Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our Native Purple Finch

Purple Finch (c) 2011 High Virginia Images
We have two finch species in our region; they are often confused with each other. The Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus) is our native species. It is not as common as the widespread introduced House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) which is native to the western US. The House Finch was introduced in New York in the 1950's and expanded its range throughout the eastern US and southern Canada. The Purple Finch has a heavy, triangular shaped bill. the House Finch has a short, stubby bill. Purple Finches are a much more pleasing bird to look at. The female always reminds me of a miniature female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Purple Finch (c) 2011 High Virginia Images

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tiny Visitors

Red-breasted Nuthatch (c) 2012 High Virginia Images
Many of those throughout the state have been visited by a Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) this year. They have been moving southward since early fall. This small nuthatch is a bird of the highest elevations of the east, the Rocky Mountain region, northern US and southern Canada. It is much smaller than the common White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis), which is found pretty much nation-wide.
The Red-breasted Nuthatch can be found as far south as the Gulf Coast during the winter season. It can be seen in a location near you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Beagle Evil Eye

Joey (c) 2012 High Virginia Images
Some of you will not find this hard to believe, some will. Joey likes horses and Waylon, his buddy Ralphie likes cows and Willie. we were riding down the road yesterday and there were 2 horses and a cow feeding on a big round bale of hay. they were about a hundred yards away and I told Joey that there were some horses over there. By the time he found them, I had driven far enough that only the cow was visible. He stared at the cow and turned around and glared at me. A stupid people don't know cows from horses; glare.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Eagle Watch

Bald Eagle (c) 2009 High Virginia Images

Raptor Appreciation – Eighth Annual Eagle Watch Planned for January 12, 2013

PIPESTEM, W.Va. – The annual January eagle survey of the Pipestem area is scheduled for January 12. Jim Phillips, Pipestem State Park naturalist, is coordinating the various survey sites and assignments and inviting anyone interested to be part of this winter four-hour foray.
Phillips schedules novice birders with more experienced volunteers to scan the skies and record eagle sightings over a four-hour period. Various survey sites include South Overlook of Bluestone Dam, Bull Falls, Bluestone State Park, Mouth of the Bluestone River, Rt. 20, Bellepoint Park in Hinton, Bertha campground (Bluestone WMA), Greenbrier River, Sandstone Falls and other areas.
“Depending upon how many folks sign up to help, we have from six to 12 survey points established,” said Phillips. In January 2012, 38 people participated and confirmed sightings of 19 bald eagles and an adult golden eagle. In January 2012, with temperatures in the low 20s, 10 individuals reported sighting six bald eagles and two golden eagles. “Our population is growing in southern West Virginia,” Phillips said.
To be part of the eagle survey, contact Jim Phillips at 304-466-1800 ext. 344 or email with phone contact information and names wanting to volunteer prior to January 7. Include “Eagle Survey” in the subject line. Phillips contacts participants in advance to determine the best location, to create teams and to forward the forms to record sightings. The survey begins at 10 a.m. and continues until 2 p.m. All participants will meet at the Hinton Dairy Queen at 3 p.m. with collected data.
“In recent weeks we have had sightings of adult bald eagles at Bacon Falls on the Greenbrier River and between Forest Hill and Greenville along Indian Creek,” said Phillips. On “The Big Sit” survey in October, Phillips indicates a pair of adult bald eagles was seen at Mt. Valley Lake near Jumping Branch and one adult was there during a November field trip. In spring of 2012, Phillips witnessed two bald eagle fledglings.
Phillips schedules eagle watches as part of his interpretative programs at Pipestem State Park. Activities organized by Pipestem Resort are regularly posted at

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Little Angels

I was sitting in traffic today, headed west out of Harman on Rt 33. Soon after we got moving again, I saw a dust cloud arrise from the road ahead. An unexpected tree had fallen into the road; luckily it was between traffic strings and didn't hit anything. I knew we were in for another delay and I was getting caught up on paperwork, as I was sitting there. I noticed Ralphie staring to my left, I assumed he was just trying to learn to read. Soon after, Joey started staring that way, too.
   I looked up and there were 2 guys in one of the tree service trucks from Macon, GA. They were staring down and grinning. The driver said something and I rolled down the window. He said that those 2 beagles look like Little Mafia Hit Men; waiting for something to happen. I guess I have the only gaurd beagles in the country. Just look at these little angels.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Three More Days

Buck and Antlerless Gun Seasons Open November 19, 2012 Additional Buck Stamp (Class RG & RRG) Must be Purchased Prior to Buck Season

