27 December 2014

Winter Weather ???

Winter is officially here, but you wouldn't know it from the current weather. Temperatures have been in the 40's and 50's for the past couple of days and the ice and snow of a couple of weeks ago is gone.

15 December 2014

Red Squirrel

On a recent walk through our woods after the latest snow storm I found this red squirrel surveying his neighborhood.This little guy seemed to be stunned and confused by the snow, and not the typical hyperactive squirrel.

13 December 2014

Searching for Food

The recent storm has left the ground covered with snow and the neighborhood wildlife has to spend more time and effort searching for food. Deer have to dig through the snow cover to reach the tasty grass.

This pair of deer are sniffing out their next meal.

10 December 2014

Raccoon Visit

I thought a very large grey cat was on our front porch, but I soon realized it was a raccoon.

As I watched, the raccoon crawled onto the support under the bench and started to take a nap. Upon closer investigation the raccoon was looking for a place to sleep off a bad encounter it had with a porcupine.

08 December 2014


The bright outdoor colors of Spring and Summer have faded into dull greys and browns, but the bittersweet vine stands out like a hunter's blaze orange vest.

While the bright orange fruit of this vine may add color to a drab environment, it comes with some undesirable side effects. The oriental bittersweet vine (Celastrus orbiculatus) is an invasive, non-native plant which is crowding out the native American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens). Once established, the oriental bittersweet vine engulfs other vegetation, slowly killing it. Oriental bittersweet vines wrap so tightly around their victims that the trees are strangled and the vines grow so dense as to block sunlight from other plants.

02 December 2014


It's the first week of the PA deer season. I haven't bagged my deer yet, but I was able to get a couple of quick photos of a bobcat.

Not sure what the bobcat has in it's mouth.

28 November 2014


The weather for the past couple of weeks has been a repeating freeze/thaw cycle. A week ago, Miner's Pond was froze solid, then a couple of days in the 60's and now the first major snow of the season.

We've had a couple of "dustings" of snow this fall, but this was a very wet, sticky snow. A view of our deck with 10+ inches of snow.

How sticky was the snow? A picture of the snow clinging to our mail box.

24 November 2014

Hard Water

The temperature was 12F here on Saturday morning and after a couple of days of bitter cold weather Miner's Pond was froze solid. Some warmer weather and a light rain came the next day and left a coating of water on top of the ice. This flock of geese may have thought they were landing on open water, but found "hard water" instead. After a short stay on the pond the flock went in search of another water source.

16 November 2014

Ice on the pond

This fall has been warmer than normal until this weekend. The cold weather from the north has moved into the neighborhood and ice is starting to form on Miner's Pond. A flock Canada geese was checking out the first ice of the season and maybe thinking of moving south for warmer weather.

15 November 2014

Knock! Knock! Who's there?

The day was cold and overcast, but otherwise clam and a good day for a walk in our woods. It was a very quiet day and I started to hear what sounded like someone hammering in the woods. As I approached the source of the hammering I soon discovered a Piliated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) looking for a meal. It was easy to spot the brightly colored woodpecker against the dull grey and brown background of trees.

Some of this woodpecker's handy-work as it looked for bugs and grubs in dead trees

13 November 2014

'Tis The Season... Already???

You wouldn't know it from this week's November weather, in the 60's, but a local "big box" home improvement store had Christmas decorations out before Halloween and other stores are starting to run their holiday specials. As if those hints weren't enough, the holly bush next to our house is showing-off it's holiday colors of bright red and green.

Our holly bush is loaded with bright red berries this year and you can't miss it as you walk by.

10 November 2014

The "Rut"

It's the white-tailed deer's breeding season, known as the "rut", and the buck's have one thing their mind, find as many does as he can. White-tailed bucks are more active, less cautious than usual and more visible during the daytime

It's a wildlife dating game and the does are out showing off for the bucks.

05 November 2014


The cooler fall weather has triggered some local deer's mating urge and the bucks mark their territory with "Buck Rubs". "Buck Rubs" are created by scraping or gouging on a tree or sapling with the buck's forehead or preorbital gland. Not only is this a visible sign of the buck's territory, but also carries the buck's scent to act as a calling card that identifies the buck that made the rub.

The size of the rub usually varies with the size of the deer. While most buck rubs won't kill larger trees, they will slow the tree's growth and may disfigure some trees.

03 November 2014

Hornet's Nest

Several weeks ago I posted an update on Bald-faced Hornets (Dolichovespula maculata) and described how they are known for their large "paper" nests and their defensive behavior to protect the nest. I found a hornet's nest in one of our overgrown fields and decided to take a closer look.

As I started to remove goldenrod and small brush in front of the hornet's nest, several hornet's started to appear at the entrance to the nest. After some cold mornings this week I had assumed the hornets would be inactive. They were slow, but not inactive. One of the hornets started to buzz me after I overstayed my welcome.

A close-up view of the hornet's face.

31 October 2014

Happy Halloween

A photo of our son Brad's Halloween Jack-O'-Lantern.

Happy Halloween

29 October 2014


This Saturday is the start of the state wild turkey hunting season and these birds have been taunting me for the last week. If they follow the same game plan they used last year, I'll won't see them at all on Saturday.

