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Archive for the ‘Misc. Nature’ Category

Porcupine

 

Recently I returned to a large track of land to further explore and learn about the diversity. I love checking out new areas, however, finding such spots has become increasingly difficult over the times

I arrived about 7;30 to begin walking a trail. I almost immediately saw a deer up ahead. That would be the last deer sighting of the day. The flats featured some nice timber prior to the descension to the creeks on both sides of the point. I could hear the fats water from my high vantage point. At various places I observed “statues of rocks” someone had created in their jaunts. My early

Golden-crowned Kinglet

thoughts reminded me of ancient times and the worship of Baal by pagan Gentiles. However, I truly doubt and human sacrificing occurred on these altars.

I was slightly disappointed upon reaching a road and coming onto different property with many posted signs on the trees. Oh well, that is the norm in our current society. I returned to the parking place while walking along Bear Creek before going up and over the steep hill.

I entered another area of this property and enjoyed a nice trip through secluded woodlands. I am not sure how the dumping occurred for the area was polluted with hundreds and hundreds of tires and other debris from past travels along this, now-gated, trail.

While traveling this area I managed to get some photos of a Golden-crowned Kinglet and that isn’t an easy task. Those birds set long enough to get a focus and then dart to another limb searching for food. Out of a half a dozen shots I only got one decent photo.

Wood Turtle

I walked along a creek bottom and noticed just how high the creek had become after last week’s torrential rain. At one point I noticed a Wood Turtle along the bank. I couldn’t help wondering if that turtle rode out the recent high water. Maybe the critter had washed down stream for half a mile. Regardless, the turtle wasn’t overly frightened with my presence allowing for many photos.

The Coltsfoot flowers were blooming profusely. Yes, spring is here. The flowers are, often, called dandelions by many, but they are a separate specie.

I found some Round-lobed hepatica flowers almost ready to burst open . Golden Ragwort flowers have buds, but they will soon see a quick spirt in growth offering yellow flowers at around 15-18 inches high.

I was fortunate to see a Great-Horned Owl flying from a tree. No photos of that beauty. Other sightings included Turkey vultures, Canada Geese and Wood Ducks.

I saw an animal in a tree. At first I wasn’t sure if I was seeing a Porcupine or a Raccoon. Eventually, as I closed in, the Porky became obvious.

Coltsfoot Blossom

 

 

Stacked Rocks

 

Bear Creek

 

Round-lobed Hepatica

 

Wood Ducks

 

The morning sun

 

Some fast water

 

Robin

 

Close-up of Wood Turtle

 

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Black Bear (Notice the right eye.)

 

For over thirty years I wanted to explore some wooded land approximately thirty miles away from my home. Every time I ventured through the area I would remind myself of the need to explore and learn about these lands. Today, was the initial beginning of checking out the terrain and forest diversity.

Yesterday, March 26, Laurie and I walked a local game lands for exercise and to enjoy the warm, spring-like weather.  We saw five deer. This morning I was on my own. I knew I would be gone for, at least, half a day if not more. I was anxious to see what interest would befall my jaunt as I began to walk through the woodlands.

  The woodlands began as rather open country, but as I moved down the hill’s side I found some clear-cut areas. Soon I would be walking along a

Old Beaver sign

creek and noticing the remnants of a past Beaver dam. The waterway area was covered with downed grasses from last year. Also, many dead trees were visible wherever the water level from the dam submerged their roots. Downed trees were present and numerous old, weathered cuttings from a Beaver’s history could be readily viewed.

I stopped briefly to have a nature call when I saw the obvious head of a Black Bear. the bruin was about forty to forty-five yards from me. The nature call was aborted immediately!

I quickly realized two observations. One was that the bear was bedded and secondly, he was a huge bear. he turned his head, both left and right at times. Eventually, his gaze was in my direction. The big bear had something wrong with his right eye. (Look closely at the photos included here.) Obviously, I began taking photos whenever I could see the head well enough without limb interference. The head was big and the bear was obviously a huge male bear.

I stood on site for somewhere between five and eight minutes, before the bear stood up. Once I saw the body the size of head fell into place. The bear appeared to relieve himself. Once completed the bear turned towards the left and meandered upslope between an opening on the hill behind.