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s traditional antlered (buck) gun season begins on Monday, November 19, according to Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the Wildlife Resources Section of the Division of Natural Resources (DNR). West Virginia’s buck gun season provides a wealth of recreational opportunities for resident and nonresident hunters and has a tremendous economic impact on the state’s economy.
“Hunters should enjoy a great deer season in 2012,” said Taylor. “Because our traditional November firearms deer season opens the Monday before Thanksgiving every year, the season opening can be as early November 19 and as late as November 25. This year is one of the early opening years, which is closer to the peak deer rut. This date gives hunters an advantage because bucks are more vulnerable to being harvested closer to the rut.”
“Hunters can harvest an additional buck with the purchase of the appropriate stamp,” added Taylor. Resident hunters wanting the extra buck should purchase the Class RG stamp. The RG stamp must be purchased prior to the beginning of the season, and the cost is $21. The RG stamp must be accompanied by a Class A and CS, A-L, AB-L, X, XS, XJ or free license.
Resident landowners have the privilege of harvesting an extra buck without purchasing the RG stamp if they are hunting on their own property. Nonresident hunters wanting an extra buck must purchase a RRG stamp prior to the beginning of the season, and the cost is $43. The RRG stamp must be accompanied by the Class E or XXJ license. Nonresident hunters who own land in West Virginia are not exempt from purchasing a license or the extra buck stamp, even if hunting on their own property.
Hunters are also reminded that there have been 10 counties or portions thereof (see 2012–2013 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary) designated this year where buck firearm hunters are required to take an antlerless deer with a firearm prior to harvesting a second antlered deer during the buck firearms season (with Class N permit for residents or Class NN permit for nonresidents).
In addition, as in past deer seasons, many counties are open to concurrent antlerless deer hunting during the traditional buck gun season. Antlerless deer firearm season opens November 19 on private land and selected public lands. Hunters should consult the 2012–2013 Hunting and Trapping Regulations and Summary available at license agents and for specific antlerless deer regulations in each county and wildlife management area.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Good Morning

Oyster Mushrooms (c) 2012 High Virginia Images
I went out on this fine warm morning in search of gobblers and a few new locations to deer hunt. My deer season looks like plans E, F and G will be put into use; due to the storm. I saw a real nice buck chasing a doe, shortly after it was light enough to see. Two other bucks passed by within the next twenty minutes. I'm feeling a little better about next week, now.

I walked a mile or so through one of the few oak and beech woods left in this area. I had seen two bunches of gobblers in the area two weeks ago. I topped one ridge and heard some scratching. I eased up where I could see. It was a flock of about fifteen hens and young; nothing I was interested in. The wind had picked up and was blowing hard out of the south, by then I headed for the truck.

I noticed one Oyster Mushroom on a stump and searched around a little more. I found enough to eat for a couple of days. Overall, it was a pretty productive two hours. Things are looking up.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saw-whet Owls at Tygart Lake State Park

Storm delivers unusual visitors to Tygart Lake area: gulls, ducks; re-directs saw-whet owls

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Bonapart gulls have been sighted at Tygart Lake State Park. “The possibility of a little gull was also reported,” said Joey Herron. Herron is a master licensed bird bander and conducts banding of migrating saw-whet owls at Valley Falls State Park.
Tropical storm Sandy created a big fallout of ducks and gulls in the area. “In addition to sighting gulls at Tygart Lake, over 5,000 ducks and gulls of various species have been recorded at Cheat Lake,” Herron said. The storm may have side-tracked the migration of saw-whet owls that typically pass thru the Tygart Valley area annually from late October into early November.
The owl banding occurs at Valley Falls State Park near Fairmont, with two remaining dates open to the public on Nov. 9-10. “A Wheeling resident attended the most recent session and got to see her first saw-whet at 11 p.m.,” Herron said. Herron has conducted banding eight years now and banded his 200th northern saw-whet owl the week of Oct. 29. Individuals interested in observing and learning about saw-whet owls migration are invited to enjoy this activity with Herron. Those planning to attend should dress warmly, wear appropriate footwear, bring a flashlight, a camera, a thermos of coffee and a folding chair. Meet at the park entrance with the sessions beginning at 8:30 p.m.
For overnight accommodations, Tygart Lake State Park lodge and restaurant is open, or call 304- 265-6144. For more information, attendees should email or call 304-203-5251. For activities and programs at state parks in West Virginia, visit and click on Event Calendar.
About saw-whet owls
According to Three Rivers Avian Center (TRAC) website, the northern saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadiucs ) is also called sparrow owl, white-fronted owl, Acadian owl, Kirtland's owl, and whetsaw. The females weigh 3-4 ounces and males weigh an average of 3 ounces. Average height is around 8 inches or less and the bird has a wingspan of 17 to 20 inches. The owl’s residency range is from southeastern Alaska across Canada south to California and New Mexico in the west, to North Carolina in the east. They winter through the entire breeding range and down into western Mexico. Saw-whet owls prefer conifers, preferably in a swampy or boggy area and they sometimes nest and roost in mixed coniferous or deciduous woodlands, but prefer higher altitudes. They feed primarily on insects and mice, although they also will eat small rats, young red squirrels, chipmunks, shrews, bats, sparrows, juncos and warblers. They use a perch and glide hunting technique. They are nocturnal in habits and are most active at dusk and just before dawn. Saw-whets are uncommon in West Virginia and are mostly observed in higher elevations, with swampy places such as Dolly Sods, the Elkins area and Cranesville Swamp. West Virginia is in the southern part of this owl's summer range.
Saw-whets are the smallest owl in Eastern North America. The typical call of a saw-whet is sort of a grasshopper sound that resembles a long crosscut saw being sharpened -- hence the name “saw-whet.”

