Fog And High Water On The Lehigh Canal In Weissport

After a night of heavy rain, a thick fog moved into parts of Northeastern Pennsylvania  on Sunday morning. I decided to check out the Lehigh River and hike the D & L trail  along old Lehigh Canal near Weissport. ice and fog on lehigh Canal

The fog was lifting  as I drove over the Broad Mountain but still remained along some of the ice covered portions  of the canal in Weissport. fog along Lehigh canal

The Lehigh River was now completely ice free and flowing rapidly, swollen with waters from the heavy rains and melting snow. Lehigh river near Weissport

I  would often see some ducks on the river during the first half mile of my walk along the canal but not on Sunday. I think the waters were moving to fast for the ducks. But I did see a few mallards on the canal, where the ice had melted.mallard ducks on canal

I also saw quite a few cardinals fluttering about in the trees between the river and canal.male cardinal on tree branch

And, always one of my favorite sightings, a mockingbird across the canal. mockingbird on ground

The walk along the canal was much different from the previous weeks when it was covered in snow and ice. The snow had all melted and much of the ice on the canal was gone too. The fog made it appear more like a day in the Fall than the end of January. fog on ice on Lehigh canal

As usual  in the winter I noticed a lot of bird nests in the bare tree branches that would have been almost invisible when the trees  are covered in leaves in the Spring and Summer. bird nest in tree

There is no where near the diversity of plants and flowers and the many colors they add to the landscape in the warmer months. But, if you look closely you can still find beauty in the dreary winter landscape.raindrop on red berrry

Even a blackberry bramble,raindrops on blackberry bramble

or briar berry has it’s own beauty.raindrops on briar berries

I continued my walk along the canal and walked past the Bridge To Nowhere and  to the observation deck  about 2.25 miles  out on the trail.observation deck along Lehigh river

I sat atop the deck and took in the beautiful scenery and listened to rushing  waters of the fast moving Lehigh River. Lehigh River from observation deck

A lone runner on the trail was the only person I saw during this quiet time at  this scenic spot on the trail. lehigh river from observation deck

I wish I could had stayed out all day but I had to begin my hike back to the parking lot. Along the way I saw a flock of Canada geese huddled on the shore of the swift moving waters of the river. Canada geese in lehigh river

I also heard a few black-capped chickadees in the treetops and a flock of these birds I couldn’t  identify. They were looking for insects in the tree bark and were finding them. bird with insect in beak

I didn’t see any on my hike, but there was plenty evidence of the many woodpeckers along the canal.holes in tree trunk made be woodpeckers

My day was complete when I saw the tail feathers of a bald eagle I must have startled as it flew away from me along the canal. I only caught a glimpse of this majestic bird but I always love seeing them on my hikes. I continued on my return hike, now meeting many hikers, bikers and runners enjoying this foggy day in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I am enjoying my hikes out along this old canal and can’t wait to see it in the Spring. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Lehigh  canal hike January 28 2019.lehigh canal trail

“Sometimes you can’t see the road ahead but as you keep going, it gets clearer. Stay the course as the fog of life dissipates.” 
― Sanjo Jendayi

 

 

 

 

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Fly Eagles Fly! Football, Family And Philly

 

In addition to my love of the outdoors, travel, reading and a lot of other things I  am also an avid Philadelphia Eagles football fan. Have been since I started watching them with my  dad when I was about  six years old. Philadelphia Eagles flag

Well the Eagles made it to the playoffs this year , and my baby brother Mike, also an avid fan,  and I decided to travel  to my favorite city, Philadelphia, to watch the game last weekend. William Penn statute atop City Hall Philadelphia

It was a cold and snowy start here in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Saturday.  The roads were icy and snow covered when we departed. However, we left the snow behind once we drove through the tunnel  under the Blue Mountain.   But we couldn’t escape the cold. It  was sunny and  windy with temperatures in the upper 20’s when we arrived at the DoubleTree  Hotel in downtown  Philadelphia. I love this city. view of Philadelphia skyline from hotel room

We checked into our hotel and, after settling into our room, decided to have lunch in the downtown. My nephew Charles recommended a Mexican restaurant a few blocks from our hotel, El Vez.

We walked the bustling streets of the city and found this popular restaurant. It was a good suggestion as we enjoyed our meal and the company of many Eagles fans getting ready for the big game. We shared an interesting, and delicious crab and cactus taco and I had the sea bass tacos as my main course. Awesome. The food was excellent as was the atmosphere of the restaurant. crab and cactus salsa

After lunch I took a quick walk in the cold brisk Philadelphia sunshine to Rittenhouse Square,  one of my favorite parks in the beautiful City of Brotherly Love.Rittenhouse Square Philadelphia

My love for  this city  began with a visit to the zoo when I was around five years old. It has continued all of my life. I have spent many days walking it’s streets. Still, there is just so much to see and I find something new on every trip to this historic city. . Broad Street and City Hall Philadelphia

Rittenhouse Square did not have the crowds of people who gather here in the warmer months but there was still some folks out and about  on a frigid day in January.  I enjoy watching folks go about there everyday affairs in big cities. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk in Philadelphia.  Walk to Rittenhouse Square. Rittenhouse Square Philadelphia

After a short rest at our hotel my brother and I boarded the express trains in the Philadelphia subway for the ten minute trip to South Philadelphia, the home of the Philadelphia  Eagles. subway Philadelphia

The train cars were packed with excited Eagles fans and there were numerous Eagles chants roaring from the fans on the short trip to the Philadelphia Sports Complex. 

