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Archive for the ‘Misc. Nature’ Category

I like the summer weather when the humidity is low and having cool early-morning temperatures. With such conditions I decided to spend some hours enjoying the conditions.

This venture would include a two or more mile hike and some fishing.

I was fortunate to see some wildlife this morning. I saw eight different deer and three buck. Two were running together in the fog and I managed one decent photo of one standing in the fog watching me. I saw two turkeys feeding along the woodland edge. I saw a Great-horned Owl fly out of a tree. if I would have been faster I could have managed a possible in-flight shot. Rabbits were out and about, as well.

Buck in the fog

During my walk I came upon a few bear tracks. I have been fortunate in recent weeks with bear sightings and I had hoped this one might appear somewhere along the trail.

Bear Track

Eventually I settled in for a little fishing. I had my very light tackle and began the fishing for Carp, but the catfish were biting well. I caught around seven or eight cats. One Bullhead managed a quick turn sending the pectoral barb into the fleshy part by my thumb. The barb actually stayed in the “meat” until I pulled on the fish to remove it. That has never happened before.

I haven’t been “hit” by a catfish barb for many years and the realization of those experiences immediately came to be. I bled, I hurt and became slightly swollen and red. In fact as I type this entry on Monday the 12th I can still feel a slight pain.

Some readers may not know what I am talking about at this time. The catfish family have stiff barbs on their dorsal and pectoral fins. To release a catfish one needs to grasp the fish in such a way the barbs can not jab into the hand. I have heard some believe they have a slight toxin and they might have some validity.

This morning had another first for me. My brand new, never-worn, boots were on my feet. I walked behind to the Nature’s Restroom, and noticed something shining among the vegetation. I had tramped upon a fishing lure and the one treble hook was firmly in place. I removed the boot to remove the plug and luckily the hook was in the thick bottom of the boot and not through the thinner material.

I took some photos of various wildflowers during the jaunt. I found the source of the Coronavirus, too. They grow on small shrubs in Pennsylvania. See photo below.

Swamp Milkweed

Dogbane Beetles

Coronavirus Blossom on a Button Bush

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Huling’s Run

I hadn’t been in this area for some time and decided with the desirable weather I would revisit. Huling’s Run is a beautiful waterways, at least the upper part is. I haven’t been along the lower section of the stream for some time either. The last time I was in that area I was greatly disappointed. Man with ATV type vehicles had been all over causing great erosion problems.

Rhododendron blossoms

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That’s a Bear was heard. I don’t believe I audibly spoke those words, but I do know I thought those words in my mind, at least.

The sky was overcast at this time of the morning. The weatherman said the skies would open up soon, so I was in the woods early. The time was somewhere around seven o’clock when I saw the black form around thirty to thirty-five yards out. the moment our eyes made contact the form moved fifteen feet or so before stopping. I struggled to get the camera focused on the bear’s head. Saplings and leaves , along with the darkened woodlands forbade that focus as needed.

The bear began moving away when I noticed cubs coming up behind her. I no with certainty of two cubs, but with the terrain, vegetation and such there may have been three. As soon as the bears were over the grade I moved hoping to see them again, but they were out of my view already.

My day was made. I could have turned around and went home a happy man, but I continued walking to see what other things of interest were out ahead.

I would see six deer and one fawn before I headed off to home.

I saw three Ravens up close before they noticed me, too. More photos below of the adventure out in the woods this morning.

Land stage of the Red-spotted Newt.

Stink Horn

This Stinkhorn is a fungus having many subspecies. They have a foul-smelling odor with the spores.

Goat’s Beard Blossom

Goat’s Beard Seed Pod

I found an introduced plant of interest along the fields. The name is the Goat’s Beard. It yields an

attractive yellow blossom followed by a dandelion-like seed pod. However, the seed pod shown above is close to three inches in diameter.

Striped maple leaf glowing in the sunlight.

Bee Balm or Oswego

Indian Pipe

Indian Pipe is a parasitic organism. It is, also, known as the Ghost Plant, for obvious reasons.

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Late Wild Turkey Eggs

We have had some hot, humid weather recently and a 62 degree morning and lessening humidity was the ticket for me to get out for a morning jaunt. A always I had hoped to see a bear or two, but this morning proved to be “bearless.” However, I wasn’t disappointed with the wildlife sightings.

I did see four hens out and about feeding and one incubating her eggs. I was almost upon her when she unnerved and flushed. I was surprised to see a clutch of eggs this late into the season. She had, probably, lost her first nest for any number of reasons and re-laid a second clutch of eggs. I hope she returns to finish the task at hand.

Two of the hens had poults with them. The one in vegetation shielded the poults so I could barely see any, but I saw a back or two of poults. The second hen with poults had, at least, 5-6 visible babies. I am sure others were in amongst the vegetation. These poults were the size of a Ruffed Grouse or Pheasant. I failed to get any photos.

