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Archive for the ‘Misc. Nature’ Category

A white dusting appeared over the landscape overnight. The snow was from the lake-effect winds over the Lake Erie. There was enough to help see better, but not enough to track any game.

I visited a property I had last been at, possibly, ten years ago. There had been changes. Much clear cutting was observed and rather recent. This will be a nightmare to maneuver in a couple of years as the brush covers the land.

As I walked in, I began to hear shouts on the next hill. Bear hunters were beginning to put on a bear drive. I decided to move away from their hunt and moved in a northerly direction. I soon remembered I had not been in this direction before so my venture would be an exploratory jaunt.

I still hunted up a hollow hoping to see a black beauty coming into the woods from a night of foraging in the cornfields. No such luck! t wouldn’t be long until I was exploring more than hunting.

A dusting of snow.

I walked upon about six ringneck pheasants. I would see a couple of squirrels and that would be it. Very weird is the fact that this morning and yesterday’s morning were void of deer sightings. It is extremely rare to not see any deer.

As the snow melted with direct sunlight, I reached the northern-most end of these lands and returned south via a different route. I told my wife I was only going to hunt about half-a-day because I needed to accomplish some things prior to Thanksgiving. Family would be coming to indulge at our place.

My venture this morning taught more about these lands for future bear seasons.

Male pheasant close-up.

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There were some moments this morning (November 22) when I wasn’t sure if I would be heading out for the woods. Let’s just say I had some intestinal issues. However, I was not very late to meet the morning.

The area I planned to sneak around is one of familiarity. I have hunted this steep ridge a number of times over the years. It seems very “beary.” However, I have yet to see a bear at this area. The distance from where I parked to where the hillside ends may be around two miles. The northern steep slopes yield to Hemlock trees and Rhododendron. There are big diameter trees uprooted all around. the downed trees bring down other trees making for tree tops all about. This is good bear habitat, but moving about at my age can be demanding. I need to be very careful I don’t fall.

I walked very old remnants of logging roads whenever I can, but there are many logs across these roads.

This morning would see an increase in wind speeds and I became chilled at times. I was surprised to not see a single deer this morning although plenty of deer sign was visible. I walked upon a flock of, at least, fifteen to eighteen turkeys and managed a few quick photos. I saw a few squirrels, too. I heard and saw a flock of swans.

On the return trip towards the jeep, I walked above and below the way I transversed earlier, but I never saw a bear. I was hopeful. I heard a few shots north of my position, but, possibly, two miles away. later I heard some bear driving hollers, but no shot came about their efforts.

I returned to the jeep a little after noon and prepared to drive to another site until I realized I was tired and having some knee discomfort. I drove past another potential site and saw a much too open woodlands for good bear habitat. I elected to go home.

Puffballs

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I stopped at dawn to take the garbage down for my mother and Bob. They have been fighting colds and this carrying their garbage is a tradition I have done for a long time especially with their ages and Bob’s major health issue.. How can they manage to get so much garbage? … since I am down to about a half bag a week.

Because they are still coughing some, but improving, I elected to not go in and chance getting a cold. Early muzzleloading is next week for deer and bear. I would hate to be ill.

So I went a few miles from the homestead to walk about. Deer were moving well allowing for the sightings of two buck and twelve deer total. I caught one in her bed thinking she was concealed.

I saw two flocks of turkeys. I managed one quick shot in the darkened side of the shadow side of the hill . I am going to post it, but the quality is not present.

I saw some squirrels busy gathering mast crops which appear to have done very well this year. I saw three Wood Ducks, too.

I walked upon a resting groundhog. It was perched on a log pile. I whistled for the head to turn some allowing for a photo.

Dew-laden White Pine needles

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Pileated Woodpecker

Over the last week I ventured out for some hikes. One such excursion lasted half a day. I hiked the southern section of my beloved Cherry Run hoping to see whatever ventured in front of my eyes.

Cherry Run

Heavy fog enveloped all areas very early, but once the sun gained some strength the heat quickly burned the fog through evaporation.