We arrived at the subway stop near the stadium and mingled with  the thousands of fans tailgating in the frigid air or making their way to the Lincoln Financial Field or the “Linc” in the January sunshine. Lincoln Financial Field

The excitement of the Eagles fans was everywhere along the ways.  Philadelphia has the greatest fans in the world,  my humble opinion anyway. 

There was a lot of security  both in the parking lots and at the entrances but fortunately it was not needed. police officer on horse

We entered the stadium and roamed through the crowds, taking in the festive atmosphere. Lincoln Financial Field

As we made our way to our seats once again the reality of the recent loss I have endured  crept into my mind.   I remembered the first time I walked to these seats, It was the night  the stadium opened and I attended the game with my brother-in-law Charles. It was a wonderful experience. Sadly I reflected on those memories realizing he will no longer share them with me. I was again reminded of the emptiness the tragic loss of my sister and her husband has made in my life.  Their loss  will always be with me as I roam this Earth. But I also know they would want me, and the rest of their family, to live and enjoy life. It will not be easy.

I reflected on the past and was thankful to have such good memories.  The excitement of the start of the game soon had me cheering the Eagles with the  70,00 other crazy fans in the stadium. football players on field

It was a close and exciting game but I will admit I was cold. The shouting, applauding and jumping helped a bit but my toes and fingers were still frozen. Lincoln financial Field

We endured the cold and it was worth it. The outcome of the game came down to the final play The Eagles defeated the Atlanta  Falcons by defending our goal line in the final seconds of the game. The stadium erupted when the Falcons failed to score. We endured the cold and it was worth it. We made our way back to the subway and our hotel in the company of crowds of ecstatic Eagles fans. 

After warming up for a few minutes we soon taking a taxi to another restaurant recommended by  my nephew Charlie, Buddakan. We meet his brother, my nephew Brandon, and shared  another  delicious meal and good conversation about family, football and Philly. Statute of Buddha

It was about ten o’clock when we finished eating and my brother Mike and I took a quick walk to Independence  Hall the birthplace of our great Nation. I have been here many times before, at all hours of the day and night, but I still get goosebumps when I stand in this hallowed place. I always reflect on how Jefferson, Franklin and Adams stood in this same spot as the created our Nation. I love this city and it was a perfect way to end a very memorable day. Here is a link to some more photographs from the game. Eagles Game January 13 2018.

Independence Hall lit at night

“Sport is friendship; sport is health, sport is education, sport is life, sport brings the world together.” – Juan Antonio Samaranc

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A November Hike On Penn Haven Mountain In Carbon County.

Last  Sunday was cold again  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Not as cold as Saturday, but early morning temperatures were in up the mid 20’s,  still well below  normal. I wanted to hike somewhere new  so I decided  to drive south  and  headed to the Lehigh Gorge State Park in Carbon County  As I drove past the small town of Weatherly I remembered  a tract of land recently added to the state game lands.  I had hiked here once before and  decided to return to  this area.I recalled that it  once may have been owned by   a hunting club.tree lined path in woods

I remember reading somewhere about the purchase of the land by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. It is   located on the Penn Haven mountain about 2 miles south of the town of Weatherly. I tried to find the article for this post but was unsuccessful. If anyone knows the name of the hunting club please let me know. tree lined path in woods

When I hiked this trail once before a few years ago it was a cold Winter day with a deep snow cover and it wasn’t a good day to explore  the area. I hoped to see more of the trail and surrounding terrain on this hike.   I started my hike at a parking area across from the Weatherly Country Inn.waters of Indian run creek

The trail begins near India Run, a small stream that flows into the Buck Mountain Creek and eventually in the Lehigh River at Rockport. There is a small dam near the start of the trail which was covered with ice. It would probably be a good place to observe migratory water fowl in the Spring. tree lined lake

I am always curious about the names of streams. And Indian Run had me wondering if there were Native Americans in the area as I proceeded on the trail in the shade of some tall and ancient hemlock trees. large hemlock trees on trail

It was overcast when I set and there were few birds or other wildlife on the trail. It is a steady uphill climb  to a ridge atop the Penn Haven mountain. At first the woods were mainly chestnut oak and hemlock trees.

