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We are known as PaWingers or just The Wingers by our Geocaching friends. When we found our first cache we had to come up with a name to log the find. We came up with this name simply because of residing in Pa. and because one of our many passions is cruising this beautiful country on our Honda Goldwing. Aside from geocaching we are passionate about most anything outdoors including hiking, kayaking, snowmobiling and biking. We are blessed beyond words with a wonderful son and daughter in law. We're also blessed with some terriffic family and friends. We consider ourselves very fortunate due to the fact that after being married over 40 years we still enjoy these things together.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rut Is Going On With Them Elk?

Living just a short distance from Winslow Hill we tend to spend a lot of time up there soaking up the beauty and of course photographing the elk herd.  While we do photograph them all times of the year, our favorite time happens in September when the elk rut goes full swing.  This Blog Post will deal with the 2015 Elk Rut and anything related to that.
Because of the recent changes up on the hill and surrounding areas we went into the 2015 rut with a lot of apprehension.  In the spring of this year I gathered a select group of wildlife photographers and we met with the Pa Game Commission to discuss the subject of certain areas that would most likely become Restricted Areas.  We met with them in the spring at the newly acquired Woodring Farm which was a joint purchase between the PGC and the RMEF.  The plans for that property were not carved in stone at that time but there was discussion of a short hiking trail up to an overlook and possibly building a small building at the bottom for offices or headquarters.  As it turned out they have constructed a viewing platform up at the overlook that is definitely awesome and worth checking out.  Kudos to the PGC for this.  At this meeting we also discussed the new parking lot project that was slated to be completed prior to the start of the rut. 
In regard to the subject of new Restricted Areas up on the hill, emotions ran high but tempers were contained.  We did appreciate the opportunity to discuss this and although we didn't change the world in regard to that subject, my opinion is that those changes didn't really negatively affect us to any great degree.  Again, this is my opinion only!  I believe we still have plenty of non restricted areas where we can photograph and I do believe that something had to be done up there because it was out of control.
Okay, I had mentioned that the other topic discussed was the Parking Lot project at the top of Dewey Road.  I will not go into this at any length because I believe I have already been quite vocal on my feelings regarding this poor design which was very expensive and a complete failure.  I will post a couple pictures to show what chaos this has caused and our fear is that someone is going to get hurt as a result of this botched design.  Part of this plan was to eliminate the parking along Dewey Rd which was unnecessary and such a pity.  This was the one place where older folks or people with disabilities could sit in their cars or by their cars and watch the elk.  We will never understand why this was eliminated.  While they say it was to reduce the chance of habituation of the elk, how does that explain making provisions for busses and how does that justify riding a wagon load of people through the elk herd up at the Visitor Center?  And to add to this stupidity, they provide paved handicapped parking spots but yet gravel paths over to the viewing platform that most handicap people can't navigate.  I just don't get it!!
So enough about this, lets get to the pictures.  I had posted on Facebook that I had some Elk Porn and I was on the fence whether I should post it on FB or not.  It was suggested that I post those pics on my Blog so that is what I'm doing.  If this offends anyone, scroll quickly past them.  Thus far the 2015 rut has been a disappointment with a lot less bulls and very little competition for the cows.  With the number of bull tags issued for this hunting season I suspect next year will be worse.  We also have noticed a downturn in the number of calves this year.  In my eyes, the future of Winslow Hill looks grim.  I hope I'm wrong but I don't think so.  The number of elk are way down up on the hill and the number of visitors are way up.  I will also post pictures of stupid people with zero common sense.
Okay, here's some pics!
 Here is a pic of the chaos that now exists at a place that used to be a nice setup.  Our fear is that someone will get hit by a car because of this poorly designed project.
This picture shows people with little kids walking down through a clearly signed Restricted Area.
How's this for stupid!  I was so afraid that this bull was going to go after this cell phone photographer.  At one point this bull turned and headed toward this guy and I was afraid this was not going to be pretty.
This was the traffic situation at Woodring Farm.
 Here is a picture that I contemplated whether I should post or not.  If you watch the Live Elk Cam, this is the cam.  I will not say where it is but we stumbled onto it by accident because we misinterpreted the Restricted Signs.  We haven't checked to see if the signs have been changed but we still see people showing up on the Live Cam.  We definitely will not go in there again.
Do yourself a favor and walk up to this platform and enjoy the awesome view.
We call this guy Goofy.
 How about we swap a little spit big guy!
 Giddy up cowgirl!
 Okay, I promised Elk Porn, well here you be!  Just so you don't think badly of this big fella, she did consent to this.

I guess I couldn't resist taking a shot at Bruce Jenner.
 Hello sweetheart!
How about a little cuddling first?
 This fella is on a mission and the mission is romance.

What an awesome rack!  I fear he won't make it through the hunting season.
 Okay, everybody up! 
 This big fella was a bit on the ornery side and went right after another bull that was trying to get away with stealing a couple cows.
 Check out the little decoration on his head.
 He's in charge mode!
 I actually think the green brings out my eyes.
 Typically the golden light is a photographers best friend but not always.  I think it was my foe rather than my friend in this photo.
 Just a hint of the golden light helped to illuminate this scene.

 He lets out the mighty bugle but he sure isn't a Limpy!
 Raking a little hay.
 I just couldn't resist posting this photo.

 Some photos need no words!