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Davis Ducks

(c) 2012 High Virginia Images
I had to go to Thomas on the afternoon of Monday October 29 of 2012; just as the storm was getting started. I had just enough time to briefly check out the Davis sewage pond. I pulled into the lower end of the pond and didn't see any waterfowl; the snow was just starting to intensify. I took the dogs and binoculars and began walking to the southern end of the pond. The whole upper portion was covered with ducks and geese and I was able to identify: Mallards, American Black Duck,Gadwall,Ruddy Duck,American Wigeon,Northern Pintail,Ring-necked Duck,Wood Duck,Northern Shoveler,American Coots and Canada Geese. The numbers were building as the snows got heavier. I walked back to my truck for the camera. The dogs and I were covered with 3 inches of slush; by the time we reached the vehicle. It may be a 200 yard walk at the most. I got the truck parked in the only spot that provided an unobstructed view of the pond. Of course I was facing into the wind coming from the northwest. It didn't take long for the camera lens to fill with snow. This was the highest numbers and variety of waterfowl that I have ever seen in the WV mountains. I was surprised that no mergansers were present. By the time I got out of there and was headed for Thomas, the roads were quickly deteriorating and you probably know the rest of the story from there. To say the least, it got worse.But, I was glad to see all of these species in WV at one time. It was surely the highlight of the week.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sad and Pitiful

Clover Run (c) 2011 High Virginia Images
I was driving along the Shavers Fork near Bowden earlier in the week. There was one person parked along the entire river. Nobody else was present; since they are done flinging in fish for the year. You know how it is; if the trucks aren't running, there are no fish to fish for, until they start dumping them in again. Anyway; just as I passed by the parked vehicle, the angler popped up over the hill. He had 3 nice trout strung on a stick and he was carrying a very large net. I forget where he was from, but it was either Ohio or PA. The net he was carrying was huge, he must have came from salmon country. The net was absolutely filled with trash he had gathered up on his way back to his vehicle. As I was passing by, he reached down and expertly netted one more Milwaukee's Best can and dumped the contents in the back of his truck.

Two New WMA's

Cranberry (c) 2012 High Virginia Images

Two New Wildlife Management Areas Open to the Public

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The newly established Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Sideling Hill WMA have been incorporated into the state’s WMA system, according to Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
“The addition of these two WMAs will provide hunting, trapping and fishing opportunities to sportsmen and women as well as other outdoor enthusiasts,” Taylor said.
Little Canaan WMA (3,168 acres), located near Davis in Tucker County, was acquired from the Canaan Valley Institute (CVI) with monies generated from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, and funds from the West Virginia Outdoor Heritage Conservation Fund. The property is accessible from the Camp Seventy Road (CR 32/18) as well as from State Route 32. The WMA is primarily forested and provides hunting opportunities for deer, bear, grouse, woodcock and turkey. With its proximity to the Canaan Valley region, this WMA provides a unique diversity of habitats, including the “Little Canaan” wetland complex. Additionally, approximately three miles of the Blackwater River run through the WMA, providing fishing for trout, rock bass and other species. A physically challenged fishing pier is located on the Blackwater River with access from the Camp Seventy Road. Additional information on the Little Canaan WMA is available from the DNR District 1 Farmington Office at 304-825-6787.
Sideling Hill WMA (2,507 acres) is located near Largent in Morgan County. Prior to acquisition by the state, the land had previously been leased to a well-established hunting club with three generations of hunters who had been stewards of the tract for many years. The WMA can be accessed from Milo School Road (CR 9/14), Magnolia Road (CR 18), and State Route 9. The WMA is heavily forested and will be managed for forest game species such as deer, turkey and squirrel. The sale of hunting and fishing licenses provided the funding source for this new WMA. Additional information on the Sideling Hill WMA is available from the DNR District 2 Romney Office at 304-822-3551.
DNR staff has started marking the boundaries and developing maps for these two new WMAs. Additional management efforts to be incorporated into the areas include improving public access, habitat management projects, and installation of entrance and other informational signs.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

