The Season Begins

The onset of Spring turns my mind to birds. This is usually the best time of year to look for birds due to the opportunity to see migrating rarities in bright breeding dress. I frequently stop by Marsh Creek State Park when in the area. This is a good spot for bird watching, but I don’t seem to have much luck here. It probably doesn’t help that I am not a morning person and am, therefore, often looking for birds after 11 am. I did see some distant Common Mergansers on the lake, but had to settle for non-bird photos.

Land cruisin’
No entry
I always think I am going to find something here but never do ….

I also stopped by Struble Lake that day. This was more promising this time around. I saw a Savannah Sparrow and a lot of Snow Geese. There was still a fair amount of ice on the lake in early March.

Snow geese and friends

Horned Larks and Goodbye to Winter

Disclaimer: There are no pictures of horned larks in this post

The grapevine (okay, Ebird) continued to carry news of horned larks, Lapland longspurs, and snow buntings in farmers’ fields in northwestern Chester County near Honeybrook. As mentioned in my previous post, I had visited this area over the Winter in connection with a trip to try to find a snowy owl that had briefly been seen nearby. On the first try, I had no luck. This time around I spotted horned larks in small flocks, which is a new species for my life list. This is a very picturesque area with lovely farms that merited more photos.

This young farmer was fertilizing his fields for Spring.

Here’s a better look.

Cattle feeding and soaking up the sun.

Two Amish schoolhouses are close to each other in this area.

Some looks at the farms and fields.

The plastic tubes are there to protect the young trees as they grow along this riparian boundary. The tubes will biodegrade over time.

Pennsylvania “standing stones.”

A Drive Through Clinton County

Here are some shots from southern Clinton County. Most were taken on my drive from the Lock Haven area to Logan Mills this past fall.

One of the more creative uses of hay bales that I’ve seen.
Horses enjoying the fall air.
There were some lovely trees along the way ….
This must have been a lovely home at one time.

This next stop, made before my drive south, was bittersweet. I visited the Woolrich factory store at its original location several times when I was younger. This store is just not the same, although I am glad to see there is still a presence in the town of Woolrich. The business was bought out my an Italian company which had been a minority investor. They still manufacure items under the Woolrich brand, but it is now made in Italy since local maufacturing has been shut down. The new stuff is very nice but is expensive, as the present owners are trying to position Woolrich as a luxury brand. Woolrich made good quality products at fair prices, but a luxury brand it was not. The new direction doesn’t seem to be in keeping with the heritage of the brand. While I was at the store, I managed to buy one of the last made in the USA pieces.

The Wertz Covered Bridge

The Wertz Covered Bridge, also known as the Red Covered Bridge (but aren’t most of them), is a historic wooden covered bridge located at Bern Township and Spring Township in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

The bridge is a 204-foot-long, Burr Truss bridge, constructed in 1867. It crosses the Tulpehocken Creek. It serves as the walkway entrance to the Berks County Heritage Center, which also includes the Gruber Wagon Works. It is one of only five covered bridges remaining in Berks County. It is the largest single-span covered bridge in Pennsylvania.

The bridge was restored in 1959 and later in 1984, however, when the Warren Street Bypass opened, the bridge was closed permanently in October, 1959. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 17, 1978.

The bridge is part of the Berks County Heritage Center, an historical interpretive complex commemorating important eras of Berks County cultural history. The Gruber Wagon Works (a National Historic Landmark) the C. Howard Hiester Canal Center, Wertz’s Covered Bridge, Melcher’s Grist Mill, Deppen Cemetery, Bicentennial Eagle Memorial, the Distlefink statue and a salad and herb garden are all encompassed within the Heritage Center.

The view from Tulpehocken Road.
Inside Pennsylvania’s longest single span covered bridge.
The Bat Colony of the bridge. I love bats. They eat insects and are so cute.
A look around the Berks County Heritage Center…
A look up at the bridge.
The view from the other end.
Tulpehocken Creek

A Little Diversion

On my way home from Swatara and Memorial Lake State Parks, I decided to swing through Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area. Middle Creek is not a place I visit much in Autumn, but it is well worth a stop. Middle Creek is administered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission for game propogation and wildlife conservation, but it feels park-like. With opportunities for hiking, picnicing, boating and fantastic birding and wildlife watching, it makes for a great day out.

The view from the Visitor’s Center.
Relaxing by the lake.
The nearby area has some lovely farms.
These horses are enjoying a fine Autumn day.

The Wilder Side of the Holidays

I took advantaage of the fact that the Elmwood Park’s Zoos had its Wild Lights attraction open this holiday season with timed tickets that limited visitor numbers. I think most of this post is self-explanatory, so just enjoy the festive lights and holiday cheer. The Elmwood Park Zoo is located in Norristown, Montgomery County. The pictures are pretty much in the same order as if you followed the pathway through the exhibit.

This Eastern Screech Owl was popular for selfies with the kids.
One of the zoo’s jaguars, checking out the tourists. Excuse the glass reflections here.
Another owl in a desert exhibit in the jaguar house – it looks like a burrowing owl to me.

Back to Berks

I was in the vicinity of Fleetwood and Lyons in Berks County one Saturday and came across these scenes:

Grain silos near Lyons, PA.
A farm raising up some calves.
A peek through the trees at this lovely barn.
I love the stone barn here.
That actually looks delicious … for grass.
I took this photo because I liked the rooster weather vane.
Another lovely Berks County farm.

Sherman’s Valley: A Hidden Gem

Nestled between the mountain ridges in Perry County is Sherman’s Valley. The valley is traversed by Route 274, with its heart in Blain, PA. I came here in search of a couple of covered bridges on Sherman Creek. The narrow valley feels remote due to its situation between two ridge lines. However, it is not to far from Carlisle and Harrisburg.

It was, unfortunately, quite a gloomy morning when I was there. Here is a sampling of what I saw (and, or course, those covered bridges):

Farm house across the road – like my grandparent’s former farm.
The Mount Pleasant Covered Bridge.
Sherman Creek
The New Germantown Covered Bridge
I see these stars all over the place on homes and barns. This one has a twist with the flag motif.
Great red color on this barn.
Nestled against the backdrop of mountains.
I love how this house has been built around a log structure.
Another great red barn.

The Lovely Cumberland Valley

Nestled between South Mountain and the Blue Mountain ridge line lies the Cumberland Valley, an area known for fertile farms, world famous fly fishing, and an annual classic car show. I explored the farm country in the northern part of the valley.

The farms are nestled into the backdrop of South Mountain.
Love the goats in the small pasture.
Best cow shot of the day.

The Valley is not all about farms, however …

The Williams Grove Speedway.
I don’t know what this house used to be, but it looked like a great renovation job.
The ducks and geese at LeTort Spring Run Park in downtown Carlisle.
A Mallard couple out for a walk.