It’s Still Summer, But Fall Is In A Hurry To Get Here This Year.

Today started out  cloudy, breezy and cool, with temperatures in the mid 40’s and, even though we still have some Summer left it felt a lot more like Fall.  I decided to again place my macro lens on my camera and take it along on my search for wild mushrooms. brown maple leaf sitting on ground

As I  walked in the mixed pine, birch and aspen woods in search of aspen scaber bloete or red tops, as my dad called them, I noticed a lot of the leaves are now beginning to show some color. bright red blueberry leaves

Many of the blueberry bushes, both low and high bush species, are turning a brilliant red. red blueberry leaf

And some of the leaves on the birch, yellow white birch leaf

and maple trees are also changing into their fall colors. maple leaf turning red

There were a few wild flowers still in bloom,  I don’t know the names of this one,purple wild flower

nor the name of this beautiful white late blooming orchard, white orchard in bloom

but I do know this is a species of ragweed, not well lied by those of us, me included, who suffer from allergies. insect on ragweed flower

I was disappointed I didn’t find any red top mushrooms but I did find a wild crab apple tree,wild crab apples

and sampled it’s very sour fruit. wild crab apple with a bite

I left the birch/ aspen/ pine woods and decided to search for some  hen of the woods or, as we call them, ramshead mushrooms. I didn’t find this one  in the woods. Some friends found it in growing in their yard and let me harvest it . These mushrooms grow mainly on old oak trees so the woods are very different. hen of the woods or ramshead mushroom

I usually hike second growth forests with a mixture of maple, oak, pine hemlock and the occasional ash and hickory nut tree. The ground is usually covered with many species of ferns, which are also changing color early this year. , close up of fern which has tuned yellow

and my mortal enemies,   brambles and thorn bushes,thorns on a thorn bush

and blackberry brambles which have caused me many scratches on my legs and tumbles to the ground when walking into them in the thick underbrush as I look for the old oak trees which may have a ramshead  mushroom growing on it. blackberry thorns

There were some mushrooms growing along paths, 

including what I think is a cauliflower mushroom and,

some old puffballs,

but, unfortunately I didn’t find what I was looking for, a ramshead mushroom. But there is always tomorrow and it is always good to be outdoors in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Macro walk 

Summer ends and autumn comes, and he who would have thought it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.”  –  Hal Borland

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The End Of Fall At The PPL Wetlands

It felt more like Summer than late October this morning in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The temperature was a mild 65 degrees with cloudy skies. However, upon arriving at one of my favorite hiking spots, the PPL Wetlands, later in  morning, it was soon apparent that it isn’t Summer anymore and we are well into the Fall season.  ppl-wetlands-22

The first thing I noticed upon leaving my car was the rich and earthy  smell of the newly fallen leaves.  The decomposing  leaves, when combined with the usual smell of the swamps and standing waters in the canals, filled the air with an overpowering woodsy aroma which signaled the end of another growing season. ppl-wetlands-24

There were still some leaves remaining on some of the trees but many have lost all of their leaves, taking on their Winter appearance. ppl-wetlands-19

There were no frogs or turtles along the shores of the ponds and canals and no mammals either. I only saw one chipmunk on my entire six miles hike. But I was surprised with the many birds that still  fluttered and sang in the trees. ppl-wetlands-16

Yesterday, at Lake Irena, near my home, there was almost no bird activity . This was not the case at the wetlands this morning and the air was filled with the songs and calls of many birds. I don’t have a good ear for identifying birds by their song, but  I’m sure my birding friends could have identified them. One, which I didn’t hear all Summer sounded most unusual, as it rapidly flew over the ponds .It looked something like a kingfisher but I couldn’t get a photograph. I did recognize the song of  the  cardinals and was able to get a photograph  of this one. ppl-wetlands-40

Thanks to the zoom lens on my camera, I also was able to identify  the  bluebirds scampering about high in the tree branches. ppl-wetlands-17

And I spotted this flicker as it fluttered from tree to tree in search of the last insects. ppl-wetlands-18

The lush growth of the Spring and Summer is fading, leaving behind brightly colored berries on some plants. ppl-wetlands-28

And you  better not touch these berries, they are the fruit of the infamous poison ivy. ppl-wetlands-33

Poison ivy can grow in one of three ways, as a small plant, a woody shrub, or a vine, which can get quite large, as in the case of this vine wrapped around a tree. This is one vine you don’t want to play with.. ppl-wetlands-34