We're Back

Pine Siskin (c) 2012 High Virginia Images
The Pine Siskins (Carduelis pinus) have arrived in Norton, WV. I kind of missed them last year when they were very scarce in the area. They are an irruptive northern species and the numbers we see in the winter are a result of food shortages in the northern regions. This is shaping up to be a good year for northern visitors. We can expect to see Pine Siskins, Red Crossbills and Red-breasted Nuthatches in increased numbers throughout our area. Hopefully, the Evening Grosbeaks and Common Redpolls will make a welcome appearance, too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


(c) 2012 all rights reserved
This photo was forwarded to me by Bellm TC's in Colorado. It is the real deal and unaltered. Not photoshopped. Bellm TC's is your one stop for any questions about TC Encore performance. They are highly reccomended, by me.

Clean Water Act-40 Years Old

Roaring Creek (c) High Virginia Images
Forty years ago in a show of bipartisan support, Congress passed the Clean Water Act of 1972. Hunters and anglers support strong Clean Water Act protections, understanding that clean water and healthy wetlands and streams are essential to healthy fish and wildlife populations and habitat. This year, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and the historic results this keystone legislation has achieved: healthier water to drink; cleaner streams, rivers and lakes in which to swim, fish and play; and dramatically lower rates of natural wetland loss.
However, our clean water celebration is bittersweet. For the past decade, Clean Water Act protections for wetlands, lakes and streams have been eroding. Over the past two years, the Clean Water Act has been under relentless attack by members of Congress, despite overwhelming public support for clean water and healthy habitat across the political spectrum. These attacks jeopardize drinking water for 117 million Americans and accelerate wetland losses that damage hunting, fishing and wildlife watching. According to a recently released U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey, tens of millions of Americans spend $145 billion annually on hunting, angling, and wildlife watching. This represents direct spending only, and each dollar spent in local restaurants, on guides and outfitters, and on equipment generates even more for our economy.
Hunters and Anglers Favor Restoring Clean Water Act Protections to Wetlands and Streams
A September 2012 poll of hunters and anglers found that, regardless of political affiliation, 79 percent of hunters and anglers favor restoring Clean Water Act protections to wetlands and waterways, including small creeks and streams. Recent polls in Colorado, Ohio and Wisconsin charted similar results. In this fractious election year, it is worth noting that poll after poll show that a strong majority of Americans supports strong federal Clean Water Act protections.
Restoring Wetlands and Stream Protections Supports Healthy Communities, Fish and Wildlife, and a Strong Economy
Families, communities, farmers and businesses large and small depend on clean, healthy waters for their health, jobs and prosperity. The Clean Water Act is essential to keeping our drinking water safe; providing millions of acres of fish and wildlife habitat across the country; ensuring abundant clean water for irrigating crops; and bolstering the robust fishery, tourism and outdoor recreation industries. Millions of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity, as well as our hunting and angling traditions, are all at risk if Clean Water Act protections are not restored.
Consider the following (based on 2006 economic data):
  • According to the American Sportfishing Association, fishing generates $125 billion in direct and indirect economic activity across the United States and supports 1 million jobs every year.
  • The National Marine Manufacturers Association found that boating contributes $41 billion to the economy and supports 337,000 jobs annually.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that duck hunting alone contributes $2.3 billion to the economy every year and supports 27,000 private sector jobs.
  • The FWS also estimates that 6.7 million trout anglers contribute nearly $5 billion annually to our economy.
These activities and the economic growth they support at the local, regional and national levels all depend on healthy waters and wetlands to produce quality outdoor experiences. Clean streams and abundant wetlands are essential for fish and wildlife and to the hunting, angling and outdoor traditions tens of millions of Americans enjoy every year. Unfortunately, these traditions and the economic activity they generate are in real jeopardy today.
Sportsmen Urge Action to Restore Protections to America’s Wetlands, Lakes and Streams
In the wake of 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court decisions and subsequent guidance given to staff at the Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency, more than 20 million acres of wetlands and about 2 million miles of streams in the continental United States are at risk of losing the very Clean Water Act protections that have so successfully cleaned up the nation’s waters. The strength and effectiveness of the Clean Water Act have been undermined further by the resulting uncertainty and confusion over the scope of the act’s protections.
The erosion of clean water protections takes a serious toll on wetlands. The most recent report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009,” ) demonstrates that the trend toward reduced wetland losses – and even small gains in wetland conservation in the early part of the past decade– have been reversed. Between 2004 and 2009, the FWS found net wetland acres dropped by 62,300 nationwide, a 140-percent increase in the wetland loss rate compared with the 1998-2004 timeframe. The FWS also reports that forested wetlands declined by 633,000 acres, representing the “largest losses since the 1974 to 1985 time period.” The full extent of natural wetland loss is masked by growth of man-made retention and other ponds that are of limited value to fish and wildlife, which the FWS found increased by some 336,000 acres. The FWS report highlights the 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court decisions as likely contributors to wetland losses (see pages 17 and 68).
As the Clean Water Act turns 40, Americamust get back on the path to clean, healthy waters and wetlands. The administration must follow through on its comprehensive efforts to restore Clean Water Act protections to wetlands, lakes and streams in a manner that is science-based and clearly respects the Supreme Court’s decisions.
We encourage you to raise this issue of Clean Water Act restoration with your readers and call on the administration to act. If you have questions or need more information, please contact us.
Scott Kovarovics, Izaak Walton League,, (301) 548-0150 x223
Jan Goldman-Carter, National Wildlife Federation,, (202) 797-6894
Steve Kline, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership,, (202) 639-8727x11
Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited, (703) 284-9406,

