the early 1950 time frame.

dsc_0129 I arrived along the First Fork of the Sinnemahoning around 9:30 A.M. the eastern sun was just beginning to peak over the mountains on my right as I traveled north. The mountains on my left were in sun. Later, in the day, as I began my trip south the opposite was the case. Heavy frost was present at any areas where the sun’s presence was yet to be felt.                 dsc_0126

I stopped and picked up the stones around 9:45 and, now, I had the rest of the day for myself. I drove up a road that ran alongside of Bailey Run. I had mixed feelings of traveling back this road. Thirty years ago later this month four of us stayed at a camp to hunt bear. The four were Allen Smail (My father.) my brother-in-law, Bob Hudson and a friend David Olinger, and myself.  We had a great time. The mixed feelings came about because in two months from our hunt, Bob would die in a work-related accident. The owner of the camp and a fellow friend would die in August  of 1987 while mowing around the camp. (Just a note my Uncle Carl Smail died forty years ago on November 4th, 1976. he would hunt these hills with my dad and uncles. He passed away while hunting ducks.) This memories were permeating my thoughts as well. I could still feel the happiness, as well as, the grief over this venture.                                                                                  dsc_0123

 

Beech leaves

Beech leaves

I hiked a trail that paralleled  the stream course. I, eventually, walked through head high goldenrods and such taking photos of this beautiful waterways. I saw a Golden Eagle and Wood Ducks. later, I stumbled upon a wetland area seeing Red-Spotted

Winterberry

Winterberry

Newts.

Finally, around 1:00 I worked down to the Sinnemahoning to try my luck fishing. The water was fast in this area and snagging became an issue. However, I took a fall on slippery rocks along the shore. My aging knees were having trouble negotiating on these stones. The rocks, while wading, we worse. I fished about half-an-hour and decided to explore and take photos.

 

Native Brook Trout

Native Brook Trout

Later, I headed up Brooks Run to fish for Native brook trout. I had a blast fishing for these  beauties.

Brooks Run

Brooks Run

They never attain any great size in such small waterways, but I always enjoy catching them. Around three o’clock I began heading towards Quehanna to search out a trail a friend told me about. As stated a lot of the road heading south was covered in shadow by this time. The sun was already dropping behind these high peaks.

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dsc_0002  The early morning trek up the hill was noticeably colder with a heavy frost visible. The frost was present everywhere the upper leaf   dsc_0009canopy was slight. Also, a dense fog engulfed everything. The sights were quite impressive never-the-less.

I, immediately, noticed yesterday’s turkey scratchings upon reaching the hill top.  I turned left and walk along the back side of this hill and the turkey sign was everywhere. I couldn’t walk thirty yards without seeing scratchings.                                                                                dsc_0011

I continued walking the side of the ridge amazed at the amount of sign. I was seeing squirrels all about gathering acorns.Chipmunks, too! It seems the acorns were being utilized by all wildlife.

Hickory leaves

Hickory leaves

I reached the point of this ridgeline when I heard sounds every turkey chaser wants to hear. That sound was the sound of

Sassafras Leaf

Sassafras Leaf

turkey’s scratching in the leaves. Up and over I went and I immediately saw some turkeys running down the slope. A few went airborne as they all went down the hill. I sat for awhile to see if any began yelping. I heard none, but I didn’t stay put for more than fifteen minutes.

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Immature Bald eagle

Immature Bald eagle

I turned to drift along back towards the hollow I just circumvented when I notice a buck standing in the fog. he had a very nice  dsc_0028rack, but fled just as I was ready to snap a shot with my camera. I would see him again.

The leaves didn’t seem to be as colorful this year unless one was along bottomland country near water sources. They seemed as brilliant as ever.

Teasel

Teasel

dsc_0011 I walked along about a good half mile and went up and over another hill. Turkey sign was not as numerous on this side. I

Hornbeam

Hornbeam

spotted a buck moving away from me before stopping at about eighty yards. I started grunting to him. I could see his head looking back over his back. I started scrutinizing the brush and I saw another deer. When the deer turned I could see a very nice rack on him. The first buck turned and began circling me. He showed up about fifteen yards from me. I managed one good shot. the vegetation made focusing very difficult. The big buck didn’t come to me.

I would see some does here and there. I saw an immature Bald Eagle setting in a tree. I couldn’t believe the bird was so far from any major body of water.

 

 

 

 

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