As I reached the top of the ridge there were more  red oak and pitch pines. i love the smell of the pitch pine.  There are many of these trees on the ridge near where  I grew up  and I spent countless hours playing and hiking under their contorted limbs.I love walking over their fallen needles.  pine trees and pine needles on trail

There were also many red oak trees atop the ridge, still displaying there brilliant red leaves.red oak tree

The red oak is one of the last trees put forth leaves in the Spring and the last to loose it’s leaves in the Fall  red oak leaf

And there were widespread stands of our state flower, the mountain laurel. I imagined how beautiful it would be up here when this lovely flowers was in bloom in June. mountain laurel

At the high point on the ridge three trails converged and there was a large, old  excavation site on the side of the ridge.  I wondered why it was here and what the excavated earth was used for. trees and clearing in forest

I also found some old concrete pads on the ground and it appears there was once a cabin or other structure up here.  I tried to research the history of the area with no luck and would appreciate any help as to the owners of the club and what types of buildings were up here. concrete pad

I decided to follow a trail that lead down the westerly side of the ridge. It was steep and the sides of the trail had much more rock than the hike up. 

As I followed the trail down I caught site of the Lehigh River through the trees far below the ridge.  I hoped to follow the trail toward the river to get a better view but the land was posted.

Although I would have loved to try and see the river I respected the no trespassing signs and made my way back up the trail. It was much harder going up the steep trial than it was walking down. 

I made my way up the steep upgrade and rested atop the ridge before I began my return to the parking lot. I didn’t see a lot of wildlife on my hike. I saw a few deer leaping through the woods in the distance.  There were a few black-capped chickadees fluttering about in the trees,

and I saw this pretty oven bird on my hike down. 

As I neared the dam at the beginning of the trail I saw a few sparrows in the trees along the along the water. 

I am sure there is a lot more wildlife in the Spring and Summer and I hope to return next year to find out. Even without the abundance of wildlife as I find on some of my other hiking trails, I still enjoyed the peace and quiet of the woods on Penn Haven mountain and hope to return soon. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Penn Haven Mountains hike photos.

“It’s all still there in heart and soul. The walk, the hills, the sky, the solitary pain and pleasure–they will grow larger, sweeter, lovelier in the days and years to come.”
–   Edward Abbey  

 

 

 

 

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A Tragic Loss : And A Sad And Reflective Walk At The PPL Wetlands

I am sorry for not uploading  any new blog posts these past two weeks but the tragic loss of my beloved sister Linda and her husband Charles in an automobile accident, has, quite honestly, shattered my world and normal routine.  And even more so for  the four wonderful children, Charles, Brandon, Kelly and Cassidy, they left as their legacy. Charlie and Linda DeCosmo at Skyline Driver Virginia

Both of them loved life to the fullest. Linda loved to travel, read, garden, listen to music and her yoga.Brandon, Kelly, Linda Cassidy and Charlie DeCosmo

Charles loved golf, sports, his garden, the beach and sun and his passion for coaching basketball. Charles Decosmo Sr, Ethan and Kelly (DeCosmo) Eichhorst Charlie Decosmo Jr. Cassidy Decosmo Linda Decosmo

And both loved their children above all else. There is so much more to tell of this lovely couple, now together forever, and I hope to continue to tell it here in my blog in the ensuing weeks, months and years, should I be allowed to possess that precious gift of life. And precious it is, as their children, and my family try to cope with the loss of these two wonderful human beings. Linda and Charlies DeCosmo

I did a lot of walking alone, without my camera,  after the tragedy doing much reflection on the loss.  Finally, last Saturday I felt it was time to do what I love most, hike with my camera in the woodlands of Pennsylvania and share what I find. I know Linda and Charlie would want me to continue this passion.  And, of course, I decided to head to the PPL Wetlands. Trees along Susquehanna River

It was a mostly  cloudy  and cool morning at the wetlands. As soon as I left my car I heard the  song of a bird I hadn’t heard before. It was coming from deep in the wetlands and I decided to venture in to try and identify it.I crawled through some thick brush which immediately reminded of the thick underbrush my sister Linda and I struggled through to observe mountain gorillas in Rwanda a year ago.

I reflected, tearfully, on the trip, as I listened in the brush to the song of the unidentified bird. As I thought of  life and loss this frog jumped up  on a wild grape leaf right in front of me. spring peeper on wild grape leaf

It is a spring peeper which are usually active in the Spring and are seldom seen. The ones I have seen in the spring were much smaller than this one. Seeing this frog climb out in front of me,in the Fall, was so unusual and  I immediately felt this is where I should be and what I should be doing. spring peeper on wild grape leaf

I was blessed to have traveled on four of the continents with Linda and know she wants me to continue to share photographs of my travels and walks in nature. I continued my hike recalling many memories of my sister as I walked under the towering trees of the wetlands. tree lined path at PPL Wetlands

The paths were now  covered with the falling leaves and 

There were  a few flowers still blooming along the trails.

