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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Poland Day Eleven: Krakow: Kazimierz and Schindler’s Factory: Good, Evil And The Horrors Of Hate

Sorry for the  delay in my blog posts about my recent trip to Poland  but I had some technical problems with  some photo galleries. I think I figured it out now . In my last blog post,  we were entering our van for the short ride  to the Kazimierz district of Krakow. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -7

I visited this district  one week earlier when I first arrived in Krakow and here is a link to a blog post from that visit. http://wp.me/p5GeDV-jPl..  This time I learned so much more from our guide Ada. Like my previous visit,  it was  raining when we left the van, but that wasn’t stopping us. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -2

We first visited  a Jewish community center where a woman my sister and niece befriended on their flight to Krakow worked. . It was a pleasant, and appropriate visit since the Kazimierz district is once again regaining it’s Jewish culture which it had for over 500 years  prior to the horrors that occurred in the Nazi occupation of World War II.Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -3

We left the community center and walked the mainly residential neighborhoods and made our way to Plac Nowy (New square). which was once the center of the Jewish community,  Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -5

In the middle of the square is a  round building that was one  a  ritual slaughterhouse for poultry  for the community.Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -6

It still has some butcher shops inside but is more famous for the small shops that serve zapiekank, a pizza like sandwich. A fellow who just purchased one was kind enough to allow me to take a photograph. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -4

We continued our walk passing  an old Synagogue and  some Jewish cemeteries and learning how this community thrived before Word War II and how it was made famous in  the movie Schindler’s List. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -13

We visited the house where we were told a famous scene in the movie occurred. It was the scene where the woman was hiding her daughter from the NAZI’s.Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -14

We made our way to the Remuh Synagogue built in 1557 and still active. Unfortunately it was closed for the Passover.  We made our was to  Old Synagogue, built in the mid 1500’s and which now houses a museum. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -36

We visited the museum and learned so much more about Jewish life in Poland over the centuries. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -45

We then walked through  the surrounding neighborhood, where many of the well preserved old building now house restaurants specializing in Jewish food. I hope to visit again on a sunny day and enjoy  a meal in one of the outdoor tables. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -30

We  stopped at  a memorial to the many residents who lost their lives during the occupation. We would learn more about them at our next stop.  We again boarded our van for the short ride to Schindler’s factory. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the Kazimierz. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eleven-Krakow-Kazimierz-Jewish-section-April-18-2017Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -32We crossed the Vistula into the Podgorze  district of Krakow , a large portion of which was turned into a Jewish ghetto by the NAZI’s during the occupation of World War II. We drove past  Plac Bohaterow Getta square and the  memorial of large bronze chairs commemorating the many Jewish residents  who died in the ghetto. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -49

We soon were at the factory made famous by both the man, and the movie about him, Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist. He was famous for his heroic efforts to save his Jewish workers at his enamelware factory from sure death in the Nazi concentration camps by bribing Nazi officials. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory -1

There is so much to say here about this man and his story but let me use two of his quotes to try and  sum it up.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -44

” The persecution of  Jews  in occupied Poland meant that we could see horror emerging gradually in many ways. In 1939, they were forced to wear Jewish stars, and people were herded and shut up into ghettos. Then, in the years ’41 and ’42 there was plenty of public evidence of pure sadism. With people behaving like pigs, I felt the Jews were being destroyed. I had to help them. There was no choice”  Oskar  Schindler   Interview at Am Hauptbahn No. 4 in Frankfurt Am Main, West Germany (1964)Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory -16

“I hated the brutality, the sadism, and the insanity  of  Nazism . I just couldn’t stand by and see people destroyed. I did what I could, what I had to do, what my conscience told me I must do. That’s all there is to it. Really, nothing more.” Oskar Schindler. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -23

The museum is housed in the actual factory where enamelware was manufactured  using  Jewish forced labor. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -28

The  museum depicts the lives  of  both  the Jewish  residents of Kazimierz and the Polish  residents of Krakow before and after the German Nazi  occupation  and how the occupation so horribly changed their lives. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory -8

