Sharing the Adventure

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Yellow-Throated Warbler

My husband and I ran around Presque Isle today during the sunshine break between rainstorms.  It was warm and awesome on the peninsula.  The loons were still seen on the bay and there are still some red-breasted mergansers and ruddy ducks to entertain people.

We drove back to Fry’s Landing and walked the little trails back where they bird band.  After several minutes the birds started moving around again in the trees and bushes and we spotted the cute golden crowned kinglets.  We saw one yellow-rumped warbler and later spotted a yellow-throated warbler.  I was able to get a few photos.  I’m just loving that the warblers are starting to come through the area in their migration.  Though the yellow-throated warbler is a bit far north of its normal summer territory.


The Loons

Each year about this time we see loons in Presque Isle Bay.  We saw 7 of them (one was in juvenile plumage) last Sunday.  It was pretty cloudy and gloomy so I didn’t get the best video.  I should have brought my still camera with me.  The Red-breasted Mergansers in the background were so much fun to watch.  It is like watching cartoons. This video was taken last Sunday.  I sure hope they are still there tomorrow.


Wilderness-Bowman Lake-Montana

On the edge of true wilderness is Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park. It takes a good long drive up a bumpy, narrow dirt road to get to Bowman. Others hike across the wilderness from other locations and make Bowman their destination. It is beautiful. We happened to be there when no one else but two hikers were around. We saw a car or two back in the parking lot of people probably out on hiking trips. This really was getting away from it all.


Along “Going to the Sun Road”

It was raining, sunny, cloudy and foggy as we drove along the “Going to the Sun Road” in Glacier National Park. We left Many Glacier Hotel on the north east end of the park and was taking Going to the Sun Road down to Lake McDonald which is on the western edge of the park.  Logan Pass, which is so beautiful, was under construction which kind of ruined so many pictures and videos but the scenery was like something out of a movie.  It is as close to Rivendell (Lord of the Rings) as you can get. Waterfalls everywhere, steep mountains, glaciers, valleys, wildlife.  Gorgeous! After finishing “the loop” we came upon this river.  It had unbelievable color, like an emerald.  The clean water has minerals in it that gives it that color.  I couldn’t stop taking videos of it.  We also stopped at the boardwalk trail in an ancient cedar grove. I left my camcorder in the car because I just wanted to look at the trees for once, not through a view finder.  Mistake!  How I wished I had brought my camcorder.  There is a river coming through the huge smooth rocks crashing into emerald pools lined with mossy cedars in filtered light.  I can’t share it with you as it lives in my memory but I do have a video of the clear emerald creek along the road. I embedded the video to play in HD and if it is jerky or stops from a slower connection speed, just pause it and let it load before playing.


Purple Mountains Majesty

We  returned from our 16-day cross-country drive to Montana and Wyoming a couple of weeks ago.  Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton National Park were so awesome that if I had the talent, I’d write my own song about these national treasures. What is really striking about all three of these national parks is the contrast when driving there.  Sagebrush and what appears to be worthless scrub land suddenly turns into majestic mountains, not unlike a jack-in-the-box popping up.

This was our first vacation in years that I didn’t have a laptop along.  Our laptop can’t handle all the graphics of the modern internet and thus gets hot trying to load it all and shuts down.  We didn’t want to put the money out for a new laptop and wondered with the data plan I have on my phone if it was even necessary.  I pretty much used the laptop in the past to transfer my photos off my cameras but the laptop can’t handle all the HD video I take so it was left home. I bought an extra 16G memory card for the camcorder and extra batteries so I wouldn’t have to worry about transferring the photos off until we got home.  Besides, after reading all the literature, there was no internet (so I couldn’t use the laptop for that,) cell phone service or TV where we were going. What if someone needed to get a hold of us because of an emergency?  The lodging in the national parks we stayed at didn’t give telephone numbers for the actual hotels online, just reservation telephone numbers.  I guess they didn’t want to be bothered.  I left a day to day itinerary with family members to know exactly where we would be on any given day, just in case.  I warned them that they wouldn’t being hearing from us for days at a time  because of the lack of cell phone service and internet.

It turns out the information was partially wrong.  There was no TV or WiFi or ethernet internet but there were many places that we did get cell phone service which meant I did have internet through the cell phone.  In Glacier we had great signals at most of the ranger welcome centers we went to.  I took advantage and uploaded photos to Facebook and sent emails, checked the news and weather, called my sons, and felt connected.  In Yellowstone, Mammoth Hotel had cell-phone service as did Old Faithful Inn area.  I started to get service around the Thumb area in Yellowstone.  There was no service at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, though, nor the Canyon Lodge area.  We heard a guy complaining to the Canyon area ranger that there was no cell phone service and he read that they were suppose to have service in the area within 2 years (which was up.)  I guess something went wrong.  I didn’t think we would get ANY service while we were there so I was happy being able to drive a few miles and get cell service when we wanted to.