Most of the song birds are gone but there were a few lingering robins

and wood ducks on the trails of the wetlands.

I walked through the wetlands and into the riverlands section of the park and again reflected on my travels with my sister when I spotted this great blue heron along Lake Took-A-While. great blue heron

As I approached the bird stood still until I got close enough to capture a series of photographs of it finally deciding I was getting to close and flew on to more peaceful fishing grounds. great blue heron in flight

Here is a link to some more photographs of the blue heron in flight. Great blue heron, PPL Wetlands. great blue heron in flight

My encounter with this beautiful bird reminded me of my sister’s love of life and nature and the experience we shared enjoying both in Africa.

I slowly began my walk back to the wetlands enjoying the many colors that were now appearing in the trees along the wetlands. 

I saw a few turtles catching the October sun that now peeked out of the clouds. 

It was a heartbreaking week for my entire family, especially my nieces and nephews. I will admit I still am having a hard dealing with the loss of these two souls that so enjoyed the life they were given. But my walks in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania give me some comfort and I know Linda and Charlie want all of us to continue to live and love life and enjoy the passions that all of us possess. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike at the wetlands. PPL Wetlands October 7 2017.

 

“There is nothing more painful than the untimely death of someone young and dear to the heart. The harrowing grief surges from a bottomless well of sorrow, drowning the mourner in a torrent of agonizing pain; an exquisite pain that continues to afflict the mourner with heartache and loneliness long after the deceased is buried and gone.” 
― Jocelyn Murray

 

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PPL Wetland Hike: What A Difference A Week, Or A Day Makes.

Last Saturday it was sunny with temperatures in the mid 80’s when  I hiked in the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands. Not today.  It was mostly  cloudy, blustery and a cold  48 degrees when I started my hike early this morning. Hills across Susquehanna river

I again began my hike under the canopy of the old trees along the Susquehanna River, in hopes of seeing another bald eagle. trees along susquehanna river

I didn’t see any eagles  this week, but I did see a lot more birds as I walked to the riverlands portion of the preserve. I noticed  a few black-capped chickadees, year round residents in these  woods, andblack-capped chickadee on twig

I spotted this beautiful bird which landed in a branch above my head. I knew it was a migrating warbler, and learned, with some help from my birder friends, that is was a  female black-throated green warblerblack throated gree warbler on tree branch

I have never seen one before and I watched her  watch me until she  decided to continue  on her  journey south. Here is a link to more photographs of this beautiful bird. Black- throated green warbler photographsblack throated green warbler on tree branch

There were a few breaks in the clouds at the start of my hike making for some nice contrasts of colors on the green ponds and changing leaves. clouds and trees and pond

However the sun soon disappeared behind more clouds and a strong northwesterly wind making for more fall like scenery. duckweed covered pond lined with trees

I was surprised to see a few more birds including this red bellied woodpecker, red bellied woodpecker on tree trunk

this flycatcher, fly catcher on tree branch

and a great blue heron I spotted sitting in a tree across Lake Took-A-While. greet blue heron in tree

As I walked the path of the riverlands and wetlands it was obvious most of the insect activity of the summer is now over. I was not buzzed by one mosquito, didn’t see any dragonflies and saw only a few bees on the fall flowers now in bloom.blue flowers

I did see this same insects on this milkweed plant, the pod now going to seed, and the insects still feasting on the milkweed plant. insects on milkweed plant and pods.

I also saw these two turtles, who appeared during the brief period of sunshine. They were gone, back in the warmer waters, maybe not re-appearing above water until next spring. 

As I returned to the wetlands I scared another great blue heron on one of the ponds.

Followed by a few of these beautiful wood ducks.

And I heard the cry of a hawk overhead.

I saw many more birds on this hike than I did last weekend. I think it may be the cooler weather and soon all of the summer visitors to the wetlands will be gone. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Photographs of birds at wetlands. 

I saw many other signs of Fall on my hike including an abundance of wild grapes and 

many more leaves changing colors. The next few weeks will be some of the most beautiful in Northeastern Pennsylvania as the woodlands lose their leaves in one final burst of color before there long winter sleep.  I hope to spend many hours outdoors enjoying the changes, and some at the PPL Wetlands. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands photographs. 

Perhaps
the truth depends on a walk around a lake.” — Wallace Stevens

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Idaho: Day Two Rivers Of Water And Lava, Atomic Energy And More.

As I almost always do on my travels, I awoke early, before the sun, my first morning in Twin Falls, Idaho. Wanting to get on the road, I packed, had some coffee and  left my hotel to drive to Shoshone Falls Park to watch the sun rise.LDS Morman Temple Twin Falls Idaho

Twin Falls, located along Interstate 15,  was a typical interstate highway exit city.  Near the exit were hotels, gas stations, restaurants and a Walmart and other chain stores. And  like every town I visited in Utah and Idaho there was a LDS (Later Day Saints) Temple too. Close up of sun rise at Shoshone Falls

I drove the 8 miles to Shoshone Park and just caught the sun rising over the high desert of Idaho. 

