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Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Killdeer

Yes, even I can be stupid at times. When I worked the common term we, laughingly, used was, “Stupido.” We pronounced the word as Stew-peed-o. Well in one of those extremely rare times I discovered while trying to take a photo of a deer of a problem. I didn’t place the camera card in the camera. Yes i was disgusted with myself for the hike was only about 150 yards from the jeep and I would not be able to get any photos this morning.

I returned to the jeep and left the camera and lenses behind.

I walked a gas well road at the top of the hill. As I emerged from the road onto a field of soybeans, I saw a doe and fawn. The photo would have been a good one with dew over the soybeans and the green background. I saw other deer in the huge field, too.

Woodland Sunflower

I continued walking the road watching the field intently on my left before entering another wooded area. You guessed it! As I exited the wooded area to an old field of knee-high vegetation I spotted a nice buck at about twenty yards. two other bucks were just beyond. They stood around and watched me. No camera! It gets worse!

Turkey poult

I walked across this field before entering another woodlot. I would be descending gradually. I looked about 25 yards to my left and spotted a Barred Owl perched on a limb. No camera!

Purple Loosestrife…and invasive specie.

Eventually, I reached Cherry Run and began to head towards the jeep. I searched around looking for trout. Suddenly, I saw waves in the water next to the bank. My first thought was a Muskrat. However, the animal crawled upon a rock and I was viewing a Mink. The mammal even crawled up a leaning tree for a couple of feet. I missed some great photo opportunities again.

This morning I made sure I had my camera card. All of the photos shown here are from today’s excursion.

Allegheny River

I set the minnow trap about five this morning and after catching a few dozen I went off to catch the “big un.” The river was beautiful with some fog conditions early making way for a clear morning.

The fish weren’t biting very well, but I did land a nice Smallmouth Bass. There are literally thousands upin thousands of shiners near the river’s edge. Occasionally, many would leap from the water escaping a bass.

Smallmouth Bass

With a couple of hours fishing behind me, I removed a little trash from the river’s shoreline. Afterwards, I spent some time looking for things to photograph. I saw several hens with several, nice-sized, poults.

Shiners
Blossoms of the Arrowhead plant. They are found in wetland areas usually.

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I have been seeing much wildlife on recent walks. Deer are almost a certainty on any jaunt. Of course, getting photos isn’t always the easy part upon seeing them. Distance, brush, backgrounds, compositions and timing often keep a photographer from getting a desired shot. The two fawns cooperated rather well allowing for a few pics prior to the departure.

Whitetail Shed

Late last winter or very early spring a Whitetail buck lost an antler. The various rodents are gnawing at the shed to gain important nutrients and minerals.

Grey Squirrel

Of course, Gray Squirrels and the other species are usually spotted during woodland jaunts.

Cottontail Rabbit

Lots of rabbit sightings. I spotted eight different rabbits the day I took this photo above.

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I like the summer weather when the humidity is low and having cool early-morning temperatures. With such conditions I decided to spend some hours enjoying the conditions.

This venture would include a two or more mile hike and some fishing.

I was fortunate to see some wildlife this morning. I saw eight different deer and three buck. Two were running together in the fog and I managed one decent photo of one standing in the fog watching me. I saw two turkeys feeding along the woodland edge. I saw a Great-horned Owl fly out of a tree. if I would have been faster I could have managed a possible in-flight shot. Rabbits were out and about, as well.

Buck in the fog

During my walk I came upon a few bear tracks. I have been fortunate in recent weeks with bear sightings and I had hoped this one might appear somewhere along the trail.

Bear Track

Eventually I settled in for a little fishing. I had my very light tackle and began the fishing for Carp, but the catfish were biting well. I caught around seven or eight cats. One Bullhead managed a quick turn sending the pectoral barb into the fleshy part by my thumb. The barb actually stayed in the “meat” until I pulled on the fish to remove it. That has never happened before.

I haven’t been “hit” by a catfish barb for many years and the realization of those experiences immediately came to be. I bled, I hurt and became slightly swollen and red. In fact as I type this entry on Monday the 12th I can still feel a slight pain.

Some readers may not know what I am talking about at this time. The catfish family have stiff barbs on their dorsal and pectoral fins. To release a catfish one needs to grasp the fish in such a way the barbs can not jab into the hand. I have heard some believe they have a slight toxin and they might have some validity.

This morning had another first for me. My brand new, never-worn, boots were on my feet. I walked behind to the Nature’s Restroom, and noticed something shining among the vegetation. I had tramped upon a fishing lure and the one treble hook was firmly in place. I removed the boot to remove the plug and luckily the hook was in the thick bottom of the boot and not through the thinner material.

I took some photos of various wildflowers during the jaunt. I found the source of the Coronavirus, too. They grow on small shrubs in Pennsylvania. See photo below.

Swamp Milkweed

Dogbane Beetles

Coronavirus Blossom on a Button Bush

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That’s a Bear was heard. I don’t believe I audibly spoke those words, but I do know I thought those words in my mind, at least.

