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Archive for the ‘Misc. Nature’ Category

Climax Tunnel Area

New Climax Tunnel repairs

 

This stone is behind the new addition.

 

Always go towards the light…

Last weekend was a cold and breezy day. However, Laurie and I walked some along the Redbank Valley trail bordering Redbank Creek. I wanted to check on a Bald Eagle nest, as well.

We crossed out of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania at the small community of Climax. The one lane bridge over the creek is a rather new bridge. I remember some time back when this bridge was a metal bridge. Once we crossed the bridge to park for a trail hike we were in Clarion County.

Beaver cuttings

The Climax Tunnel, or the original name of Anthony Loup Tunnel,  goes through a rocky hillside. the tunnel was an old railroad passage many years ago.  The

Mergansers

Anthony Loup on Redbank is an amazing waterways for the waters goes way out, maybe a mile or so before turning back sharply making for an area possibly separated with only a couple of hundred yards of land mass at one point.

The tunnel has recently been renovated and improved by the Redbank  Valley Trails organization. Water leaking through the stones along with freeze/thaw cycles had an effect on the ceiling areas. the tunnel had been closed for quite some time for hikers for fear of injury. the tunnel is 520 feet in length. The tunnel was built between 1878 and 1877.

The eagle nest didn’t appear to be complete. High winds over the last few months must have blown much of the bulk down. However, after going through the tunnel and looking high in a White Pine I could see a huge nest. This nest was across Redbank Creek and about halfway up the slope. Could this be the new nest of the Bald eagles?

We walked along the trail for a time seeing five Mergansers on the creek.

 

 

Light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Probable Bald Eagle Nest

 

Redbank Creek

 

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Out In The Snow

Bald Eagle

Once the morning gloom dissipated I elected to get out in the snowy day and enjoy some woodland time. Snow fell all day, but never very hard. Also, any snow falling would remain on the light side. Rural roads, however, had some slick areas in spots.

I arrived at my destination near Cochran’s Mill to walk along the old Baker trail near the lower end of Cherry Run. I didn’t walk the trail exclusively   due to drainage issues of water and mud. Also, plenty of big trees were down across the trail throughout.  That was just fine since the area along the creek is much more attractive to gaze upon.

While walking I became a little down with my thoughts. I began thinking about the many areas I used to tramp upon and hunt that are now posted and/or developed. That made me sad. I find I am become increasingly discouraged with hunting due to such issues.

Nature seems to often find away to help clear such thoughts. Instinctively, I guess, I looked up to see a mature Bald Eagle coming up the hollow at treetop level. The beautiful bird turned and circled again and flew over allowing for one quick photo in an opening. The eagle seemed to telling me to not be down as the wings carried it up the hollow.

I would see three deer feeding along a field’s edge. Also, I saw a darkened mass in a cut corn field only to see a flock of Wild Turkeys. I managed a half a dozen pics.

 

Cherry Run

Later while moving along Cherry Run I noticed a brown ball of energy going upstream. The brown mass was a mink. I took two quick photos, but they were both hazy. The mink eventually went among a root system. I always enjoy seeing a mink in the wild. It is rare. I did get a good photo of a Mink  several years or so about half a mile upstream.

 

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One of, at least, four illegal bucks I saw while hunting with my flintlock named, Old Jacob.

I have been very neglectful of my journal entries. There has been much going on between my step-father’s accident and a pulled calf muscle on my right leg. I did get some flintlock hunting in, but failed to connect. I never have had the blunders I had this past flintlock season. I “flubbed” ten shots. Most shots would have been down deer in the past, but for some reason, or reasons, I just didn’t fill a freezer. I came up with a thought late and that idea was to have prescription glasses made for distance and not these “progressive” lenses I currently have. maybe that will do the trick.

  One day I went out leaving my priming powder in another coat. I used the 2F powder from my primary loading horn. It is a coarser black powder. I

Notice the strutting gobblers.

eased up onto a feeding doe only to have a hang fire. The powder in the pan went off, but slower than normal. I actually witnessed the barrel move as the gun went off. One happy doe there my friends! I sense I may be having difficulty judging depth perceptions. I am getting older ya know.

I had two unbelievable mishaps this season. I came down over a steep high-wall onto a sphagnum moss area. This is the moss used in making peat moss. It is usually spongy to walk on. Suddenly I was up to my belt in muck and old moss. Either I, instinctively, leaned forward or naturally fell that way. Regardless I was stuck for a few moments and, to be honest, somewhat scared for a brief time. Eventually, I freed my left leg followed by my right leg. I was soaked. My arms were soaked too from falling forward. Of course, I used my flinter to aid in getting out by throwing it ahead to use as support.  Later, I had difficulty getting it to go off, but luckily managed to get enough dry powder moved around in the breech to shoot. My “possibles” bag was completely soaked including patching and such.  Luckily my camera in my shoulder bag didn’t get soaked for the fabric was somewhat water resistant, plus I always keep a plastic bag at the bottom of the shoulder bag.