I first visited a nice  local park, Dierkes Park, which had a man made lake used by the locals for swimming and fishing. There were already a few people trying to catch the many fish I heard jumping in the calm waters. The park also provided a view for a picnic or for a hiker like me.scenery of sage and brush in high desert near Shoshone Falls

I proceeded to the Shoshone Falls, also know as the Niagara Falls of the west, but was disappointed to find only one small waterfall along the massive drop off  of the Snake River.I t is summer, usually the dry season, and this year there was even less rainfall than usual.

I walked along the park for about an hour enjoying the many informative exhibits  describing the geology, history of the area and the Native Americans who first lived here.  Here is a link to some of these exhibits  and other photographs I took on my morning hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Two-Shoshone-Falls-Morning-hike-August-20-2017Snake River at Shoshone Falls

After a quick breakfast at the hotel, I was soon heading north on Route 93 and was very surprised to find that there was little traffic on the highway. I enjoyed the scenic 2 1/2 hour ride to the Craters of the Moon National Park. Route 93 highway near Twin Falls Idaho

In addition to some beautiful scenery I also saw a few critters along the way,Mountains and grassland scenery Idaho

a number of horses on the many ranches I drove past, Horses on ranch Idaho

ducks on some of the ponds along the highway, ducks on pond Idaho

and these interesting critters enjoying the Idaho high desert sunshine. Here is a link to some more photographs from my drive to Craters of the Moon National Park. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Two-Drive-to-Crater-of-Moons-National-Park-August-20-2017-alpaca along highway Idaho

As I approached the Craters of the Moon National Park traffic did increase and the parking lots were filled with automobiles, recreational vehicles and tourists buses. 

I did not have a lot of time but I decided to do the loop drive and got out a few times to explore the ancient lava flows and other geologic formations. lava cones Craters of Moon National park

I hiked one of the trails and again learned so much about this unique and beautiful area of our Nation.

lava rock formations Crater of moon National Park I wish I had a lot more time to explore this other worldly park but I had to move on. Here is a link to some more photographs from my brief visit to the park . http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-sol20-2017ar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Two-Craters-of-The-Moon-National-Park-August-scenery Craters of Moon

I now had about a half hour drive to my next stop, the first city in the world to be powered by atomic energy, Arco Idaho. 

I had planned to spend some time in this town but I was running late and so just had to take a few photographs and move on. landscape scenery Arco Idaho

I drove on to find another stop I planned on my route to Idaho Falls, Atomic City. This area  of the Idaho high desert was home to the first atomic energy research facilities in the United States. nuclear reactor information roadside sign

There were dozens of nuclear plants here in the 1950’s and a number of nuclear disasters, including a nuclear melt down that resulted in a number of deaths . Atomic City was once a booming town  due to these facilities but was largely abandoned after the meltdown. abandoned gas station Atomic City

The highway was re-routed and I had to drive 8 miles on an unpaved gravel road to reach the almost deserted town. gravel road Atomic City Idaho

I arrived in the town and did see a few of the 25 residents still living there , two men sitting next to the drag racing track and a family in one of the old homes that remain. old car Atomic City Idaho

I took a ride through the deold gas station Atomic City Idaho serted streets wondering about the people who lived and worked here when it was a boom town in the 1950’s.

This old bar must have many tales to tell.  old bar sign Atomic City Idaho

Again I wish I had more time to roam the streets of this near ghost town but I wanted to get into Idaho Falls before I did encounter any of the predicated traffic. Here is a link to some more photographs from my briefs visits to Arco and Atomic City. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Two-Atomic-City-and-Arco-August-20-2017fire engine Atomic city Idaho

I drove back over the gravel road, which further delayed me, and I got back on the major highway for the last leg of my journey to Idaho Falls. I was fortunate that traffic was still light and I found myself at my hotel for the next two days, the Econo Lodge, at around 3 p.m. 

After checking in, unpacking and taking a short rest I decided to walk to downtown Idaho Falls. It was late afternoon but the sun was still hot during the 1 1/2 mile walk to downtown and the Snake River walk. 

The walk to the river was through a commercial district but once I made it downtown I cam upon the very scenic Snake River and the park that is located on both sides of the river.

I rested a while under the shade of the many trees in the park and enjoyed watching the many people taking advantage of a sunny Sunday afternoon in the park. I was tired but wanted to see the famous Idaho Falls LDS Mormon temple, so I walked the few blocks from the park to the temple. 

