Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rock Run

Rock Run begins in the acidic wetlands along the border of Pennsylvania’s Lycoming and Sullivan counties, flowing in a generally southwestern direction until it flows into Lycoming Creek near Ralston. This is not the only Rock Run in Pennsylvania, a state whose early explorers and settlers were particularly unimaginative when naming waterways, but it is probably the most beautiful of those bearing the name.

The headwaters of Rock Run’s North Branch are in the Loyalsock Sate Forest’s Devils Elbow Natural Area with its extensive wetlands of emergent vegetation and wooded wetlands dominated by eastern hemlock –

Leaving those wetlands Rock Run becomes a high-gradient free-stone stream as it begins its descent from the Allegheny Plateau, losing 1000 feet in elevation in its first five miles. After Yellow Dog Run joins Rock Run, the stream’s gradient diminishes and the nature of its bed changes. Now segments of gravel bottom alternate with extensive sections of bedrock.

Three small waterfalls grace the course of Rock Run –

The chutes and potholes carved into the bedrock add to the beauty of the stream –

Some of the potholes contain smaller rocks of the sort that, swirling around during high water events, wore away the bedrock to create those potholes–

Rock Run’s beauty has attracted visitors for decades. Unfortunately, about 25 years ago the valley began to attract society’s less desirable elements and so camping has been prohibited in this part of the Loyalsock State Forest.

Further along, Rock Run is joined by Miners Run (featured in this post) which has its own waterfalls –

In addition to its headwaters in the Devils Elbow Natural Area, Rock Run borders the 7,500 acre McIntyre Wild Area. The wild area contains three other streams: Hounds Run, Dutchmans Run and Abbotts Run with waterfalls of their own.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

From the Crossing

Last year I found a spot where a wildlife-created trail crossed a stream that had been channelized many years ago and placed a camera trap at the crossing. The best photographs from that camera trap were posted here.

Anticipating wildlife activity at the same spot, a camera trap went back to that spot at the end of February after I flushed wood ducks from a wide place in the stream. The camera was checked periodically after that and it again yielded interesting photos. Here are some of the best:
Wood Ducks
Wood Duck
Wood Duck
Black Bear
Canada Goose Goslings
Great Blue Heron

White-tailed Deer
Due to lack of rain the stream dropped precipitously in June –

White-tailed Deer
White-tailed Deer
Wild Turkey
In early July a black bear closely inspected the camera trap (too closely for the camera to focus) and smeared mud on the lens glass –

Black bears are well known for their curiosity and for damaging or destroying camera traps. The mud kept the camera from getting any more usable photographs - it will be interesting to see the next batch of photographs.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

At the Cave

For several years one of my camera traps was under a rock outcrop where it produced good photos of bobcats and black bear (the photos were posted here and here). Then, this spring the camera was discovered by several people who moved it, perhaps in an attempt to take it. When I saw those photos (here) I removed the camera and vowed to never put it back in that spot.

Eventually I found another spot that might be as good a location, a small “cave” between six and eight feet deep in a rock outcrop on a steep sidehill –

At the first check of the camera there were photos of a young porcupine, an opossum and, on two different days, a bobcat. Unfortunately a drooping dead branch detracted from the bobcat photos –

The camera trap was mounted on a steel concrete stake pounded into the rocky soil. As I approached the spot for the second check of the camera it was obvious that it was tilted far over.

As anyone who operates camera traps in bear country knows, bears play havoc with the units - which turned out to be the situation here. The photographs tell the story: first a black bear took a close look at the camera trap, tipped it somewhat and then spent a minute and a half near the cave entrance –

Eighteen days later a bear reappeared, moved the camera again and in the process provided but one photo: of its lips and some teeth –

From then until I got back to the spot weeks later the only photos the camera, now pointed toward the ground, took were of an eastern chipmunk, a white-footed mouse and the tail end of a raccoon –

All of my camera traps are in steel bear-boxes and secured to an immobile object with a cable lock; there wasn’t any damage to the camera trap, just missed photos. But that was the end of having this camera trap mounted on a stake, now it’s mounted on a nearby oak tree with the cable lock securing it to the tree.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Day of Yellows

It’s close to mid-summer the time of almost constant sunshine interrupted by a few rainy days. On one of those many sunny days I walked through overgrown fields that were occasionally broken by wooded areas of various acreages and a small stream.

On that sunny day there was an abundance of yellows: yellow flowers and yellow creatures. Along an old road black-eyed susans bloomed in abundance –

And there were butterflies, mostly common sulfurs –

There were many other yellow flowers too: common mullein –

Yellow sweet clover –

And wild parsnip –

As well as that escaped agricultural plant, birdfoot trefoil –

A yellow bird of open country is the American goldfinch, here a male –

The stream had been dammed by beavers; the pond had large patches of emergent yellow flowers –

that proved to be those of greater bladderwort –

That pond was also the origin of two dragonflies with yellow abdominal spots that resembled each other but were actually females of two different species: holloween pennant –

And calico pennant –

The painted turtle that was near the pond might have been black on top, but its plastron was yellow –

The day’s final yellow was the center of the abundant flowers of daisy fleabane –

Unfortunately, the sunset that day wasn't yellow, just gray.