Archive for the ‘Misc. Nature’ Category

  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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dsc_0006  I looked outside in the pre-dawn moments to see snow covering everything. Seemed like a great day to get out in the elements. I



chose   to venture back to Crooked Creek lake area to see what critters I could find.

I parked alongside a friend as she watched the horizon line for camera opportunities. She was surprised to look over and see me.


I was dressed for walking and would soon begin a trek through the woods to the lake hoping to see eagles.


Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The waters, as usual, yielded Canada Geese and Mergansers. I saw some gulls fluttering around and occasionally diving into the waters. I saw two Killdeers along the shoreline. Later I saw a large bird flying about. A second appeared as I identified them as bald eagles. Unfortunately I could never get close enough for any photos.

Later I managed some photos of Cardinals and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

Female Cardinal

Female Cardinal

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Spring in February


Ring-billed Gulls

dsc_0006 What can one do when the temperatures are in the sixty and even into the seventy degree range in Pennsylvania? One can get outside and enjoy the  days! With that in mind I spent two mornings in the area of Crooked Creek Lake.


Hemlock cones

Hemlock cones


Teaberry in moss

Teaberry in moss

The first morning out was a joy with one exception. I aimed the camera at a male bluebird finding out the camera wasn’t

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

working. I had forgotten to place the memory card back into the camera’s body. I felt so stupid. I had done this one time before and the act takes the punch out of photo taking on any given day! Oh well, I can still walk and observe.

Goose track

Goose track

I saw  geese; gulls, and many mergansers. However, the one sight I truly enjoyed was the site of an eagle at about forty yards at eye level. I believe the bird was a Golden Eagle and not an immature Bald eagle. I was looking through tree limbs and the presence of this majestic bird was limited in time, so getting a positive ID wasn’t to be.                                                                    dsc_0022

dsc_0026 Friday, February 24, was a day that would reach into the seventies here in western Pennsylvania. I did a lot of yard work in the



afternoon, but all morning I was at the lake again walking and observing. This time, however, I was armed with a loaded camera.

I walked along the lake’s shoreline and some trails. The lake’s water level was down since we have had little rain as od recent. This allowed easy walking along the edge of the water.

Again, many mergansers were all about the lake. A number of Canada geese could be heard and viewed as well. Ring-billed Gulls were rather common today. A specie of goose was far off and sounded off occasionally. I never saw it close enough to positively identify. Maybe it was am immature Blue Goose or quite possibly a domesticated goose who left a farm.


Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

I never saw an eagle this morning. I watched the skies closely.  I did see Ravens; Great Blue Herons; Killdeer; Bluebirds; deer; squirrels; and possibly an immature Red-headed Woodpecker.                                                                      dsc_0036


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Cold Walk

dsc_0004  I haven’t been out much and missed almost the entire two week deer season. I felt a walk would be good  dsc_0002for the soul on December 21. Once I had decided to go I asked the wife if she would be interested in walking. Surprisingly, she said yes!


We prepared for this cold walk. We left the house around eight in the morning at eleven degrees. The sky was bright and blue at this time.

Upon arriving at our destination we could see the results of the cold night and morning. there was a frost covering everything. The sight was beautiful as the sun’s rays trickled through the woodland areas to make for some shiny diamond like sparkles on the ice.

dsc_0011 Various birdlife was abundant. The birds were feeding heavily attempting to include a high calorie count to   dsc_0006help them survive the cold. Blue jays and Cardinals were all over. Other species viewed were White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows, and Juncos. We saw a couple of hawks, too. Mammals were apparently “holed-up”. We saw a couple of Red squirrels.

Laurie would pull her scarf across her mouth occasionally. This action caused her blonde hair to be as white as snow. Her breath escaping along the sides of her cheeks caused immediate freezing to her hair. She was surprised to see her hair in the mirror.



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