You are not allowed to enter a temple but I did enter the visitor center and learned a little more about this religion. The staff was very friendly and happy to answer the questions of the many tourists who were visiting Idaho Falls for the total eclipse. Statue of Jesus in Mormon temple visitor center

It was still hot and late afternoon so I decided to walk back to my hotel, where after a shower I had a delicious meal at D’railed a very fine restaurant in an old building along the railroad tracks near my hotel. D'railed restaurant building

After diner I was back at my hotel uploading and editing photographs and soon asleep, excited to see the total solar eclipse the next morning Here is a link to some more photographs from my afternoon walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Two-Idaho-Falls-Afternoon-walk-August-20-2017interior of D'railed restaurant Idaho Falls

 

Of  all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir

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Insects, Mushrooms And A Frog, A Mid Summer Hike With My Macro Lens

It’s mushroom season here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and I’ve been spending most of my free  time searching for the many edible species I like to eat. Today, I wanted to get home early to watch the Eagles football game so I decided to take a quick hike out nearby Community Park and scenic Lake Irene with my macro lens. Lake Irene and clouds

It’s mid summer now the many insects that are found in our area are at their peak.  Dragonflies were darting along the lake and perched on the rocks, branches and plants on the shores. dragonfly perched on branch

There are not many flowers in bloom now, but the ones that are blooming attract a wide variety of insects, including a lot of bees, bee on flower

and beetles.beetle on flower

Most of the butterflies are now gone but I did find one of their offspring this caterpillar.green caterpillar on ground

And there were many types of grasshoppers and crickets jumping through the brush. grasshopper on ground

I walked around the lake, sampling some of the many, now ripe, blackberries. close up of blackberry

And found the tea berries in bloom. There bright red berries will be found throughout the fall and winter. tea berry flowers

And the jewel weed or touch me not  was still in bloom jewel weed flower

as well as some other flowers I was unfamiliar with. flower in bloom

I didn’t see any turtles today but did find the leopard frog sitting near on of the many puddles and ponds along the trail. 

And I did find some mushrooms, which have been growing everywhere because of the plentiful rain we have had in Northeastern Pennsylvania, 

including this unusual one, an old man of the woods, 

and this milker mushroom. 

I wasn’t out long but, as I always do, I enjoyed exploring the trails along lake Irene , especially in the Summer. There is always something to see if you keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikehttp://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Macro-walk-Community-Park-August-17-2017-

Hurt no living thing:
Ladybird, nor butterfly,
Nor moth with dusty wing.
~Christina Georgina Rossetti

 

 

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Dragonflies, Birds And A Lot Of Other Cool Stuff At The PPL Wetlands.

I spent a lot of last weekend, as i have been doing more and more these days,   exploring the trails at the PPl Wetlands and Riverlands. Located  in Salem Township on the eastern edge of Luzerne County , these wetlands are next  to the the Susquehanna River here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. trees along Susquehanna River

I guess I am somewhat of a creature of habit and know I will always find some interesting mammal, reptile, amphibian, bird or insect here and I love spending time in the woods at the wetlands  looking  for them. woodlands in PPL wetlands

It was a cloudy and cool morning last   Saturday  with some thunderstorms in the forecast so I decided to walk the trails in the wetlands with my fixed 400 mm lens knowing I would be limited in photographing objects such as birds, insects and animals from afar. cardinal perched in tree

It was a good decision since the overcast skies and cooler morning temperature seemed to encourage a lot of wildlife activity. I observed this cardinal high atop a tree as I drove in the wetlands. cardinal in flight

I saw a few wood duck chicks  scamper into  cover along one of the canals only getting a photographs of this last one of the bunch. wood duck swimming in duckweed covered pond

And I caught this groundhog also scampering into the safety of the brush as I approached. 

There trees were filled with the song of birds including this hooded warbler. hooded warbler perched on branch

And a number of song sparrows. song sparrow in grass

and flycatchers. flycatcher on branch

As I walked along the trails I cam upon this great blue heron. My previous blog posts contains more comments on my encounter with this beautiful bird and here is a link to some more photographs. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/birds-of-pennsylvania/nggallery/birds-of-pennsylvania/great-blue-heron-PPL-wetlands-July-8-2017great blue heron in wetlands

I heard the  deep  bellowing croaks of the bullfrogs as I walked through the wetlands but couldn’t get a photograph of any of them. The many turtles on the banks and logs weren’t as elusive. three turtles on a log

I came across a family of geese feeding on some vegetation growing along one of the canals of the wetlands.three canada geese feeding in wetlands

And saw a  green heron, a smaller relative of the great blue heron,  along Lake Took-A-While. green heron on  a lake

And some woodpeckers were also looking  for a meal, including this hairy or downy woodpecker I have a difficult time telling them apart. ,hairy or downy woodpecker on tree

and this red-bellied woodpecker. I also saw two  pileated woodpecker but they flew off before I could capture a photograph.red-bullied woodpecker on branch

The clouds broke and, as the sun warmed it up the dragonflies became  active and I was able to photograph a few of these colorful and intriguing creatures.

