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Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Longnose Gar

I set my minnow trap around 4: 20 A.M. in preparation for a fishing excursion along the Allegheny River.  I was at the river by six in the morning to catch the “big un.”

The fishing was actually good this morning. The weather was beautiful although we had I witnessed several times where some rain fell. None of these events were long enough or hard enough to make anything wet. the usual swift current was workable for a change. I only lost one hook where I usually snag  often. I had watch my broken fishing pole sink into this water here recently.

  I caught varied species of fish. They species included: White Catfish; Flathead Catfish; Walleye and Smallmouth Bass. All of these species put up a nice fight and I truly enjoyed their participation.  However, I caught two fish of another specie…the Longnose Gar.

The gar is not an easy fish to catch due to an extremely bony long “nose” full of sharp teeth.  Simply put; getting a hook to becoming set is difficult. The best wat way to catch gar is to allow them

The narrow-long mouth area with sharp teeth

to run with the bait until they get it into proper position to set the hook. The problems are: most of the time you get a hard bite and do not know it is a gar so the fishermen reacts normally thinking a bass or similar fish is the one biting.  the fisherman heaves back to set the hook only to feel no weight of a catch. And if the fishermen actually knows the fish is a gar, at what time does one believe the fish has the minnow in place for a catch. Not easy!

Most of my fishing adventures over my years never once realized any gars. They were native to my area, but had been gone for many decades. The cleaning up if the Allegheny River allowed this specie to, once again, flourish locally. the Paddlefish has been reintroduced and is doing well, too. That specie gets big.

The Longnose Gar will reach 24, or so, inches in length and up to four pounds. However, they put up a good fight. As stated, I managed to catch two.

Interestingly, I believe a school of this specie must have been in the area, for I missed some fish bites. These bites were hard with a heavy pull and a strongly, bent rod. At some pint after catching two, I began to think some of these misses may be other gars.  I even tried dropping the bail and allowing the fish to take off before settling down a bit. The fish would take off again and I would heave and fail to catch.

I saw a Musky fish-tailing the water.   I saw some Wood Ducks and Mallards, Great Blue Heron and some Ring-billed Gulls, too.

Flathead Catfish

One bird I saw and watched for a time was a Common Loon. This loon was an immature, non-breeding loon.  I was fortunate to have the camera on this bird as it raised up and flapped the wings.

Common Loon

 

 

 

Purple Loosestrife

 

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Good morning

 

 

 

two buck

 

 

 

 

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Mama Skunk

Yes, many know of my experiences with skunks over my life. I have been sprayed several times, once by a direct hit on the face. That one had my eyes burning like fire, but I survived. Many laughs have been enjoyed over the years from when I went to school after entanglements with skunks.

The school gave me some cash and told me to walk to a local grocery store in Elderton, Pennsylvania. The purchase was to be tomato juice. The. supposed. remedy for the smell did not work. Like I said the experiences allowed for many laughs then and those memories from school mates still bring laughs today, at times.

Several weeks ago I was perched on top of a hill waiting to hear some gobblers. I heard something and casually looked behind and failed to see anything. I thought maybe some item in my shoulder bag may have shifted causing a noise. I heard the sound again and turned around only to see a skunk about ten to twelve feet from me. The skunk made the noise again and I knew moving slowly was critical. I walked backwards only to see the skunk follow. I picked up the pace and once out of range I moved quickly. Wheeeew… Close call!

The noise I was hearing was from an action made by the skunk. Many do not know, but a skunk will give warnings out, often, prior to spraying their perfume. The warning consists of the animal raising slightly up and coming down hard with the front feet. This action was the sound I had heard three times. Black Bear will do the same thing. The skunk wants to warn and prepare the intruder first. I reacted wisely and escaped the wrath. I am assuming she may have had a den nearby.

I think that was the last time I hunted turkeys this spring. Allergies, asthma issues, heat and bugs finally convince me to abort the mission.

This morning, June 7, I walked outside around 5:30 A.M. to enjoy the world. I saw a skunk. I have seen this skunk many times  here since she has babies around eight feet from my basement door. usually, the sightings are in darker conditions. I quickly reentered the house and grabbed the camera and managed  some shots. She walked around and entered the den. Moments later I could see black and white movements around the entrance. BABIES! Due to the area and landscaping I couldn’t get any photos of those little ones. I believe, at least, three different babies were viewed.

Since I was already outside with a camera I took some flower photos.

Blue Flag (Native wild iris)

 

Yellow Flag (Non-native iris, but naturalized throughout the area)

 

Rhododendren

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Good Morning

I watched the weather and decided to go hunting anyway. One needs to remember the forecasters had said all this week were chances of rain and they were wrong. I made a decision if the rains become too heavy I would simply quit for the day.