I walked over to the riverlands and Lake Took-A-While. There were quite a few folks taking advantage of the warm weather and trying their luck at catching a fish or enjoying a walk along the colorful shores of the lake. ppl-wetlands-44

I was surprised by the absence of ducks and geese on the lake. Usually they stay until the waters start to freeze up.  I did see a blue heron and also saw flocks of these sparrows gathering in the thicker swamps. ppl-wetlands-26

Although most of the plants have shriveled and died, ppl-wetlands-41

I did find a few of these hearty flowers still blooming and was buzzed by one yellow jacket on my walk. They may be the last of both the insects and flowers I see this season.ppl-wetlands-35

On my way back I found this huge chicken mushroom growing high up on an oak tree, too high for me to pick, this year, but I will remember the tree and come back with a ladder next year.ppl-wetlands-1

I didn’t see anything unusual, as I often do in the Spring and Summer, but it was still a nice reflective walk on this warm late October day. Hopefully, the warm weather will remain, and I will have a few more such walks, but realistically , next weekend could see the wetlands covered in snow, like it has been on many a November here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. But the snow will melt, and Spring will come, and the cycle of life will go on, long after we are gone. So let’s enjoy it while we can. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today.


Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn.
Emily Bronteppl-wetlands-36



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All Of Spring And Summer’s Efforts Fade Away: A Fall Walks At Community Park

Once again the Earth revolves around our Sun and the seasons  change. Here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, in the Northern Hemisphere,  that means shorter days, longer nights and colder weather. And an end to all of the growth  put forth by the trees, plants and flowers. It seems like just yesterday these  leaves, now dead and falling from the trees,  filled us with so much excitement as they first sprouted in Spring. community-park-19

Now they cover the forest floor and provide a noisy and colorful.  carpet before the Winter snows. community-park-24

I decided to talk advantage of the sunshine yesterday and walked along the shores nearby Lake Irena at Community Park late yesterday afternoon and again this morning. community-park-1

The park was quite and empty yesterday. Only one elderly gentleman sat and watched the few geese and ducks that remained on the water. community-park-4

Except for the cawing of a fews crows, the air was silent. No song birds. No insects buzzing  in the air.  No crickets or cicada. Only a few last flowers remained, in defiance of the cold and long nights. But they won’t last long. community-park-9

There are still a lot of leaves remaining on the trees but they lack the vibrant colors of other years because of the dry Summer we have had. The paths now have a sullen and sad feeling about them. community-park-22

Today there  were more people at the park, a few joggers, some fishermen and families at the playground but still not near as crowded as those warm weekends in Summer.  There was plenty activity at the nearby airport, with many small planes taking off and landing.  .community-park-12

And some  with a few folks brave enough to jump out of them. community-park-28

It always makes me sad to see the warm weather end, but I always remember, nature isn’t dying, just going to sleep for the Winter.  And there will always be another Spring. In only a few months the first snowdrops,  crocuses  and skunk cabbage will be pushing through  the snow. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes at Community Park.


And every year there is a brief, startling moment
When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:
It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies;
It is the changing light of fall falling on us.”
Edward Hirschcommunity-park-17


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A Farewell Fall Hike Close To Home.

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with my blog, but a lot going on, including my preparation for my trip to Africa tomorrow.  I am excited and hope to share some blog post on my adventures and lots of photographs. I am pretty much packed now and so have some time to share some photographs from my last hike hear in Northeastern Pennsylvania, earlier today, at Community park. community-park-1

It was a dry and warm summer, and it has stayed warm, so the colors of Fall are late this year. Some years we have already had killing frosts and freezes here in the mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania, but not this year. community-park-14

The leaves are just beginning to take on their autumn coats. As usually, it is the red maple and sassafras that start the show. community-park-15

It was cloudy today, and that made for a reflective walk along the shores of Lake Irena.  It seems I was just out here on the first day of fishing season on a cold April morning. community-park-19


Most of the song birds are gone,  as are the many geese that summered here, but I did see a hawk, a few crows and a lot of mallard ducks enjoying the cool autumn weather. community-park-9

I also saw this bird diving under the water, I think it was a loon that has been here all summer. The lake will freeze over in the winter so these birds will have to start heading south for warmer climes in the near future. community-park-3

In addition to the absence of songbirds there were no wild flowers in bloom around the lake.  However, the  fading ferns, having taken on their fall colors are just as beautiful. community-park-16

I have to admit, Fall is a pretty season, it’s what comes next that I do not look forward to anymore. I have seen enough snow and cold and Winter is not as much fun for me as it used to be. But we still have a lot of Fall left, and I will be in the much warmer jungles of central Africa, hoping to find mountain gorillas in their native habitat.  I hope to post plenty of photographs, so stay tuned!!! Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today.