I spent a few more hours roaming the wetlands than I had planned but , for a nature lover like me, it sure was worth it.  Here is a link to a few  photographs of the many things I saw on  my hike last Saturday . http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-July-8-2017-young song sparrow on tree

I returned to the wetlands early Sunday, which was a sunny, cooler and less humid day and started my hike along the Susquehanna River.  I walked the ancient trees and took in the sunlight filtering from the canopy of leaves on what was once a Native American path known as the Great Warrior Trail. sun filtering through leaves

I have written a few blog posts about this trail and they can be found by searching my blog archives.  trees along Susquehanna River

I decided to drive to the Riverlands section of the preserve, and hike another section of the Great Warrior Trail that I have never been on before. signpost for Great Warrior Trail

It begins at the eastern edge of the PPl Riverlands and proceeds east and north between the Susquehanna river and Route 11. 

The trail started  following  an old railroad track.  It soon left the deep woods of the wetlands and riverlands and, with the more open areas, had many  of the familiar wild plants of northeastern Pennsylvania growing along the trails, such as  common mullein, milkweed, pokeweed, touch-me nots  and burdock, shown here.  These plants were much larger here, growing in the rich soil near the river, than the ones that grow near my home and in poor clay soil on the high ridges where I am located. burdock growing along trail

The trail left the railroad tracks and proceeded along a small pond.pond along trail

I stopped and enjoyed this wonderful scene and imagined the many happy memories the folks who used the dock to dive in and swim in this pond over the years. pond with trees and flowers

I continued along the trail but will be honest and say it was too close to the traffic of Route 11 for my liking.  There were plenty of wildflowers along the way such as these daylilies,close up of day lily flower

and a lot of the common birds found in these, in these roadside areas, such as the robins, catbirds and, of course the red-winged blackbirds. red winged blackbird on branch

However, I think the trail was to close to the traffic and human activity to allow any  observation of the more shy wildlife found in the deeper woods and wetlands. So, I decided to return to the wetlands. It was still a pleasant hike  for folks just wanting to get outdoors and certainly worth exploring. Great warrior trail

When I returned to the wetlands I decided to walk along the shores of Lake- Took-A-While with my macro lens and try and photograph some of the many dragonflies now skirting along the water. 

They are so many different species of these ancient insects, each with their distinct colors. dragonfly on twig

And even members of the same species each have their own unique patterns of color. I could spend an entire day observing them. Here is a link to some more photographs of some of the dragonflies I observed.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-dragonflies-July-9-2017-dragonfly on twig

I also took some photographs of the plants along the wetlands with my macro lens, which always look so different looked at up close.macro photo of plant

This is a leaf from a corn stalk. Here is a link to some more photographs taken with my macro lens. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-macro-July-9-2017

Again, I spent a few more hours than I wanted to at the wetlands, but,  I sure enjoyed it. I love the Summer here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike out the wetlands and riverlands last Sunday. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-and-Great-Warrior-Trail-July-9-2017-

 

 

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” 
― Albert Einstein

 

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Back To The PPL Wetlands, An Early Start Was Rewarded With Wood Ducks And Kingfishers

It has always been hard for me to get enough sleep in the Summer.  The birds start singing  about a half hour before the sunrise, which occurs around 5:30 a.m. near the solstice here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  And evening twilight lingers for about an hour after sunset which occurs around 8:40 p.m. I don’t like  to miss either.  But I was up late Saturday night  so I missed the Sunday  sunrise. It was a beautiful sunny morning and  I  decided to skip my usual early morning walk through my  neighborhood and head down back  to the PPL Wetlands.

I arrived around 8 a.m., still too late to watch the wetlands awake, but early enough  to to see  some of the early morning activity of many of the birds and animals before the heat of the day set in. 

I love the early morning sunshine and how it filters through the trees and lights up the leaves. It is a magical time of the day.

And I was soon rewarded for my early arrival when I found this usually shy and elusive mother wood duck sitting on a log with her ducklings. 

I also encountered many birds looking for, and some finding, a breakfast meal, such as this song sparrow and it’s dragonfly snack.

 As I walked  under the trees in  filtered morning sunlight I  spooked a deer, some rabbits, chipmunks and this curious red squirrel. 

I again walked past plenty of clusters of green blue berries and also came across many green blackberries 

as well as clusters of immature wild grapes. There will be plenty of food for the wildlife of the wetlands in the coming months. 

The duckweed covered water of the wetlands were also the gathering place of many turtles, 

and a few frogs that I was able to see. I heard the croaking of many more in the now warm ponds and canals.

I walked to Lake-Took-A- While where I was delighted to see, sitting on a power line, these two kingfishers. I remember first reading about this remarkable bird in an SRA reading program in third grade and always wanted to watch them catch fish as I had read in the story so many years ago. 