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Shaggys & Deer Steak

Shaggy Mane (c) 2012 High Virginia Images
It has been a poor mushroom year for me.  I don't know how others have fared, but it hasn't been very productive around here.  I have been excited to find some Oyster Mushrooms from time to time and that was about it. Every Chicken of the Woods has been too old or too high up in the tree. Everything else I have found this year was way past edible.

I did get lucky today and found nine Shaggy Manes (Coprinus comatus) on the real road at Bowden today (the road between the nowhere road and old Rt 33). Most shaggies I find are already turning black, but these were in prime shape. The best thing though was that deer steak was already on the menu and these were found pre-meal. We are down to crunch time, as far as mushrooms go. It is Shaggy Manes and Oyster Mushrooms or nothing att all, The King Boletes that I was watching for this year never appeared and I found a grand total of one good Giant Puffball. Next year will be better, I hope.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Youth Antlerless Deer Season

Youth, Class Q/QQ, and Class XS Antlerless Deer Season To Open

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources reminds hunters that there is a split, three-day special antlerless deer season for Youth, Class Q/QQ permit and Class XS permit hunters scheduled for this fall. The first segment of this season is one day, October 20, and the second segment is two days, December 26-27. The season is open on private and public lands in counties having a firearms deer hunting season.
Youth hunters ages 8-17 may participate in this special antlerless deer season; however, hunters ages 8-14 must be accompanied by a licensed adult. Hunters ages 15-17 are required to have a base hunting license. Senior citizens 65 years and older who have purchased their lifetime senior hunting/trapping/fishing license (Class XS) also may participate in this special antlerless deer season. Hunters participating in this season must wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange.
The daily bag limit during this special season is one antlerless deer per day for a total of three antlerless deer for the season. These harvested deer do not count toward the hunter’s annual deer season bag limit. All harvested deer must be checked at an official game checking station within 24 hours of the close of each segment of this special split season and before hunting an additional deer during the second segment of this season.
“This season provides a great opportunity to get young hunters out into the field,”noted Frank Jezioro, Director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. The accompanying adults can focus their attention on these young hunters and make sure they are having a safe and enjoyable experience. “Other eligible hunters who participate in this special antlerless deer season can avoid the competition and pressure that may occur during the regular deer seasons,” said Jezioro.
Refer to the 2012-13 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary for further details on the special split antlerless deer season for Youth, Class Q/QQ and Class XS hunters. Hunters also may contact any DNR district office with any questions.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pheasant-back Polypore