“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”
Humbert Wolfecommunity-park-21


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Another Up Close Look At The Beauty Of Spring.

We have finally had some Summer-like weather here in Northeastern Pennsylvania these past few days and it has resulted in a spurt in the growth of the plants, trees and flowers. macro-5

I took a few walks with my macro lens to once again capture the beauty of May  from an insect’s perspective. macro hike -18

For a few days I was very alarmed to not find any bees at the rhododendron flowers which are now starting to bloom. macro hike -6

I have been noticing fewer and fewer bees and other insects for a few years now and this year walked for two days and didn’t see a single bee. Thankfully, yesterday I finally saw a few buzzing about the beautiful rhododendron flowers gathering the first pollen of the year to feed their hive. macro-9

I am hoping the wet and cool Spring weather we had delayed their appearance and that they once again are busily pollinating the flowers as they should. We would be in a lot of trouble if they didn’t. macro-15

I found some tiny  blueberries or,  as we call them around here huckleberries, just starting to develop. i learned,  from photographing them up close, that the seeds form first and the fleshy fruit we eat grows around them. Very  interesting.macro-11

It is amazing how delicate and intricate almost all of the plants, leaves and flowers are when viewed up close. macro hike -25

Even the dreaded poison ivy leaves have a beauty to them when viewed through with a macro lens.macro hike -10

I did see my first dragonfly on one of my walks but wasn’t able to get a photograph. There should be a lot more of them with the onset of the warm and humid weather. I also saw a few moths and butterflies hovering about the flowers in the fields and woods. macro hike -32

And even the ordinary wasps and flies have a strange beauty when viewed up close. macro hike -41

All of our plants and trees have now set forth their leaves, even the oaks, always the last to  last to leaf and the last to lose them in the Fall. macro hike -27

On my way home I visited my mom’s peony plants and again found them covered with ants. macro hike -16

There are so many objects to photograph in the woods, gardens  and fields near my house that I  could spend days just roaming them with my macro lens. But then I wouldn’t get to see, photograph and share the many beautiful landscapes and wildlife that inhabits them.macro hike -34

I do know this for certain, I will never be bored in the Spring, Summer or Fall here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hikes with my macro lens.


“Look around you…Feel the wind, smell the air. Listen to the birds and watch the sky. Tell me what’s happening in the wide world.” macro hike -11
Nancy Farmer





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Rails To Trails: No Sunshine But Still Plenty Of Color.

After hiking through all those boulders yesterday, without an injury or incident, I fell and twisted my ankle on a rock near my home this morning. Such is life, always expect the unexpected.  Well the ankle was sore and decided to walk on an even, rockless trail and we are fortunate in our area to have the perfect place for that , our local Rails To Trails. Rails to trails hike (2 of 42)

This trail was created by a local group  of civic minded folks.   They are  part of the national Rails to Trails program which have  converted many miles of abandoned railroad right of ways into excellent hiking trail throughout the country.Rails to trails hike (22 of 42)

It was an overcast with some light drizzle  when I got to the trail and I was surprised at how much leaves remained on the trees. making for a very pleasant hike even on a sunless day. Rails to trails hike (23 of 42)

Although most of the maples and birch have lost their leaves there is an abundance of oak trees along the trail and they are still in their peak colors of bright red and orange. Rails to trails hike (17 of 42)

A lot of blueberry bushes also line the trail and their leaves have also turned a bright red color. Rails to trails hike (5 of 42)

I was hoping to see or hear some ducks or geese on the reservoir that adjoins the trail but found nothing. I walked past a few joggers, walkers and bikers enjoying the fall beauty of the trail but saw very few birds or other wildlife. Rails to trails hike (15 of 42)

The trail passes the reservoir and continues  along a rare heath barren, Rails to trails hike (25 of 42)

It continues to a bridge that was built over an active railroad track. The trail will eventually link up the the D &L trail along the Lehigh River Gorge. Rails to trails hike (31 of 42)

I rested my sore ankle at the bridge and headed back  passing  a few more hikers and bikers enjoying the beauty of nature on this great local trail. here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this morning to trails hike (29 of 42)



“The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The ghosts of her
Departed leaves.