I try to hike along this area once a year if possible. The jaunt has become a tradition for me in a way, however, I usually enjoy walking this area with snow cover. The bottomland vegetation is often higher than my head so don’t expect any long range seeing.

I liked this calm water and strong reflections.

I would see a couple of deer at close yardages under such conditions. I saw two Belted Kingfishers acting interestingly. They were seemingly in some sort of territorial dispute and quite vocal. By the time I was back at the jeep I must confess I was getting very warm and these old knees hurt some.

One interesting find was a medium-sized Box Turtle. I usually see them during the spring, but I lucked out finding this one. I witnessed much erosion and deep muddy ruts along the bottomland. Four-wheel vehicles have cause much destruction along the vegetation. No wonder people post their lands.

Box Turtle

Another early walk occurred at a local state game lands. This, too, would be an interesting jaunt. I would see some deer, and squirrels.

If I would have been carrying my bow.

I was hearing the loud yaks of a Pileated Woodpecker and the big bird allowed several photos before vanishing among the trees. They are always a great sight to see. The cartoon character Woody Woodpecker was designed by an artist from the Pileated specie. I would have an opportunity to get some pics of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. These birds are not seen very often.

Immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Spicebush Berries

Red Squirrel trying to be invisible.

White-throated Sparrow

A vining plant is found in a few places here in Armstrong County. It is known as the Mile-A-Minute. This plant is a non-native and invasive specie. The plant is an annual meaning it grows from seeds during a summer season and freezes and dies back after frost time. The vines grow thick and heavy with the ability to kill native plants. These vines can grow twenty-five feet in one growing season.

The blue berries of the Mile-A-Minute.

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Virginia Creeper, often called Five-leaf Ivy

The autumn season is showing off with hints of fall. Hickory nuts, Beech, Dogwood berries and acorns are falling to the ground or ripened on the tree. The mast seemed to produce well this season and the food sources are plentiful in the area where I recently walked.

Hickory nuts and hulls

On this day I saw around nine different deer and lots of squirrels. A noted the hints of autumn are all over. I loved the colors of the Virginia Creeper as the light shown through the colors. This plant doe not cause rashes as the Poison Ivy, although so many treat it as the same. I have seen this specie in gardening books for purchase.

Mockingbird

I lucked out with a curious Mockingbird. I waited patiently until the bird offered a clear photo op.

Dogwood berries

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Yes, the catfish were biting well. every cast I was either catching a Bullhead Catfish, missing one or discovering my bait was stolen. Once the bait was gone I learned the catfish quit biting. Huh..who would have “thunked” that!

Praying Mantis

Shortly after the fishing began, I noticed something that didn’t look quite right. A closer observation proved what I suspected.. a Praying Mantis hanging upside down and in a semi-dormant state. It was chilly this particular morning. However, once the sun began to warm the air up I started to see movement/ I took several photos of this insect.

Puffball ready to shoot out spores

I did see about six different deer on this morning for I incorporated a walk with the fishing trip. many species of fungus are out at this time of the year. I know some, but I know far less when it comes to edibles. I can identify several edible varieties.

Spicebush

Widow Skimmer Dragonfly

Pearl Crescentspot

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Buttermilk Falls

As stated previously, I like these cool autumn-like mornings and days. Laurie and I headed off early to visit the Buttermilk Falls Natural Area in Indiana County, Pennsylvania.

The name Buttermilk Falls is a common name for waterfall areas all over. I know in my native Armstrong County we have an area called Buttermilk Falls. I know of others, too.

This site consists of 48 acres of woodlands. Lots of Spicebush nestled amid sizable trees. The unusual- looking bridge shown in the above photo was erected in 2017. The watercourse for the falls is Hires Run and is in the Hires Run Valley flowing towards the Conemaugh River. The actual waterfall is 45 feet high.

Stone foundations can be viewed near the stream. This was the site of an ancestor of a man known by Mr., Roger’s fans named McFeely. At at time in the past, Fred Rogers known for the children’s show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood spent plenty of childhood visits to this area. A trail called, McFeely Trail winds through the park.

One of the interests of this site is the walkways that wind down and around allowing visitors to actually walk behind the falls. I have included a few photos showing this.

