A Better Day for Photography than Birds

A trip to the Octoraro Lake area for some birding did not produce what I had hoped for on the bird front. I saw some ducks and great blue herons and managed to take some of the worst bird photos I have ever attempted. I did better with photos of the surrounding countryside.

One of the spectacular farms of the area.
I usually avoid shooting abandoned buildings, but this is part of a working farm.
Enjoying lunch on a sunny day …
This was the fastest moving Amish buggy I have ever encountered.
While this one was trying to avoid traffic on my way home.

Finally, a shot from northwestern Chester Country, because I like it and don’t have another post to put it in.

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 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 Bridges of Chester County, Part I

This post is just the beginning of the promised photos of covered bridges. I set out on a mission to view and, in most cases, photograph my local covered bridges. For those of you interested in finding these bridges for yourself, I recommend this site. A view of the Knox (Valley Forge) covered bridge can be found in my earlier post.

Covered bridges were sometimes called “kissing bridges” because they provided some privacy for travellers to sneak a kiss. While at the Mercer’s Mill Covered Bridge, I met a guy who used to bring his girlfriend there from Delaware in the 1980s. So it seems the tradition of young lovers being drawn to covered bridges extended well into the twentieth century.

The Mercer’s Mills covered bridge.
Horses hanging out at a nearby farm.

The Bartram covered bridge straddles the border with Delaware County on Crum Creek. It would make one end, at least, Delaware County’s only covered bridge.

The Bartram Covered bridge.

The Gibson covered bridge sits along side a busy road. Traffic through the bridge is only one way. The eastern side has a parking area for access to local hiking in the Brandywine Meadows Preserve.

The Gibson Covered Bridge.
The Larkin Covered Bridge – sadly out of use, but it has a walking path nearby.

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.

Pennsylvania’s Fruit Basket

Western Adams County, along the slopes of South Mountain, hosts a large number of orchards. I was on my way to Gettysburg from Pine Grove Furnace and happened on this area by chance. It was a nice surprise.

A look down a row of new trees.
A mature orchard,
I loved this farm peeking out from behind the pond.

I had to visit the Historic Round Barn and Farm Market in Biglerville, PA. The family-owned market has fresh fruits and vegetables, jams, jellies, honey, canned fruits and vegetables, snacks, candy, and gift items. It is well worth a visit if you are near Gettysburg.

A very interesting building and well-maintained.
A signature painted horse out front.
Some adorable residents.

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.

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.