Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Exuberance of Youth

No creature displays an exuberance for life more so than Whitetail Fawns



Thursday, June 27, 2013

Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty.....WILD Kitty!

While watching for fawns near an old abandoned barn I noticed a kitten playing about some weather beaten holes in the siding.  Apparently a feral cat has taken up residence in the old barn, at least for long enough to raise a litter of kittens.

These cute little Tabbies are a domestic breed of cat but their mother is raising them up wild with no help of humans.  Cute as they are I do wonder how many songbirds it is taking to support this litter of free-ranging felines.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Meadow Grounds Lake Update

After totally draining the lake the PFBC is now allowing the lake to refill to a depth of six feet.

According to a PFBC representative I spoke with this is being done to minimize the amount of sediment reaching Roaring Run and to reduce vandalism to the dam. 

A few dead fish were still visible during my last visit but the surprising find was a considerable number of small bluegills present it the pool.  Apparently these bluegills were able to return through the dam before the refilling began.
More small bluegills can be seen below the dam.  With a few stop logs now in the dam their return to the former lake is blocked.
New growth can be seen sprouting from the freshly dried sediment.

Where the sediment deposits have been exposed for a longer period, grass is beginning to stabilize the soil.
The Friends of the Meadow Grounds Lake held the first public meeting Monday evening.  While a few attendees felt it necessary to vent some pent up frustrations, the meeting by and large was very positive.  Approximately 100 persons attended as the leadership explained where the organization is and where we are headed.  While it will take a few years and considerable politicking from this dedicated group our lake will be back. 
 The Friends of the Meadow Grounds Lake will accept no less.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Double Takes

I recently read an article about photo composition.  The gist of the article was that whenever possible a photo should contain an odd number of subjects.  However when photographing a pair of fawns cavorting about, reacting to each other and their environment, its time to break the rule photographic rule of odds.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Valley of Death

Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
Meadow Grounds Lake Drained!
View of the former Meadow Grounds Lake taken from near the top of the outlet.
The PFBC finished draining the Meadow Grounds Lake Wednesday June 12th.
While the PFBC reportedly did live trap and transfer a number of truck loads of fish, the carnage that remained was considerable.

View from the top of the dam

While the draining of the lake may have been necessary to correct the deficiencies in the dam breast wall the agency certainly has not made the case nor do the dam inspection reports show the necessity of such drastic action.   The PFBC's shroud of secrecy in making the decision, the failure to announce the decision until only days before the draining began, the failure on multiple occasions to keep local officials advised of developments concerning the lake, and the brushing aside of citizens comments at the one public meeting held three weeks after the draining began, illustrates that either the PFBC is inept at handling public relations or more likely has forgotten who pays their salaries, who gives them their gold plated healthcare, and their pensions that far exceeds anything available in private industry short of what CEO's receive. 

Dead fish near the dam

As I stepped from my car after parking near the dam the odor of rotting fish filled the air.  These photos were taken in the former lake bed.

Dead fish litters the former lakebed

A large walleye lies in the sediment where it died as the lake drained away
Pool of rotting fish

Below the dam was no better.  This photo was taken in the area where PFBC personnel were capturing fish as the last of the lake drained away.

Farther down stream below their trapping location Roaring Run was littered with the carcasses of dead fish.

While many fish were trucked away, and as you can see many more lie where they have died, even more were recovered and hauled away to the pit constructed nearby.  While I do not have any photos of the thousands of fish discarded in the pit you can see them by visiting Friends of the Meadow Grounds on Facebook.

Friends of the Meadow Grounds Lake first public event

The bright note of the day was visiting with members of the new organization, Friends of the Meadow Grounds Lake as they held their first public event in McConnellsburg.  While the PFBC has now completed flushing 50 years of aquatic life down the drain the Friends are committed to doing whatever it takes to bring it back to life.

Visit the Friends website for the latest information.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rattlesnake! Black Phase Timber Rattler

Upon arriving at the Meadow Grounds Lake Saturday evening I parked along the edge of the road near the dam.  Stepping out of the car, I opened the rear door to retrieve the cameras and as I straightened up I heard it..............  the buzzing of a rattler!  Casting my gaze towards the source of the noise my eyes fell upon a large black phase timber rattler lying not six feet from the car door! 

The snake continued to rattle as it slowly crawled away with its head high; the forward third of its body held in a S curve ready to strike if necessary.  Note this series of photos were taken using a 400mm lens.  A rattler can strike 1/3 of its body length and perhaps up to 1/2  it's length in the right situation so shooting close-ups of a rattler is no place for short lenses!  

When I moved around the snake to shoot from a different angle it apparently felt that its avenue of flight had been cut off and it rolled into a tight coil.  At this point the rattler stopped rattling and remained motionless except for the occasional flick of its tongue.  With the snake feeling trapped this was no time to get too close!
After finishing the rattler photo session my wife and I walked out on the dam to photograph the receding lake.  Returning a few minutes later I checked where I had left the snake to find that it had moved on. 
While timber rattlesnakes can inflict a serious bite on a human and do so occasionally, when man and rattler meet it is most often the snake who looses the encounter.  I was very glad that this encounter allowed both of us to go on our way neither worse for the wear. 

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Down the Drain: Meadow Grounds Lake

Meadow Grounds Lake 6-8-13
Continuing to document the draining of the Meadow Grounds Lake, my wife and I again visited the lake Saturday evening.  This pano photographed from well below full pool line on the breast wall shows the small pond that remains. 

This photo taken facing south from mid-lake directly in front of the boat dock show the reappearing stream bed where Roaring Run flowed until the lake was built and now flows again.

Walking out from the former boat dock I spotted some old masonry work which shows here in the right foreground.

A closer look revealed the remains of what appears to be an old springhouse.  The water is again bubbling up inside the stone lined opening and flowing out to join Roaring Run as it would have done when it was the primary water source for inhabitants in years long gone by.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

A Bird and a Bow

Rainbow Pano
As the sky cleared after an evening thunder shower a beautiful double rainbow formed in the eastern sky.  The entire scene as too large to capture with my widest lens so I opted to photograph vertically in series and stitch it together in Photoshop.

Great-crested Flycatcher
While watching a meadow with Willard one evening he pointed out that a bird that may be of interest had landed behind me.  At first glance I though that it was a phoebe but flash of yellow on the breast brought me back for a second look.  I'm glad I did for this was only my second time identifying a great-crested flycatcher in the field.

Canon 6D, 600mm f4 L IS USM

While it doesn't qualify as a "lifer" this encounter did produce my best images to date of the species. 

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Meadow Grounds Lake: The Shrinking Pool

Meadow Grounds Lake 6-1-13
The drawdown that began March 4th continues to shrink the pool.  What was a vibrant aquatic community is now little more than a puddle surrounded by bare dirt and mud.

A view from mid-lake on the northern access road shows the creek flowing through its old streambed with the remaining lake pool barely visible in the distance. 

The sediment deposited over the 50 years of the lake's existence cracks deeply as it dries out for the first time.  A close look reveals the first shoots of grass as new vegetation begins to stabilize the soft fertile soil. 
A new organization, Friends of the Meadow Grounds Lake, is currently forming and has a website up and running.  The new website states the group's mission as follows:  "The primary goal of the organization known as “Friends of Meadow Grounds Lake” is to work tirelessly, honestly, and proudly toward the repair of the dam at Meadow Grounds Lake and toward the restoration of the lake to its former pristine and non-commercial glory."