  I moved upstream to find a place easily forded. I moved through a wetlands before going up and over a slight rise in the terrain. My hope was to circle around for better photos. The bear was never viewed again although I moved up a hollow and up over a hill. I was tickled at seeing this great beast.

I walked along for approximately five hours this day seeing  a flock of turkeys and seven deer. At one point, I noticed something white at about thirty-five yards. A gobbler’s head with his body hidden by terrain. As soon as our eyes met the bird was gone.

A lot of BlueJay feathers told the story of a hawk’s meal.

I actually became bewildered for a time in this big area, but as you can see I found my direction.

Other sightings included a Red-tailed Hawk, Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, Mallards and Vultures. I was home around two and somewhat tired, but I sure was thrilled with this day’s events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last year’s Squawroot.

 

 

Canada Goose

 

Frog eggs

 

Wood Ducks

 

 

 

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The Natural World

 

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Robin

Since having issues with placing photos on my site, I still have been out and about enjoying the natural world. I always enjoy seeing wildlife and I have heard gobblers on a couple of mid-morning jaunts. I am always looking for those small items of interest often overlooked by most people.  Some of the photos feature such things of interest.

Alder blossoms

Although I have been seeing Robins over winter at times. The numbers of Robins over the last several months have been plentiful. many times I hear

A group of mollusk shells all together.

of  people seeing their first Robins and making issue of spring being here. However, Robins can be found throughout even in winter as long as a good food supply is present.

One interesting observation were a number of mollusk shells. We always called them snails. They were all grouped together. Were they trying to keep warm or having a snail party?

Canada Geese are apparently nesting. two gave me some mean honks as I circled a pond. I didn’t look for their nest, but I suspect it may have been close because of their actions.

 

Ringneck Pheasant tail feather

 

Somebody spit out their chewing gum. (Turkey dropping)

 

 

Praying Mantis egg case

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I have been on this Pennsylvania Game Commission property several times over the years, but this particular area I had not been on for a long time. The last, and only, time I hiked this section was at the time the Deer Tick explosion was in full swing.  I was calling turkeys in September and the birds were very vocal. I had my camera ready as I crouched between some limbs from a downfall. For whatever reason I glanced down to my pants and ticks were everywhere. I killed a few and decided to get the heck out of Dodge.  Ticks can ruin an otherwise enjoyable hike. In fact, I removed and destroyed about ten this morning, too. I hadn’t seen many at all over the hunting season last year.

I lucked out with watching a longboard gobbler with his harem of about eight hens. He wasn’t too concerned over my presence with so many admirers all around him.  They carefully went up the hill away from me and within moments they were all out-of-site.  I saw several deer, too.

Owl pellet

I kept my eyes towards the trees, as I walked, searching for a Great-Horned Owl’s nest. I found  one of his pellets. Hair and bones within the pellet told the story of some poor

Multiflora Rose

mammal being utilized as food. I did not see any nests. (Owl pellets consist of any hair, feathers and bone regurgitated by the owl. These are not digestible and discarded from the internal stomach of the owl. I have found complete mouse skulls on occasions.)

Much of the area had fairly open timber with visibility of over a hundred yards, however, once I got into an area with Multiflora Rose I began noticing ticks. Those pesky critters like to crawl out the stems and attach themselves to anything that brushes against the rose stalks. Theses plants are around the first to leaf out each spring.

There were some patches of another painful plant scattered throughout the walk.The Green Briar is a native plant to Pennsylvania. Those thorns can add much pain to a human calf or arm.

I circled around this property and eventually began a descent back towards my jeep. The walk was enjoyable and I was plea

 

Green Briar

 

Birch leaf illuminated by the early sun.

 

 

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hen

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Redbank Creek

Last week I was on the Redbank Valley Association’s trail to hike from the community of Climax, Pennsylvania to New Bethlehem. The day was to be sunny, but the temperature at dawn was below freezing for I could see ice build up on non-moving water.

Eagle nest

I was chilled initially for the sun had not risen over the tops of the hill hills to my right. However, it was bright enough to see. I kept a quickened pace to get the “blood flowing” as the old timers used to say. Laurie and I had walked a section of this area last spring, but this time I was determined to complete my goal.