 As the rut moves forward, broken antlers become a common sight.
This big guy bid us goodnight and I said, see you in the morning.
I know I have mentioned this many times before but it bears repeating.  Several of the pictures appear to have been taken at very close range but that is not the case at all.  I shoot with long lenses that put me quite a distance form the animals.  I do not condone trying to see how close I can get to the Elk or any wildlife that I photograph.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Exploring a New World

After a long hard winter, the snow melts away, a hint of green begins to color the hillsides, tiny flowers pop up from the forest floor and the woodlands are alive with new life.  It's an exciting time for many, but for a wildlife photographer it can present a plethora of opportunities to capture images of young critters beginning their new life.  These opportunities don't come knocking on your door and will require hours upon hours of sitting, waiting and watching.  All the hours invested are more than worth it if you go home with even one keeper shot on your memory card.  While all the tiny critters in nature are cuter than a button, Fox pups are one of our favorites.  The cool thing about photographing Fox pups is that aside from taking their pictures, they are just an absolute riot to watch.  This particular spring we spent countless hours watching a few different dens and were rewarded with lots of keeper photos.  It is so cool to photograph them as they explore their new world.  Hope you enjoy the photos.  We sure enjoyed our time with these little pups and made all the hours more than worthwhile.

Gotta admit, Fox pups are pretty darn cute!!

Marvels of the Marsh

I contemplated naming this newest post in a different way by playing on the letter "M" but decided against it.  It was going to be called "Multitudes of  Marvels in Magee Marsh in Mid May".  The more I thought about it the more it sounded silly and that just wouldn't be my style.  Okay, the truth is I already gave it a title and I was too lazy to redo it.  Alrighty then, let's get this post rolling downhill.
In mid May, my wife and I headed to a place that had somehow escaped our attention thus far.  We loaded up our gear and headed out to a location that is situated smack dab between Port Clinton and Toledo and on the shore of Lake Erie right along Rt 2.   As we approached this area we couldn't help but notice that this has to be a hotbed of activity for all kinds of shorebirds, raptors and ducks.  There appeared to be lakes, ponds and wetlands pretty much everywhere.  While the whole area should provide opportunities for bird and wildlife opportunities, our destinations would be Magee Marsh and the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and the main focus was to photograph the Warbler migration.  We hadn't been long before it became apparent that there were many more photographic opportunities than just the Warblers.  As you read this blog entry you will see this for yourself. 
One thing that we discovered immediately is that we would regret having only two days in this amazing area.  The marsh area was huge and we only explored a small part of it.  Magee Marsh encompasses 2200 acres and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge has 9,000 acres of marsh, open water, and both wooded and coastal wetlands.  We were absolutely in awe and used every minute of light in the short time that we had allotted ourselves.  In fact, we actually used a little too much time on the first night and nearly got trapped behind a locked gate.  That was a tense moment!  We vowed to definitely visit this place again and can't wait.
Okay, at this point we'll get to posting some pictures and stop with the rambling.  If there is anything real noteworthy on the pictures I will comment on them and try to identify what I can but we are very new at this Warbler thing.  If you stick with me to the conclusion of this Blog entry you will read a bit of belly aching on my behalf in regard to a nearby eyesore in this place of beauty and possible accident waiting to happen.  Now onto the Marvels of the Marsh.

I know what you're thinking, these aren't Warblers and you would be right.  These are Great White Egrets and since we typically might be lucky enough to see one per year, we couldn't pass them by without grabbing a few images.  Most of the opportunities were toward sunset so action shots posed quite a challenge.

 I believe this is a Virginia Rail
I thought this was cool.

 Snapping Turtle out for a jog
 These shorebirds are rather common and are called Dunlins.
 There was lots of Poison Ivy

 Painted Turtles sunning on a log
This is a Trumpeter Swan sitting on the nest.  
 Yellow Warbler
 American Redstart
 Black Throated Green Warbler

 American Redstart butt

 Chestnut Sided Warbler

 American Coot.  Check out the crazy lobed feet.

This tiny Yellow Warbler nest was really tucked up into the thick foliage and was difficult to photograph.
 Pied Bill Grebe
This good looking fella is a Moorhen
These Orioles were really skittish

 Red Eyed Vireo.  Amazing red eyes!
How about those eyes!!!
Toward the beginning of this post I mentioned that there was something nearby that was rather disturbing to me.  Well, this is what I was referring to.  This is the Davis Besse Nuclear Power Station.  This nuclear power station came online in 1978 and as much as I hate to say it, it has been plagued with events or reportable incidents.  This is of great concern to me both for the safety of the nearby residents but also the tremendous amount of wildlife that make these wetlands their home.  I'm sure this site was selected because of the sparse population but seeing the nuclear alert sirens for miles around this plant are a harsh reminder of how quickly things could go badly and the harm would be far reaching.  If you want a reality check, do some research on this Nuclear Power Station.  It's very easy to research and see the Incident History including in 2002 when a hole the size of a football was discovered in the reactor head going unnoticed until it reached that size.   This closed the plant for two years and cost the company millions of dollars in fines.  Or what about 2010 when they replaced the reactor head from a mothballed plant.  Yes, that would be a used reactor head.  The facilities original operating license expires in April of 2017 and my research has found that it quite possibly will not be renewed.  So what will happen then!  Research this First Energy Nuclear Power Station yourself and you may see the source of my concern.