  I woke up and began to cough due to asthma. I used the inhaler and seemed to have control. I had taken  an allergy pill last evening. I hate to take pills so I wait until I am bad. Those with superior knowledge, like my wife, claim I need to take them regularly to build up defense within my body. So I didn’t sneeze much this morning while in the woods.

While traveling in the predawn, I heard two Woodcocks doing their ritual, sky mating searches. I was introduced to this ritual as a boy. My dad pointed this out in the abandoned field beside the house.  I heard a Whip-Or-Will, also.

I climbed to the highest point on the hill which is a round top field of about 8 acres.  Sometimes after 5:30 I heard my first gobble down over the hill. Of course I headed towards the bird and set up around a hundred yards, or so, from his roost.

Moments later I heard some light hen chatter. Later, another hen was heard. This one actually walked around among the vegetation. I never saw her due to the darkness in the early woods. This gobbler gobbled occasionally at my calling, but others exploded farther out along the slope. I estimated three, possibly four, additional gobblers. I assumed they were Jakes of last year and they were for I would see them later on.

The two hens and gobbler moved uphill onto the round top field. I saw them, and later, would try a break up. The break up actually worked for the hens flew down over the hill and gobbler ran off in the opposite direction. I walked away planning on coming back later, and that was when the rains began.  I heard another turkey in a tree  but didn’t identify it as male or female. Like I said above, I did see the Jakes. I saw a total of nine birds. Did I mention of the rain falling?

By 7:30 I was about fifty percent soaked. I returned to the breakup site and called but didn’t hear any gobbling. The rains increased. I decided to make a tour towards the jeep and try to locate a tom. I did see some deer and an Opossum. The intensity of the rain was gaining and I was getting soaked. By the time I reached the jeep I was 95% drenched and twenty pounds heavier. I thought it best to quit and go home.

 

 

 

 

‘possum

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Hunting turkeys has been challenging so far this spring. I am hearing and seeing birds everyday. However, every time I have moved to a roosting gobbler, so far, hens have been roosting either with them or really close. The norm has been for gobbler shut mouth as soon as they all get together on the ground. This morning, for instance, (May 12) I actually was about a hundred yards away. I could see the birds fly down and in a short time the woods became silent. The cool temperatures and windy conditions made for any time setting to turn into shivering bouts.

Yesterday, May 11, I set up close to a gobbler. At fly-down time I began to hear two hens and then a third. I could see the one hen roosting. The gobbler flew down and all went quiet. I did get a couple of gobbles out of him after he hit the ground until the hens met up with the old boy. I did see another gobbler with two hens at a field’s edge, but on a posted property line.  The one hen saw me and he followed them farther onto that property.

Jack-In-The-Pulpit

This morning of the 13th looked great. The sky was cloudless and the winds were not too bad, however the morning was cold. I truly expected the day to be a good hunting day. I heard one gobble so far away it was barely audible. I know from experience the birds always go to a field which is close to a homeowner’s place. Regardless, he only gobbled six, maybe eight times. Oh well, I thought, the time is only 5: 40 A.M. I expected hearing gobblers directly below me at any time, but the remaining day was gobble-less. I was disappointed. I hung around this site until eight o’clock before moving to an area I have been having fun with turkeys. I arrived on the hill top at 9 and waited around until a little after eleven. NO GOBBLING!

I did see some interesting sights. I saw a ‘coon and turkey eggs. Lots of warblers are in the area now that migrating season is upon us. As viewed above, I found a little fawn snuggled against a tree’s base.

Rain is being forecasted for the next several days. I don’t know how much hunting I will get in over those days.

Lots of photos below.

 

 

Turkey eggs

 

 

Black-throated Gray Warbler

 

Raccoon

 

 

Frost on False Hellebore

 

Bluejay

 

Black-throated Green Warbler

 

Toad eggs

 

Dogwood blossoms

 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

 

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Orioles!

Baltimore Oriole

Since a little boy I have enjoyed seeing the Baltimore Orioles. They are brilliant in colors of orange and yellow contrasted with black and white.

I have some, presently, at the house feasting on my hummingbird feed. Another specie is present too. This bird is the Orchard oriole. they appear dark. The breast is a deep orange to almost brown. they are identified through an all back tail.

Some years ago while hunting gobbler with my father, I saw an oriole and did a loud whistling call that they do. A gobbler immediately answered. I repeated the call and the gobbler answered again. We set up to work the bird and my dad bagged the gobbler. I did a story about the hunt published in TURKEY CALL magazine. Turkey Call is the official magazine from the National Wild turkey Federation.

Orchard Oriole

 

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Pale yellow Trilllim

 

I headed out to some woods I know very well. They are close to my homestead and I grew up traversing the hills and hollows and playing in the “crick.” I like to walk in these areas for they, too, like so many areas are being swallowed up through development.

I left to check out for morels, those delicious morsels of fungi. I failed to fins any, but I enjoyed turkey activity. I called two nice gobblers to me. Later, I would see five gobblers and two hens. The

Yellow Violet

 

old-longbearded tom was suspicious of me, but his suspicions stopped when several jakes closed in to him. He turned and chased them every time they ventured too close.

