Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Snapping Turtle

The pole didn’t move much at all before the line tightened to the point for me to set the hook. Immediately I recognized something very different about this fish. I was fishing for Catfish and Carp, and I knew this battle was not familiar as the how those two species fight. My very next thought was…turtle!

I was correct as the Snapping Turtle came to the surface the first time. I hung on for this turtle was not appreciative as to me catching it. The pole was deeply bent with the tugs and weight.

Once I brought the turtle to the shoreline, I had few options. I would not be unhooking this feller by hand. Snappers can bite hard and lock their jaws. Naaa… I think I will cut the line.

I did catch some catfish and was enjoying the morning when I felt the very similar battle as with the first Snapping Turtle. Could have I caught another Snapper?

Again, I had hooked a second Snapping Turtle and I, once again, cut the line to reserve my fingers for other things. Both turtle shells were between twelve and fourteen inches in length.

So, I caught two Snapping Turtles within an hour. I, also, watched a doe during her potty time and would see a gobbler as I walked out of the area. It was a good and interesting morning.

The lonely pole.

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Another Cool Morning

One fall-like morning was June 18, so I made the best of the situation. The area I went to walk around soon became discouraging due to the ATV and dirt bike damage. I continued walking seeing a couple of deer and a raccoon. I spotted the critter moving away from me as I made a semi-circle throughout the woodlands. Surprisingly, my unplanned movement allowed this ‘coon and myself to stop and eyeball each other for a second or two. managed one shot.

However, before the ‘coon encounter I spotted two Turkey Vultures atop of utility poles on a right-of-way. They were holding their wings out to allow any moisture or dew to dry before beginning a day in the wind drifts.

Turkey Vulture drying the wings.

I could see a red-orange color through the underbrush and new immediately I was seeing a deer in its summer coat. The stalk began. The deer, a small buck, was feeding. I managed several pics before the buck nerves changed his feelings about my presence.

Eventually I came upon a township road and moved towards the parked Jeep. I was going to go along Cowanshannock Creek to see what mischief I could find.

I was surprised to not see any cars parked being it was a Saturday. I walked mostly along this creek past the locally famous Buttermilk Falls and continued. I was frustrated to see the garbage and massive erosion issues from the same ATV and dirt bike users from up and over the hills. the trails are everywhere!

I saw and, later heard, a Great Blue Heron.

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Land Stage of the Red-Spotted Newt.

For a handful of days my allergy issues have greatly subsided. I am hopeful that this annual problem may be moving on allowing for some peace. We will see!

Of course, with that issue lessening I hit the early morning for a walk, you know in the cool of the morn. I like to get out early for sometimes some fog allows for dramatic phots, plus the annoying insect life may be decreased for a time.

The enjoyable walk gave me opportunities to see some wildlife, as well. I saw some deer, a hen turkey, and rabbits. I heard gobbling on the top of the ridge and worked my way up. Here I would watch four gobblers and a doe together. Unfortunately, the birds never offered a good photo due to terrain, but what the heck… I was seeing gobblers.

Of course, I enjoy looking at the various vegetation as well as wildlife. Also, I look for photo opportunities of interest.

I liked the contrast of these spruce cones against the deepened colors of the background.

Mountain Laurel…Pennsylvania’s state flower.
Squirrel of some kind.

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Cool, Foggy Walk

Scarlet Tanager

Why do I have to suffer with allergies every year? Maybe to appreciate the good times without symptoms. A few mornings ago, I was up and feeling fairly good. My eyes were tolerable, and the sneezing failed to occur. The outside morning temperatures were in the forty-degree range. I am going for a walk!

I started the walk feeling good. the cool morning air felt good with each breath.

I was interested in what wildlife I may see this fine day. I saw a couple of deer; one had a fawn with it nursing. I saw some spring-time birds seldom viewed. The Scarlet Tanager is a favorite for the color red is vivid contrasting the black wings and tail. I managed to get a few pics of this beauty.

Another bird seldom viewed close enough to identify is the Kentucky warbler. Warblers are difficult to photograph for they dart quickly from limb to limb.

I was lucky with a shot of a Turkey Vulture, too.

Kentucky Warbler

Good days for me seldom last long for as the day warmed up so did the symptoms. I was miserable by the time I returned home. Oh well it was good while it lasted.

Turkey Vulture

Dew on the Sensitive Fern.

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Pumpkinseed Sunfish

I was feeling rather well early this morning. So well, I decided to go for a walk to a pond and do a little fishing. The early morning coolness felt good as I walked along. During the walk in I saw a buck with two-inch antlers budding forth.

Eventually I came to the pond and settled in for some fishing. I was not disappointed for a caught plenty of Bullhead catfish and a Pumpkinseed. During my time along the bank, I spotted a Snapping Turtle checking out that strange mass on the shoreline.

Bullhead Catfish

Snapping Turtle

The fishing was fairly constant with bringing in the fish and missing some fish, too. Ya know the big uns always get away.

I heard Canada Geese honking in the distance and was surprised to see a V-pattern with twelve to fifteen geese flying over. Usually, they are paired off for the nesting season and to see this many was interesting. I was pleased to hear a gobbler sounding off with about eight or ten gobbles high on the hill.

Turkey egg

Unfortunately, close to ten o’clock I was noticing some burning in the eyes. I decided to head out for these sensations almost always develop into a full pledge allergy attack. I was correct. I was walking back towards the jeep and the sneezing began in earnest. I became very miserable and before I was to the jeep, I was having many of the symptoms and not enjoying my life at all.

At least for a few hours I had a very enjoyable time afield.

Below are some additional photos of the morning.

Fire Pink

Little buck

Wild Geranium

Baby Red Squirrel

Wild Columbine
Deadly Nightshade

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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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