Sunday, March 15, 2020

Middle Creek WMA: Snow Geese and Frogs

A number of years ago now, we visited Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania to see the Snow Geese Migration. We've always talked of going back, but it just hadn't worked out until last weekend. There weren't as many geese this time and there were only a few Tundra Swans, but we were also a little bit later in the season. Peak migration was a few weeks ago. In spite of that, we still had a great day and saw lots of birds:

 Snow Geese coming in for a landing
 Hanging out on shore
 Something spooked them and a whole bunch of them took off from the water at once. The sound of all of their wings beating was impressive.
 Graceful landing
 Another one coming in to land.
 All lined up
 Even though there were fewer geese than the last time we were there, there were still a lot of geese.
I was trying to take pictures of Tundra Swans that were really too far away to photograph, when this little Belted Kingfisher got my attention. It was a noisy little thing, but was happy to sit there and let me take pictures (click to enlarge).
 Two ducks feeding on the lake.
 Snow geese moving en masse
 We drove the road around the WMA, which took us by a little wet spot that was full of Wood Frogs and their egg masses. The frogs themselves were really vocal and love was in the air. You can hear a brief recording of their calls here (scroll down on the right)
 A couple of frogs on the egg masses.
 Snow geese on the water later in the day.
A juvenile Bald Eagle.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Washington State: Hiking and Snowshoeing

I had to go to the Seattle area for work last week. We have friends who live south of the city, so I went out early and got some hiking in. We started with Lena Lake in Olympic National Forest on Saturday. The forecast was pretty typical for March in the Pacific Northwest, so I was prepared to hike all afternoon in the rain. Having all of my rain gear with me resulted in a beautiful, mostly sunny afternoon. You can't beat that. I also credit the forecast for keeping the crowds away. We saw very few people on a trail that, according to my friend, is pretty popular.
 A cool, bent tree along the trail.
 An orange slime mold.
 The night before, it had rained pretty hard at my friends' place. It had clearly snowed higher up.
 An impressive bridge on the trail.
 Reaching the snowline
 A waterfall on a small creek.
 A sign pointing us towards the lake.
 Lena Lake.
 On the way home we stopped for dinner. The sunset over Hood Canal was spectacular.

On Sunday, we went snowshoeing at White Pass Ski Area. The nordic center has cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.
 Starting out around a little lake.
 Michael's snowshoes pack flatter than mine in a suitcase, so I took his with me. Now his snowshoes have hiked in Washington.
 The trail took us back to a little waterfall, where we had lunch.
 This Canada Jay tried to convince me to give up my snack bag. Nice try, little guy.
 This is where old trekking and ski poles find a new life. Most of the snowshoeing trail markers were held up by old poles.
 Heading back to the start.
Looking back on the lake near where we started.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Missouri and Jamestown

Two weekends ago, we spent a long weekend in Missouri visiting family. On that Saturday, one of my cousin's took us out for a hike in Van Meter State Park near Marshall, Missouri. I visited Van Meter once, maybe in college? It is up on the steep bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. The hills are loess, which was deposited by receding glaciers in the last ice age. It also has significant earthworks and remnants from a Missouria Indian village that was there before Europeans came to the area. One thing that is new since I last visited is the Missouri American Indian Cultural Center, which is located at the park, which is a neat little museum with information on the nine tribes in Missouri before westward expansion (descendants of the original inhabitants were actually involved in the creation of the cultural center).
 Snow Geese above a field near Van Meter. I didn't have a long lens with me, so this isn't a great picture, the flock is visible above the horizon.
The hilltop where the earthworks are located.
 Bittersweet vine
 Looking out over the Missouri River
 The bark of the Hackberry Tree
 Walking along one of the ridges
 Beaver damage on a tree (well, the beaver might not consider it damage!).
 A Opossum peeking out at us.
 The thorns of a Black Locust Tree
 Bobcat tracks
A barn quilt just outside the park.

Last weekend, Michael and I went to Jamestown, Virginia with another cousin of mine. We met with the historian of a local housing development/country club to talk about an ancestor of mine that had a plantation in the area just after Jamestown's founding. We also visited Historic Jamestown, which is the location of the actual fort and town. On Sunday, we visited Jamestown Settlement. Of the two, I liked Historic Jamestown more (it is the one run by the National Park Service).
 Walking out to the place where my ancestor's farm may have been located.
 Snow! That's about as much as we've seen this year.
 A turtle at Historic Jamestown.
 The swamp separating Jamestown Island from the mainland.
 The monument at Historic Jamestown marking the 300th anniversary of the landing. This was erected in 1907.
 The James River at the fort.
 A juvenile Bald Eagle. There were _so many_ Bald Eagles there. We saw several pairs and a number of juveniles.
 An Eastern Bluebird
 An Eastern Screech Owl. We pulled off the road on Island Drive because there were a couple of guys with cameras pointing up in the trees. We figured they may have seen eagles or something like that. This little guy was what they were pointing at. I had never seen an Eastern Screech Owl before, so that was pretty cool. Even cooler: We ended up chatting with them and spending the next hour or so stopping at various places and looking for eagles and other birds. So, thank you to Riley and Bob for being great local tour guides!
 Sunset at Historic Jamestown
A Cormorant at Jamestown Settlement. I didn't take nearly as many pictures at Jamestown Settlement since all of the indoor exhibits were off limits to photography.