I didn’t see them catch any fish but enjoyed observing them and soon saw a third bird appear and knew it was the same family I saw the day before. A little later in the day one of these birds and I had an even closer encounter as it swooped over my head as I was photographing dragonflies. 

And once again, as the sun warmed the cool morning air, there were plenty of dragonflies. I had already encountered swarms of mosquitoes earlier when I first arrived. 

 

And the numerous insects  provided plenty of opportunity for the birds, , including this one, I believe a  great crested flycatcher , to find a meal.

 And there was plenty of  other food for all of the birds, including this pair of cedar waxwings  who enjoyed the fruit of this mulberry trees.

 The warm waters also had plenty of fish swimming close to the surface, including these large one which I can’t identify. 

The abundance of fish always provided plenty of food for the kingfishers blue herons and this green heron. 

I could spend the entire day exploring these woodlands but I was getting tired and hungry so decided to head home.  On my return walk I again encountered many robins, catbirds and the red winged blackbirds that frequent the wetlands, 

This is a male,

and always near by is a female. 

I was hearing the pleasant song of the yellow warblers in the treetops and I finally was able to see, and photograph one as I neared my car. Here is a link to some more of the birds I saw on my walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-June-25-2017

It was another great day to be outdoors in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-June-25-2017-

“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.”
Jacques-Yves Cousteau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No Bears, But Some Pretty Birds At The Rails To Trails

It was a sunny start Sunday  morning  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I was having a picnic in the afternoon and had yet to set up my lawn furniture.. So  I was going to hike close to home until a friend posted a photograph of a mother bear and three cubs out on the local Rail To trails. Rails to trails heath barrens -1

Well three cubs are rare and I was soon hiking out the trails looking for the bears and trying to think where the mom and her cubs may be. Rails to trails heath barrens -4

I have heard of bear sightings in  the pitch pine barrens near the beginning of the trail so I was soon in this beautiful section of the trails owned by a local  land trust. Rails to trails heath barrens -14

The woods were lush and beautiful this time of year especially in the early morning  May sunlight. Rails to trails heath barrens -10

This protected area is absolutely beautiful. I love how the pine and birch stand out among the lower heath, ferns and other lower shrubs. Rails to trails heath barrens -5

I didn’t see any bear but soon saw this yellow rumped warbler perched high in a tree top singing it’s song to the woodlands below. Rails to trails birds -2

And there were many other birds darting in and out of the lower trees, including the scrub oaks and high bush blueberry plants. It is so hard to photographs them but I was able to capture this one, I think it may be a female common yellow throat. Rails to trails heath barrens -18

As I walked back to the main trail a turkey vulture flew overhead.Rails to trails heath barrens -24

And on the ground I saw a few chipmunks and this squirrel. Rails to trails heath barrens -26

I also stopped to watch these busy creatures, red ants, scurry atop their nest. But there were no bears  in sight so. having little time, I decided to drive the entrance on the far end of the trail, near Hazle Brook and hike out to the bridge were the bears were seen earlier that morning. Here is a link to some more photographs of my hike in the pitch pine barrens. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rails-to-trails-heath-barrens-May-28-2017ants-1

I parked at the entrance on the east end of the current trail and hiked under  an older forest of oak, maple and hemlock.Rails to trails birds -2-2

I was soon greeted by the sound of this beautiful birds singing high in a tree top, a scarlet tanager. Rails to trails birds -11

I have been fortunate this Spring to have seen quite a few of these birds this year. Rails to trails birds -17

I continued through the woodlands and to a more open section of the trail, where it winds it’s way through a former mining area that have been reclaimed. Rails to trails birds -21-2

I did not see a lot of birds in the still young trees along the trail , but I am confidant that the many trees planted here will provide food and homes for many species of birds in the coming years. Rails to trails birds -19-2

I walked out to the bridge where the bear and her three cubs were sighted earlier in the morning. Rails to trails birds -23-2

I didn’t see any bears, and continued my search and  walked to the heath barrens about a mile further on the trail. Rails to trails birds -28

As I walked back I saw this hawk fly overheadRails to trails birds -22

and this blue jay eating some type of insect in a tree. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rail-to-trails-birds-may-28-2017Rails to trails birds -24

There were also some wild flowers blooming along the trail, including my favorite, the lady slipper orchid or duck flower, Rails to trails birds -27

and a  few may flowers. Rails to trails birds -26-2

And, a sure sign that spring is slowly sleeping into Summer, another of my favorite flowers, the daisies, are blooming. Rails to trails birds -16-2

I didn’t find the bears, and I now had only a few hours to put my lawn furniture out but it was sure worth the few hours of walking in the woods in the early morning May sunshine. Here is a line to some more photographs of my hike on the trail http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rails-to-trails-Hazle-Brook-may-28-2017Rails to trails birds -33

 

“Details of the many walks I made along the crest have blurred, now, into a pleasing tapestry of grass and space and sunlight.”
–  Colin Fletcher

 

 

 

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