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Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ 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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Immature Bald eagle

I ventured, once again, to the area of Crooked Creek Dam to see what things of interest I could see. However, this hike had another  reason. I had a 12 X 24 Pentax binoculars to test before purchasing. I wanted to see how the worked for me. The main issue I found was the fact of wearing glasses. I have always found a difficulty upon using glasses. To look through them with binoculars you see a smaller image. The remedy is to push the glasses over my eye brows to see a big view through the binoculars. I think I may be getting them.

The water  behind the dam was around 99% covered in a thin layer of ice. Searching about the ice I saw Canada geese; Ring-billed Gulls and Great Blue Herons on top of the ice. I saw an immature Bald eagle on the ice as well. In the few small pockets of open water I saw   Mergansers and some geese.

Ring-billed Gull

Several times while walking I heard the soothing call of a loon. Eventually I spotted the black and white bird in open water across from the side I was on. I place the camera against a tree and took some photos even though I knew clarity would be lessoned.

 

Loon

Later, I hiked below the dam’s spillway. I spotted an eagle perched in a sycamore and was blessed to watch the bird dive twice  after fish. I am assuming the suckers may be spawning.

Eventually, I saw additional eagles. Four immature Bald eagles were soaring over my head. Sometimes they would be close just above the tree tops and other times they would drift high. Suddenly a fifth bald eagle appeared. This one was a mature bird. I would watch two of them fly high and do their dance as if courting.

Red-Tailed Hawk

Other critters of interest included a Fox squirrel and one Gray Squirrel. I saw a Pileated Woodpecker close enough for some decent shots, too. I spooked a Red-tailed Hawk from a meal of dead rabbit. The bird allowed for a few photos before heading off for presumed safety. I am sure the hawk would be back at the meal within minutes.

Pileated Woodpecker

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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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Spring in February

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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

Merganser

Merganser

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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I had come to the conclusion that a deer season without a deer could be reality. Illness and pains; bad luck and fate; blunders and misses all occurred  dsc_0010within the last  month and a half. My confidence had been shattered.

I didn’t hunt Thursday or Friday and I hadn’t planned on hunting today. (January 14) However, last evening I decided to hunt for a few hours if the weather didn’t get too bad. Freezing rain was a possibility. This began around nine o’clock along with snow. This fact kept me checking the pan powder often. I would have dampness being absorbed into the pan powder at times despite my efforts to keep my powder dry. Several times I needed to dig the caked powder, dry and add fresh powder.

I was sneaking around the best I could under the frosty conditions on the forest floor when I saw a bedded deer about eighty yards away. I soon noticed a second deer bedded along with a meandering doe. (A fourth deer would later be viewed.) This moving doe spotted me standing. She failed to identify me and was curious and walked towards me a short distance. Limbs kept me from shooting, but I hoped for an open shot.

dsc_0006 The fourth deer snorted as the deer began moving around. They walked away wondering what happened. I quickly backtracked and moved to where I hoped they might come through. They went down over the hill. I would see another deer feeding in posted land.

I saw some squirrels and flushed a turkey off a hill.

I was heading towards the jeep to quit since I had planned to exit around one o’clock. However, something interesting happened. I spotted a turkey

Note the eye!

Note the eye!

standing with its head pulled in as if it might be sleeping. I have witnessed something I had called “stupor time” with turkeys. I observed an entire flock one winter stop and go to sleep. the flock of 30-35 birds all did this for about half an hour before beginning to feed again.

I walked close enough to reach down and touch this turkey before it reacted. It few before getting tangled among limbs and falling back to the ground. the turkey began walking about giving the alarm call. The bird went airborne again only to land in multiflora rose. I lost sight of the turkey. I took a number of photos and the left eye appears to be blind. Also, the head seems to me to not look right.

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I left the dentist office around one 0’clock in the afternoon on Monday, January 9. Preliminary work was completed for the process of having a tooth again. (I broke my tooth off a week ago.) I went home and decided a should grab the flintlock and try for a deer in the remaining time.

I arrived at the site I had planned to hunt around 1: 40 P.M. I was excited with the changing weather conditions.  The sun had been out some this day and the temperatures and risen from the single digit temps previously. the winds were not as strong either. Also, I had seen 5-6 deer feeding as I was driving to this hunt. Maybe the deer were out feeding due to the changes.

Immediately, I noticed the eastern slope was not as noisy as the previous two hunting days for me. The snow has softened and the frost seemed to be exiting the ground.  That observation changed as I climbed the hill. the top was still crunchy and most of the woodland steps produced the twin sounds of compaction of snow and busting frost.

