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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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mystic Meadows

You haven't truly experienced the elk rut until you have witnessed the sights and sounds erupting all around you and you have no place to run and no place to hide.  It literally involves and encompasses all your emotions and all your senses.  You can see it unfold before your eyes, you hear the sounds as the challenges are wagered and met, you smell the wild all around you and there is nothing that compares to it.  As it unfolds you feel the hair stand up on the back of your neck and the goosebumps are not from the brisk morning but more so from the scene before your very eyes.  This particular morning I shared the experience with two photographer friends Dave Anderson and Glenn from the Pittsburgh area. 

We had set up on the fringe of a backwoods meadow which was shrouded by an early morning fog.  When we began setting up the meadow was nearly silent and the heavy fog was causing us to second guess our wisdom as to staging here.  I had been following the habits of these critters during the 2011 rut and felt confident with our location.  Before long the meadow literally began to erupt with activity.  The fog had lifted slightly and would certainly hamper any hopes of tack sharp images but it did create some mystic mood that can either be loved or hated.  In my case, it depends which day I look at the pictures. These images pop up on my screen saver now and then and while some days they make me cringe there are other times that I really kinda' like them.  It was one of these days that caused me to make this Blog entry.

One of these images show the ultimate fighter Ear Hook.  This particular morning there was a small framed bull infringing on his harem.  Ear Hook didn't like this and one short charge proved his dominance and the challenger took flight.  Ear Hook had  proved his strength on many occasions during the rut and had a collection of ladies to show for it.  Although there was no real battle in the meadow this day, we could hear the fierce bugling literally all around us.  It's difficult to explain what we witnessed in this foggy meadow on that early morning.  The mist made the scenes surreal and life almost seemed to be moving in slow motion.  It was a morning with friends I won't soon forget.  And to make it even better, we weren't charged, gored or trampled.  Ahhh yes, a good day indeed!

Two cows chatting while another samples the nearby treats.

And this is my first sighting of Dave and Glenn in the pea soup.  They were there the whole time but the fog was so heavy I couldn't see them.

Once again, allow me to introduce Ear Hook.  He's now grazing in the big meadow in the sky or wherever critters go when their spirit ceases to exist.

 photo courtesy of David Anderson
Dave took this picture of me in a rather precarious position.  Sometimes you find yourself in a bad position when the fog lifts.  This morning Ear Hook decided to be kind and slowly walk away.  GULP!!!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Blue Winged Teal

On a recent trip to Presque Isle we had planned on spending some time at an inland pond hoping to get a look at a couple of  huge beavers that seem to reside there.  We had also previously watched a muskrat swimming the length of the pool in light that was dimming quickly.  Today as we sat silently on the banks of this pond our attention was drawn towards a shallow cove just opposite to where we were positioned.  As we watched through the binoculars we were delighted to see a male and female duck with colors and markings that indicated they might be Blue Winged Teal.  We spent some time jockeying for a better position and hoping the Teals would offer us a better look.  Our patience paid off as we finally got into a location where we could get some decent images and also confirm that we were looking at a male and female Blue Winged Teal.  They are beautiful ducks and definitely display the teal color nicely when they are in flight. 

There are 4 major migrating flyways in North America.  These are the flyways that migrating waterfowl and shorebirds use year after year for their trip south in the fall and north in the spring.  Presque Isle is positioned precisely on the Atlantic Flyway so it's a tremendous place to photograph waterfowl and shorebirds.

The Punk Rocker Quacker

Take one look at these Red Breasted Mergansers and you'll understand why we call them punk rockers.  The hair on the back of their heads is just plain wild.  While it's true that both the male and the female sport this wild look I think the male is definitely the best looking of the two.  Other than their crazy hairdo these Red Breasted Merganser are claimed to be the fastest in level flight and reach speeds of 100 mph.  How's that for a fast quacker!

Note how the water just beads up on their feathers.