I saw four deer in totality with two being male deer.

I saw plenty of rabbits during the walk and one Grey Squirrel.

Various summertime wildflowers are blooming and I couldn’t resist taking some photos, as I always do.

I dressed accordingly to the season in regard to Deer Flies. In other words, I had a light flannel shirt and a hat on to deter these pesky and painful insects. I killed one and only witnessed several others. I was lucky for sometimes I am likened to a World war II, B-29 Bomber with many German Messerschmidt 109 fighters diving from all directions. Did I say I despise Deer Flies?

Beautiful morning

Hen turkey

Black-Eyed Susan

Dogbane Beetle

I was glad to find a number of the Dogbane Beetles. As a youngster I would catch these insects and study The brilliance of the iridescent colors. Many, probably, believed I wasn’t right as a child as many still do today.

Milkweed in blossom

Downy Skullcap

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The Bear

Grape leaves

Wednesday, June 23, I left early to go walking and taking photos of anything I could see of interest. I hiked up a gas well road to the top of a long grade to watch the sun filtering on the eastern sides of the trees. The brightness of the early morning sun made some deepening contrasts allowing for some nice landscape photos.

Later, I talked to a member of the Pennsylvania game Commission along the township road and told him I was hoping to see a bear. He was on his way to mow. I went across the hill to check out some more areas.

The walking was pleasant but as the morning turned towards noon the heat was increasing.

All in all, I saw eight deer, two hen turkeys and an injured rabbit. However, I was greatly blessed to have a bear come into an open area allowing me to see the size in its entirety. The bear, estimated 250 to 300 pounds’ didn’t see me initially and we, both, were startled some. He was more scared of me. I was not one bit scared although he was only about thirty-five yards from me.

When the bear’s eyes turned to see me, he looked like a cartoon character running in place for a millisecond before gaining traction. I am describing the bear as a male because mating season is happening currently and most single bear are normally males seeking out females.

Her are a few photos from the day. take note I didn’t get the camera in place fast enough for a bear photo.

Indigo Bunting

An old tree with character.

The squirrel believed he was hide from me.

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Alvin Bush Dam on Kettle Creek

The mountain traveling and breakfast had been completed before the two if us moved east to visit the Kettle Creek area. The Alvin Bush dam controls the water of Kettle Creek. We enjoyed sightseeing some before I drifted back a small stream called, Beaverdam Run. I settled in for some time to catch the native Brook trout again. I wasn’t disappointed.

Why I enjoy fishing for these beauts is a mystery for kettle Creek has big trout in the waters. I think the reason in part may be the solitude of lack of seeing any other fishermen.

After a time the jeep wanted to climb a mountain road. On the top Laurie and I witnessed some beautiful vistas seeing for great distances.

The plan to complete the day was to return west taking Wykoff Run Road in route to the Quehanna Highway again. I wanted to take a couple of short hikes to long-abandoned bunkers and the Kunes camp. (These adventures will be included within separate entries.

Dam backwaters

We saw some hen turkeys and deer and many Turkey Vulture. I saw a Black Squirrel but failed to get any photos. We saw over fifty elk during our time north.

Turkey Vulture

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I arose early deciding to climb the mountain behind the lodge we were staying. I gawked across the Bennett’s Branch of the Sinnemahoning just in time to see an early rising bald Eagle fly high and above the waters. Actually, I was high enough to be looking down upon the bird. The mature eagle looked so elegant. Four, then six, deer walked alongside my position about the same time as the flying eagle. the deer continued along slowly assuming my presence to be peaceful. I glanced down slope and saw, at least, three more deer moving through some thicker pines. I would see additional deer as this time moved forward.

I went into the lodge to see Laurie was awake. I told her my plans and she said breakfast should be around eight o’clock. Off I went to begin the ascend.

The shadow on the distant mountain is from the mountain I am standing on.

I followed old logging trails at times. These trails often went diagonally upslope in a zig-zag method. Even so the mountain was steep! My hopes was to reach the top in a timely manner, also I wanted to capture photos of the rising sun against the mountain tops. The hollows in darkened shadows against an illuminating sunrise can make for great photos.

The summit was in sight when two large birds flew into a tree about a hundred and seventy-five yards from my approach. They were silhouetted against the brightening skyline. I believe they were eagles, but I never saw either bird well enough to identify.

I continued at that angle to come upon a very steep hollow. At this time I realized the timing would not allow additional climbing, although I believe fifteen minutes would have made the top possible. I would need to begin my descension.

Going uphill was bad for someone of my age, however, going downslope would be painful on the knees. The hillside was covered with rocks and very dry leaves in places. Either could cause me to head downhill faster than I would like. In fact, I did fall once.

Besides the Bald eagle, deer, possible eagles, I would see two pairs of Canada Geese.

