Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Midsummer Whitetails

With the oats ripening in the fields the whitetails are taking advantage of the bounty of the season.
Until harvest and for a short time afterwards fields containing oats are among the best places to find bachelor groups of bucks this time of year.

A fawn test the air as it steps from the woodlands into a field of ripening oats.

While we are at the midpoint of the summer already some spots of color can be found.  Spots of foliage color such as this reminds one that autumn is just around the corner.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Meadow Grounds Lake Status Update

A pano shot from the middle of the lake bed at the northern access road shows the lush green grass that now covers the area.  The old road bed remains mostly grass free.
The handicap pier that once provided access to the water's edge now looks out over a rapidly greening depression; the tiny remnant of lake is far away.
After fully draining the lake the PFBC (Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission) has replaced six feet of stop logs.  This was done to discourage vandalism in the dam and to attempt to minimize sediment reaching Roaring Run.

A lone goose stands guard along the water's edge; the only waterfowl spotted during this visit.
The effort to secure funding for the repair and refilling of the lake is gaining momentum.  A new group dedicated to achieving this goal "Friends of the Meadow Grounds Lake" has formed.  The group now has a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/166174400206673/ where members are encouraged to post their memories, discuss the issue, and to share ideas.  The "Friends" also have a website http://www.meadowgroundsfriends.org/index.php?page=contact where contact information and news is shared with all.
Recently the "Friends" filed articles of incorporation as a non-profit organization and has set up both banking accounts and a new mailing address.  The Friends are currently seeking donations to cover the $900 of filing fees.  The new mailing address is: Friends of Meadow Grounds Lake, P.O. Box 84 McConnellsburg, PA 17233.
On the legislative front Pennsylvania Senate Bill 680, The Capital Budget Project Itemization Act of 2013-2014 (printer's no. 1329) appears to be stalled in the house (per information received from Senator Alloway's office July 8th 2013).   SB 680 as it is currently written, contains $128,741,000 to fund PFBC capital projects (page 3 line 27).  Page 515 line 30, pg 516 lines1-5 further defines $2,188,000 of this funding be used to design, permit, and construct a rehabilitated Meadow Grounds Dam.
While SB 680's $2.188 million falls far short of the PFBC's estimated cost of 4 million, getting this bill passed would be a major first step.  Not only would it be an important step on the road to recovery for the Meadow Grounds Lake but it also contains funding for the other deficient high-hazard PFBC dams across the state. 


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Stream Sitting and a Lifer

With a heat wave blanketing much of the country my home area in South Central Pennsylvania was not spared.  Humid air and temperatures into the mid to upper 90's had us seeking either air-conditioned quarters or at the very least shady areas.
With the temperatures soring I decided to spend an evening stream sitting in a section of creek that boarders our family farm.  With a camp chair slung over one shoulder and the camera, tripod, and 600mm lens over the other I waded to where I could set up in a spot of shade with water deep enough to help keep me cool but shallow enough to allow for safe camera operation. 

Wildlife became active shortly after I settled in.  The first visitor, a muskrat, arrived and began feeding in the shallows.  While muskrats were plentiful here in the 1960's it has only been in recent years that I have again began seeing them with any regularity. 

A pair of Belted Kingfishers were busy flying up and down the creek, occasionally diving to catch prey from water below.  It was during one of these fly-bys that the female perched on an overhanging branch.
Male and Female Belted Kingfishers can be identified by the banding on their chest.  The male sports one blue band with the female usually displays two; a wide blue band with a thinner chestnut band below.  The female pictured here carries two chestnut or copper colored bands.

The most encounter of the evening was when I spotted a Red-headed Woodpecker clinging on a dead tree.  This was the first time I have observed and identified this species.

And what made it even more special was the immature woodpeckers that began to materialize as first one, then two and finally three young birds were spotted pecking about the tree.  Apparently this tree, which is riddled with woodpecker holes, has served as home to this family of woodpeckers.

While the kingfisher and the woodpeckers were too far for the quality of shots I prefer, the wildlife encounters and the time in the creek made for a refreshing evening in the midst of the heat wave.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer is a time.....

Summer is a time....
of hot hazy evenings and dusty dirt roads,

a time of harvest as golden grain ripens in the fields,

and a time of butterflies flitting about like brightly colored fluttering flowers.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Meadow Grounds Lake: Vegetation Takes Root

A view from the dam breast shows the fresh green vegetation beginning to cover the former lake bed. 

Areas near the northern access point are now supporting considerable new growth.  Apparently the sediment deposited on the lake floor held a good stock of viable seed.

A view looking southward from the northern access point with Roaring Run in the foreground.

Lush grasses stabilize the soil along the stream.  With the passing of each day the threat of significant erosion and sedimentation of Roaring Run downstream of the dam diminishes. 

While many of us morn the loss of this Fulton County treasure some visitors show their disdain for our public spaces.  Not only were these beverage cans strewn about but the recently erected sign at the northern access point has been removed and someone had driven into the lake bed cutting large ruts into the soft soil.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with the PFBC decision to drain the lake makes no difference; it is no excuse to vandalize and litter of our public property. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wild Faces

Wild faces come in many shapes and sizes.  Some we recognize as cute and cuddly while others may be seen as being more ominous. 
Here is a small collection of Wild Faces I have met recently. 
Cottontail:  Met while taking an evening walk.

Gray Squirrel:  Caught while raiding a naturalized bird feeder

Beaver:  The beaver swam close to my hide while I watched a wetland for ducklings

Snapping Turtle:  Spotted while watching for ducks. 

Sunday, July 07, 2013

The Approaching Storm

After days of sweltering heat, a thunderstorm approached early this afternoon.  The ominous clouds and the dark mountain in the distance contrasted nicely with the brighter fields in the foreground. 

While everyone loves a blue sky day, for the best landscape photography be there when the skies display character. 

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Summer Scenes

Following an evening thunder shower The white billowy clouds in the eastern sky were spectacular.  This image is a HDR (high dynamic range) compilation of five images. 

Looking west after another thundershower, the sky took on a beautiful soft yellow glow as the sun sank beneath the horizon.  Not only did the sky glow with the setting sun but the thick humidity enveloping the landscape did as well.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


Photographing the waterfowl migrations this spring was a huge disappointment.  With the draining of the Meadow Grounds Lake I no longer had a body of water near home where I could photograph waterfowl from the boat.
  With Raystown Lake the next nearest place to boat in Pennsylvania I spent at least one day each weekend fishing and attempting to photograph waterfowl there only to find that the waterfowl photography in no way compared to working the much smaller Meadow Grounds.  While various species of waterfowl were present for the most part they would flush while I was too far away for good photography. 
With the Meadow Grounds out of play what waterfowl photography I did encounter occurred in small wetlands.  With some of the results posted here.
Wood Duck hen with both Wood Duck ducklings and Hooded Merganser young
This was the first time I ever observed a wood duck with both wood duck and hooded merganser ducklings in tow.  I expect that the mergansers made it back to the proper mother as I have not observed a mixed flock since. 
Wood Duck duckling

All ducklings are not hatched at the same time so it is common to see young of various sizes in a single outing.
Mallard Duckling foraging in the shallows
Hooded Merganser apparently from an early hatch
Hooded Merganser duckling feeding.