Another incident occurred while being above another old strip mine. I was easing down at the mine’s edge to seek out a deer when my left leg suddenly went down into a fifteen to eighteen inch diameter hole.  I quickly removed my leg only to see where an old coal mine had shifted allowing for a hole to form hidden under goldenrods and grasses. Lucky me for I didn’t break anything.

  Now let’s get back to the title of this journal entry… Bald Eagles. A friend, Bob “Slim” Bowser contacted me about walking. I told him I was free on Tuesday (January 15, 2019.)and we planned a walk to Crooked Creek to  see if any Bald eagles could be viewed. We lucked out. We saw two mature Bald eagles and, at least, three immature ones on this dark and gloomy morning hike.

We even managed to get some photos of a pair of eagles settled onto an old snag. I met up with another photographer friend named, Craig Remaley. he takes great photos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eagle track and wing marks in the snow.

 

Immature Eagle

 

 

Cherry Run Photos

 


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Crooked Creek Time

I visited mom’s house early to do a few things in preparation of my step-father, Bob returning home from the hospital. He is believing he’ll be coming home soon. We will see!

Upon returning to my abode I decided to visit Crooked Creek Dam area to see how many Bald Eagles I could view.

I elected to walk a trail along the creek just below the dam’s outlet area. The water is high at the dam and those involved with water control were allowing a swift flow exploding from the outflow. I saw one eagle flying over me and away, but I didn’t get any photos.

 

Seed pods from a Sycamore Tree.

My next stop was to park in the park and walk to the partly flooded beach area. I would see three more Bald Eagles during this walk and watch    adventure. None of these majestic birds offered any good photos, so I simply enjoyed watching.

Also, on the lake were Common Mergansers. I fact there were quite a few  of these birds. I would see three deer today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boulder Fern

 

 

 

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The old adage, “The third time is the charm”  may apply if only I could find that third one.  I came very close on two occasions on bagging a turkey last Wednesday, November 7. In fact I had the shotgun leveled with the safety off both times, but failed to shoot.

Christmas briars

Wednesday morning seemed like a great day for hunting considering the winds and rain this season has had daily. However, at daybreak the winds  began to increase, as well. I do not like hunting turkeys in windy conditions because of the inability to hear well. I can’t hear them as readily and they can’t hear my calling as readily either. Also, a flock of birds can be heard scratching leaves for some distances on calm days. With that in mind my hunting strategy is to cover ground searching for a flock to break up and set up on. Then I can call them back in. I tramped miles this season and haven’t walked onto a flock of turkeys. This is hard to believe.

Anyway, I was disappointed when the winds began at daybreak. I knew hearing roosted birds could be difficult unless I was within a couple of hundred yards. I did enjoy the soft hooting of a Screech Owl for a few moments before circling the point calling and listening.  I reached the point and crossed over the top. I called periodically. Soon, I peered down into a woods and saw a turkey. The bird walked behind a big tree and I dropped. I began calling  and suddenly to my right I heard turkey talk and could even hear the bird walking in the leaves. The turkey was close. All I could do was play the cards dealt.

The Remington 870 was leveled when the bird appeared. Unfortunately for me the turkey came into an area where landowners had dozed ground to level years ago. So mounds of dirt and limbs were present along with grasses and pokeberry stalks. I was in the open and the turkey was in open woods. Unfortunately, this mound and vegetation was between the two of us. However, there was an opening for a chance. The turkey was visible and all the bird needed to do was take a step to be in a clear shot zone. The turkey spotted the orange and darted across that opening and ran down the hill.  I wasn’t prepared for that. I could have shot through the pokeberry stalks, but I was certain the shot would happen.  Oh well some excitement for only a few moments. I hunted all around the area searching for a flock.

  I moved north to hunt an area where I have had much success over the years. I walked up a gas line and peered over an abrupt roll on the terrain and spotted a gobbler scratching for food. The bird was about 45 yards. I backed away immediately.  I moved to my right and set up where I could see seventy yards to where the turkey was. The windy conditions kept the bird from hearing my approach. I began calling.  The bird came in silent, but to my left. The gobbler stepped behind some trees at around twenty yards and the shotgun was ready for a shot. I was sure the shot was to happen, but the bird became suspicious and walked over that knoll directly behind the tree. I called and his head and neck reappeared.

Not a good photo of a Bald Eagle.

A limb between the turkey and myself was directly across the visible head and neck.  A shot would have been successful I am sure, but I held off for the bird only needed to move a couple of inches to expose a great shot. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN! The turkey alarmed putted and dropped over that knoll. I called an had answers for a moment then silence ruled the woods. I tramped around until about 1:00 and quit for the day. I am getting old ya know!

Thursday, November 8, was looking great as well, but again the winds did pick up at daybreak.  I walked and zigzagged a finger ridge and failed to see any turkeys. I quit about noon. These last two afternoons I needed to work with mulching leaves.

