Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

I had an early appointment in Natrona which allowed time to hike afterwards. I chose to hike on the Todd Nature Sanctuary lands to enjoy some woodland times. I arrived on site about 7:30 in the morning.

I followed a number of marked trails throughout the property. There are many older and larger trees scattered about with some fallen  logs as some

Indian Pipe Trail

trees age and succumb to death. A ravine flowing through the land features a beautiful waterways known as Watson’s Run. Much of the watercourse has big rocks surrounded by mature hemlocks. Another waterway is called Hesselgesser’s Run. These two streams intersect with small waterfalls. A walked one trail to the end. The trail was called Ravine Trail since it meandered back and forth across the Watson’s Run. In fact I stepped in water deep enough to fill my boot. All other times this stream was flowing with much lesser water.

A favorite place for me is the pond. There are lots and lots of frogs located here. Other visits have yielded herons and ducks, but this trip was void of birdlife.

Another trail is called Polypody Trail. There are a few large moss-covered rocks on site with Boulder ferns growing about. Many mushrooms and fungus were spotted since the summer of late has had much water and humidity. I wish I knew more of the species at times. I know I am passing up on some species that are edible, but I have enough uncertainty to not try them. the Sheepshead Mushrooms will be emerging soon and I know that specie well-enough to consume.

  I spent over two hours hiking and enjoying the sites. Lots of orb spiders with webs crossing across the trails at face-level.









Check out the colors and patterns


Hickory Nut hulls


Hazel Nut



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What A Fight!

Softshell Turtle

I left very early this morning to fish the Allegheny River before the sun became to hot. The thick fog lasted until about none o’clock. During this time the fishing was quite comfortable. I caught three Smallmouth Bass during my two hour fishing excursion. However, I caught something else this morning. I caught and landed a Spiny Softshell Turtle, often called a Leatherback. The carapace is unlike most turtles because their “shell” is soft and rubbery, hence their name.

The fishing pole bent way down when I pulled back to set the hook. Then the fight!  I wasn’t sure what I caught and expected a big catfish by the weight I was feeling and the fighting. Twice I could see the “fish” near the surface. I thought I was getting a glimpse of a fin or tail. Eventually, I brought the critter close enough to identify and , indeed, it was a turtle.

The temps were rapidly climbing and I pulled up the equipment and headed towards the jeep.

On a sad note, the area I was fishing will now be closed to fishing. I talked to a gentleman and he told me the property will not allow fishing anymore due to ATV traffic and trash and garbage thrown about. Partiers and, even sadder to say, fishermen continually throw their garbage out. He told me they even removed a burned up mattress.  The man was very apologetic to me and I told him I understood, for such activities are common all over.

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I had a fan on high on this hot July afternoon as I sat and read on the back deck. The time was about six thirty. Suddenly, I heard the shrill whistle-like bob-bob white! I stopped reading. Did I hear that sound correctly. The musical notes repeated. I was hearing a Bobwhite Quail singing down by the stream. I answered and the bird began answering my calls. WOW! I went for the camera.

I eased down over the deck steps to my lower yard and sat down. I had the male quail pinpointed and I began easing in the direction of the songs.

There he was! I spotted the bird along the creek among my habitat vegetation. I moved in and the little bird didn’t seem overly scared. I called and he called and the Bobwhite jumped up a log I have by the creek. Camera was clicking away.

Eventually the quail moved across the yard and I went in and told Laurie what I have been listening to and watching. She came out on the back deck and she seemed thrilled to hear and see a Bobwhite.

I took about thirty photos. I included several here to view. We enjoyed his calling almost to dark. What a joy and blessing to hear and see a Bobwhite.

We would set on my grandparents porch and listen to the quail calling as evening would come on. They would call and “flock up” for the night’s sleep. This is one of those very fond memories one wishes to relive as the years creep forward.



