A Little Bit of This and That

Sometimes you just encounter some fun or interesting stuff while out with your camera.

I believe this is a horse-drawn plow.
The White Rock Forge Covered Bridge
Right next door is …
You can’t make this stuff up. I wonder what the origin of the name is. Does the groundhog sleep in on February 2?
Amish schoolhouse
a really cool looking small shed
I loved the shrub in front of this home.

The Animals Are Just Chilling

While the world goes crazy around them, the animals of rural Pennsylvania seem to be doing just fine …

This cow couldn’t care less.
A horse taking Sunday off.
This looks like a great spot to relax.
Laying down on the job.
A little snack in the sunshine.

May Has Had a Split Personality

This month has certainly seen some wild changes in the weather. We recently went from sunny and low eighties to low thirties within a 24 hour period. It is a relief to get outdoors whenever one can. I took some time to go in search of a trumpeter swan on Octoraro Lake. I didn’t see the swan, but the farms around this area are some of my favorite to photograph.

On my travels, I’ve noticed a lot of fallow fields and newly plowed fields in mid-May. This seems late to me for planting. Is it the weather, or something else?

Here is a sampling of the photographs.

There seems to be one picture perfect farm after another.
A peek down an Amish driveway.
A really nice, rustic bank barn. I’m seeing barns of this style all over the place now I know what they are.
Well, hello there.
Here’s a look at the whole barn.
A vert cozy looking farm.
I love the gray grasses in the foreground.
White really seems to be the color of choice for barns around here.
A few more …
for good measure.

The Harbingers of Spring

Some people identify the American robin with the coming of Spring. For me, it’s the late winter passing of hordes of snow geese through Pennsylvania that foretells of Spring right around the corner. In late February, hundreds of thousands of snow geese can be present at the same time at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster and Lebanon Counties. I didn’t make it to Middle Creek this year, opting instead to view geese, along with some other rarer species, that had been reported at Woods Edge Park in Lancaster County.

You may remember Woods Edge Park as they place I went to view the black-bellied whistling duck. This time around, a pink-footed goose, Ross’s goose, cackling goose and Virginia rail had been reported at the pond in the park. These are all species I had never seen before. By the time I arrived the next Saturday, large numbers of snow geese were present. I was able to see the Ross’s goose and the cackling goose, but not the pink-footed or the rail. Still, two “lifers” in one day is pretty good.

There was a steady stream of birders through the park that day. None that I spoke to had success spotting the rare pink-footed goose. I did learn how to identify two other species of goose and something new about the snow goose.

This is a Ross’s goose. Note how it looks like a small snow goose with a shorter bill.
Here’s a cackling goose. This one looks like a smaller Canada goose with shorter neck and bill.
Some snow geese – the “blue morph” snow goose is in front. Behind is an adult white snow goose and a juvenile in the rear. I did not realize the blue morph existed.
Are you talking about me?
Lots ‘o geese.
A partial view of the throng.

A nice, short and sweet day out. This location seems pretty productive for birding despite its small size. I will probably be back again at some point.

A Festival of {Fire} and Ice

I recently discovered the Lititz Fire and Ice Festival, although it is now in its 15th year. This year’s festival was held February 14 and 15. Of course, I had to check it out. It is called the Fire and Ice festival because it features ice sculptures on downtown Lititz, Pennsylvania streets and a live pyrotechnics show. The local high school also hosts a carnival and chili cook off. There is live music as well at two locations and a variety of vendors and food trucks. The festival is mostly free, except for a $1 donation per person for the pyrotechnic show and suggested donation for parking.

There were over 70 ice sculptures this year. Once carved, the ice sculptures are at the mercy of Mother Nature. However, due to the cold weather, they held up very well. The festival is well attended, but the crowds aren’t crazy. Photographing those ice sculptures may be a challenge. Lititz is a lovely town and well worth a visit any time of year if you prefer a less crowded scene. Festival information can be found at http://lititzfireandice.com.

