Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Baltimore Oriole
Common Grackle

Yellow-throated Warbler

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Non-migratory)

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Hen turkey on her nest.

I watched an interesting celestial sighting early in the pre-dawn moments. The planets of Jupiter and Saturn were in close alignment. I had to try to photograph this sighting.

I guess I am getting ahead of this morning’s story. I need to go back another day. Friday, April 29, I began noticing a discomfort in my throat. My wife, Laurie had felt the same beginning the previous Sunday and she developed a cough. Was I getting her illness? It sure seemed so. I felt slightly better in the early moments of the first day of the Pennsylvania Gobbler Season. That feeling wouldn’t last for as the morning progressed, I found myself couching. I would try to suppress any coughs.

I would hear a far-off gobbler deep into leased land. Further waiting failed to hear any oter birds so I began a slow trek of calling and listening. I failed to stir up any birds.

In time I was approaching a field that I walked in on early in the day. I was shocked when I heard a gobbler in the field. I moved ahead and set up and heard him once more. Any calling failed to get another response. Hens? Coyote?

Dogwood blossoms emerging.

By the time I returned home my coughing was getting more severe. Foolishly, I went to play some music with some friends. I left early due to coughing and by 8:30 I was in bed. Sunday and there would be no church for us…in fact I slept off and, on all day, too.


I woke up and decided I was not feeling so bad so off I went to hunt gobblers. I failed to hear any birds during normal roost time. A tour about the area failed to rattle any old gobblers up. As before I approached the field. I was run down and decided to set in the woods near the field and see what might happened.

A little after eight a gobbler sounded off and within moments, I could see three birds entering the field way out of range. My calling would often hear a return gobble. the birds entered the highest point on the field and locked up waiting for the hen they heard (Me) to show in the field. In time they would very slowly move away some but now they had a hen with them.

Foggy morning

I tried circling below the horizon line to get closer but couldn’t get a peep out of them. I made a bold decision. I was going to sneak up and come down onto them and try for a scatter. The birds were not there! I walked a little farther and watched the four turks in the fields towards where I was originally. I backed away and returned to my original post and got some gobbles out of them Something very strange began at that time. A helicopter flying not very high began flying back and forth..at least twelve times. The birds went silent and quickly headed into the woods. I came home for mowing was needed

I continued coughing throughout the morning at times. My chest hurts so bad for the earlier hard coughs. Tomorrow rain is being called for.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Male)

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I was out early to listen for gobbling activity. I wasn’t disappointed for I heard two. However, they were on the recently lost land. This lost land was due to a hunting lease which began last spring. Their gobbling was over by 6:25. Last spring, on the first morning, I called a longbeard and three jakes into the huntable land, but failed to get a shot due to underbrush and/or difficulty getting the longbearded bird away from the other three.

I walked about on the land I was planning to hunt and would see four gobblers and a hen.

Seeing this bedded doe was a reminder of fawning season.

I would see lots of squirrels while tramping around along with about six deer sightings including the bedded doe in the above photo. I would see a few more turkeys while traveling back roads while heading home.

I stopped and visited the landowner and later, her son. We have become good friends over the many years.

Where hickory nuts go to die.

A field of Leeks. (Ramps)

A hen turkey in the field.

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Laurie the tree hugger.

Laurie found out about this nature park and suggested we visit and hike the trails and explore. The park is called the Succop Nature Park and is located south of Butler, Pennsylvania.

We noticed a lot of children standing around in preparation for some guided tour. We had forgotten about this day being the annual Earth Day. We went in the opposite direction on a hike. We quickly learned of what lots of rain can do… create muddy areas. This fact would dampen the hiking for we continued but via different routes looking for dry trails.

The walking would bring us along two ponds. Here we would see bluegills, large koi fish, Wood Ducks and turtles. I saw some deer and squirrels, as well, but obviously not on the ponds…haha.

Lots of birch trees in the area.

The park, although small in acres, has a hundred-and seventy-year-old historic mansion on it. The site is used for events, such as weddings. The park is owned by the Audobon Society of Western Pennsylvania. Their web site is: http://www.aswp.org

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I have been out on hiking excursions as much as possible. I find with retirement I seem to have a lot going on. Here are some photos from these adventures.

Golden-crowned Kinglet.

These little birds can be difficult to catch in photos. they continually dart back and forth. Occasionally one gets the shot in the millisecond prior to the bird’s movement.

Turkey Vulture

Chestnut burr

Devil’s Walking Stick or Hercules Club

This tree has a covering of very sharp thorns covering the trunk thus the common names. If you ever reach for one without recognizing it be prepared for some intense pain. Birds love the purple autumn berries, as do the Black Bear.

Early spring greening!

This bottom photo requires some explanation. All the gray hues in the background is the water. This limb you are viewing is actually a refection on the water. The image is weird to observe until you know what had happened. The limb has broken off the main branch and is hanging over the water by a length of monofilament fishing line thus allowing for an eerie looking reflection.

