Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Picturesque Barn

The barn stands empty. Only a few traces of the old barnyard fence remain. The cattle and horses that once lived under its roof have been gone for over a half of a century.

Wildlife has reclaimed what was once theirs. Whitetail deer and wild turkeys are the most common life found around the barn, along with my brother, The Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gypsy Moths, The Conclusion

The Gypsy Moths are finishing their life cycle. The caterpillars are gone, having metamorphosed into adult moths. I captured this male while he was resting.

A female depositing her eggs

Many females busily laying eggs are visible in this photograph. Near the bottom a male searching for a mate can be seen. With the large number of egg cases being deposited the outlook for next year appears bleak.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Meet “Peter Cottontail”

This friendly little fellow is nibbling grass while looking for his daily handout

I shot this photo on our family farm last evening. Most summer evenings my Dad takes a tour of our farm on his John Deere Gator. Dad eats lots of apples and will keep the peelings in the glove box of his gator until he meets up with the wild bunnies. Although they will not hop over to them while he is there when he checks back the peelings are always gone.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Woodchuck

Groundhog, woodchuck, and pasture poodle are only a few of the common names these little critters are known by. How people view them varies with their experience. Many folks see them as pest. Having a family of groundhogs living near ones garden is a sure recipe for disaster. Farmers hold the little critters in low esteem because of damage created by their burrowing. The mound of dirt at the entrance to their den has been known to flip more than one tractor while farming steep ground. Farmers in the past were always mindful of how easily a horse’s leg could be broken from stepping into a hole. I can think of no one who really likes woodchucks outside of those whose passion is hunting and then this love quickly turns deadly for the chuck.

This chuck and his extended family recently took up residence under some buildings on our family farm. Large holes dug into the dirt floors of the machine sheds and around the building foundations guaranteed that I would perceive their presence a problem. An evening with the .22 was all it took to begin to regain control.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gypsy Update

The carnage of the Gypsy Moths continues unabated. As the caterpillars near the end of the feeding cycle they are consuming every last piece of greenery available. In some areas hundreds of acres have been defoliated while other nearby areas are nearly untouched.

In areas of large infestations the devastation is complete and the caterpillars are on the move. In this photo one can observe the stain on the asphalt were untold numbers of caterpillars have been crushed by passing automobiles.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Summer Fun in the Sun

I spent Saturday on beautiful Foster Joseph Sayers Lake in Center County Pa. My primary objective was fishing for the prolific crappie for which this lake is locally famous.
Being a shutter-bug I could not pass up the opportunity to capture “action shots” presented by the many recreational boats speeding across the lake’s smooth waters. As so often happens when shooting action the two boats passing in this photo was purely coincidental.

Foster Joseph Sayers Lake is a 1730 acre flood control lake completed by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1969. It is named after a World War II Private First Class from this area who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic action on November 12th 1944 near Thionville, France.

The lake is surrounded by the 5,900 acre Bald Eagle State Park and provides many recreational opportunities including hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, swimming, boating, and biking, along with wildlife watching.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Oh Deer!

The Whitetails Bucks are now growing their annual set of antlers.

This yearling buck poses for a portrait op. It has always amazed me how quickly antlers grow, how obsessed with them that some people can become, and then if the buck survives until winter they simply drop off and the cycle begins anew.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Aitch, the village that Was

I’ll see you in “H”

What would normally be considered a rude comment has a different meaning in the Raystown Lake area of Pennsylvania. Aitch (pronounced H) once was a village but now is a launching area. This photo was taken in the early morning before the crowd of boats and jet skis arrived. The village of Aitch lies under the water of this small cove.

The 8,000+ acre Raystown Lake, created by the US Army Corps of Engineers as a flood control project in the 1970’s displaced many families. What once was a rural agricultural valley is now a playground for people from all walks of life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bridge Abutment

An old bridge abutment now provides structure for fish.

Raystown Lake, Huntingdon Co. Pennsylvania

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Invasive Gypsies

The forests of south-central Pennsylvania are rapidly changing from lush green to somber browns and grays. As we approach summer the foliage is disappearing at an alarming rate

A closer look discloses branches as barren as in winter

The culprit is the Gypsy Moth, or rather untold millions of them

A Gypsy Moth egg case, promises more problems in the coming year

The Gypsy Moth was brought to America in the 1800’s by a French scientist who was attempting to cross them with the silk worm to develop an American silk trade. Sadly he did not know that his cross breeding was bound for failure. Whereas the silkworm spins a cocoon, the gypsy moth undergoes metamorphous in a chrysalis. A few of his worms escaped. Soon the scourge of the gypsy moth began.

DDT was used in an attempt to wipe out this forest pest but even this powerful insecticide was only able to control their numbers and slow the spread. The ban on DDT removed the most effective weapon from the gypsy moth control arsenal. Currently spraying with BT (bacillus thuringiensis) only serves to moderately slow their advance.

Our first outbreak of gypsy moths occurred in the mid 1980’s. After a few years of nearly complete defoliation the majority of our oak forest died. This in turn allowed sunlight to penetrate to the forest floor. New growth rapidly appeared and soon the new brush was providing great food and habitat for our whitetail deer. The brush in many places was so thick as to make hunting the deer difficult. With the ideal habitat the deer population exploded. A few years later when the new trees became pole timber they no longer provided the food required of the vast deer herd. The deer then focused upon farm fields. A very difficult period for farmers ensued where the deer devoured their crops leaving little if anything for the farmer to sustain his way of life. Finally early this century the Game Commission responded with increased seasons and bag limits. This combined with a couple of hard winters along with possibly other unknown factors caused the deer population crashed.

I must wonder if the return of the gypsy moth will cause this cycle repeat.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Collars

This evening I spent some time poking around an old barn. These horse collars hanging on wooden pegs drew my attention.

I could not help but question how this rustic scene came to be. Who hung the collars here on their pegs for the last time? Did they know they would never be used again? What became of this person? Do photographs of the horses who strained in the collars remain in someone’s collection of old family photographs? Perhaps I have the photos in my own family collection.

One thing I can be sure of is the person who hung the collars here never gave it moments thought that some day many years later someone would photograph them and that image would be available for anyone around the world to view. Of that I am certain!

At times it is good to stop for a moment in our busy lives and ponder our surroundings. I always seem to find more questions than answers but the moment is enriching just the same.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Rain Drops

Water droplets frequently transform a scene from commonplace to extraordinary

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Truck Crossing

Even here in rural Pennsylvania our country roads are becoming congested at times. We are an area of agriculture and heavy equipment manufacturing. The combination of trucks slowly crawling over the mountains along with the even slower agriculture equipment moving between farms and fields can make travel exasperating at times.

Friday, June 01, 2007

"I was hunting for "Wolverines."

Have you had to shoot 50 Wolverines to protect your cousins lately?

Photograph is of a Cabela’s display