The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.”
–   John Updike

 Rails to trails hike (19 of 42)


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Leaves And Fall Stuff: You Don’t Have To Travel Far To Find Beauty In Nature.

After being greeted with some snow and cold weather on my return from the Great Plains, it has warmed up nicely here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Today was a pleasant sunny day and I got a chance to take a short hike around my neighborhood. after work. Fall Leaves  (31 of 37)

The fall foliage is just passing it’s pick but still a lot of color on the trees. Fall Leaves  (19 of 37)

The gingko tree in my front yard lost all of it’s leaves, as it always, does, the day after the first freeze.  Many of them  didn’t even get a chance to change into their usual  bright yellow color this year. Fall Leaves  (1 of 37)

The red maples were one of the first leaves to changs and many of them have already fallen of the tree, creating a colorful carpet on the ground.Fall Leaves  (2 of 37)

The mountain ash also turns red and orange and they, too, have passed their peak.Fall Leaves  (6 of 37)

The birch, aspen and some species of maple change into various shades of yellow and brown.Fall Leaves  (24 of 37)

And the oaks, always the last to change color are finally putting on the Autumn coats. The red oaks certainly live up to their name changing into a fiery red color. Fall Leaves  (26 of 37)

I saw very little wildlife, a few squirrels, and birds and very little insect activity, just a few swarms of gnats that buzzed around my head.  And only a few fall aster like flowers,Fall Leaves  (22 of 37)

There were plenty of seeds pods, burrs and other remnants of the once beautiful flowers that are now long gone., including a lot of pokeweed berries.Fall Leaves  (5 of 37)

Although I was surprised to find some tansy blooming. This wild herb usually is in full bloom in mid July. Fall Leaves  (37 of 37)

I was only out for a little while and only traveled a short distance but still so much beauty  all around us if you just keep you eyes peeled and look for it. This is a link to some more photographs i took on my hike this afternoon. Leaves  (32 of 37)


Ah yes, the beauty of nature…once we understand life’s delicateness, then we will surely protect and cherish all of its forms.”
Shannon Leigh Warren

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Leaves And Some Other Fall Things.

The colorful Fall foliage is nearing it’s peak here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And today was a perfect day to enjoy it. Cool refreshing Canadian air filtered into our area overnight and we had plenty of sunshine  for most of the day. Fall hike (9 of 26)

Of course, I headed out into the woods  looking for edible wild  mushrooms. I was unsuccessful in my search for mushrooms, finding only a few inedible ones,  but it sure was a nice day to be outside. Fall hike (8 of 26)

The sun filtered through the leaves, most now having some touch of red, orange, yellow and brown color.Fall hike (3 of 17)

It was an almost magical world walking as many leaves fluttered to the ground joining others and creating an ever thickening colorful carpet on the forest floor. Fall hike (6 of 26)

And  it seems, upon close inspection, like snowflakes ,no two leaves, even from the same species of tree are exactly alike.  The  red maples are at their peak now, have turned a brilliant red. Fall hike (4 of 26)

The aspen and birch are changing into their many shades of yellow. And the sassafras has the most variety, it’s three different leaves changing to red, orange or yellow. Fall hike (4 of 17)

And finally the last to change, the oaks are now starting to show some color. Fall hike (13 of 26)

The ferns have almost all turned brown or yellow and the air is scented in those areas where the sweet fern grow,Fall hike (12 of 26)

The only wildlife I saw were, again, the squirrels and chipmunks gathering the abundant acorn crop. There was vey little bird songs, just the occasional cawing of a crow . And very few insects or spiders on this walk although I did get to photograph this dragonfly, which, after looking at the photograph, I realized was in the middle of a meal. Fall hike dragonfly 012 (1 of 1)

There were some flowers still in bloom, mainly the ragweed, if you can call that a flower and some other daisey like fall flowers. Fall hike (22 of 26)

Nature really does put on a spectacular show before she goes to sleep for the Winter and it is a delightful tie of year to head outside and take it all in. Looking forward to another beautiful Fall day tomorrow., Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes today. hike (26 of 26)


“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.”
Joe L. Wheeler



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Better Late Than Never: Mushrooms Are Growing In Northeastern Pennsylvania.

photo (4)We got plenty of much needed rain here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this past week and, although it  is very late in the season, it has brought out some of the edible mushroom species.