I did find out that there is some use for transferring your photos to a laptop while on vacation.  Even though I had plenty of memory left on my memory cards when we got home, I transferred them to the computer and realized that a whole lot of the snapshots taken with the camcorder didn’t turn out very well.  I had it set on a scene setting that whited out a lot of the background.  Had I transferred the photos day to day while on vacation, I would have known to change the setting back to automatic.  The thumbnail view you see on the camcorder makes everything look pretty good when it is that small.

I’ll be posting photos and videos in the coming weeks.


Heritage Fest-June 26 10am-4pm

Guys Mills Heritage Fest featuring Erie National Wildlife Refuge Open House – Saturday, June 26, 2010 – 10:00am-4:00pm

Kids love this Heritage Fest! They will love the games, crafts and petting zoo and more. There is plenty of fun for the adults, too.  Last year I really enjoyed the guided bird walk and the Tamarack Rehab birds and the beautiful artwork on display. There will be hot dogs and hamburgers for sale.  Get away from the big city and enjoy this quaint little town of Guys Mills and see the Erie National Wildlife Refuge.  You ‘ll find out why we enjoy going there so much.

For a map and more information on what you will find at the Heritage Fest visit this webpage,  http://www.friendsofenwr.org/Heritage.php


Red-headed Woodpecker Presque Isle Video

If you want to see a Red-headed Woodpecker walk the Ridge Trail at Presque Isle State Park. We spotted this one not far from where Marsh Trail and Ridge Trail Cross. You can park across from the lighthouse and take Sidewalk Trail until you come to Marsh Trail, turn right, cross through the marsh (on the trail of course) and as the trail starts to go uphill, turn left onto Ridge Trail. It’s an easy walk and not very far. Keep your eyes open. We saw lots of different kinds of warblers in the thickets on the sides of the marshes on both sides of Ridge Trail. I’ll talk about them in a future post. Below is the video I took of the pretty Red-headed Woodpecker. You may have to pause the video and let it load. I just posted a smaller, lesser quality video below the HD video (if you click on the 720HD option on the player) for those with slower connections, see bottom video.


The Swan is Dead

We went back today and found the swan was dead about 50 or so feet south of the Thompson Bay Circle on Presque Isle.  It was laying in the snow.  It doesn’t look like the park did anything to help it.  Maybe they just let nature take its course.  There was no blood on the bird when we saw it yesterday or today when it was laying dead.  Maybe disease, starvation or age was the reason for its death.  I’m not sure if this was one of the pair that we saw often at Presque Isle.  If it is, we’ll really miss it.


Video of Bald Eagle on Presque Isle

Saturday we spotted the Bald Eagle that has been hanging around Presque Isle.  I was lucky enough to have him land within zoom shot of my camcorder.  It stayed on the tree for about 10 minutes and then flew.  We followed it in the car and pulled into the access area of Gull Point and watched him hunt over the frozen lake.  The eagle landed quite a ways out onto the frozen lake.  We think it found either an injured bird or fish as it stayed down on the ice quite a while.  It later flew out further and landed on a big berg before heading east and out of view.  It sure made our day.




The Twelfth Biennial Nature Photo Contest

The Twelfth Biennial Nature Photo Contest!! Sponsored by the Friends of Erie National Wildlife Refuge, Inc. and the Presque Isle Audubon Society.

Get all the rules and information at this link:
http://www.fws.gov/northeast/erie/PDF%27s/biennial%20photo%20contest%20flyer.pdf


Poster Contest Winners (Video)

Sunday we headed down to the refuge for the 50th anniversary of the Erie National Wildlife Refuge poster contest awards ceremony. I was amazed at all the artwork the kids created. It just made you smile to see all the little critters included in the artwork.

Video (Short Version) Below

Video (Long Version) Below


Click here to see the winners on the Erie National Wildlife Refuge webpage.


A Peaceful Drive through the Refuge (pic)

We had a board meeting last evening and my husband and I left early so we could see what wildlife we could spot around the refuge. It hadn’t snowed up here in Erie during the day and we were surprised when we hit snow when we got down to Cambridge Springs. It turned into a beautiful drive from then on with a veil of light, fluffy-kind of snow falling gently to the ground. There were lots of tracks in the snow but not many animals out in the very cold temperatures. We saw several hawks on the drive down to Guys Mills and one large hawk hidden in a large tree near the Deer Run Overlook. As we drove through a wooded area I asked my husband to stop so I could get a photo. The way the light was hitting the tops of the trees and the beautiful snow on the branches, it would make a pretty picture. It was so quiet and peaceful.
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Great Backyard Bird Count-Guys Mills

Though I didn’t get down to count the birds on the refuge for the GBBC, I want to thank a “Friends” board member in the area, Janet Marvin, who gave me her specie list from the count. It included: Red-winged Blackbird, Northern Cardinal, Dark-eyed Junco, American Tree Sparrow, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, House Finch, American Goldfinch. She also saw an American Bald Eagle the day before the count and a White-breasted Nuthatch the day after the count.

