"A Sand County Almanac"

"THERE ARE SOME WHO CAN LIVE WITHOUT WILD THINGS AND SOME WHO CANNOT."
"FOR US IN THE MINORITY THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE GEESE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TELEVISION.".....Aldo Leopold

"THE TABLES TURNED"

"COME FORTH INTO THE LIGHT OF THINGS. LET NATURE BE YOUR TEACHER"....William Wordsworth


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Whitetail Deer Of All Age Groups

This is an interesting time to visit the Monocacy National Battlefield.  Leaves are beginning to fall and some of the smaller, younger age class, bucks are showing themselves regularly...



The buck in the next photos is thrashing a shrub in mock combat...



There are even some fawns with spots still visible...



Each year the deer create a licking branch in the same place...


Licking branches are like the bulletin boards of the deer world.  Each animal that passes by leaves scent from saliva or pre-orbital glands that lets the other deer know they were there. 
In the next photo a young spike buck is checking out the scent left by previous deer and leaving his own...


As the season progresses bucks will  make scrapes beneath these branches to advertise their availability to the does that are coming into estrus.

At this time bucks are still hanging out in bachelor groups...


They are beginning to spar with each other to determine the pecking order for mating rights...

 
Sometimes the sparring can be very entertaining...
 
 
Especially when it draws a crowd...

 
Sometimes the spectators join in...
 

But this is only play fighting compared to what will come in the weeks ahead.

Occasionally one of the mature bucks can be glimpsed in the early morning or late evening...
 
 
 
With a lot of patience, perseverance, and luck one might even catch a glimpse of an elusive coyote...
 

Thanks for stopping by, be well, and come again soon.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Elk Rut Is Ending But Poaching Is Not

The intensity of the elk rut is an incredible thing to experience.  The bugling of the bulls, as well as their ritual of making wallows to attract the cows, is not likely to be forgotten by any who experience it.  I took these photos of a bull elk in Pennsylvania last week...

 
In the next two photos the bull is urinating on himself to attract cows that might be ready to breed...



Unfortunately, these beautiful animals are targeted by poachers in order to sell their antlers on EBay as a recent article explains...

https://www.facebook.com/PennsylvaniaGameCommission/photos/a.268877686477464.69072.265766570121909/811733318858562/?type=1&theater 

Thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sarah's Signal Mountain View, Number Seven

This is the most colorful time of year in the Rocky Mountains.  Thankfully, Sarah was able to get out with her camera.  These are some of the photos that she shared with us...












As always, thanks for stopping by and come back soon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Throw Back Thursday and Current Wednesday

There is a fad on social media lately where folks post photos from the past on Thursday called "Throw Back Thursday".  I  have not joined in until recently when I realized that on weeks when finding photo opportunities were limited I could go through my archives and usually come up with something to post.  Last week I shared a wild turkey in flight...



This week has produced an occasional photo opportunity including this Broad-winged Hawk...


Persimmons are important autumn food for a number of wildlife species.  Judging by the fruit on this tree there will be a plentiful supply this year...


 
 
Most wildlife that feed on persimmons wait for the ripe fruit to fall to the ground. Some, including woodchucks, might climb the trees to have first crack at them...
 
 


I found several deer this week, but the large bucks are still staying under cover...




This turkey gobbler crossed the road near the Catoctin Creek Park and Nature Center...


A moth rests on a leaf near Catoctin Creek early one morning...


At the Lilypons Water Garden an egret and a cormorant share a perch...


Thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Why Is It So Hard To See a Bear In a National Park These Days?

Our National Parks have long been among the best places to observe wild bears, both black and grizzly, in the lower 48 states.  Recently things have changed, and not for the better.  Sows with cubs like to hang out near roads in parks for the simple reason that boars do not.  Male bears will kill and eat a cub, both out of hunger and to encourage the sow to come back into estrus so that he might mate with her and produce cubs of  his own...

 

 
Sows and cubs near roads cause problems for park staff, mainly in the form of traffic jams.  During our past visits to several parks the volunteers and rangers would do an admirable job of keeping people a safe distance from the wildlife, while moving traffic along at the same time...


Recent cuts in park funding have reduced the personnel available to deal with bear jams...

 
 
 
The response that park managers have adopted is to haze, or frighten, the bears away from the roads whenever possible.  Sometimes this includes using whistles, air horns and even paint ball guns.  I have heard several first hand reports of paint ball guns being used in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.  I took the following photo of park staff using one on a sow and two cubs in Great Smoky Mountain National Park...



The obvious problem with this approach is that many visitors to our parks want to see the bears and after driving for days, with heightened anticipation, it is extremely disappointing not to find a bear to view or photograph.
Often, when the bears have been conditioned to stay away from the roads the park staff closes the hiking trails where the bears have moved to...



During our recent visits we encountered the closure of trails in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton, just because a bear was SEEN on or near a trail.  Park managers, if you are listening, seeing the bears is exactly the reason we came to the parks in the first place.
Staying safe in bear country is not rocket science.  When a bear is spotted one should stop and determine if the bear is feeding and its direction of travel as our son Kyle is doing in this photo...

 
Bear spray should be in hand, ready to be used if necessary, as my wife Cheryl demonstrates in the following photo...
 
 
Each member of our family carries bear spray when in bear country. In our many visits we have never had to use it to deter a bear or other wildlife.
 
A recent survey of park visitors indicated that most would be willing to pay an additional $41 to have an improved opportunity of seeing a bear in the wild.  Here is a link to the article discussing the survey:  http://www.yellowstonegate.com/2014/07/yellowstone-manages-people-instead-of-grizzlies-during-bear-jams/
 
If things continue on their present course the only chance one might have to photograph bears in our parks is to arrive in advance of the paintball gun toting park staff...
 
 
Thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.
 
 
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