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Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

The Turkey Vulture

I do not remember when I saw my first Turkey Vulture. (Turkey Buzzard) I know I was extremely interested with the bird once I learned proper identification. The wide-span, wing-spread aids with making the bird seem much larger than it is. Identifying the bird in flight is possible through two primary methods. The birds soar with a shallow-v appearance. They hold their long wings out and may soar for long periods of time without any wingbeats. This is possible through the use of their finger-like wing feathers located at the end of their upper primary feathers and the thermal wind drifts. So look for the finger-like wing tips and the shallow-v. They often wobble while soaring.

  The bird itself is close in size to a Canada Goose.  They appear dark-bodied, but actually have shades of brown included in their color.

The vulture is a bird that feeds on carrion. They are a scavenger. They have keen eyesight and a sense of smell. The birds can locate dead things via scent.

They like to nest in rocky areas.  Many years ago I was exploring steep rocky ledges. I pulled myself up to peer into the depths of some rocks and was immediately met with an adult vulture. The bird instantly came towards me and flew past my head as I ducked down to keep from meeting with a collision. Their were two eggs in the rocks which is normal. The adults soared close to me until I exited the area.

The little vultures are fed through the adults regurgiatatiing the carrion they have eaten. Yummy! They can fly in about nine to ten weeks.

Watch for the Turkey Vulture and enjoy with amazement their flight abilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Turkeys!

Today was the first day of trout season I Pennsylvania. I don’t care for the crowds on trout opener, so I decided to go for a walk and look for some Morel Mushrooms.

  I crossed a creek near to where I was raised and walked the steep slope towards the top of the hill. This woods is an open woodland, so I had high hopes of wandering onto some of those fine-tasting ‘rooms. I have found Morels at this location in past years, but the morsels evaded my eyesight.

The day, however, was a productive one in other ways. Squirrels were abundant, both the Gray and Fox squirrels species. Chipmunks raced over the dry leaf-litter. I saw some Rufous-sided Towhees. that sighting always insures soring is here to stay.

I heard a commotion and saw some movement along the side of a Wild Cherry tree. Young raccoons were at the den. the cute little buggers were inquisitive of my presence allowing a few photo  ops.  While moving about near their den tree I saw a turkey flying across the hollow. As I watched I heard gobbles way down the ridgeline. I believed I would venture in that direction.

I entered a field and eased over the terrain to see two turkeys about eighty yards away. I set up and called. Gil-obble-obble-obble was the response. I waited surprised to have four jake gobblers come within twenty yards of my position. The camera was shooting. One became nervous with alarm putting. I responded likewise , but they were all nervous. two more jakes and a hen entered the scene. they were right near me when two longbeards showed up. One had a massive beard close to a foot long I surmised. I tried to move the camera onto those beauties and the close birds began putting, too. they all quickly disappeared.

I used the field’s terrain to circle and saw them way off eventually in another field. I called, but the mood was gone.

I headed back towards the jeep still looking occasionally for Morels. I saw the two longbeards  again. I saw eight deer and a Red-tailed Hawk and the nest. I, also, saw a pair of Wood Ducks in a wetland-like area.

 

 

 

 

 

Frog eggs

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State Game Lands 304

I am guessing the last time I hiked on Pennsylvania Game Commission State Game Lands 304 was twelve to fifteen years ago. The timing of this venture was in late August or September. The Deer Tick explosion in my area of Pennsylvania was in full force. I parked along a township road and headed up and over a hill in that year. Memory and time cheats me of specifics, but I either called and had turkeys answer me or I simply hear turkeys and set up to call them in.

Skunk Cabbage

I set up armed with a camera and began turkey talk. Their interest was apparent as I waited to see the birds sneaking into camera zones.

Buffalo Creek

For whatever reason I looked down only to see many ticks crawling upon my camo pants and shirt. I began removing and killing before getting up and leaving. the turkeys would have to wait. I couldn’t stand all those ticks crawling on my clothes. I needed to act and remove and kill as needed!

Today, I revisited this particular game lands, but not at the exact place I had been those many years ago.

I walked down a slope and eventually walked alongside to Buffalo Creek. The creek was beautiful. As I walked along I went upslope before hearing the distinct sound of a hen turkey. She began yelping, cackling loudly followed by others. In short order a gobbler or two began gobbling. Fighting with loud purring was heard as well. The wings were beating  loudly as various birds pushed to maintain or gain positions in the pecking order. The birds were across the creek. I eased slowly in their direction and eventually could see turkey movement about a hundred yards away.

I soon saw a big strutting gobbler, his white “snowball” head could clearly be viewed as it appeared to glow. (Turkey hunters will know what that means.)  About a half-an-hour of this show ended abruptly with the turkeys starting to feed again. Sad to say I could not get any photos due to the thickness of limbs.