The sky was overcast at this time of the morning. The weatherman said the skies would open up soon, so I was in the woods early. The time was somewhere around seven o’clock when I saw the black form around thirty to thirty-five yards out. the moment our eyes made contact the form moved fifteen feet or so before stopping. I struggled to get the camera focused on the bear’s head. Saplings and leaves , along with the darkened woodlands forbade that focus as needed.

The bear began moving away when I noticed cubs coming up behind her. I no with certainty of two cubs, but with the terrain, vegetation and such there may have been three. As soon as the bears were over the grade I moved hoping to see them again, but they were out of my view already.

My day was made. I could have turned around and went home a happy man, but I continued walking to see what other things of interest were out ahead.

I would see six deer and one fawn before I headed off to home.

I saw three Ravens up close before they noticed me, too. More photos below of the adventure out in the woods this morning.

Land stage of the Red-spotted Newt.

Stink Horn

This Stinkhorn is a fungus having many subspecies. They have a foul-smelling odor with the spores.

Goat’s Beard Blossom

Goat’s Beard Seed Pod

I found an introduced plant of interest along the fields. The name is the Goat’s Beard. It yields an

attractive yellow blossom followed by a dandelion-like seed pod. However, the seed pod shown above is close to three inches in diameter.

Striped maple leaf glowing in the sunlight.

Bee Balm or Oswego

Indian Pipe

Indian Pipe is a parasitic organism. It is, also, known as the Ghost Plant, for obvious reasons.

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Late Wild Turkey Eggs

We have had some hot, humid weather recently and a 62 degree morning and lessening humidity was the ticket for me to get out for a morning jaunt. A always I had hoped to see a bear or two, but this morning proved to be “bearless.” However, I wasn’t disappointed with the wildlife sightings.

I did see four hens out and about feeding and one incubating her eggs. I was almost upon her when she unnerved and flushed. I was surprised to see a clutch of eggs this late into the season. She had, probably, lost her first nest for any number of reasons and re-laid a second clutch of eggs. I hope she returns to finish the task at hand.

Two of the hens had poults with them. The one in vegetation shielded the poults so I could barely see any, but I saw a back or two of poults. The second hen with poults had, at least, 5-6 visible babies. I am sure others were in amongst the vegetation. These poults were the size of a Ruffed Grouse or Pheasant. I failed to get any photos.

I saw four deer in totality with two being male deer.

I saw plenty of rabbits during the walk and one Grey Squirrel.

Various summertime wildflowers are blooming and I couldn’t resist taking some photos, as I always do.

I dressed accordingly to the season in regard to Deer Flies. In other words, I had a light flannel shirt and a hat on to deter these pesky and painful insects. I killed one and only witnessed several others. I was lucky for sometimes I am likened to a World war II, B-29 Bomber with many German Messerschmidt 109 fighters diving from all directions. Did I say I despise Deer Flies?

Beautiful morning

Hen turkey

Black-Eyed Susan

Dogbane Beetle

I was glad to find a number of the Dogbane Beetles. As a youngster I would catch these insects and study The brilliance of the iridescent colors. Many, probably, believed I wasn’t right as a child as many still do today.

Milkweed in blossom

Downy Skullcap

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I am still walking despite the heat of last week. I kept them to a shorter walk because I don’t enjoy high heat and humidity well and add allergies…well, you get the picture. Some of the photos included are from such walks.

I heard a gobbler gobbling and adjusted my plans to go towards the bird. Once I crossed a hollow and entered the flat area of the hill, I called and was met with a nice gobble. The big bird was at an estimated 110 to one hundred and twenty yards away. I settled in to see in my camera would be taking any photos of him. Of course, vegetation was thick in places and my allergies were causing me to stir some. I tried to suppressed a couple of sneezes.

I saw some movement at one point but never identified the source. the gobbler never again gobbled or answer my calling. Did he circle and see me moving? I don’t know, but that scenario was possible.

I walked a little longer seeing several turkeys.

I took some wildflower photos. as I walked around.

Common Yarrow

Hazel nuts are forming.

Poison Ivy

Elderberry blossoms

Evening Lychnis

This morning I walked a road below my homestead and listened to a gobbler across the creek. he was gobbling well. I had heard him last week in the very same spot, too.

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Fishing Time

Largemouth Bass

I was out early this morning to try my luck with fishing. The temperature in the morning was in the forty degree range. I must admit I was a little chilled.

I set the minnow trap sometime between 4:45 and five o’clock. Little time evolved upon having a dozen or more shimmering little Creek Chubs and Long-nosed Dace. The jeep was loaded and off I went to see what adventures I could discover. I always tend to do some explorations during my fishing trips.

Fishing was slow early except for catching Eastern Sand Darter. These little fish can be difficult to catch for the size is never very big and they have small mouths. Sometimes they can strip a hook with very little movement at the rod tip. The funny part of this morning was how my dad and I would catch these fish years ago. I was reminiscing about those times for some reasoning and behold I caught a darter. We used to call them Sand Pike.

Eastern Sand Darter

I heard a commotion in the trees behind me and could see occasionally a hawk or owl through the foliage. Suddenly two Red-tailed Hawks came bursting forth flying very near to me. I grabbed my camera but they were gone until one flew out again close to me before moving higher in the sky. I managed one quick shot. the hawk had a Grackle within the talons. Other Grackles were not happy to see one of their own off for breakfast.

