Thursday, September 24, 2020

Pennsylvania Elk Rut 2020

Once again its the time of year when one of the greatest wildlife shows Pennsylvania has to offer is occurring, the Pennsylvania Elk Rut.  Fortunately some great viewing opportunities occur on public lands or lands open to the public and many are able to enjoy incredible wildlife viewing encounters.  

I arrived in the tiny hamlet of Benezette after the morning elk activity had subsided Tuesday and had only limited photographic success that evening.    

Wednesday morning dawned bright and clear with two dominate bulls tending harems in adjoining fields. Satellite bulls frequently attempted to cut in whenever the herd bull was distracted as can be seen in a few of the images.   The following photos are from the morning.


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Meadow Grounds Lake: Returning Soon!

Built in the mid 1960's, the Meadow Grounds Lake provided untold hours of recreation for those who frequented it.  The lake, owned and controlled by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission sits on lands owned by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Word spread in the winter of 2013 that the PFBC was drawing down the lake with no plan and no funding to repair and restore it.  Some thoughtful person posted this sign at the boat ramp. 

The meeting was well attended, nearly filling the auditorium of the Central Fulton High School.  At times emotions ran high as members of the public and local politicians voiced their concerns and frustrations with the loss of the lake as well as the lack of transparency of the process.

After seven long years of local fundraising and lobbying efforts by dedicated members of the community and in particular the board of Friends of Meadow Grounds Lake, construction is finally about to begin.  

The project calls for the top of the dam crest to be raised 3.6 feet while the full pool water level will remain the same.

The downstream slope of the dam will be flattened, extending the base of the dam farther down stream. A seepage collection and conveyance system will also be installed in the dam.

The conduit through the dam will be slip-lined with pipe and modification will be made to the control tower.

The existing spillway and stilling basin will be removed and replaced.

The PFBC will begin stocking the lake as it refills beginning with the minnow forage base. The breaking down of the abundant vegetative debris will serve to supercharge the resurgent aquatic life as the lake returns to normal.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

9-11 Remembered, Flight 93 18th Memorial Service

 Brenda and I attended the Eighteenth Memorial Service at the Flight 93 National Memorial.  It was a beautiful late summer morning much like that day in 2001 when our world changed.  The service and the memorial itself is a fitting tribute to those who's valor saved many lives and struck the first blow in what was to become the war on terror that eighteen years later still goes on.

We arrived at the venue via shuttle bus at 8:30

 A number of United Airline employees were present in the section where we were seated

 Security was tight.  Searches at the venue entrance were conducted by Secret Service agents and were similar to that of airport security.  Overhead Pennsylvania State Police circled. 

 Snipers were visible in distance

A close up of the group visible in the left of the above photo

 Others watched the crowd intently

Before the service Vice President Pence and his wife visited with the families 

As the ceremony began dignitaries arrived on stage. 

During the reading of the names of passengers and crew this officer set the cadence for the ringing of the Bells of Remembrance.  Upon the reading of a name he would open his right hand signaling the ringing of the first bell. 

As its tone faded his hand closed into a fist signaling the ringing of the second bell

The Bells of Remembrance

David Bernhardt, Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior 

Vice President Mike Pence delivered the closing keynote speech

 Alpha Conde, President of Guinea was in the audience

The media pool

The Memorial Wall

The Pennsylvania State Police Mounted Unit assisting with security 

Dignitaries and families gather at the crash site following the public ceremony

 A visitor pauses to contemplate the only photo of the crash of flight 93

The shuttle queue to the parking lot

Standing in the shuttle queue I struck up a conversation with a young gentleman.  I ask if he had any memories of 9-11 or if he was too young. He answered that he was two years old at the time and according to his parents, slept through the whole thing.  He asked were I was and I related my story.  I told him that the first tragic memorable event in my lifetime was the assassination of  President John F, Kennedy and that I was in elementary school at the time.  I listed the explosions of the space shuttles as other events where I remember where I was and what I was doing. He stated that Sandy Hook was the incident that stands out for him.  I shook my head and said something to the effect that mass shootings are so out of control.   His answer was sad and shocking at the same time, "And there's not a damn thing we can do about it"! 

I hope he is proven wrong.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Unusual Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkeys have recently been feeding on waste grain left in the harvested fields.  One flock that I have been encountering contains three unusual birds as can be seen in this series of photos.  These gray birds are known as leucistic or smoke-phase wild turkeys.  I at first wondered if they may be the result of cross breeding with domestic turkeys but from my internet research it seems that the common conclusion is that cross breeding highly unlikely.