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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.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Countdown To The Empty Nest

After watching these young Eagles for the last couple months we feel that the countdown is drawing near for the empty nest.  Typically it will be three months from hatching until the young Eagles step to the edge of their treetop home and leap into the air to begin their own life in the wilderness.  We have spent countless hours watching these young predators and have witnessed the various stages.  At this stage they definitely show all the characteristics of being an Eagle.  Their talons are yellow and already have sizable claws, perfect for grasping a tasty meal.  Their beaks are pointed and capable of tearing apart the food that the mature Eagles bring them.  A couple weeks ago their wings were wide but the feathers were not fully developed and filled in.  That has changed significantly on our last visit.  At this point they are branching which means they will try out their wings to hop up onto a branch growing within the confines of the nest.  As we watched from a safe distance we witnessed them spreading and flapping their wings as if to do a dry run without actually taking flight.  It's like they already are well aware of what these wings are capable of.  Yes, the time is drawing near!

As we watched them on our recent visit we thought about their life since they poked their heads out of that thin egg shell.  Imagine opening your eyes and realizing the ground is 75 feet below you.  And what if you happen to be an Eagle that doesn't like the taste of fish.  That Eagle would be in a pickle and best acquire a taste for seafood real quick.  Imagine spending the first couple months in a crib with your baby brother or sister and occasionally Mom and Dad.  Imagine sleeping there, eating there and it's also your bathroom.  You will be there as Mother Nature shakes that treetop with strong wind gusts and pelts down heavy rain and hail and perhaps even snow and sleet.  There will be no protection as the valley rumbles with thunder and lightning lights up the sky.  Perhaps this explains how Eagles end up being such a strong and majestic bird of prey.

We made another observation on our last visit.  It seemed apparent that these two young Eagles are beginning to wear on each others nerves.  Chances are this will be the last time we see these Eagles before they take that first flight and fend for themselves.   To witness that event would be awesome but will probably only be witnessed in our imagination for now.

Time to do the wing exercises!

I'm really getting tired of seeing you day in and day out, now get out of my face!

The Right Place At The Right Time

Every wildlife photographer has these visions of the perfect composition with animals in nature.  Unfortunately these visions remain in the mind but all to often never come to fruition.  Our perfect composition always involved a critter standing in water with a lush border of vegetation.  An elk would be good, or maybe a deer or if we really wanted to reach for the stars it would be a Momma and newborn fawn.  Wouldn't it be just awesome if that cute little spotted fawn would be nursing?  Okay, so that was our vision but only bits and pieces ever happened.  Perhaps this would be a dream that would never end up as a digital reality.

This past weekend we spent a couple hours on a mountainside observing and photographing some young Eagles that will soon be leaving the nest.  We also captured many images of the mature eagle that sat high up in a maple tree not far from the nest.  To be quite honest that in itself is a fulfilling day for a wildlife enthusiast.  After a couple hours we packed our gear into the backpack and began the trek back to the Jeep quite happy with how the day had turned out.  We could have sat there for many more hours but there was more critters calling our name and we had another hour and a half to get there.

As we headed to our next destination we decided to take a route that our Garmin Nuvi took issue with.  Trust me when I say that's not all that unusual as we rarely take the normal route.  You would think that girl inside our Nuvi would realize that by now but she just doesn't seem to catch on.  At any rate we zig-zagged our way to our destination ignoring the constant "recalculating" coming out of our Garmin.  It actually seemed like the vocal commands were getting louder and more agitated each time we ignored the "recalculating", but  that could be our imagination.

Somewhere between point A and point B Jeanne spotted something that made her go pretty spastic and she began making sounds that I have never heard before.  As I slammed on the binders she composed herself and told me she spotted something that looked like a doe and fawn standing in the water a ways back from the road.  With gravel flying and a cloud of dust we swerved to the berm, grabbed the gear and headed back to where she spotted these critters.  Sure enough, way back in this feeder stream, stood a doe and young fawn.  We found some cover and began capturing image after image.  For quite some time I snapped away as the young fawn nursed and poked his head around.  As we captured the images that only existed in our dreams we looked at each other knowing this was the day we thought would never happen.  Yes, there are good days in the field and there are great days.  This would be a great day!

 My temptation was to use Photoshop to remove the fly on the right leg but decided that I would use the images exactly as they came out of the 5D with the exception of minimal cropping and the watermark and copyright.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The climax of a long search

Nature has a unique way of carving out fabulous wonders and turning mundane landscapes into eye popping artistry.  One such form of artistry is a natural waterfalls.  There's just nothing like a waterfalls to soothe the soul and make you stand and admire the handy work of Mother Nature.  Some years back we got wind of a waterfalls that was somewhat local in that it was within 45 minutes of our home.  Unfortunately, for several years it's exact location remained a mystery.  We had very sketchy details and on a couple occasions over the years we would search but just never found.

A few weeks back we were set up by a nearby lake watching for Eagles when a fella stopped by to chat.  It so happens that this fella lived in the vicinity of the waterfalls that we had been searching for.  After chatting for awhile I mentioned the waterfalls and as luck would have it he began to fill me in on it's location.  We were so stoked we packed up the tripod and camera and headed out to find our long lost waterfalls.  In less than a half hour we had arrived where the gentleman had directed us to but we still weren't convinced there would be a waterfalls there.  After a short stroll through the trees and down over a near vertical cliff we were face to face with a beautiful falls.  We basically stood there in awe as we basked in the glory of our find.  We couldn't believe that this had escaped us for so long.

Our first visit to the falls was during a bit of a dry spell.  Although there wasn't a tremendous amount of water cascading off the ledges we could envision what it would look like during high water and vowed to return.  The neat thing about this place is that the rock ledges and shelter cave was amazing in itself even with no water but the water would definitely be the icing on the cake. 

This past weekend we had gotten a fair amount of precipitation and decided to check out our falls once again.  After arriving at the location the noise from the cascading water told us that we would not be disappointed.  One look at the falls at we knew we had hit it at a peak flow.  We quickly set up the tripod and snapped the 5D into the Ballhead and seconds later I got that sinking feeling when I realized that the battery was at home and on charge.  No time to cry about it, so we did the quick hour round trip to get the battery and start snapping photos.  Only problem with that plan is that we were now moments away from being hammered with a downpour. 

 As we snapped photo after photo the thunder roared overhead and it's rumble echoed back at us as it ricocheted off the rock cliffs.  The wind was picking up and literally shook the trees that surrounded us but we weren't deterred.  We had already accepted the fact that we may have to seek refuge in the shelter cave that stood to the right of the cascade.   Minutes ticked away as I raced from one position to another to get all the angles and we somehow got our shots and then beat feet for the Jeep.  We were wet but happy!  We will return to this amazing place that we can promise.  The waterfalls is amazing and will change as the water level changes.  The rock cliff is monstrous and extends further than we could see.  To the right of the waterfalls it creates a rock shelter that goes back into the mountain 20-30 feet at least.  It also very easy to walk behind a good section of the falls.  Hope you enjoy the High Dynamic Range pics.

 It may look like it was a sunny pleasant day out but nothing could be further from the truth.

 Jeanne is standing to the right side of the cascade just to give scale to this waterfalls.  We would estimate it being approx. 20 foot high.

Just another angle