Various birdlife was heard and viewed along the trail. Chickadees, Cardinals, Song Sparrows and Bluejays were common. Crows flew overhead at times as did a Red-Tailed hawk. I had hoped to see a Bald eagle foe a nest is visible to see to the observant. The big birds were not active this morning.

Old railroad ties

Canada geese were present at places with their honking “to scold me” racket. I did see a hand full of deer.

Beaver sign was spotted throughout the traveling. Some cuttings were old and some were fresh. Turkey, deer and coyote tracks were on the trail.

A lot of history remains can be seen along this trail,. Old coke ovens from the later twenty years or so of the eighteen hundreds are scattered around. they would refine the coal into a carbon for hotter burning. An old bridge over Long Run had some wash out issues and was roped off, but I crossed it anyway on the way back through. Old remnants of railroad ties could be seen here and there. They were in bad shape for the most part and covered with a thick carpet of moss. I walked through the old Climax Tunnel which recently had been repaired for public use again.

As I maneuvered along, especially on the return trip, the sun had come up and created some warmth. It was a beautiful morning to be out.

I haven’t been able to add photos the way I had traditional completed the task. I have discovered an different way so I am back in action again.

Bridge over Long Run just south of New Bethlehem.

 

 

Old coke ovens

 

Song Sparrow

 

Beaver cuttings

 

Climax Tunnel

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Beautiful Pennsylvania

Last Friday and a clear day was being forecasted. I knew a walk was going to become reality. I prepared with the needed apparel for the temperature in Kittanning was a sultry 8 degrees early.

I realized rather quickly that the cold temperatures and the breezy conditions were creating a chill. I picked up my pace to get the “old blood” moving for warmth.

The wildlife must have “holed up” for I didn’t see much except for one deer and various small birds. I walked old common roads, trails and woodland areas. I looked up on occasion to search for Great-horned Owl nests. Finding their nests can be difficult, but if you do walk upon one they are often easily discerned. Nests can be quite large at times.

Porcupine quills

I did find an unusual subject. I noticed some black among the underbrush. Upon a closer look I was surprised to see a dead porcupine. Of course the wondering thoughts begin as to what killed the small creature.

Ruffed Grouse track in the frost

Another sight of rarity anymore were a series of grouse tracks.  I sure miss hearing those drumming Ruffed Grouse and their thundering wings.

 

An old snag.

 

 

 

Frost

 

 

Old hornet’s nest

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A Winter Wonderland

The winter of 2019 and 2020 has not produced a lot of snowfall this season. The snows we have had were not very heavy at all and any snow amounts have been less than a few inches in my area of the state. We have witnessed spring-like weather often. rain has been  abundant during this year’s winter.

However, very early Friday morning (February 7) produced measurable snow. We received approximately five inches of beautiful snow. The trees were covered with snow. every limb and briar and grasses had snow weighing them down.

   Mid morning found Laurie and I visiting a local state game lands for a hike. Very quickly into our walk produced a big flock of robins. I noticed a few Cedar Waxwings flying among the flock.

We walked and stopped periodically to view the snow-laden forest and feel the serenity of such a day.                                        

The snow continued falling as we walked and I needed to hold my hand over the camera as much a possible to prevent much snow building up on the lens and camera body. At one point I stopped and removed the camera from around my neck to place it into my shoulder bag for protection. Suddenly, I heard vocalizations from Laurie. I looked up and a beautiful mahogany-colored Fisher moved across in front of us at about twenty-five feet. We were, both, thrilled to see this critter.

We circled around and found tracks two more times where the Fisher had moved across our where we would be walking.

This morning, (February 8) found me moving upslope prior to sunrise at another location in the Cherry Run area. the thick crabapple and dogwood hill side made moving tricky. I had to knock the snow off limbs at various places to keep the snow falling down my neck.

I covered the woodlands seeking photo opportunities to capture as much as this winter wonderland as I could find. As a photographer I looked about looking for shots I liked with good contrasts and compositions. I took some memory photos, too. These pics are simply a picture I want to have whenever I get to a place in my life of not being able to get out and enjoy. Such a photo may not be a good composition just a place I wish to remember.

I located deer beds at various places and would, at one point, see five deer. I found one fresh turkey tracks. Where are the rest?

 

North Branch Cherry Run

 

 

 

Cherry Run

 

Fisher tracks

 

 

 

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