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Archive for the ‘Misc. Nature’ Category

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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Immature Bald Eagle

Has spring arrived to western Pennsylvania? Weather-wise the indication is yes! Today was a day of sun and warming temperatures. I suppose the warmth factor reached close to sixty degrees with another day of warmth tomorrow. Regardless if winter shows up again or not, the need to get today was high for me. I elected to travel to the Mahoning Dam area to see what I could see.

The Mahoning Dam was completed in 1941 as a flood control measure for those along the Allegheny River. The dam received the name from the watercourse being controlled. The waterway is known as Mahoning Creek.

Mahoning Dam

I parked high on the hill and walked in to the dam area and later walked to another area to move along the Baker Trail. After all this was to be a day of relaxation and exercise. for me. I was on no time schedule only a sense of completion would rule the plans.

There were no people at first and I walked to the area below the dam. Here I would see Common Mergansers and two Bald Eagles. One mature eagles didn’t offer to me a photo but the immature eagle sure did allowing for a number of quick flying shots.

Later I returned to the parking area and walked a different road to the actual top of the dam where a trail was taken to explore. This trail was a part of the famous Baker Trail, however, I left the trail where it turned abruptly upslope. I wanted to walk along the shoreline of the backwaters of the Mahoning. I was surprised to see the backwaters were about ninety percent covered in ice.

Interesting sounds erupted the solitude as I ventured along the rocky slopes. Ice was creaking all over the northern slope of the dam. The southern slope was void of ice, but it became steeper the farther I walked. Eventually, I was forced to go higher and get into the wooded area due to the steepness of the banks. The water level was about thirty feet or so from the high water line on the steep slopes.

Before the shoreline became steep
Last year’s Common Mullein stalks.

Interesting natural designs in the dried mud on the rocks.

Wind moving the open water areas.

Below the dam.

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I was traveling to southern Armstrong County to explore an area I had never been at before. I was moving towards the area on this mid-teen morning while seeing the eastern sky glow just prior to sunrise. This morning was to be chilly but sunny and I felt good taking the opportunity to move about.

I began walking on an establish gas line/ trail and moved downslope for a short distance when huge rocks were viewed. Here was the area where I would be moving along at first. A narrow trail followed the hill’s contour sometimes on ground and sometimes over and across rocky outcrops. The slope itself was rather steep on my right. Occasionally, I could see hints of the Kiskiminitas River.

Rearick’s Ford area of Crooked Creek

I was pleasantly happy to see these huge rocks and no graffiti. That is a rare site!

Eventually this narrow trail turned downhill and sharply to my right. I could hear high water way below. The stream I was hearing is called Flat Run. This watercourse featured some big rocks with water cascading through them.

Kiskiminitas River

After enjoying this fast-moving water I elected to move farther down over and walk on the trail towards Edmon, Pennsylvania, Interestingly, this part of the Roaring Run Trail was not on an original railway. This section had hills and hollows. I saw five deer, a Fox Squirrel and two Grey Squirrels. Once I was close to the river I would see Mallard Ducks and Mergansers. I noticed a shadow over the muddy water of the river and upon looking up saw a Bald eagle. Later I would see three more deer.

The western side of the hill. Notice the sun-lit hill in the background.

Beaver works

Before returning towards my home I stopped over at Crooked Creek Park. the dam was holding back lots of water, but the Bald eagles were truly enjoying there time. I am not sure, but I must have seen seven to eight eagles. They were flying, soaring chasing each other and landing on remnants of ice. Later, at the Allegheny River I would see Common and Hooded Mergansers and Ring-billed Gulls.I had an enjoyable day.

This tree was around fifteen inches in diameter.

Mature Bald eagles

Immature Bald eagles

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Beech grove

I enjoy snow-covered times to hike. I always attempt to head out in the evening to walk occasionally. Sometimes these evening walks catch me not arriving back until darkness has overtaken the woods. But that is great and yields a special feeling of nostalgia with me for I often did such travels even in my youth.

I had some memories of the site shown in these photos. This site was the very last time I had my Springer Spaniel for a winter walk some years ago. The dog was rapidly approaching blindness, but she still had the vigor to enjoy walking with the old man. However, she was running into tangled brush and trees so often that I realized this was getting dangerous for her. A sad time.

Beech leaves

The Beech trees shown in the photo carry last year’s leaves throughout winter until te time of new leaf growths begin. The orange leaves make for a nice contrast against the snow.

One photo shows Holly leaves. I only saw one such shrub and wondered just how this plant started.

Holly

I walked around as the darkness crept along arriving back to the jeep close to dark. A rain had begun to fall by this time. I would see a total of eight deer.

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Immature Bald Eagles. (Notice the Common Merganser in the rear bird’s talons.)

The mid-morning through early afternoon was brisk. The temperature was somewhere in the lower twenty degree mark. But, I wanted to get out and walk around some and look for Bald Eagles. I was heading to Crooked Creek Park.

I bundled up and set along the bank for about an hour and watching four immature eagles the entire time. Photo opportunities were not the best for the most part, but I certainly enjoyed watching a bird that was considered close to extinction during the time of my youth. What a remarkable comeback!.

This ground area in forefront is usually water-covered. The water here is the original creek bed.

Eventually, I packed up and drove to another place to explore. I could see in the upper area of the back up waters a large ground area. This area of exposed ground is normally not present. In recent times a small island with young trees had shown up, but what I was seeing far off was ground from the island area touching the shoreline. This needed investigated.

I walked the shoreline until I reached where a small tributary enters into the lake. I could see ice all about and began walking out into the newer ground area. I could hear the ice crunching and occasionally I would sink in an inch or so, but I kept moving along.

The ground area is normally covered with water.

Not unexpecting the next scenario, I felt my right leg immediately sink into the depth of the mud slightly over my knee. My left leg due to my body shifting to the right didn’t sink, but bent and only went in a few inches. Somehow I managed to get myself from this potential issue safely. Afterwards, I went back to the shoreline and walked more until the ground mass seemed more firm. I began walking on it again, but more cautiously.

So, I thought of future boaters using the dam and finding my sun-bleached bones sticking up out of the ground surface. Of course, if normal water level occurred then even then I would not be found, however, I am only kidding about this.

I really wanted to get across to see the original creek flow of Crooked Creek. This area would have been underwater for many years and, in my weird way, I wanted to go there which I did. I had to be observant for various places were soft under the ice so I had to move around seeking such areas to avoid.

In this area, close to the eagle’s nest, I saw five eagles including mature birds.

Hedgeapple

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Extra Photos

Here is a varied group of photos to see. I think I may be caught up with all the entries I intend to use.

Teasels

Thrush

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