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Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

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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Yes, the morning felt like the spring season has finally came to stay.  the woodlands certainly are looking like spring has “sprung.”

 

Wild Leek

Wildflowers are showing signs of a rapid spurt in growth. I checked past records of mine and many wildflowers at this time of the year were well on the way in regards to blossoms. Today’s jaunt had trillium species with buds, but I failed to see any in full blossom. Morels are non-existent, too. I have checked with other morel hunters across the state and few are finding any at this time.

The Wild Leek (Ramps) are up and doing very well. I checked on several large patches of them.  Mayapples are at different growth rates. Some areas show very young growth and other places have Mayapples around eight inches high. I have seen them much higher by this time of the year. The weather into April definitely affected their growth cycles.

Mayapples

I saw two male Ring-neck Pheasants this morning. I managed some photos of both of them. they looked beautiful with their colors. Their courtship is on!

I heard a distant gobble. Eventually, I was in the area and offered some yelps. Gil-obble-obble-obble was the response. I would hear three gobblers in short order. I called in all three of them. The underbrush caused only one photo. However, if the spring gobbler season had been on I would have filled out a tag.

 The one in the photo became alerted with my movement of trying to get a god focus. They all walked out uttering some alarm putts. They didn’t run away because the birds didn’t actually identify me as a man.

I circled a couple of hill and heard another gobbler at eleven o’clock. This turkey gobbled about four times deep within posted property.

I saw a Great Blue heron and two Canada Geese. One was at the nest.

Rattlesnake Flower

Chestnut hulls

Roadrunner

Handsome feller indeed!

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Wild Leeks or Ramps

This morning was planned to accomplish a number of items from my list. First in my mind was to be in the woods to hear gobblers at dawn. Surprisingly, I heard only one at this site.

  I had planted Wild Leeks, also known locally as Ramps, on my property. Last evening I dug up a few to transplant to an area where this native plant is missing. This area I often hunt and hike was in years past farmland with cattle and agriculture. This was way before my time. Today the area is a woodlands, however, those past farming practices often completely destroyed many native wild flowers. The Leek is one such plant.

The Leek is an interesting plant. Each bulb send up a couple of leaves that reach about six inches. This happens in April and by June the leaves are withered away and a stalk of small white flowers grows. The bulbs can be eaten for they have a onion-like flavor. In fact, some places actually have festivals and special feeds to commemorate the plant. I jus\t think the plants look great in the early spring woods. I know of some sites where the Leek grows dense and covers a large area.

Later in the morning I began skirting the property and planting a stalk at various places. I have hopes that in the future large areas of growth may, once again, find these hills home.

 

Canada Goose on nest

Another agenda item was to erect a bird house I recently made. Actually, I made three with leftover remodeling wood. I had one left and today the box was to find a home.

  I needed to visit my cousin, Donnie so I incorporated my traveling to stop at his home. I saw a number of turkeys at  several sites. Deer were everywhere!

I located a nesting Canada Goose. She stayed tight as the mate circled about giving me the evil eye. Two Mallard Ducks swam about as I watched.

 

 

 

 

 

Milkweed

 

 

 

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Table Falls on Paige Run

Most know I love walking and exploring. Hiking was to be a big part of my excursion into the wild area of Quehanna within the Moshannon State Forest.

 

Porcupine gnawings

I checked the two areas for Osprey activity. (See a previous post.) Following watching the Fish Hawks for a time I moved on to the  hollow featuring Wykoff Run. I debated on what might be in store for Wykoff Run during the next morning since the first day of Pennsylvania’s trout season was to begin. I quickly determines the fishermen would be prevalent. However, the Quehanna Trail crosses over so I decided to hike a few hours and explore the area.

This hike began by crossing Wykoff Run and continuing up a continual grade  following a hollow. Approximately one third of the way up the hollow the terrain quickly changed. ROCKS! The slopes on both sides of my ascent were covered with rocks.  There were still trees growing up here and there wherever seeds managed to find soil, but they woodlands here was not dense. However, once you look approximately forty to fifty yards one could see changes in the vegetation. The hill on my right while climbing had a distinct line of thick rhododendrons. The opposite side had more woodlands and hemlocks. I kicked out a grouse here and the bird flew into the mass of rhododendrons. I was surprised to see a Ruffed Grouse within such habitat.

Eventually I reached the summit of this mountain and the habitat again changed quickly. I know was seeing short leafless shrubs and masses of last years Hayseed Ferns. I continued on the trail eventually intersecting another trail called the Old Sinnemahoning Trail. I moved on for a distance before turning around to head back towards the jeep.                                                                    

I could hear something in the distance. With the windy conditions of this day I speculated if the sound s were from turkeys. The noises had a feel to me of turkey’s cackling and determining pecking orders. BUT, I knew that Wood Frogs can sound like distant turkeys. I have been fooled before on these reptiles. I eased along and realized I was hearing the frogs.  I visited a couple of these water holes on the mountain’s top. Besides the frogs many Red-spotted Newts could be viewed swimming about. I saw some tadpoles, also.

