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Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Refreshing Weather

 

We have had some very hot temperatures as of late and no rain! My wildflowers have dried up and the grass has a gray-green look from lack of moisture. This morning, however, was a  refreshing reminder of what the fall season should feel like. Comfortable! With that in mind I headed early to the woods to see what I could see and, especially, find some Sheepshead Mushrooms.  Another common name is “Hen Of The Woods” since someone believed this mushroom resembles a hen on her nest.

Future meals

The few hours I was out found some disappointment when I could only find one sheepshead. I began wondering if the weather has played a role on their production this year. Maybe, with some rain they will grow profusely. I have found them even into November so I am still hopeful. I harvested the one ‘room I discovered and later cut it up and washed the bugs out of the hidden crevices.

Dogwood berries

  I saw a lot of squirrels this day, both in the woods and roads. I can say the same for deer and turkeys. I saw approximately 12 deer. Three were identified as buck, but none appeared legal for the hunting seasons. Only one presented any good photo ops.

Allegheny River

Turkeys were the same. I saw two flocks. One was in a field behind some houses as I was driving home. The other flock yielded about 18-22 birds. A humorous event occurred with two of the birds. The two young turkeys were on a dead limb. I managed two photos when the limb snapped. The birds fell a foot or so before remembering they had wings and soared off.

I have fished a couple of morning before the heat became intense. I fished a game land pond where I caught a Carp and Bullhead Catfish. the river yielded a Smallmouth Bass. A second fish pulled hard and I set the hook. I felt weight and then the line was broken or cut. the fish felt big!

This guy thinks he is a fisherman!

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A Day At The Zoo!

                                                                                             

The Pittsburgh & PPG Aquarium was a delight on our recent visit. Surprisingly, the crowd was low in numbers and that alone made our time special.

I hadn’t been to the zoo for a couple of years and learned of new exhibits which we enjoyed. Also, one elephant gave us quite a show as the beast entered the water area and began submerging itself and throwing water about.

                                                      

  See: http://www.pittsburghzoo.org for more information on the zoo and aquarium.

 

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    I admit I didn’t make the hike as early as wanted. I had to “slap” on some paint on a new painting  just to get the direction in order. Also, I needed to  record a track on a CD I have been working on.

Water Snake

I was trying to make an important decision, as well. Should I go carp fishing along with a hike? Or should I just go on an “explorative” hike?  I decided to explore and take photos. After all North Korea just may blast a nuke into Pittsburgh and I should check out as many places as I can.

Cardinal FLower

 

 

Wood Turtle

I needed to drop off a Cd at a friend’s home so the decision to hike and explore Patterson Run was made since the drop off home would be in route to this

Damselfly

beautiful stream.

Patterson Run is an approved trout stream in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. I have hiked along some northern sections of the stream at various times, but I never explored the lower section. That would be my goal!

Bumblebee on Blue Vervain

I walked down over a hill to the stream and began to walk with the flow of water searching for photo opportunities and wildlife. And yes the stream is beautiful! I had on boots that went to mid-calf and much of the time I could find a route to avoid wet feet. Several times I needed to go over the embankment to circle deeper areas. I saw only one trout. The water was low for the most part and deeper holes were scarce.  The water was clear and only the deeper holes failed to see bottom, well.

I saw two deer on the walk. One fawn was bedded down in stream-side vegetation and erupted only when I was about twelve feet from the bed. A second deer was wading the creek, but tree limbs avoided any chance for a pic. I would see two hen turkeys with poults. Just how many poults is anybody’s guess since all I could see of them was moving vegetation.

I located two different Wood Turtles. One I removed from the creek bottom and waited for the inquisitive critter to emerge from the shell and head back to the creek. The second turtle was walking along the sandy ground. two handsome water Snakes were viewed on limbs prior to the falls into the water.

I saw a lot of Cardinal Flowers growing along the water course. This flower grows deep along creeks and rivers, but I didn’t see any more than ten feet from the water’s edge. That seems to be the norm from past encounters. I saw a lot of Damselflies fluttering along the vegetation. the actual name for this species is Ebony Jewelwing.

On another hike earlier this week I saw five deer, three of the deer were buck with nice racks!

Wood Turtle

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Indian Pipe

The weather was markedly less humid and cooler than recent days. I gathered up my gear and headed to State game Lands 105 in

Fritillary

northern Armstrong County. This is property maintained by the Pennsylvania game Commission.

I am always hopeful of seeing bear, but I failed to see anything resembling a bear on this jaunt. I had two exceptions. I walked into two separate baby Porcupines. Maybe with a good imagination one could see a slight resemblance to a bear…maybe??? They have black hair on their bodies don’t they?                                                                       

The first Porcupine I walked on was a small little feller. I would have liked to have held and petted this critter, but my smarts told me otherwise.  I was within a couple of feet of this little guy and he instinctively would turn his backside towards me. This is a defensive posture. I walked on through the woods and heard and saw another young Porcupine. This one was slightly larger than the earlier one. This Porky, also, had more white coloring on the body. This one didn’t stay put and began climbing a tree for safety!  

I saw five different bucks on this hike. two sported sizable racks and with a couple of months of growth yet to happen. I saw a few doe as well. I impinge fawns were nearby, but dense grasses and such would not allow any sightings of those little ones. I saw three young gobblers moving across a clearing.

Plenty of butterflies were dancing through the air waves. I managed a few photos of them.

 

Tiger Swallowtail

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Carp Fishing!

  I went fishing especially for Carp. After loosing three riggings in six casts while fishing the Allegheny River  I made a decision to go for Carp in a pond. The choice was a good one for me.

I stopped at the house to exchange gear. I elected to fish with a fly rod.

