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Redbank Creek

Last week I was on the Redbank Valley Association’s trail to hike from the community of Climax, Pennsylvania to New Bethlehem. The day was to be sunny, but the temperature at dawn was below freezing for I could see ice build up on non-moving water.

Eagle nest

I was chilled initially for the sun had not risen over the tops of the hill hills to my right. However, it was bright enough to see. I kept a quickened pace to get the “blood flowing” as the old timers used to say. Laurie and I had walked a section of this area last spring, but this time I was determined to complete my goal.

Various birdlife was heard and viewed along the trail. Chickadees, Cardinals, Song Sparrows and Bluejays were common. Crows flew overhead at times as did a Red-Tailed hawk. I had hoped to see a Bald eagle foe a nest is visible to see to the observant. The big birds were not active this morning.

Old railroad ties

Canada geese were present at places with their honking “to scold me” racket. I did see a hand full of deer.

Beaver sign was spotted throughout the traveling. Some cuttings were old and some were fresh. Turkey, deer and coyote tracks were on the trail.

A lot of history remains can be seen along this trail,. Old coke ovens from the later twenty years or so of the eighteen hundreds are scattered around. they would refine the coal into a carbon for hotter burning. An old bridge over Long Run had some wash out issues and was roped off, but I crossed it anyway on the way back through. Old remnants of railroad ties could be seen here and there. They were in bad shape for the most part and covered with a thick carpet of moss. I walked through the old Climax Tunnel which recently had been repaired for public use again.

As I maneuvered along, especially on the return trip, the sun had come up and created some warmth. It was a beautiful morning to be out.

I haven’t been able to add photos the way I had traditional completed the task. I have discovered an different way so I am back in action again.

Bridge over Long Run just south of New Bethlehem.

 

 

Old coke ovens

 

Song Sparrow

 

Beaver cuttings

 

Climax Tunnel

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.

 

Laurie and I have had a lot of things to do these last two days. last evening, February 25, we and two friends enjoyed an evening out to see the movie, “CALL OF THE WILD.” We all enjoyed the movie and were amazed at how far the technology with computerized  imagery have come. Later, at our home, we enjoyed Laurie’s carrot cake and tea.

Today, February 26, we and two other friends visited the Carnegie Science Center to especially view the exhibition of the,  “Mummies of the World.” I was a little disappointed to learn photography was not permitted within the actual exhibit. the mummy collection on display featured the long-ago Egyptian mummies along with pets. However, they had mummified bodies reaching only a couple of hundred years ago. Some of the mummies wre created through a mummification process while others had become that way through natural processes due to perfect conditions retarding the decomposition.

The Forks of the Rivers. The site of Fort Pitt in 1758.

The exhibition was very interesting, but somewhat eerie. One mummy was created in 1994 by scientists attempting to copy the procedure of Egyptian mummification as close as possible.

We enjoyed spending several hours examining the various hands-on displays. I, particularly, enjoyed the aquariums with fish , reptiles and so forth.

West End Bridge in Pittsburgh

One area was extremely hilarious for the four of us and everybody else. One baby laughed uncontrollable at this site. The site consisted of two cushioned chairs and every time one would raise up and set down loud fart-like sounds exploded.

A large miniature railroad was enjoyed.

I took a few other photos of the West End Bridge as well as, the site where Fort Duquesne once stood at the point. The fort was renamed Fort Pitt in 1758 after the French left their fort to the British during the French and Indian War. Afterwards, we visited a separate building where the kids could enjoy many various adventures, such as a miniature zip-line and rock climbing.

 

 

Bullfrog

 

Meteorite weighting 746 pounds.

 

Yellow Perch

 

Sucker!

 

One view of Miniature railroad

 

 

 

Beautiful Pennsylvania

Last Friday and a clear day was being forecasted. I knew a walk was going to become reality. I prepared with the needed apparel for the temperature in Kittanning was a sultry 8 degrees early.

I realized rather quickly that the cold temperatures and the breezy conditions were creating a chill. I picked up my pace to get the “old blood” moving for warmth.

The wildlife must have “holed up” for I didn’t see much except for one deer and various small birds. I walked old common roads, trails and woodland areas. I looked up on occasion to search for Great-horned Owl nests. Finding their nests can be difficult, but if you do walk upon one they are often easily discerned. Nests can be quite large at times.