The museum was very informative with many  historical depictions of what occurred as well as illustrations of everyday life before and after the occupation. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -21

As we made our way through the museum the horrors of these events  became so real.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -4

We learned how the Jewish  residents of the  Kazimierz district we just visited were moved to a  ghetto across the river, a walled prison were they were used as forced labor. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -8

And, later many were transferred to the concentration camps and their deaths. Here is  a link to some more photographs I took in the museum. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eleven-Krakow-Schindler-Factory-Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -38

The museum had  some original  furnishings in the office used by Schindler and some information on his life. He was honored by the 1200 Jewish workers after his death and was buried with honor in Israel.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -29

I learned there were many residents of Krakow, and Poland who, in the spite  of the horrors of the Nazis, stood up and saved many Jewish people who would have perished in the death camps they created.We would be visiting one of them the next day. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -32

 How  anyone with any soul or  empathy for their  fellow human beings could allow such hatred to exist is a question we must still ask ourselves  today.  As I  type I am watching  the news of yet another terrorist attack in Manchester .  This  hate for our fellow humans on this small planet we share  has to start somewhere it and must be nipped in it’s bud, wherever it starts to grow. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory -17

I don’t have time  to reflect  much here, on my blog, since it is such a difficult problem. I think  it can best be said in the words and lyrics  from this song by Peter, Paul and Mary    “…. when will they ever learn”   Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to Schindler’s factory. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Factory-part-two-Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -15

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Yerushalmi Talmud 4:9, Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 37a.

 

 

 

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Some Spring Hikes Near Home.

It felt more like Summer than Spring these past few days here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I took advantage of the beautiful weather, taking a few short hikes near my home to enjoy the many things occurring in the natural world this  month. The trees, including the  birch, have  leaves still showing that refreshing early Spring color. railroad hike -7

On Thursday  I walked to the reclamation area again yesterday and was surprised to find these mushrooms. I am not sure of the species but they reminded me to  look for the oyster mushrooms which should be growing soon. railroad hike -1

I spotted this pretty bird, I think an olive sided flycatcher and spent a few minutes watching it sitting on a branch. railroad hike -4

I also saw this turkey vulture flying quickly over the tree tops, railroad hike -15

and soon discovered the reason for it’s haste. It was being chased by a crow. Although more than half  it’s size the crow looks like it was winning this encounter. railroad hike -16

I am not sure if it was the heat, or the strong breeze but there were few song birds in the wetlands or woods  surrounding them, except  the many black-winged blackbirds who have settled into their  territories for the season. railroad hike -12

I didn’t have a lot of time, but it was nice to get out in the late afternoon heat, temperatures were near 90 degrees and the blue skies strewn with cumulus clouds. railroad hike -10

On my way home I saw a few year long residents, some black-capped chickadees,railroad hike -27

and this squirrels feeding in the shade of the new leaves. railroad hike -25

On Friday I  first took a quick walk with my macro lens and again uncovered the wonderful world of nature up close.macro -13

I photographed some of the things we see everyday, such as the common dandelion.macro 031

Or  some blueberry flowers with tiny newly formed blueberries. They won’t be ripe until July. macro -6

I also found these pests, the tent caterpillars. They can quickly defoliate a tree. macro -3

I, again, only had a short time, I only walked about a mile and couldn’t find many insects like I had hoped. Here is a link to some more photograph my short hike with my macro lens. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/macro-hike-May-19-2017-macro 036

On Friday I again stayed near home and walked out through the reclamation areas out to the railroad tracks. railroad hike -3

And once again I did not find much wildlife, just the usual robins and red winged blackbirds and this solitary crow. railroad hike -12

I did see one of my favorite sights  on the railroad tracks, a train. I have been excited by passing trains on these tracks since I was a young child, and still am today. railroad hike -9

I was disappointed not seeing more wildlife on my hike, but i always have the birds at the feeders in my backyard and I found this turkey making himself at home on my lawn. railroad hike -14

I am looking forward to some nice weather this weekend to again explore the great outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Railroad-hikes-May-18,19-2017-

railroad hike -2

“Home is everything you can walk to.”
Jerry Spinelli

 

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