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The morning was to be a nice one and I left early to try my hand with some trout fishing. (Later rain came but I had already quit fishing.) The stream was colored but not muddy and fast, but not overly rapid. Recent rains have been keeping the waters moving. The area I stopped initially showed much evidence of others at the stream’s edge. My attempts failed to catch any trout. Fishing pressure appeared hard everywhere I checked.

I moved to another area and found lots of evidence of fishing pressure including tents and such. I never had a hit in the two hours I fished so exploration was a must. I hadn’t traveled far when I saw a good on a small island rise up. Her nest was obvious, and I walked to the site for some photos. Ma and Pa Goose were very vocal about my presence. I continued upstream for a bit, and they believed their luring me away had been successful.

Although I failed to snag onto any trout, I definitely enjoyed my time out. I saw some deer, six turkeys and lots of squirrels.

Downed-lined Canada Goose nest.

Skunk Cabbage

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Upon wakening up on the morning of March 12 I quickly observed the snow-covered landscape. Yesterday, the temperatures reached into the fifty-degree range and this morning six to seven inches of snow could be viewed on the picnic table on the deck. Also, very windy gusts were the norm throughout the day. I would see many snow tornadoes throughout the walk.

i worked on a painting over the morning hours but felt the urge to dress accordingly and go for a walk. The urge overcame the warmth of the house and off I went for a trek.

White-throated Sparrow

The walk would prove to be productive one as far as seeing wildlife. I saw a flock of about seven gobblers scratching on a southern slope. I tried to get closer for some photos, but the birds would not have it. Later, I would see three “jakes” and take a few quick shots. These birds were not part od the gobbler flock.

In a secluded hollow seven or eight deer busted from the cover.

Water flowing under shallow ice.

I glanced up to see my first Turkey Vulture of the year. The bird circled me a few times hoping the old coot would drop. Finding food under snow isn’t easy for buzzards. Another bird observed was the male, Rufous-sided Towhee. He was thinking, no doubt, he should have stayed over a few nights farther south during the migration. I heard a few killdeers flying high. This specie has been around for a few weeks.

I would see many robins throughout the venture. The snow made searching for food on the ground difficulty. I dragged my foot along at times to open up the ground.

Hungry Robin

Typical of March were the quick changes in weather. One moment the sun would be shining with abundant blue skies and in seconds cloud cover would occur followed by brief snow squalls.

I was chilled at times. especially while in the windier areas, but overall, I was comfortable and enjoyed the time afield.

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Frank “Muskie” Maus and I conducted our annual late winter hike on this morning. We have been doing this event for a number of years and look forward to the time together to “catch-up” on things and retell many old “work-related” stories.

This particular morning was in the upper twenties with heavy fog, however, that fog seemed to disappear amazingly fast as we trekked along our journey of the day. This was new country for both of us as far as hiking, but still within areas we have known about for years.

Sun filtering through the fog onto the water.

On one side would be the mighty Allegheny River and on the other side was rocks, and big ones, and steep hills. We were amazed at the sizes of the rock formations not realizing there were rocks in this area.

The exploration time afield yielded various wildlife. We saw two Bald eagles and one on the nest. Other wildlife included: Killdeer; lots of Canada Geese; Common and Hooded Mergansers; Bufflehead Ducks; two deer; Fox and Grey Squirrels and various hawks.

Bufflehead Duck

Our conversations have taken a new turn in recent years and that is our aging ailments. HaHa. Yes, we are growing old having known each other since the mid-seventies. Always a joy for our time together to laugh and remember.


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Red Squirrel

Sycamore Tree

Deer feeding

Bobber in tree…last year?

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The last month has had a share of cold weather. Temperatures have been cold and very recently those temps have dropped into the single digits and even below zero. Strong winds have been the norm very often further increasing the cold weather into a Big Freeze!

Today the single digit numbers quickly moved into the twenty degrees and at 22 degrees I decided to head off for a walk. To further add to the comfort the winds were ceased.

Many deer tracks

Armed with my camera, I began the hike to see what wildlife I would see and what other wintry things I would observe. Deer tracks were everywhere, and I mean everywhere. The snow depth of nine or ten inches and the cold had forced the deer to move a lot searching for food. Interestingly I would only see a few deer throughout my travels.

Much of the water was frozen over with the exceptions of the faster moving water. Here I watched for Bald Eagles and various species of waterfowl. The species I witnessed this day are as follows: Canada geese, mallards, Black Ducks; Common Mergansers and the Redhead Duck. I do not see many Redhead Ducks in my area.

Female Common Merganser

Redhead Duck

Canada Goose tracks

Of course, I saw a lot of small bird life. I saw six or more Eastern Bluebirds. One female allowed for a few photos. The males were not as easy to approach close. the few that did always seemed to be among brush thus not allowing a good pic.

Eastern Bluebird (Female)

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