Archive for the ‘Misc. Nature’ Category

Crooked Creek

As a young fellow Crooked Creek flowed orange in color from past mining operations. Efforts were     completed and the waters normalized into a beautiful waterways moving towards the Allegheny River at Rosston, Pennsylvania. I remember seeing a greenish water in years past, however all the rocks and such were still orange. I, also, remember with these conditions showing my cousin a small group of baby Bullhead Catfish circling around the shoreline water. I said, at the time, this creek is becoming clean. And how the waters became clean! Time wasn’t long once the greens and blues became dominant and the orange acid left. the fisheries filled the waters rapid, too. Today many species of fish inhabit Crooked Creek.

I enjoy walking along the creek when I have a chance and I enjoy casting a line, too. This day, June 13th, was such a day. I fished some and I walked some.                                                                                                           

I caught a lot of Bluegills, a Hickory Sucker and a few Smallmouth Bass. Mostly I walked and took photos as a remembrance.



Great Blue Heron track



My dad and I would go to this area and gather “crabs” to go bass fishing. Of course those crabs are actually crawfish, but we  always called them crabs. Gathering these critters was as much a sport as bass fishing to us.

I only saw one Great Blue Heron on this excursion, but I saw several doe and four fawns while traveling to fish and walk.

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  A secondary place I had planned on visiting on my day trip was the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Fish Hatchery at  Tionesta. This hatchery is along the Allegheny River. I had not been at this hatchery in many, many years. We had stopped, as a family, while traveling to Kinzua Dam to see it and fish. I was a little fellow at the time. I remember seeing aquariums at the hatchery with live fish. I wanted to test my memory and reminisce.

Wild Columbine

The hatchery began operations in 1928. This day employees were working with Walleye and Muskellunge fry. Fingerling Tiger Muskies were, also, available for a future stocking. The workers were very kind and shared information on the process with me. Those little inch and a half Muskie fry will be ready to stock in October as fish around 7-9 inches, possibly more. That is a rapid growth.


Allegheny River at Tionesta

I walked down to the Allegheny River and enjoyed memories of fishing here those many years ago. Mergansers were in the area enjoying the sun.


I spotted some Red-spotted Newts in the still water areas. I had seen my first newt of my young life at this very place. I am weird like that for I remember being excited over seeing an amphibian.


Callen Run

I traveled cross country towards Belltown. I was heading to the Heath Pump Station Hatchery. This small-scale hatchery is run by the local sportsman’s club. Callen Run is on site. Years ago, my brother-in-law, Bob Hudson and I would always make a trip to see and sometimes fish for the trout. Bob would be killed in a work-related accident in 1988. I had not been there since prior to his passing. Many memories surfaced.


A live Muskie…Frankie’s Pal!

I walked along the Clarion River while visiting the hatchery.


Ready to bloom!

Pennsylvania’s state flower is the Mountain Laurel. Although some were in full bloom, another week from now would be been

Mountain Laurel

better. These flowers should be about in full array in another week.

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Ostrich Fern

I remember hearing of Buzzard Swamp in my teen years. The words I had heard were from grizzled old hunters stating of people becoming lost in the area in times past. Now I can see why. The area minus the trails and man-made ponds loos the same in all directions. the land is primarily flat.

Beaver Dam


This morning I left the house about 4:30 A.M. for the trip north to Buzzard Swamp. This land has been managed for wildlife through efforts of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the United States Forest Service. The location of the site is near Lolita, Pennsylvania and south of Marienville.

   I arrived on site around six in the morning to a balmy thirty-eight degrees. I shuffled around getting my gear organized when I  remembered to turn my cell phone on. I was immediately warned of a message. I was stunned with the words from my friend, Galen Braddy from North Carolina. The message was a mutual friend Ken Crummett of West Virginia being in the hospital. Ken had had a stroke. As I type this entry I am awaiting details and further word of Ken. A few weeks ago I spent time with Galen, Ken, and Kip Feroce during the first week of gobbler season. ken and Galen both bagged gobblers locally. The news sure dampened the hiking mood for me, but I tried to make the best of the situation managing to spend some time walking around a wildlife propagation area and beyond.


Tree Swallow

Deer were everywhere! I have no idea just how many deer I had seen here on site and while traveling. I was blessed to see three  fawns, too.                                                                                    

Like deer, Canada Geese were very abundant. I could see a lot of goslings about, as well. I witnessed some Mallards and Wood Ducks, and later, I saw some Mergansers. I saw some gobblers and hens at various locations, too. A lot of birdlife used the area. Swallows, Bobolinks, robins, warblers, Red-winged Blackbirds…  Next entry will include some places I visited. The areas were sites that were important to me in years past or have special memories.                                                                          

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  I was out for a couple of mornings over the last few days. The purpose was to complete several things. One was to listen for   gobblers. Another was to take photos of spring and various things of spring. One more item was to search for the elusive Morel Mushroom.                                       

I really enjoy this time of the year. The rejuvenation of the woodlands always inspires me. I have hope when I see the greens and yellows explode with new leaves and vegetation. Of course, those who know me understand how I appreciate the numerous and varied wildflowers. they have been emerging with rapid growth.

