Wednesday, February 22, 2023

A Day in Elk Country

Go west not-so-young man, and woman too. It was a really pretty winter day: not too hot, not too cold, blue sky with a few white clouds, and a bit of a breeze – just about perfect for a trip to Pennsylvania’s elk range. And so off we went to see some elk.

H spotted the first we saw, two bulls near the road of which one had really odd antlers that went out to the side –

In the heart of the elk range what attracted our attention but a flock of robins feeding on the fallen fruit of a staghorn sumac. Back in the olden days with their typical cold winters and deep snow robins never would have been there, but times have changed and there they were –

Then we found a band of five bull elk, these four –

Plus this bull with a broken-off antler; he seemed to be an outcast and never got close to the others, but never strayed far either –

They grazed on the grasses and forbs of an area that had been mowed late in the season, giving me ample opportunity to take photographs. Here are a few –

The largest bull had an impressive set of antlers which he’ll shed shortly before his new antlers begin growing –

Beside the two of us, how many people have gotten a great deal of pleasure from seeing that big bull, how many photos have been taken of him? Next fall his antlers may well be larger and he’ll be more habituated to humans so even more people will be pleased to see him – until the hunting season for elk when one hunter’s bullet may bring him down.

By the time we were done watching and photographing the bulls, the sun was getting low in the sky and we decided to head for home while at least part of the drive would be in the daylight.

As we passed an overgrown field an early-rising opossum was out and about searching for something to eat –












A short drive beyond the opossum, in another mowed field, were some more bull elk –

Including the young bull with the wide-spreading antlers that we’d seen earlier in the day –

OK now it was really time to head home, having seen 18 bull elk but no cows. I spoke too soon, a short way beyond was a cow with her last-year’s calf –

With those last couple of images it was too dark for photographs, but we could still get half-way home before it was fully dark.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

A Morning's Walk

Ridiculous weather for mid-February, it was 57° at the house in the afternoon and extremely foggy. But before it was 57° I took a morning’s walk in the Big Woods when it was merely in the mid-40s. All of the snow had melted earlier and it seemed more like late March than February.

The soil was saturated with water from the melted snow and there was water, water everywhere in the woods, including flowing down the trail I was on –

And it was foggy as well –

Walking along I saw a number of fungi, many of which I believed I could name (no guarantee of accuracy) and others that were a mystery to me. Here are the fungi –

And there were a few examples of something that looks like a fungus but is quite different, neither plant nor animal, wolf’s-milk slime mold which starts out pink and turns brown with age –

There were other things to see that were of interest,  the galleries of the emerald ash borer engraved on a fallen log

And a rotting log that had been deconstructed by a pileated woodpecker searching for insect larvae; a closer look revealed the parallel vertical marks left by its powerful beak as it chipped into the log –


Speaking of birds, I spent some time watching a white-breasted nuthatch foraging on the ground instead of on a tree trunk as they typically do –

The feature birds of the morning were two golden-crowned kinglets that, in their usual manner, never paused long enough to allow me to get a good photograph – here’s the best of the few I took –

It was time for lunch and I was uncomfortably warm, so home I went.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Nice Ice II

After several cold days the edge of a stream in the Big Woods had an abundance of small ice formations –

Ice like this is ephemeral and doesn’t survive several warm days, but it certainly is pretty while it lasts.