The count of species and checklists for the Guys Mills area can be found at this link: Guys Mills Count
Note: There could be more counts being submitted as counters have until March 1 to enter their counts for that 4-day period from the Presidents Day weekend.

I turned my count in for my visit to Presque Isle and another for my backyard in the city of Erie. I filled out the survey after filling in my counts online at the GBBC and received the 30-day free trial of Birds of North America Online as a thank you. I’ve been exploring the photos, videos and information on that website and it is full of great information. I may just subscribe to it when the trial period is over.

Now if spring would just come early this year.


Pileated Woodpecker

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Note: Unfortunately, I didn’t get down to the refuge for the Great Backyard Bird Count because of car trouble.
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I received a photo of a Pileated Woodpecker from Richard and Dianne Eakin taken at the Erie National Wildlife Refuge. Pileated Woodpeckers have to be one of my favorites. Thank you for sending it in. I’ll give some facts about the specie under the photo.

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  • Pileated Woodpeckers are almost as large as a crow, about 15 inches. It has a black body, a red crest, white stripes on its neck and black and white stripes on its face.
  • Males and females are similar, but males have a red forehead, and females have a gray to yellowish brown forehead. The male has a red slash in the black mustache on the sides of the head. This one appears to be a female.
  • They have yellow stiff feathers over their nostrils to keep the wood chips out.
  • They live in coniferous and deciduous forests.
  • They make rectangular holes in trees to find ants and beetles that they gather with their long, sticky tongue. They eat insects, fruits and nuts and also are found on suet feeders.
  • They make their nest in tree cavities, lay about 4 eggs and both parents incubate the eggs, the female during the day and the male at night.
  • Pileated can be pronounced 2 ways, with a short i or a long i sound.
  • The pileated woodpecker “drums” on hollow trees with its bill to claim territory.
  • A Pileated Woodpecker pair stays together on its territory all year round. They will tolerate floaters in the winter but otherwise defends its territory.
  • To hear its call and the drumming sound it makes on the tree please, click here.

Come for a visit to the refuge and see if you can spot the Pileated Woodpeckers.

Information on the Pileated gathered from Cornell’s All About Birds and from NatureWorks.


Participate-Annual Great Backyard Bird Count

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I’m so looking forward to digging out the binoculars, spotting scope and dusting off the guide books. Not this weekend but next, Presidents Day weekend, February 13 – 16 is the Great Backyard Bird Count. It’s easy to participate. Join the people from across North America watching their backyards and reporting their bird sightings to the GBBC.

All the information you need to participate can be found here. You can print out the February check list of the birds species likely to be found in your area here. Just fill in your zipcode. There is also a photo contest with prizes.

My husband and I are planning to spend at least one day down at the refuge during the weekend count, weather permitting. We’ll also be at Presque Isle State Park, Pymatuning State Park, and possibly Oil Creek State Park as well as my backyard. I’ll post my photos of the birds we find. Aren’t we lucky to have so many great birding areas in western Pennsylvania?! We spotted a Northern Shrike at the refuge a couple of weeks ago. I’d love to spot him again for the count….and he isn’t even on the list below.

Since this blog is about the Erie National Wildlife Refuge, I’ll give you the list (below) of birds that could be spotted there in February. List from www.birdsource.org You can call the Erie National Wildlife Refuge (814-789-3585) for more information.

Waterfowl
______ Snow Goose
______ Canada Goose
______ Mute Swan
______ Tundra Swan
______ Wood Duck
______ Gadwall
______ American Wigeon
______ American Black Duck
______ Mallard
______ Northern Shoveler
______ Northern Pintail
______ Green-winged Teal
______ Canvasback
______ Redhead
______ Ring-necked Duck
______ Greater Scaup
______ Lesser Scaup
______ Bufflehead
______ Common Goldeneye
______ Common Merganser
______ Red-breasted Merganser
______ Ruddy Duck

Grouse, Quail, and Allies
______ Ring-necked Pheasant
______ Ruffed Grouse
______ Wild Turkey

Loons and Grebes
______ Pied-billed Grebe
______ Horned Grebe

Pelicans, Cormorants, and Allies
______ Double-crested Cormorant

Herons, Ibis, and Storks
______ Great Blue Heron

Vultures, Diurnal Raptors, and Falcons
______ Turkey Vulture
______ Bald Eagle
______ Northern Harrier
______ Sharp-shinned Hawk
______ Cooper’s Hawk
______ Northern Goshawk
______ Red-tailed Hawk
______ Rough-legged Hawk
______ Golden Eagle
______ American Kestrel
______ Merlin