  A recent morning was foggy, but the turkeys were already down. I walked up on two and later walked into about eight birds. I

Non-native: Mustard Garlic

crossed a very steep and deep ravine because the White Trilliums are thick enough to almost resemble snow. I wanted to observe.  Wild Leek is common in places. Other flowers were the rue Anemones; Spring Beauties and Purple Trilliums.                                                                    

As I reached the opposite hillside I could hear a hen yelping behind where I had come down over the hollow. I called some when I heard a distant gobble in a field behind me. I would ease to the field’s edge and see what I could find. I saw three toms and one hen way out in the field. Occasional gobbles came from these birds.                                                                                          

I would find eight Morels but I only picked four since some were small. I failed to find any others as I traveled about. 

This morning was at another locale and was saddened at first when I failed to hear any gobbling. A dark cloud bank was coming in from the south and I believed that darkness may be interfering with the turks.  However, two Canada geese flew through honking away and their noise caused a distant gobbler to explode twice.

I walked a field and heard nothing as I watched the sun sneak from the east. I walked back the same way planning to turn into an area with vines to   search for morels when one tom gobbled close. I entered the tree line to observe the field. Another gobbler, and yet another began gobbling to my left. The bird up front crossed the field to the other two gobblers. I watched them exit the field. Back to morel hunting. I found only one!

  In another area from where the other turkeys were I could a gobbler. Soon, A couple of more gobblers joined in.                                                                              

I set down and enjoyed their singing. Some of us consider gobbling to be musical!

I continued circling around and watched two Great-Horned Owls flying about. I managed one photo albeit the quality isn’t the best.

Virginia Bluebells

As promised I needed to go my cousin’s place to help with his fish pond. I brought to my creek about seven frogs.

  While traveling I saw three longbeards and a hen and. later six turkeys far off in a field. I would see four deer today and a couplemof squirrels.                                                                                      

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  I need to ask how one can be so stupid! I filled up my hands and began walking down the slope to fish. I

Dutchman’s Breeches

stooped to pick up a worm that was on the dry trail and realized I had forgotten my fishing license. How stupid is that?



Immediately I turned to plan B. I was going to fish a few hours before hiking along with taking photos. I drove to the site I had planned to walk and it was still only about 6:30 A.M. The sun was up and the atmospheric conditions were perfect. My bad luck of forgetting my fishing license allowed  for

Spring Beauty

some great photos.

  The route I took to hike was covered with early spring wildflowers. Spring Beauties; Dutchman’s Breeches; Rue Anemones; Violets and others could be found in plentiful numbers. Trilliums were soon to bloom. The Skunk Cabbage was growing quickly.

Rue Anemone

I searched for morels at times, but failed to see any of those morsels.

  I saw some Gray Squirrels and one Fox squirrel. I saw Great Blue herons and Belted Kingfishers. I sat down on a log to enjoy the beauty when I noticed  movement in the air. A mature bald eagle landed about seventy-five yards from me and began to make shrill calls. I took a couple of photos even though I knew the photos wouldn’t be the best quality. I saw an immature eagle flying. I heard gobblers off in the distance occasionally.

Wild Leek

I saw some Canada Geese at times and some unidentifiable waterfowl, too.

The four hour hike ended as the sun was making much heat. I elected to stop and visit my friend J Kip Feroce at his camp. he was there and surprised to see me. We planned some spring gobbler hunts.

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  The day was shaping up into a nice typical spring day. I headed east to go for a hike, but while traveling through Whitesburg, Pennsylvania, I felt an urge to pull into the Whitesburg United Methodist Church. I checked the mirror and quickly turned right into their drive.

I began a slow walk with memorial tombstones on all sides. I picked up a deer antler and placed the “horn” on top of Bob Hudson’s stone. Bob was married to my sister and was killed in a work-related accident in 1987. He was only 31.  The memories started to flow!  The slow gait witnessed my great-grandparent homemade stone. I had never met them. My very own grandparents were here, too. Great uncles and great aunts, cousins and friends all have found their last resting place within these hallowed grounds. Aunts and uncles are resting here.

Finally I arrived at a special memorial stone. The Stars and Stripes hangs beside the stone telling all the person buried at this site was a veteran. The    man name is Allen K. Smail. He was my father passing away on father’s day 1999. I cleaned up around the marker removing many blown leaves that had rested there with him.  Silent words were spoken and some mist in the eyes formed during our talk.  I miss him!


To my right a small stone is setting. This small stone is for  my sister, Glenna Mae Smail who passed away in infancy in 1962. Many thought bounced around my brain wondering the usual “what ifs.” Would I have had nieces and nephews if she would have survived into womanhood?  I like to think she would have grown into a beautiful woman living a life of joy. Of course, I’ll never know these answers.

I was sad! I continued to walk on familiar grounds to think. I would take a hike along hills and hollows near and around Cherry Run. This area is a place where memories abound for I played, hunted, fished and hiked everywhere.

The woodlands are yet to show much new and refreshed vegetation. I noticed Coltsfoot flowers all over. I had seen my first Coltsfoot of the season way back in February since we witnessed much warmth at the time. Other flowers present were the Spring Beauty and Bloodroot.  Skunk Cabbage is doing well despite recent cold weather.                                      

I saw one deer this day.

Wednesday morning I listened for gobblers at a different place very early and heard none. By 6:30 A.M. I dark cloud bank enveloped the entire area. This may have dampened turkey talk. However, while traveling home in mid-morning I would see a flock of about 15-18 in a field. The clouds had allowed the sun to filter through by mid-morning. I saw six deer.



A Cooper’s Hawk was soaring low through the woods and came to about twelve feet before noticing me and abruptly changing the course of flight.I was blessed to hear and courtship ritual of a Woodcock during the moments at dawn.

I stopped and surprised my mother on the way home.


My mother, Ruth Smail Miller

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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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