26 October 2014

Sunset fron the top of the hill

After a week of dark, cloudy days, a colorful sunset was a beautiful sight. Timing is everything when trying to photograph a sunset. The first problem is being in the right location at the right time. Having a good viewing location doesn't help if there aren't some clouds on the horizon to reflect the sunlight. The next timing issue with sunsets is the duration. They don't last very long and the colors are continually changing along with the cloud formations.

I was very lucky to get a photograph of this sunset. By the time I noticed the pinkish/orange glow in the sky and drove to my favorite sunset location, I only had a few seconds to enjoy and photograph the sunset.

24 October 2014


The bright colors of fall leaves and berries make some plants stand out and are highlighted from their normal surroundings. Several of the barberry bushes on our property are showing their fall colors and I now realize this plant is popping up all over. The native species, American barberry (Berberis canadensis), is being crowded out by Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) and European barberry (Berberis vulgaris) which are non-native and introduced for landscaping and hedges. Both species are dense, spiny shrubs that produce bright red berries.

Barberry forms dense stands and once established, it displaces native plants. Unlike American barberry, white tailed deer will not eat the non-native Japanese and European barberry. Because barberry has sharp spines, it acts as a nursery for small animals which carry deer ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease.

18 October 2014

Rose Hips

As the wildflowers of summer are disappearing from plants, the flowers are replaced with fruits and seeds to propagate another generation of the plant. The fruits of the multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) are know as "hips". Rose hips are particularly high in vitamin C and can be used to make jam, jelly and marmalade.

The rose hips of the multiflora rose are small, but what they lack in size they make up with numbers. The multiflora rose hips are a favorite winter food for birds, which in turn distribute the seeds.

12 October 2014

Fog and Fall Foliage

It was another cold frosty morning and the valleys were full of fog as the bright sun came out and started burning off the fog. I was able to get this photo of fog and fall foliage from our cabin property. Click on image to enlarge.

10 October 2014

Where have the wildflower gone ...

There have been a few frosty mornings this week and many of the wildflowers have wilted. I found 5 bumblebees (the fifth bee is on the backside on the right) busy gathering nectar from a small goldenrod bloom.

06 October 2014

Working the Roads

As the daylight hours are getting shorter, the Rome Township road crew is busy grading some of the 50 plus miles of township roads.

Grading a section of Joyce Road to fill in potholes and re-establish a proper road crown for drainage.

03 October 2014

Fall Colors

The maple trees are turning bright red and for a brief time we can enjoy the colorful fall foliage.

With a bright red maple tree in the background, a flock of wild turkeys have a meal of grasshoppers.

A view of our barn.

The woods at our cabin property.

Enjoy the leave now, they will soon be gone for another year.

25 September 2014


While wandering around our property I came across a small patch of Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens). The name Wintergreen commonly refers to plants that remain green (continue photosynthesis) throughout the winter. In North America, the name Wintergreen generally refers to Eastern Teaberry which is also known as American mountain tea, boxberry, Canada tea, canterberry, checkerberry, chickenberry, chinks, creeping wintergreen, deerberry, drunkards, gingerberry, ground berry, ground tea, grouseberry, hillberry, mountain tea, one-berry, partridge berry, procalm, red pollom, spice berry, squaw vine, star berry, spiceberry, spicy wintergreen, spring wintergreen, teaberry, wax cluster, youngsters.

The fruits of Wintergreen, "teaberries," are edible, with a minty flavor.

23 September 2014

Wildflower - New York Ironweed

The New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) is still blooming in our neighborhood. This member of the Aster family starts blooming in early summer and reaches its peak around the end of July. Butterflies, bees and other insects are attracted to the brightly colored flowers and its nectar..

Once New York Ironweed is established it can take over fields. One of our hay fields is over-run by New York Ironweed since the haymaking process tends to spread the seeds.

20 September 2014

Bald-faced Hornet

The goldenrod is in full bloom in the neighborhood and buzzing with insects looking for nectar. While photographing some honey bees at work in the goldenrod, I cam across this Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) covered with goldenrod pollen.

The North American bald-faced hornet goes by several common names, such as bald hornet, white-faced hornet, white-tailed hornet, blackjacket or bull wasp, but actualy belongs to a genus of yellowjackets.

Bald-faced hornets are known for their large "paper" nests and their defensive behavior to protect the nest.

19 September 2014

Road Work

The Rome Township road crew was busy on Joyce Road this week correcting some drainage issues. The ditches in this section of Joyce Road were contently full of stagnant water, even during dry summers. The poor drainage in the ditches caused the road base to soften and thereby cause perpetual potholes.

Some of the drainage problems were cause by a plugged driveway culvert which blocked the ditch from draining.

With the plugged culvert replaced, the ditches on both sides were deepened and 4 inch drain lines installed below several feet of crushed stone. While the surface structure of the ditch will carry away the quick/large volume of water created by heavy rains and spring thaw, the 4 inch drain line and stone base will dry up the road base and straighten the road.

The finished drainage improvements. Great job by the township road crew.