I spotted a squirrel watching me from the safety of a hole in the tree.

   The unusual find mentioned in the title of this entry is the yellow trillium in the above photo. I actually found two of them.  This is color-variant of the Purple Trillium for this beauty was in the midst of a cluster of the trilliums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purple Dead Nettle

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Although the temperatures were below freezing this morning, Laurie agreed to go for a walk.  I was surprised!

We walked about seeing what we could see during the morning jaunt. We didn’t hear any gobbling, but ended up seeing turkeys at three areas.  We, also, saw five deer.

  The previous day I had work to do at my homestead. A Blue Spruce tree had fallen and actually landed on my mother’s home. My cousin cut it up. My job this morning was to drag all the limbs and burn. I spent about four hours cutting the limbs down to size so I could easier maintain the fire for  control. I still have to return tomorrow and try to finish the job.

I managed a short walk below the home to find where Beavers have been busy. I was elated to see Beavers on Rupp Run for in my life I have never seen any beavers in the area.

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Ginger

 

Dutchman’s Breeches

 

Recent jobs From Around the House In Landscaping

 

 

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Porcupine

 

Recently I returned to a large track of land to further explore and learn about the diversity. I love checking out new areas, however, finding such spots has become increasingly difficult over the times

I arrived about 7;30 to begin walking a trail. I almost immediately saw a deer up ahead. That would be the last deer sighting of the day. The flats featured some nice timber prior to the descension to the creeks on both sides of the point. I could hear the fats water from my high vantage point. At various places I observed “statues of rocks” someone had created in their jaunts. My early

Golden-crowned Kinglet

thoughts reminded me of ancient times and the worship of Baal by pagan Gentiles. However, I truly doubt and human sacrificing occurred on these altars.

I was slightly disappointed upon reaching a road and coming onto different property with many posted signs on the trees. Oh well, that is the norm in our current society. I returned to the parking place while walking along Bear Creek before going up and over the steep hill.

I entered another area of this property and enjoyed a nice trip through secluded woodlands. I am not sure how the dumping occurred for the area was polluted with hundreds and hundreds of tires and other debris from past travels along this, now-gated, trail.

While traveling this area I managed to get some photos of a Golden-crowned Kinglet and that isn’t an easy task. Those birds set long enough to get a focus and then dart to another limb searching for food. Out of a half a dozen shots I only got one decent photo.

Wood Turtle

I walked along a creek bottom and noticed just how high the creek had become after last week’s torrential rain. At one point I noticed a Wood Turtle along the bank. I couldn’t help wondering if that turtle rode out the recent high water. Maybe the critter had washed down stream for half a mile. Regardless, the turtle wasn’t overly frightened with my presence allowing for many photos.

The Coltsfoot flowers were blooming profusely. Yes, spring is here. The flowers are, often, called dandelions by many, but they are a separate specie.

I found some Round-lobed hepatica flowers almost ready to burst open . Golden Ragwort flowers have buds, but they will soon see a quick spirt in growth offering yellow flowers at around 15-18 inches high.

I was fortunate to see a Great-Horned Owl flying from a tree. No photos of that beauty. Other sightings included Turkey vultures, Canada Geese and Wood Ducks.

I saw an animal in a tree. At first I wasn’t sure if I was seeing a Porcupine or a Raccoon. Eventually, as I closed in, the Porky became obvious.

Coltsfoot Blossom

 

 

Stacked Rocks

 

Bear Creek

 

Round-lobed Hepatica

 

Wood Ducks

 

The morning sun

 

Some fast water

 

Robin

 

Close-up of Wood Turtle

 

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Screech Owl

 

Screech Owl

Early this morning I went outside to do some yard work in preparation for spring. The more I can done early at this time the more time I will have to chase gobblers and hike and fish in April and May.

I entered into my backyard gazebo and noticed some white “splats” on the floor. I thought this is odd and looked up to see two big yellow eyes staring at me at about four feet. The Gray-phased Screech Owl was the culprit. The bird was perched on top of a home-made box trap of mine that I had placed across the gazebo’s rafters. This owl must be nesting inside of the box trap.  I eased out and retrieved my camera and snapped a few quick photos.

The last two years had failed to produce young owls in my owl box. The Gray squirrels took dominance of that box.

Interestingly, later in the morning I ventured out again and heard the Bluejays and Chickadees in a noisy frenzy at the owl box. The were worked up and even landing at the hole’s edge. They were peering into the box. Immediately, I thought, has another owl laid claim to the box again. All other years when owls were present in the box the birdlife acted in this manner. Yesterday, I saw a squirrel at the hole’s entrance so if any owls have moved in it had to have just happened since yesterday. Time will tell. As I type this the Gazebo Owl is still perched at the box trap.

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