The McFeely Trailhead

A shot of the waterfall from behind looking down the hollow.

To learn more contact: http://www.VisitIndianaCountyPA.org

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A Hint Of Autumn

Wild Turkey Breast Feather

After enduring some hot and muggy days I found the change of autumn-like mornings refreshing. With the cool and crisp change I left the house before sunrise heading to explore a Butler County property to see what I could find.

My planning was spot-on as I arrived at the time I had hoped for…dawn. The woodlands were bright enough to see, ut the sun had yet to get u and over the eastern hills.

The exploration had begun. The first sighting of wildlife was a doe and her fawn. Later I would watch two turkeys flush off the roost. Later, as I circled back around, I would talk some turkey talk with one of the birds. On the back side of this hill I spooked more turkeys feeding in the underbrush,

I came upon posted lands and returned to the road and walked an old road on the opposite side. here I saw a small buck. I noticed my first buck rubs during this walk.

An old spring.

Old springs are few and far between in these days. Over the years I have seen many closed down by the state. because they didn’t meet with the standards set forth by some “expert-in-their -field.” The interesting fact in most cases people were using them for years with no issue.

Red squirrels have been feasting on spruce cones.

One area had many mature spruce trees. As I walked I could hear the four-to five cones falling through the limbs. One could hear these cones falling for a long distance. The Red Squirrels were eating these cones. The photo shows a pile of cone parts placed by the squirrels.

Foxtails backlit from the morning sun.

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Fog in the Morning

As I type this entry the weather is very much hinting of the fall season, however that wasn’t the reality a week ago. The days were hut and muggy so I ventured out early on any trek I committed to.

One positive of such mornings is the foggy and humid conditions for anyone wishing for some nice photos..

here are a few morning pics as the sun began to climb the eastern sky with fog settled within the low areas.

Ironweed blossoms in this meadow.

Somebody must have spat out a chaw! (Bear skat)

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Killdeer

Yes, even I can be stupid at times. When I worked the common term we, laughingly, used was, “Stupido.” We pronounced the word as Stew-peed-o. Well in one of those extremely rare times I discovered while trying to take a photo of a deer of a problem. I didn’t place the camera card in the camera. Yes i was disgusted with myself for the hike was only about 150 yards from the jeep and I would not be able to get any photos this morning.

I returned to the jeep and left the camera and lenses behind.

I walked a gas well road at the top of the hill. As I emerged from the road onto a field of soybeans, I saw a doe and fawn. The photo would have been a good one with dew over the soybeans and the green background. I saw other deer in the huge field, too.

Woodland Sunflower

I continued walking the road watching the field intently on my left before entering another wooded area. You guessed it! As I exited the wooded area to an old field of knee-high vegetation I spotted a nice buck at about twenty yards. two other bucks were just beyond. They stood around and watched me. No camera! It gets worse!

Turkey poult

I walked across this field before entering another woodlot. I would be descending gradually. I looked about 25 yards to my left and spotted a Barred Owl perched on a limb. No camera!

Purple Loosestrife…and invasive specie.

Eventually, I reached Cherry Run and began to head towards the jeep. I searched around looking for trout. Suddenly, I saw waves in the water next to the bank. My first thought was a Muskrat. However, the animal crawled upon a rock and I was viewing a Mink. The mammal even crawled up a leaning tree for a couple of feet. I missed some great photo opportunities again.

This morning I made sure I had my camera card. All of the photos shown here are from today’s excursion.

Allegheny River

I set the minnow trap about five this morning and after catching a few dozen I went off to catch the “big un.” The river was beautiful with some fog conditions early making way for a clear morning.

The fish weren’t biting very well, but I did land a nice Smallmouth Bass. There are literally thousands upin thousands of shiners near the river’s edge. Occasionally, many would leap from the water escaping a bass.

Smallmouth Bass

With a couple of hours fishing behind me, I removed a little trash from the river’s shoreline. Afterwards, I spent some time looking for things to photograph. I saw several hens with several, nice-sized, poults.

Shiners
Blossoms of the Arrowhead plant. They are found in wetland areas usually.

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