This dog was the most popular festival goer.
This says it all – fun, ice sculptures and chocolate.
A lot of the ice sculptures allowed you get into the action.
Yet another elf.
I really thought this bench made from the tailgate of a Chevy truck was cool.
Who loves Mexican?
Photographing this one was a challenge.
The Visitor’s Center and an historic train caboose.
The entry to Lititz Springs Park with the former Wilbur Chocolate plant in the rear.
This is just adorable.
Nearly York entertains the crowd.

A few more ice sculptures for good measure.

Amereican Flag Heart
I feel like I should recognize this character but don’t.

You will notice a lack of “fire” in this post. Due to the very long line, cold weather, and the fact that I was tired, I did not get to see the pyrotechnic show. Maybe I will next year. Basically, I am a wimp.

In Search of the Black-bellied Whistling Duck

I recently traveled into Lancaster County to check out reports of the presence of the black-bellied whistling duck. This duck species is generally found in the southern United States and rarely comes into Pennsylvania. However, this summer these ducks seem to be making an appearance in the northeast.

The birds were reported as continuing at Woods Edge Park. When I initially arrived, I couldn’t spot them. Thank goodness for the arrival of some more experienced bird watchers with spotting scopes. The birds were soon easily spotted.

Here is a picture of our quarry:

The elusive black=bellied whistling duck, the star of our show.

I also checked out some of the other wildlife. I, of course, missed the photo of the osprey diving for its lunch. There were some heron opportunities.

Great blue heron. I also missed the shot with a fish in its beak.

There were lots of turtles around the pond.

This one is relaxing solo.
Some prefer a Spring break atmosphere for sunbathing.
This one just seems lost. Maybe it is looking for the ducks.

Woods Edge Park is a lovely compact park and makes a great place for a picnic or a spot of bird watching if you’re ever in Lancaster County.

The pond at Woods Edge Park.
The lovely marshy area opposite the pond.

Back to Lancaster County for Something Different

I traveled to Lancaster yesterday to pet superstore That Fish Place/That Pet Place to check out a small vendor and hobbyist swap they were hosting in conjunction with the Aquarium Club of Lancaster. It was a great event. especially if you were in the market for cichlids or plants. Alas, as I was looking for some specific types of community fish, shrimp and snails, I didn’t get anything. The store is well worth checking out, and I bought some supplies – some fish food, nitrifying bacteria supplement for a new tank and test strips. One of the coolest things in the store is this shallow ray tank:

Check out the rays and other fish. Excuse the glare and reflections.

I took route 741 across Lancaster County and saw quite few buggies and horse plow teams out on a sunny Saturday. Hopefully I can get back for some pictures soon. I also stopped at Stuaffers to pick up some catnip plants for my cat, Kona. He wouldn’t be happy if I came back empty handed.

Mascot Roller Mills and Around

Mascot Roller Mills in eastern Lancaster County is well worth a stop if you are in the area.  The site of the well preserved water-powered grain mill welcomes visitors. More information can be found at resslermill.com.  The William J. Morton Bird Sanctuary is adjacent to mill.

Mascot Roller Mills – the original mill on this site dated from the 1730s.


The Ressler family home adjacent to the mill.


The Summer Kitchen next to the Ressler home.


The Groff Store-House across the street from the Mill. Once a local gathering place and store, it now serves as the offices and meeting place for the Ressler Mill Foundation.

Elsewhere in Lancaster County, fall colors are on display …


The horses were enjoying the sunny day.


An Amish farm.

Nearby Lancaster County

Here are some standard pretty, and some quirky, farm shots from eastern Lancaster County.

I loved the blue silos on this farm.

This makes me wonder exactly who, or what, is the “Amish mafia.”

For some reason this roadside sign really caught my attention, although these types of signs are pretty common in the area.

And finally, we have a wide view of a baseball field next to a farm.


Octoraro Lake Area, Lancaster and Chester County

I went to Octoraro Lake in southern Lancaster and Chester Counties hoping to find some elusive bird species, but came back with these photos instead.

There was an interesting view of this silo from the lake.

One of the area’s many picture perfect farms.

Tobacco field, Lancaster County. Not many Pennsylvanians are aware that we grow tobacco here in the state.

I just thought this was a really nice looking barn. I loved the natural wood board look.

Free kittens. I nearly stopped …

This year’s calves getting round the clock monitoring for proper health and growth.