I heard and saw Wood Frogs. I, also, saw some Red-spotted Newts and a pair of Mallard Ducks.

 

 

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Yes, recently this week I ventured out in some cold weather with stiff breezes to hike around a game lands. I hunted bear at this site last fall and wanted to explore some areas I hadn’t ventured into as of date. Immediately upon leaving a gas well road to move upslope the signs of deer beds were prevalent.  This area was shielded from the wind gusts and I suspect the deer made use of that fact. Numerous tracks were present as I hiked this adventure. I would see three deer later during the hike.

I circled around the hill’s side and old long-abandoned highwalls to fight Multiflora Rose and autumn Olive. I still have several thorns embedded into my hands as I type.

Once I moved up onto the top flats of this hill the winds became more brisk. They felt, almost, as a personal attack on me. However, I was prepared for the cold.

Turkey scratchings

I spotted some exposed leaves among some downed trees and discovered turkeys had been scratching the day before. Several hundred yards away I

Deer bed

came across fresh tracks. the tracks soon led to six to eight turkeys. I managed a few quick photos. I actually broke the flock up. If the cold was so demanding and may have set up to call some back, but I elected to continue moving to keep the old blood moving.

I walked a quarter of a mile and heard something moving in the brush only to see an adult gobbler. The brush did not allow any photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cone of a Tamarack. (Larch)

 

Note the swollen left side of this deer’s head. 

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Fresh Morning Snow

Before dawn I was busy cleaning the driveway from the several inches of fresh snow. The tractor’s battery had died and I decided to manually clean the drive instead of taking time to put the charger on the battery,

White-throated Sparrow

Interestingly, I soon began to hear the mating sounds from various birds. the Cardinal and Tufted Titmouse’s chirps were distinctive.  Soon I heard Canada geese and a pair flew over me honking away. nature’s mating season is in full force.

Later this day I would need to be ready to play at two nearby rest homes, but I managed to get several hours of hiking.

Deer tracks were numerous as I moved along. Fortunately, I spotted a deer bedded down among the fallen trees. I quickly located three more. I clicked some phots and moved on without spooking any of the three deer.

Birdlife was plentiful this morning. Cardinals, Juncos, White-throated Sparrows were common. I succeeded with getting some decent pics.

 

 

Cardinal in flight

 

 

Peek-a-boo

 

 

 

 

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Woodland’s Time

My friend, Frank “Muskie” Maus did out annual mid-winter hike time today. Frank wanted to explore some new woodland areas bordering a Pennsylvania Game Lands. He has a nephew who purchased some acreage with a home so the potential of hunting the area needed some exploration.  I have been on these particular game lands, at least, three or four times, but not on the acreage mentioned above.

 

Hill Country!

The area is typical with some old, long-abandoned, highwall mining sites, Autumn Olive and multiflora thickets.  While traveling through these wooded areas we saw plenty of deer tracks.

We circled the hill’s edge and returned to the road before traveling to another site familiar to Frankie as a hunter. AT this site we traveled along some high and steep river hills. We could see the mighty Allegheny River at times.

We didn’t make to this slope!

During this venture we saw around 10-12 Wild Turkeys. I arrived home after 1:00 so our time afield covered over four hours. Snow was still present in most of the areas we hiked. We, both, enjoy having some snow to help us see and observe tracks. Talks of another venture  were made and we discussed future fishing adventures.

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Out In The Snow

Bald Eagle

Once the morning gloom dissipated I elected to get out in the snowy day and enjoy some woodland time. Snow fell all day, but never very hard. Also, any snow falling would remain on the light side. Rural roads, however, had some slick areas in spots.

I arrived at my destination near Cochran’s Mill to walk along the old Baker trail near the lower end of Cherry Run. I didn’t walk the trail exclusively   due to drainage issues of water and mud. Also, plenty of big trees were down across the trail throughout.  That was just fine since the area along the creek is much more attractive to gaze upon.

While walking I became a little down with my thoughts. I began thinking about the many areas I used to tramp upon and hunt that are now posted and/or developed. That made me sad. I find I am become increasingly discouraged with hunting due to such issues.

Nature seems to often find away to help clear such thoughts. Instinctively, I guess, I looked up to see a mature Bald Eagle coming up the hollow at treetop level. The beautiful bird turned and circled again and flew over allowing for one quick photo in an opening. The eagle seemed to telling me to not be down as the wings carried it up the hollow.

I would see three deer feeding along a field’s edge. Also, I saw a darkened mass in a cut corn field only to see a flock of Wild Turkeys. I managed a half a dozen pics.

 

Cherry Run

Later while moving along Cherry Run I noticed a brown ball of energy going upstream. The brown mass was a mink. I took two quick photos, but they were both hazy. The mink eventually went among a root system. I always enjoy seeing a mink in the wild. It is rare. I did get a good photo of a Mink  several years or so about half a mile upstream.

 

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