Yesterday, a cool and overcast day, I hiked in the aspen/birch/ pine woods looking for the bolete species that my dad taught my brothers and I to pick when we were very young children. Only found one and I think it may be too late for this species of mushroom this year.

I then hiked into some oak woods and found a few young hen of the woods (or ramshead, as they are know in my area) mushrooms. I also found a few honey mushrooms, know around here as stumpers or popinkies.Mushroom hike two 023

After a cool and cloudy start it turned out to be  was a beautiful day here and I headed into some oak and maple woods , now beginning to change color, to look for some more mushrooms.Mushroom hike  (7 of 16)

It was  windy day and the ground was now littered with multi-colored leaves that had fallen in the rain or which were blown off from the wind.  It was a refreshing day to be in the woods.Mushroom hike  (12 of 16)

The woods are quiet now,  the birds, frogs and insects are gone. I heard a few blue jays and crows and the constant thudding of the heavy acorn crop falling to the ground. The sun shinning through the trees lit up the many colored leaves, each leaf having a unique color pattern.Mushroom hike  (1 of 16)

I love photographing the many shades of colors on the different leaves, and could have spent the entire day taking photos. but I was looking for mushrooms and wanted to get back for some afternoon football.

During my search i found a cranberry bog and there was. like the acorns, a very heavy crop of large cranberries. I am thinking we are in for a long Winter this year.Mushroom hike  (6 of 16)

I did find a few  older hen of the woods or ramsheads mushrooms which were now ruined by the heavy rains. And I found a few  just  starting to grow so I left them. I was just about ready to head home when I found this nice hen of the woods mushroom.Mushroom hike two 023

ANd after that found quite a few honey mushrooms or popinkies. These are one of my favorites.Mushroom hike  (7 of 12)

I just wish to caution everyone that NO  ONE should pick a wild mushroom unless you are ABSOLUTELY positive that it is safe to eat.  There are many that look alike and some can make you very sick and even KILL you. So please be careful and only pick those you have had absolutely identified.

i headed home with a nice batch of mushrooms in the photograph above. I made a nice meal of ramsheads and popinkies sauted in olive oil and onions.

photo (3)

It is late but I’m hoping,   with some warm weather this week, I can find more of these lowly, and great tasting fungi. And even if I don’t it is still a nice time of year to be in the woods. This is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike today.

Mushroom hike  (2 of 16)




“I love like a leaf in the wind. Please, hold your applause until the end of the performance (the last day of fall).”
Jarod Kintz,

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Fall Magic Is Appearing Almost Overnight.

We finally got significant rain here in Northeastern Pennsylvania  last night. The dry spell we have been having has not been good for the  edible wild mushrooms which are usually very abundant this time of year. Hoping the rain may have caused some to grow I headed out into  the woods after work this afternoon.Fall hike (27 of 27)

It was an overcast, cool and somber day but I was surprised how many of the trees in the woods were now fully arrayed in their fall colors. Fall hike (13 of 27)

I went looking for the bolete species of mushrooms, the ones my dads called red tops, which grow in the pine/birch/aspen woods in our area. I only found a few older one’s which were ruined by the heavy rain we got last night. Fall hike (17 of 27)

And there were almost no other species of mushrooms growing either. I did find this one young amantha popping up which is a good sign since they are usually found growing at the same time as the red tops. Fall hike (23 of 27)

Although I wasn’t very successful in my search for mushrooms was nice seeing the trees changing into their fall colors, especially the red maples.Fall hike (6 of 27)

But the birch, aspen and blueberries bushes were also beginning to change color too.

I saw no birds or animals on my walk and only one spider and a very sluggish bee. The cooler and longer nights are bringing an end to the insect activity. And most of our song birds are long gone. Fall hike spider (1 of 1)

It is a nice time of year but also very somber and reflective as nature gives us one last beautiful display of color before we enter Winter with it’s drab shades of gray and white. So enjoy it while you can, it’s short but very sweet. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. Fall hike (21 of 27) hike (26 of 27)



“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
Albert Camus

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