Rails, Cranes, and Allies
______ American Coot

Shorebirds
______ Killdeer
______ American Woodcock

Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers
______ Bonaparte’s Gull
______ Ring-billed Gull
______ Herring Gull

Pigeons and Doves
______ Rock Pigeon
______ Mourning Dove

Owls
______ Barn Owl
______ Eastern Screech-Owl
______ Great Horned Owl
______ Barred Owl
______ Long-eared Owl
______ Short-eared Owl
______ Northern Saw-whet Owl

Kingfishers and Allies
______ Belted Kingfisher

Woodpeckers
______ Red-headed Woodpecker
______ Red-bellied Woodpecker
______ Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
______ Downy Woodpecker
______ Hairy Woodpecker
______ Northern Flicker
______ Pileated Woodpecker

Jays, Magpies, Crows, and Ravens

______ Blue Jay
______ American Crow

Larks
______ Horned Lark

Chickadees and Titmice
______ Black-capped Chickadee
______ Tufted Titmouse

Nuthatches and Creepers
______ Red-breasted Nuthatch
______ White-breasted Nuthatch
______ Brown Creeper

Wrens
______ Carolina Wren
______ Winter Wren

Kinglets, Old World Warblers, and Gnatcatchers
______ Golden-crowned Kinglet

Thrushes
______ Hermit Thrush
______ American Robin

Catbirds, Mockingbirds, and Thrashers
______ Northern Mockingbird

Starlings and Mynas
______ European Starling

Wagtails and Pipits
______ American Pipit

Waxwings and Silky-flycatchers
______ Cedar Waxwing

Wood-Warblers
______ Yellow-rumped Warbler

Sparrows and other Emberizids
______ American Tree Sparrow
______ Song Sparrow
______ Swamp Sparrow
______ White-throated Sparrow
______ White-crowned Sparrow
______ Dark-eyed Junco
______ Snow Bunting

Cardinals, Grosbeaks, and Allies
______ Northern Cardinal

Blackbirds
______ Red-winged Blackbird
______ Eastern Meadowlark
______ Rusty Blackbird
______ Common Grackle
______ Brown-headed Cowbird

Finches, Euphonias, and Allies
______ Purple Finch
______ House Finch
______ Pine Siskin
______ American Goldfinch

Old World Sparrows
______ House Sparrow


An Old Springhouse at ENWR

Springhouses were quite common in rural areas before the use of electricity. They would build a small structure over a spring that would provide a constant supply of cool water (36 to 40 degrees) almost all year ’round. The spring water would feed into a trough and a pipe would direct the water flow back into the stream. They would store their food and milk cans in the constant flow running through the waterproof trough.

We are lucky enough to have such a old springhouse on the Erie National Wildlife Refuge. It was made of local sandstone. I took some photos last Sunday of this interesting springhouse. The trough is overflowing onto the floor of the springhouse. I think it is because the pipe leading the water out is iced up with the cold winter weather. Below are some photos I took of the springhouse.

lower-side-of-spring-house
Photo taken of the low end of the springhouse where the water flowed out of the pipe and down the hill and fed into a stream.

upper-side-of-spring-house
A photo of the upper side and entrance to the springhouse.

sandstone-blocks-of-the-spring-house
A closeup of the sandstone blocks used to make the springhouse.

inside-spring-house
A photo inside the springhouse.

overflow-spring-house
Something is partially blocking the pipe that lets the water out of the springhouse and is causing the water to overflow the trough.

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A Winter’s Look at ENWR (photos)

You learn to appreciate the changes the weather gives us if you get out and take a look around. Sunday at the Erie National Wildlife Refuge (ENWR) the landscape had a very quiet beauty to it. If you like solitude and a place to get away from it all and see nature as it changes through the seasons, take a drive to the ENWR. Click on the About page to see the location of the refuge. I welcome any recent photos of birds, animals or landscapes taken in the ENWR and will post them here if you email them to me. I want to create pages by month and post the bird and animal sitings by me and others at the ENWR. Please email me at: afenwr@gmail.com

There is quite a contrast in the photos below compared to the lush greens of this blog’s header photo. Before you know it the area will be teaming with thousands of migrating birds and other animals.
sign

red-roof

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The viewing area. There are 2 spotting scopes available at this location. Eagles are often seen here.

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view-2

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tree-sparrow

bench
That bench is so pleasant to sit on under those huge shade trees in the summer.

northern-shrike
A Northern Shrike was spotted in the refuge on Sunday.


Welcome!

My site is currently under construction but will soon be filled with photographs, video and audio of the wildlife found in the Erie National Wildlife Refuge. Please check back soon. In the meantime check out the “About” page.