Red-Tailed Hawk with Grackle

A pair of Mallard Ducks continued flying back and forth.

Shortly, after eight I packed up and went elsewhere to fish. I walked close a quarter of a mile to the shoreline. My first cast brought forth a nice catfish. The fish must have been 18 to twenty inches. A nice fight was had. Moments upon releasing the cat I landed a real fighter and jumper of a Largemouth Bass. I would catch Bluegills and Pumpkinseed panfish, too.

I saw a Great-Blue heron, and Osprey and a Bald Eagle while fishing. I would see a number of Gray and Fox Squirrels, too. A highlight was a hen turkey walking around. I managed a few shots before she exited the field area.

Female Mallard

Beautiful morning

Killdeer

Catalpa Blossoms

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Last week I spent a few hours

Last week I spent two mornings messing around the Allegheny River. I fished some, I explored some and I looked for anything of interest to photograph.

I was fishing directly below the dam and I was catching rock bass very often due to the very swift current situation. Those rock bass were actually ROCKS! I continually snagged and frustrations quickly led to the abandonment of fishing and to the searching of things to photograph. The second morning I did catch some fish with a twenty-inch Catfish being the biggest, however I became very wet since the rain that was suppose to be out of the area by seven in the morning grew heavier. By nine o’clock I was quite dewy.

I saw a Great-Blue Heron at times and surprisingly the big bird allowed my presence until the uplift occurred. The heron flew towards my right over the river allowing for many “in-flight” shots. I included a few here. Later, I had one of these birds land in the creek behind my house. They like the natural landscaping along the creek to help conceal their presence as they seek minnows for their lunch.

I noticed the Blue False Indigo flowers were blooming, in force, in the sandy soil areas of the river’s bank. I took some photos of these beauts, as well.

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After a very rainy Mother’s day I was going at it again for another gobbler. Laurie and I had Mother’s day at the house with my mother, Ruth Smail Miller and step father, Bob Miller and my sister, Ruthie. My mother is 91 years of age and I am so happy to have her around.

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Bearded Hen

As I moved easterly this morning, I could see the cloud line from yesterday’s rain out ahead. The morning was looking to be a much better day than the last week. Unfortunately, I heard no gobblers with certainty during the very hours moments of the hunt. I state “with certainty” for I may have heard one very far, but I wasn’t sure.

After a time I began to move around calling and listening and looking for Morel mushrooms whenever I could keep my brain focused on the search. A fog settled in the valley for a brief time.

Somewhat disappointed, I quietly moved all around the property calling at strategic locations and still no gobbling birds. Once I reached the farthest point I turned and moved back to my early positioning.

I leaned up against a gas well to enjoy the heat from the sun. I called and believed I heard a gobble. My second call affirmed my belief. I did hear a gobble and much closer. I backtracked and circled to get down lower on this site. I wanted to set up within a thirty feet wide woodland corridor between the gas well landing and a narrow field. I wanted to cover as much area as possible.

All I heard was silence. Did the gobbler see me I don’t believe he did due to contour and terrain features, but why the silence. I became quiet, too. After twenty minutes I called again and heard a gobble seemingly from my left side. Another gobbler or did he move above my position behind the gas well?

I called twice more and definitely heard gobbling behind me on my left before silence again. Something wasn’t feeling right and I became suspicious to last year’s gobblers known as Jakes.

I decided to circle around above the gas well and try to locate the birds better. Once I reached the round top I circled around the edges calling and listening. Nothing! However, after a loud gobble call I heard two gobbling birds below me and near to where I thought I had heard the gobbling earlier. I was almost completely convinced I was playing around with young gobblers. I returned to the woodland corridor and called only to receive silence. I decided I needed to move in their direction because quitting time was winding down and I needed to fire these birds up soon.

I moved another sixty yards and called. No gobbling, but I would soon see the culprit. Four silent Jakes showed up. The longest beard was around three or four inches. Now I was seeing great photo ops, but my camera and shotgun needed reversed. The Jakes began to move around in a confused state. This fact allowed for some photos, but not the best opportunity for the birds moved into thicker vegetation.

One of a few clear photos of the moving Jakes.

I would see a bearded hen on this day.

I had played around with those Jakes for over two hours.

A friendly cow. Cows bellowed for about half an hour in a lower pasture field making hearing difficult.

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Lucked Out!

I was up early as is normal for me. My original plans was to check a property I have hunted for years, search for some morels and go trout fishing. I was not over enthused because many bordering acres had been just posted by a hunting lease. These were lands my father had me in when I was around six or seven. Many years of hunting and walking will be forever gone and that saddened me. However, I still went out.

Early morning full moon.

The sky was clear and a beautiful full moon could be observed. As the skies brightened I heard one or two gobblers far off. I would end up seeing five gobblers in several places and as many, if not more hens. Deer were out everywhere!

I stopped at my mom and step father’s place to see their new truck and do some mowing.

More pics below:

I took a lot of turkey photos this morning.

…and a few deer photos, as well.

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