I captured many photos of the sunrise and contrasted mountain tops. Some are included here in this entry.

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With the weather of springtime the urge to watch the reemergence of life in the wild is strong. This past week I was out and about on several different days. I fished the Allegheny River one morning and did some woods-walking to see the wildflower progress and I searched a little for the Morel Mushroom. I had no luck yet with the Morels, but it may be a little early locally.

I went directly below the dam in Kittanning, Pennsylvania. I found the currents much too wild for me. I casted twice and snagged twice. I mover farther down the river and eventually found an area shielded from the current. I caught a catfish. I saw an immature Bald Eagle being harassed by a crow. I spotted a few Common Mergansers.

During the time in the woods I saw and heard some gobblers and I noticed some hen turkeys out and alone. They are leaving the gobblers to go nesting. Once their clutch of eggs are complete the incubation process will begin.

I worked with my crossbow again. I am having some issues during the string pull-back time. Sometimes I am having troubles getting the string to lock in the proper place. I need to figure out what I am doing wrong or if there may be a mechanical issue. (I pulled a muscle in my arm so the adventure consisted of about four attempts to shoot. At twenty yards I was hitting a six-inch paper plate.

I have been seeing plenty of deer, also.

Various spring wildflowers are emerging. Wild Leeks (Ramps) are all out. The Cutleaf-Toothworts and Spring Beauties are blooming. Various violets are in bloom as well. I have seen Dutchmen Breeches, Hepatica and White and Purple Trilliums in bloom. Another week the woods will covered in their blooms where they are present.

No morels, yet!

Apple blossoms…I hope we don’t get a heavy frost.

Leeks

Turkey Vulture in the fog

Water Strider…we always called them Skippers as a boy.

Female Common Merganser

Quills from a dead Porcupine.

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A friend of mine and I were talking about Screech Owls and my nesting box success. As the conversation continued plans to build him a box came into mind. I said I may have enough scrap lumber overhead in the garage. I continued, if I find enough I would build one for his residence.

I found a sixteen inch wide board I had placed overhead. The board was a shelf board. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough to make the owl box without using some old weathered deck boards I had saved. The back and bottom of the box were made with these boards.

This morning I watched the skies and decided to run the box out to his place before doing some hiking. I rang the doorbell and lightly knocked without a response. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but in case the couple were sleeping I decided to set the box down before heading to the woods. I would later find out they were home but neither one had heard me outside and the bell was disconnected.

Afterwards, I walked in familiar country where I often hunt. I spotted a flock of turkeys in a field of around 7-8 birds. I circled around the field and tried to see the flock. They had already exited the field. I heard a couple of toms gobbling far off in leased land.

I had a bag of native Wild Leek with me and I planted a stalk of the leek, also called Ramps, here and there hoping the bulbs would survive allowing for established future colonies. I had planted a few last year, but couldn’t find any. However, I plant randomly and could easily miss the leeks.

Early Virginia Bluebells

Last year I had carried and transplanted some Virginia Bluebells. These, like the leek, are native plants. I recognized a spring seep remembering I had planted something in this area. I found two of the flowers growing. These flowers self-sow readily so I hope to find an increase soon.

I would see about eleven deer as I tramped around. I would see about five gobblers moving out ahead of my approach. I would see a lone hen, a gobbler with two hens and another strutter as the morning moved. I saw several strutting gobblers on a right-a-way, too.

As I walked I tried to concentrate and find some Morels, but I was having trouble staying on target with the fungus. It felt too dry to me.

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This morning we have rain and clouds. Yesterday, was a sunny and pleasant day. If I had to chose which day to hike the answer was obvious ,,,yesterday!

I had no destination in mind so I went to Lock #8 on the Allegheny River to walk up the tracks towards the old Reesedale Power Plant. This would allow to watch over the river for soaring Bald eagles since there is a nest near. I didn’t see any eagles this day, but a Turkey Vulture soared the skies.

I walked along keeping aware of my surroundings. I noticed the Coltsfoot flower blossoms present, but not open. Remember the temperatures this morning was around thirty degrees. Ice was hanging from exposed rocks and a sheen of ice was present on areas of standing water.

Coltsfoot blossoms

I saw some small birdlife here and there, but one thrill occurred when I heard something moving in the leaves. Three gobblers had been surprised by my approach. How they missed me would prove to be rare for turkeys tend to not miss much.

Canada Geese and Mallard Ducks were spotted here and there along the river. i saw another specie of waterfowl but couldn’t identify them. I found some tadpoles in the cold water. They didn’t seem to be concerned with the icy water at all.

This little tadpole would not quit watching me.

One bird that surprised me as I was returning was a male Ringneck Pheasant. I managed several photos of this beauty.

White-throated Sparrow

Ice balls

Dripping water

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