Porcupine quills

I did find an unusual subject. I noticed some black among the underbrush. Upon a closer look I was surprised to see a dead porcupine. Of course the wondering thoughts begin as to what killed the small creature.

Ruffed Grouse track in the frost

Another sight of rarity anymore were a series of grouse tracks.  I sure miss hearing those drumming Ruffed Grouse and their thundering wings.

 

An old snag.

 

 

 

Frost

 

 

Old hornet’s nest

A Winter Wonderland

The winter of 2019 and 2020 has not produced a lot of snowfall this season. The snows we have had were not very heavy at all and any snow amounts have been less than a few inches in my area of the state. We have witnessed spring-like weather often. rain has been  abundant during this year’s winter.

However, very early Friday morning (February 7) produced measurable snow. We received approximately five inches of beautiful snow. The trees were covered with snow. every limb and briar and grasses had snow weighing them down.

   Mid morning found Laurie and I visiting a local state game lands for a hike. Very quickly into our walk produced a big flock of robins. I noticed a few Cedar Waxwings flying among the flock.

We walked and stopped periodically to view the snow-laden forest and feel the serenity of such a day.                                        

The snow continued falling as we walked and I needed to hold my hand over the camera as much a possible to prevent much snow building up on the lens and camera body. At one point I stopped and removed the camera from around my neck to place it into my shoulder bag for protection. Suddenly, I heard vocalizations from Laurie. I looked up and a beautiful mahogany-colored Fisher moved across in front of us at about twenty-five feet. We were, both, thrilled to see this critter.

We circled around and found tracks two more times where the Fisher had moved across our where we would be walking.

This morning, (February 8) found me moving upslope prior to sunrise at another location in the Cherry Run area. the thick crabapple and dogwood hill side made moving tricky. I had to knock the snow off limbs at various places to keep the snow falling down my neck.

I covered the woodlands seeking photo opportunities to capture as much as this winter wonderland as I could find. As a photographer I looked about looking for shots I liked with good contrasts and compositions. I took some memory photos, too. These pics are simply a picture I want to have whenever I get to a place in my life of not being able to get out and enjoy. Such a photo may not be a good composition just a place I wish to remember.

I located deer beds at various places and would, at one point, see five deer. I found one fresh turkey tracks. Where are the rest?

 

North Branch Cherry Run

 

 

 

Cherry Run

 

Fisher tracks

 

 

 

I heard the leaves and saw the dark forms just a little ahead of me. TURKEYS…and lots of them! I guess, at least, 30-40 birds were feeding. I began to run towards them holding the flintlock in my left arm as I struggled to remove my camera from my shoulder bag.

I was upon the birds in seconds and they didn’t know what to think of that mass coming towards them. Some ran, some flew and some just stood to watch.

Suddenly just out ahead three deer rose from their beds. Now the chaos moved towards having the camera placed into the shoulder bag and hustling to aim the flintlock. needless-to-say, I didn’t fire a shot and I didn’t get any turkey photos. Later, I would get a few photos of turkeys.

 

Feels Like Spring!

January has been more spring-like than winter with the exception of only a few days. This morning was no different.

I planned to try to harvest a fat doe this day and I came extremely close on fulfilling that plan. While edging along a field I noticed a doe around twenty-five to twenty-eight estimated steps from me. Some young trees blocked her torso, so I continued the sneak always watching from my peripheral vision. As I walked along I cocked the flintlock’s hammer and “set” the Set trigger. Ten feet later I had a completely opened shot and I stopped to aim the sights. Just a mere millisecond later the doe unnerved and off she went.

In total I would have around 43 deer sightings this day, but no good other shots were offered. However, I did see a nice-looking buck, but he was not legal. The buck sported four points. This deer was still chasing does, too. I hoped she would have turned in my direction but she didn’t and this buck began chasing tail, so to speak.

The squirrels were very active with these warming temperatures. I saw plenty including a Fox Squirrel.

In the pre-dawn morning I heard a Barred Owl several times and later I would see one.

Tomorrow morning I will be out again, but I can only hunt a partial day. My services are needed elsewhere by noon.