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I have quite a variety of wildlife and flowers within my backyard. I have witnessed the fourth generation of rabbits so far this year. Chipmunks and Red and Gray Squirrels. Deer are nightly visitors, as well as, Flying quirrels. The “crick” that flows through has many Damselflies and Dragonflies. Minnows abound. Water Striders are all over searching for ants that I often help into the water. recently while reading on the deck after dark I had two Screech Owls land on the rail. The three Flying Squirrels at the feeder disappeared quickly.

Male Ebony Jewelwing


Water Strider


Bee Balm or Oswego


Common Daylily (I have about six varieties)


Purple Coneflower



Dogbane Leaf Beetle




Flying Squirrel


Turk’s Cap Lily



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Another cool morning and a hike was to be happening. I entered the wood prior to the sun rising and began walking about to see what sites would be in the offering this fine day.

The old road I began walking on was covered with high grass. My feet while hid in my boots remained dry, but I was soaked to the groin as the time went on. Every time I would come onto a muddy or sandy area I would search for tracks. I saw lots of deer tracks and coyote tracks. I notice d several piles of fecal matter made by bear judging by the size of the pile.

Approximately eight thirty I rounded a bend and saw black!  The black was a Black Bear!  The animal was coming my way so I armed myself with the camera and began taking some shots. The bear stopped at around thirty-five yards and I could tell the critter was getting an occasional whiff of something that stinks. THAT STENCH WAS ME! The bear stopped and moved left and then right and suddenly the whiff must have been strong enough to move on the bear’s instincts for the black disappeared immediately in the dense brush.

  I saw several deer this morning and two hen turkeys. I looked for poults that they must have been well hid if any

Hard to stop the action on a flying turkey.

poults were present.

Later I found a Killdeer nest.







Killdeer eggs


Coyote track





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Lots of wildlife photos below. be sure to see the Bighorn Rams at the bottom.



Osprey with fish




Moose Calf

One of the thrills for me on this western excursion was to see the varied and unique wildlife of the west.  We saw a lot of wildlife. I may forget some species but here is a list of western wildlife. Sand hill Cranes (In Indiana while traveling); Bald Eagle;  White Pelicans (In Illinois);  Big Horn Sheep; Pronghorn Antelopes; Mule Deer; Rio-Grande Wild Turkeys (Saw eastern Wild Turkeys  more easterly.); Canada Geese; Elk; Pica; Yellow-bellied Marmots; Moose and calf; Black-billed Magpies; Mountain Bluebird; Jack rabbits; Prairie Dogs; Swan; Snapping Turtle; Carp; Coyote; Least Chipmunk; White-tailed Deer (Easterly) Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel; Cottontail rabbit; Ravens; Sagebrush Lizard…I am, probably, forgetting some wildlife. A few in the list are native to Pennsylvania, too.

The Pika is a small hamster/bunny looking mammal found at high altitudes living among rocky areas.  Two were chasing each others at times

Least Chipmunk


Yellow-bellied Marmot


Bull Elk


A Swallowtail Butterfly


Sagebrush Lizard


Prairie Dog


Pronghorn Antelope


Nice male Pronghorn Antelope


Mule Deer


Black-billed Magpie


Jack Rabbit


Mule Deer


Hummingbird. I believe it may be the Black-chinned Hummingbird


Bighorn Sheep Rams


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Baby Porcupine

I was blessed this morning when I spotted a baby Porcupine in the woods. The little one may have weighed two pounds. An interesting reality with Porcupines is how their defensive tactic is instinctively used at the approach of anything of potential danger. In this case that potential danger was me!!! Or, at least, the young un believed to be the case. I had difficulty getting the photos I wanted for this critter would always turn to keep his rearward side facing towards me. This area of the porky has extensive quillwork. The porcupine expands his arsenal through muscular work. In other words the quills are aimed towards an attacker.

We played the game for a time until I just set still and talked to the animal. After some time the porky began to maintain a trust or curious level to look at me, however, the war package was always engaged for action.

The Porcupine climbed a Sassafras tree to get higher than anything on the ground. This is another defensive tactic. CLIMB!


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