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Archive for the ‘Misc. Nature’ Category

I was out early to listen for gobbling activity. I wasn’t disappointed for I heard two. However, they were on the recently lost land. This lost land was due to a hunting lease which began last spring. Their gobbling was over by 6:25. Last spring, on the first morning, I called a longbeard and three jakes into the huntable land, but failed to get a shot due to underbrush and/or difficulty getting the longbearded bird away from the other three.

I walked about on the land I was planning to hunt and would see four gobblers and a hen.

Seeing this bedded doe was a reminder of fawning season.

I would see lots of squirrels while tramping around along with about six deer sightings including the bedded doe in the above photo. I would see a few more turkeys while traveling back roads while heading home.

I stopped and visited the landowner and later, her son. We have become good friends over the many years.

Where hickory nuts go to die.

A field of Leeks. (Ramps)

A hen turkey in the field.

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Laurie the tree hugger.

Laurie found out about this nature park and suggested we visit and hike the trails and explore. The park is called the Succop Nature Park and is located south of Butler, Pennsylvania.

We noticed a lot of children standing around in preparation for some guided tour. We had forgotten about this day being the annual Earth Day. We went in the opposite direction on a hike. We quickly learned of what lots of rain can do… create muddy areas. This fact would dampen the hiking for we continued but via different routes looking for dry trails.

The walking would bring us along two ponds. Here we would see bluegills, large koi fish, Wood Ducks and turtles. I saw some deer and squirrels, as well, but obviously not on the ponds…haha.

Lots of birch trees in the area.

The park, although small in acres, has a hundred-and seventy-year-old historic mansion on it. The site is used for events, such as weddings. The park is owned by the Audobon Society of Western Pennsylvania. Their web site is: http://www.aswp.org

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I have been out on hiking excursions as much as possible. I find with retirement I seem to have a lot going on. Here are some photos from these adventures.

Golden-crowned Kinglet.

These little birds can be difficult to catch in photos. they continually dart back and forth. Occasionally one gets the shot in the millisecond prior to the bird’s movement.

Turkey Vulture

Chestnut burr

Devil’s Walking Stick or Hercules Club

This tree has a covering of very sharp thorns covering the trunk thus the common names. If you ever reach for one without recognizing it be prepared for some intense pain. Birds love the purple autumn berries, as do the Black Bear.

Early spring greening!

This bottom photo requires some explanation. All the gray hues in the background is the water. This limb you are viewing is actually a refection on the water. The image is weird to observe until you know what had happened. The limb has broken off the main branch and is hanging over the water by a length of monofilament fishing line thus allowing for an eerie looking reflection.

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The morning was to be a nice one and I left early to try my hand with some trout fishing. (Later rain came but I had already quit fishing.) The stream was colored but not muddy and fast, but not overly rapid. Recent rains have been keeping the waters moving. The area I stopped initially showed much evidence of others at the stream’s edge. My attempts failed to catch any trout. Fishing pressure appeared hard everywhere I checked.

I moved to another area and found lots of evidence of fishing pressure including tents and such. I never had a hit in the two hours I fished so exploration was a must. I hadn’t traveled far when I saw a good on a small island rise up. Her nest was obvious, and I walked to the site for some photos. Ma and Pa Goose were very vocal about my presence. I continued upstream for a bit, and they believed their luring me away had been successful.

Although I failed to snag onto any trout, I definitely enjoyed my time out. I saw some deer, six turkeys and lots of squirrels.

Downed-lined Canada Goose nest.

Skunk Cabbage

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Upon wakening up on the morning of March 12 I quickly observed the snow-covered landscape. Yesterday, the temperatures reached into the fifty-degree range and this morning six to seven inches of snow could be viewed on the picnic table on the deck. Also, very windy gusts were the norm throughout the day. I would see many snow tornadoes throughout the walk.

i worked on a painting over the morning hours but felt the urge to dress accordingly and go for a walk. The urge overcame the warmth of the house and off I went for a trek.

White-throated Sparrow

The walk would prove to be productive one as far as seeing wildlife. I saw a flock of about seven gobblers scratching on a southern slope. I tried to get closer for some photos, but the birds would not have it. Later, I would see three “jakes” and take a few quick shots. These birds were not part od the gobbler flock.

In a secluded hollow seven or eight deer busted from the cover.

Water flowing under shallow ice.

I glanced up to see my first Turkey Vulture of the year. The bird circled me a few times hoping the old coot would drop. Finding food under snow isn’t easy for buzzards. Another bird observed was the male, Rufous-sided Towhee. He was thinking, no doubt, he should have stayed over a few nights farther south during the migration. I heard a few killdeers flying high. This specie has been around for a few weeks.

I would see many robins throughout the venture. The snow made searching for food on the ground difficulty. I dragged my foot along at times to open up the ground.

Hungry Robin

Typical of March were the quick changes in weather. One moment the sun would be shining with abundant blue skies and in seconds cloud cover would occur followed by brief snow squalls.

I was chilled at times. especially while in the windier areas, but overall, I was comfortable and enjoyed the time afield.

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Red Squirrel

Sycamore Tree

Deer feeding

Bobber in tree…last year?

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The last month has had a share of cold weather. Temperatures have been cold and very recently those temps have dropped into the single digits and even below zero. Strong winds have been the norm very often further increasing the cold weather into a Big Freeze!

Today the single digit numbers quickly moved into the twenty degrees and at 22 degrees I decided to head off for a walk. To further add to the comfort the winds were ceased.

Many deer tracks

Armed with my camera, I began the hike to see what wildlife I would see and what other wintry things I would observe. Deer tracks were everywhere, and I mean everywhere. The snow depth of nine or ten inches and the cold had forced the deer to move a lot searching for food. Interestingly I would only see a few deer throughout my travels.

Much of the water was frozen over with the exceptions of the faster moving water. Here I watched for Bald Eagles and various species of waterfowl. The species I witnessed this day are as follows: Canada geese, mallards, Black Ducks; Common Mergansers and the Redhead Duck. I do not see many Redhead Ducks in my area.

Female Common Merganser

Redhead Duck

Canada Goose tracks

Of course, I saw a lot of small bird life. I saw six or more Eastern Bluebirds. One female allowed for a few photos. The males were not as easy to approach close. the few that did always seemed to be among brush thus not allowing a good pic.

Eastern Bluebird (Female)

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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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