When one spends time in the autumn woods amazement occurs as to how rapid the colors of the leaves turn. Also, how the trees can be loaded with their foliage and a few days later the woods can be barren of canopy leaves.

I did see a lot of deer and squirrels while out and about. I watched a Bald eagle for several minutes circling over the Cherry Run Watershed. I have been hearing and seeing Ravens often.

 

 

Morning shadow line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes this fall turkey season has been one with some weather not agreeable to hunting those birds. Rains have been common. Winds have been unyielding. However, this day was rain free and the winds were tolerable. Rains and winds make hearing difficult and the ability to hear is important for turkey hunting.

  I arrived about fifteen minutes later than I wanted because the early morning time had some rain falling. I monitored the radar and could see  the rains were about to cease in my area. Off I went!

I was disappointed while slowly touring the ridgeline straining my ears to hear birds on the roost or to receive an answer to my calling. Nothing.  Approximately two hours into the morning I elected to travel a couple of miles farther south to hear better. The road noises were strong this morning.

I drove a short distance and saw a turkey in a tree about a hundred yards or so from the road. I stopped and watched the bird fly down. Unfortunately the bird was in lease land for hunters from Ohio. I drove just a short distant more and saw several white heads. Yes I could see gobblers among the vegetation. I looked out ahead and could see around eight young birds feeding along. They were all within that same land. I snapped about ten photos and moved on.

 

 

 

 

Deer search…

I began walking up the long steep grade at the planned hunting area. I was about five-hundred feet from the top and I heard a turkey responding to my calling.  I quickly set up, but within a few minutes I became very concerned. The calls did not feel right and I elected to leave the area. My hunch was proved accurate when I saw a pick up parked along a farming/ gas road. I would later see the man and we chatted for about twenty minutes. he was the one calling.

I made a long sweep into promising areas and saw or heard no turkeys. Plenty of deer and squirrels were about the woodlands. Bear sign was found.

I retraced some of my walking and called often. I swept an entire point of this long ridge and repeated the same scenario. No turkeys!

  The time was about 1:30 and I decided to stop in and see my mother and stepfather for a little while.  Tomorrow rain and winds are in the forecast again.

 

Golden Beech

 

Claw marks

 

 

Mmmm..semi-sweet chocolate

 

 

 

 

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The turkeys have been remaining hidden thus far.  Weather is been a key to my lack of success, as well as, some bad fate.

  The first day of this year’s season found fairly heavy and steady rain. I donned my camo rain coat, but didn’t bother with my rain pants. A big mistake for me. By mid-morning my pants were so soaked that through wicking actions I was wet to my beltline. I became so wet that the cash in my wallet was soaked. Now that is a lot of rain. I had on the required orange hat and once the hat became saturated the water soaked my hair and the water dripped down my neck. Rain wicked

Beech

around my collar and up my sleeves. Yes I was very wet.

The sounds of rain cancelled any chances of hearing turkeys on the roost.  Add breezy conditions and I found myself at the jeep by around 10:20. Of course I didn’t chance carrying a camera in such conditions.

The second day of the season found high winds and some rain. Another day preventing me to hear roosted birds or hearing them answering my calls. I failed to walk up onto any flocks. Where did they go? I tamped about six hours trying to find a flock.

The following day was the best day for hunting and hearing turkeys , but even with the conditions I failed to locate any turkeys.  The wind wasn’t bad, however a dense fog lasted until ten. I searched for almost seven hours this day.

Wednesday of the first week found my high on a hill at daybreak. I had a hollow on both sides of me, so I increased my chances of hearing roosted birds or so I thought.  Around the time turkeys often begin talking from the trees found an increase in the wind. In short order the winds became fairly strong since rain was scheduled to arrive around noon.

 

October 31st morning

I began a slow trek around the hill’s slope to locates birds.  A small bit of luck occurred about 10:00 in the morning. I walked towards a posted property line. I was going to call and hopefully get an answer and lure birds towards me. With the wind my approach was quiet as I called approximately forty yards outside the signs. A n abrupt slope quickly formed a steep hollow.  My call was immediately answered by that dreaded “alarm putt.” I never saw the bird for it must have been feeding on that slope and my call caused it to raise to see the vocal turkey…me. I never saw the bird. I never heard it running of flying, but the game was over for me. If there would have been a flock I would have seen something to indicate that.

I hunted by walking and calling until noon. I saw a raven, squirrels, many deer including some buck. I, also, found some bear sign. This morning I had  breakfast with the family so I didn’t get out to hunt. I think a break might do me well. I do my Bible Study class later today, too. Tomorrow, November 2, I am scheduled to play music at two different homes. If I decide to hunt my time will be limited.

 

 

 

 

 

Mmmmm…dark chocolate!

 

 

Buck in fog

 

 

 

 

Red Salamander

 

Our native American Chestnut

 

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain

 

Big old tree

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