The walk to this particular pond is approximately a mile through fields and forests so I actually gained some hiking time, as well. As the walk progressed I noticed something unusual. I thought I was looking at a piece of rubber or something. The object just was out of place. Suddenly, I realized what I was seeing. I was seeing a Snapping Turtle. The turtle’s shell was covered with mud thus it looked very smooth until I came closer to the image and saw other details.

The approach to the pond detailed some wildlife immediately. A Great Blue Heron was standing breast-deep in the water searching for something to eat. I managed several photos. A Wood Duck escaped my presence, as well. Carp were  everywhere surfacing and splashing.

Snapping Turtle

The pond’s surface was inundated with much moss. This surprised me since we seemed to have a lot of rain. The surface looked more like it was from the August dog-days. This made fishing difficult, but the edge of the water was open along the shore.

I fished  for a time hooking two Carp. The second one really gave me a fight on the fly rod tackle.

Other sightings of the day were a doe and her fawn and three separate hen Turkeys. Two of the hens had obvious poults and the third acted as if poults were in the area. The little ones were only a day or two since hatching.

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Ostrich Fern

I remember hearing of Buzzard Swamp in my teen years. The words I had heard were from grizzled old hunters stating of people becoming lost in the area in times past. Now I can see why. The area minus the trails and man-made ponds loos the same in all directions. the land is primarily flat.

Beaver Dam

 

This morning I left the house about 4:30 A.M. for the trip north to Buzzard Swamp. This land has been managed for wildlife through efforts of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the United States Forest Service. The location of the site is near Lolita, Pennsylvania and south of Marienville.

   I arrived on site around six in the morning to a balmy thirty-eight degrees. I shuffled around getting my gear organized when I  remembered to turn my cell phone on. I was immediately warned of a message. I was stunned with the words from my friend, Galen Braddy from North Carolina. The message was a mutual friend Ken Crummett of West Virginia being in the hospital. Ken had had a stroke. As I type this entry I am awaiting details and further word of Ken. A few weeks ago I spent time with Galen, Ken, and Kip Feroce during the first week of gobbler season. ken and Galen both bagged gobblers locally. The news sure dampened the hiking mood for me, but I tried to make the best of the situation managing to spend some time walking around a wildlife propagation area and beyond.

 

Tree Swallow

Deer were everywhere! I have no idea just how many deer I had seen here on site and while traveling. I was blessed to see three  fawns, too.                                                                                    

Like deer, Canada Geese were very abundant. I could see a lot of goslings about, as well. I witnessed some Mallards and Wood Ducks, and later, I saw some Mergansers. I saw some gobblers and hens at various locations, too. A lot of birdlife used the area. Swallows, Bobolinks, robins, warblers, Red-winged Blackbirds…  Next entry will include some places I visited. The areas were sites that were important to me in years past or have special memories.                                                                          

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  I was stationary at a high point very early to listen for gobblers. The sky was cloudy with a lot of red in the eastern horizon. I was

An intersting white Iris.

thankful the sun came out later.

I was quite a bit disturbed at this time when I realized my Gore-Tex boots leaked and my socks were soaked! I purchased these boot from Dick’s on April 7th of this year. Later, this soaking would lead me to get up and walk for the early morning temperatures and inactivity caused shivering on my part. My feet were cold and very uncomfortable! I was disgruntled!

Free to a good home! Gore-Tex is crap!

I heard a distant gobbler a few hundred yards away and as I began the trek towards him another tom gobbled close and directly below me. I angled away from the gobbler and started to enter the woods and bumped a hen from the roost. She cackled as she flew and, now two gobblers sounded off. I set up about eighty yards from them. Shortly, I was hearing 4 or five gobblers roosting together.

 

Black-billed Cuckoo

Unfortunately, either the scared hen returned or another hen roosting with them began cutting and silence fell upon the early woods.

Wood Duck

I would creep in the direction once I knew the birds were not coming in. I called and an explosion of gobbling was the result. These birds, presumably, Jakes, were around forty yards from me. They would only gobble with a loud yelp series or crow call, but that only lasted a short time. (Jakes are young turkeys and last years gobblers.)

I went up and over and had another tom answer me. His gobble was only a “courtesy” gobble. He remained quiet after the initial call. By this time, with cold and wet feet, I walked along a farming road to stop and wring out my socks. Shameful! I reentered the woods and spooked a turkey where I had been calling!!!

I was actually thinking of going home and began  walking a reclaimed strip towards the jeep, I called and received an answer way across Cherry Run and the road and up a hollow. I thought my feet are already soaked so why not wade the creek and go after the gobblers. I would later get some gobblers riled up, but they eventually tired of the game refusing to cross a gulley. I circled way out around them and gobbled and heard another gobbler clear across the hollow again. Off I went and I failed to rile him up.

I began heading back to where I heard the lone gobbler earlier. By this time, I was tired and had a raspy throat from sinus draining allergy issues. Why me? I entered the woods and called and set back and took a cat nap. I walked further back the ridge and received an answer. This gobbler seemed interested.

   I was working this fellow and he was coming in slowly. I heard something walking to my left and could soon see three gobblers at about eight yards. I couldn’t see their beards because I was viewing them through my peripheral vision…no details! The great debate entered my mind. Were these all Jakes? Could their be a longbeard within this group?  I began thinking of shooting whatever legal bird appeared first. Meanwhile, the longbeard below was still coming.

The three turkeys began putting some and I knew they suspected something amiss. They began walking towards the gobbler. I could see they were all jakes now. I pulled up and bagged a gobbler at 35 yards.  No regrets, but I can’t help wondering what would have happened had I not shot. I suspect quiet on the western front, but one can never know with a surety.  I began the very long walk back to the jeep.

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