I was sneaking along on the eastern side of the hill when I saw a deer’s body about eighteen yards away. I readied Old Jacob and tried to determine which side of the body was the vital area. I COULDN”T SEE THE NECK OR HEAD due to brush! With the flintlock read I leaned to my right and saw the definite view of a deer eye and ear. As experienced sneakers know, often the deer will react immediately upon reaching the point of direct eye contact. the doe was up and gone in a second. I saw one more deer this evening.

We were told via the weather people  January 10 would have snow early changing to freezing rain by 9-10 and turning to rain later.  I didn’t plan to hunt for this all sound problematic for a flintlock rifle. If that black powder gets wet the result is a failed shot. However, by 11:00 I decided I should gamble and go hunting. The snow was fresh and no rain had fallen. I was ready to go just prior to 11:30 and I noticed a little very light rain.

I decided to go to a local state game lands to try my luck. Before I pulled out of the drive the rain had picked up still I was going to try a hunt. The five miles produced slightly heavier rain.  I saw a ringneck hen flush.

I soon would look over an embankment to see two deer feeding. I froze. they were about 70 yards. A third deer materialized. A deer began moving towards me at an angle and I was hopeful all of this would come together. The deer stopped at about 45 yards. I couldn’t get a clear shot due to limbs, briars and vines. I could only hope as I noticed the wind wasn’t right for me. The deer would begin snorting, but she held her ground for another five minutes. the other two deer were still feeding but moving away. The close deer eventually moved to them and they all three moved around a hill into posted property. The rains increased.

 

'possum

‘possum

I still-hunted through an area with a lot of oak trees. Deer feeding had occurred sometime this morning. I was startled to see a mid-size opossum feeding on acorns. I took some pics as the rain increased. the snow in the hour since I started this hunt had decreased by about fifty percent.  I was really wet with an all attempt to keep the rifle dry. I used a treated piece of leather draped over the lock.  dsc_0013

I spotted a deer standing at about fifty yards, but brush didn’t allow for a clean shot. A second deer was spotted. She had two steps to complete her stance for an open shot. The first deer turned and moved and the second deer turned to join. This gully had a section of very thick brush about thirty feet in length and 15 feet in width. If the deer moved out in any direction they would be visible. A major problem for me was a growth of vines and briars blocking my view.

I had set down on a leg in the wet snow figuring the shot was at hand. After five minutes, my leg was soaked and I was getting cold. I believed those deer had to have bedded down. I stood up and moved a couple of steps to my left as I watched two deer jump up and move out. Oh well! I decided to head home. I shot the flintlock as I reached the vehicle and he went off perfectly despite the heavy rain.

I returned home and received a call that the dentist had a cancel and I went and had my tooth completed repaired!     dsc_0012

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dsc_0009 This fall turkey season has been interrupted by a number of issues here at home. These issues had caused  dsc_0003me to miss time afield. The first day of the turkey season, October 29, found me waiting at the house for my car mechanic to stop in to look at my lawn tractor. He arrived around noon and I left for a few hours of hunting close to two in the afternoon. The weather was warm and I found out later that evening the highs reached to the mid-seventies! No wonder I was sweating so much.

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Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

The following Monday, my step father and I hunted all morning. Around ten in the morning I walked   dsc_0016around a bend and saw turkey heads out front. I moved as quickly as I could and the turkeys busted into a fan shaped escape. Bob and I sat for two hours and never saw a bird return. We did hear one way over the hill. I would later walk through the area trying to find the birds. No luck!

Tuesday, November 1, My cousin, Donnie, Bob and I searched for a few hours at another area. We failed to hear any birds on the roost and, also, failed to see any while walking. Actually the morning proved to be a “pick on Bob’ day. I had to be home early this day for a lawn mower specialist was to come and look the mower over. (Unfortunately, a pump in the transmission was ruled to be the culprit. I am taking donations for a new one.)                                                     dsc_0014

This morning, November 2 found me at a listening point. I heard a little turkey talk down over. I moved toward the area of the light yelps. In a short time, I located the sound. I was about fifty yards from the turkey, however, I began wondering about this hunt. Could those sounds have been from a hunter? I only heard one turkey. Usually, the birds of the flock all sounding off while on the roost. I decided to take some caution just in case.

dsc_0010  I set up and called a little. I heard one bird fly down. I waited and never saw or heard any turkeys. I wondered if the bird may have seen my movements while setting up. Remember, the turkey was rather close.                                          dsc_0015

Eventually, I began to formulate a plan. I eased up over the hill and worked around behind where I had heard the bird. I was trying to see a flock of birds if that was an option. I made a big circle around the area only to have a bird answer my call about three hundred yards from where the turkey was initially. I set up to call.

A few minutes had elapsed when I saw the turkey coming in the distance.  The shot was twenty-nine yards. The shot became reality at 8:40!

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