 I returned to the jeep several hours later and drove to Red Run Road. I walked several miles of the Quehanna Trail here, too.  I scrambled along to see parts of

Red-spotted Newt

Paige Run including the Table Falls. Paige Run intersects with Red Run making for a beautiful waterways with lots of cascading falls. (I would be exploring Paige Run higher up the mountainside tomorrow.)

I knew this Red Run would be holding native Brook Trout. I would be here tomorrow.

I had three long bearded gobblers gobbling at my calls. I managed a few photos despite the small trees making it hard to keep a good focus. I would later see a lone hen.

I saw five elk this day, but I didn’t get any good photos.

  I had a lot of problems as to where to pitch a tent for the night. You can’t tent on Quehanna Wildlands forest lands. You can’t pull along the road and sleep in a jeep either. Just a bout an hour before dark I bit the bullet and rented some space at Benezette. The Spring Peepers were just a few yards from my tenting experience. Sad to say the road noise that evening was tremendous. Also, sad to say I am in need of additional things to use while tenting. Air mattress will be purchased before any other tenting. By one thirty in the morning I was as the Princess and the Pea

Boulder Ferns

play. In the play a pea was placed under many mattresses. The reasoning for the pea was to determine if the lady to sleep on it was truly a princess. Her royal blood for feel that pea causing for a restless night. I felt everything so I must be a prince.

I did some field sketching while on this excursion. I am planning a painting that will feature rocks. I sketched and photographed reference photos of rock details. In fact the studying of rocks was a big reason I planned this adventure. (Expect a future entry on the painting.)                              

Turkey Vulture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shagger’s Inn shallow water impoundment

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Osprey on the nest

Thursday around noon I was visiting my friend, Frank “Muskie” Maus to discuss hand-held GPS systems. I was heading out for a couple of days in the woodlands to hike and fish. Frank was going to give me some basics. While we sat on the porch I looked only to see an Osprey flying over. I always love seeing these birds. 

  The next morning found me at two separate sites in the Moshannon State Forest Quehanna Wild Area. The Ospreys each nests at these two sites. I saw, at least, four of the Fish Hawks either on the nests or in flight. Of course I needed to try to get some pics.

The one nest was out rather far for the lens I have on the camera, but I still took some photos. There were Canada Geese and various other species of waterfowl on the lake. The birds weren’t concerned with the Osprey flying about. They must have read the manual and knew the Osprey usually dines on fish thus the name “Fish hawk.”

The other site yielded an Osprey nest with a pair of active birds in the area. Last year this nest was surrounded with water, but not this time. The enclosure had been drained due to Beaver damage and is scheduled for repair completion later this year. Despite not having water all around the nest the birds returned as they have in past years.

I will add more entries with additional photos from my time afield.

 

Beaver lodge

The work of Beaver’s teeth.

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Eagles

Recently I ventured out for some walking and picture taking. I went to Crooked Creek to hike. I walked a trail and eventually visited the dam area to see what I could see.

Juvenile Bald eagle

I lucked out for the Bald Eagles were active. I watched a mature Bald eagle perched high in a tree and later watched the beautiful bird fly about. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any good pics for the white-headed bird always seemed to stay high enough to make good photos out of the question.

 

Goose track

I spotted a couple of juvenile eagles on the ice and, later, watched them take to flight. Others would join them as six eagles soared in curcles above me. The birds would

Canada Geese

sometimes joust playfully. remember we are in the courtship phase of the eagles.

Other sightings included lots of Canada Geese. I could see mergansers on the water, too.

Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t prepared for the windy conditions so my setting quietly, watching and waiting for photos, could last for about ten minutes before walking was required to get the blood moving again.

I would see a few deer this day as well.  I spotted a Screech owl feather on the leaves. Searching about many other feathers could be found covering thirty or so feet. I couldn’t help wondering what had happed to the little gray-phased owl.

Screech owl feather

 

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Piebald doe

I spent some time this past week looking for a legal buck. Unnaturally warm weather made me to not hunt full days, but I still managed to be out three mornings.I saw a number of does and one legal buck, but I didn’t shoot. The buck sported a legal antler on one side and a small spike on the other side. The monster walked to about twenty feet of me before seeing my shape. I jumped at him and off he went only to stop at about another twenty yards. he then proceeded to walk back towards me, but a little lower. The buck didn’t identify me and eventually walked up the hollow.   

Another interesting time afield was when a doe bedded down about thirty yards from me. I watched another deer higher on the slope, but never identified it. The deer took off in a run as I watched a coyote walk  close to where the deer was hiding.  I, also, saw a Red fox this day.

I had three does fed close to me one day. However, when I felt the wind change on the back of my neck, I immediately saw the one doe stick it’s head high and nose higher. In short order, they all went down over snorting all the way.

I walked upon one bedded doe and managed a few pics before she unnerved.

This morning a bagged a button buck. venison will feed me for a time.

Other things that I enjoyed these days out were the hooting of a couple of Great-Horned Owls and gobbling turkeys. I saw a piebald doe and she stood still  long enough for some photo ops.

 

Back yard Wednesday night

 

Back yard on Wednesday night

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