Dryad's Saddle (c) 2012 High Virginia Images
The Pheasant-back Polypore or Dryad's Saddle (Polyporus squamosus) is a parasitic fungi found on living or dead broad-leaved trees. The young fruiting bodies are edible.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Visions Become Reality

Stillwell Park Fox Squirrel
Many times, most times we come up with ideas which never turn into reality. On occasions; they do. Some spin their wheels in the same old rut from year to year to year; others don't. One of the most enjoyable periods of my life was during the years of 2007 and 2008 and one place that made it so was Stillwell Park, near Marlinton, WV. My work day started in Marlinton at 1:00 pm and my mornings were free. I could be found in the mornings five days per week either on Knapps Creek, Marlin Mountain or at Stillwell Park. Life was good, but things change, companies change hands and life goes on. I have not been in Marlinton since early in 2009. But during my time there, I discovered a birdwatchers paradise. I have never seen such diversity of habitats and species as can be found in such a small area as Stillwell Park. I never saw one other person enjoying the bounty; either.

Two or three years ago, I mentioned this to a couple of the active members of the Pocahontas Nature Club. They took off on the project from there and the Stillwell Nature Trail has become reality. The grand opening will be on Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 8am. Sadly, I know that I will not be able to attend. But the resource is there for all to enjoy. You can read the article in the Pocahontas Times and be there to participate in the opening of the trail; if you can make it. I would encourage all birders and nature lovers to make this lovely little park a destination anytime you are in Pocahontas County. It is worth the trip and wildlife abounds; year-round.

I regret that I could not participate, hands on in this project. But, I am glad it has become a reality. The area is home to a numerous and diverse bird population. The records that I kept and submitted for the project do not touch the numbers of species that use the area throughout the year. All of my observation were made between about 11am and 12:30 pm. These are not exactly prime-time birding hours. Flycatchers, warblers, woodpeckers,vireos and sparrows abound. Raptors soar above and  migrating waterfowl and shorebirds stop to rest. What more could you ask for?

Some of my most memorable sightings include the day I was sitting in my truck at the sewage pond, reading the USA Today and a Virginia Rail popped up out of the ditch and stared at me. Least Bitterns used the area on a couple of occasions, I found them just above the discharge into the Greenbrier. I found White-rumped Sandpipers in the flooded field at the pavillion one May morning. One day in the fall the un-cut grasses were covered with Grasshopper Sparrows. On a Winter day, I saw the largest number of Tree Sparrows that I have ever seen. You just never know what you may find if you are just observant. You will be rewarded for your time, no matter what. For some odd reason; I never did see an eagle there. So right there is something to look for and record. Just get out there and do it. Thank you Pocahontas Nature Club !

One thing I really regret about my time in the area is that I was between cameras during this time period. I finally purchased a real camera in January of 2009. This fox squirrel photo is the only one I have from Stillwell  Park. It is one of the very first digital photos that I ever took.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Our Other Thrushes

Swainson's Thrush (c) 2012 High Virginia Images
Migration time is at its peak, right now. Each morning brings new birds for us to enjoy. The sulking thrushes are often overlooked among the colorful warblers bouncing from branch tips. But, they are here in numbers, too. The song of the Wood Thrush is known to all, Hermit Thrushes are the only thrush that we may find overwintering here. The Veery is very common and unknown to many. Most have not even heard of the other two.

The Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus) does nest here in the highest elevations of Pocahontas, Randolph, Tucker, Pendleton and Grant counties. The buffy eye-ring is themajor identification point for this species. The majority of the population nests in the North, in the middle regions of Canada and Alaska. The entire population is on its annual southward move, right now.

Gray-ckeeked Thrush (c)2012 High Virginia Images
The Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus) is the nesting thrush of the Far North. It nests throughout Alaska and Northern Canada. It is a bird of the northern spruce forests. It is distinguished by its partial eye-ring and a duller grayish appearance. It may be found in any overgrown area near you, right now. Like I have said many times before; you never know what you may find, if you just look. Be observant and you will be rewarded.

The photo of the Swainson's Thrush was taken at Camp Garnett on the Rich Mountain Battlefield in Randolph County, WV. The Gray-cheeked Thrush was photographed in my yard in Norton, Randolph County, WV; yesterday.

(c) 2012 All Rights Reserved High Virginia Outdoors-High Virginia Images

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Oysters !

(c) 2012 High Virginia Images
I went out early this morning, hoping to find some interesting migrants in the clear-cut. The birds didn't seem to cooperate; as far as the warblers go. There were plenty of robins, cedar waxwings, catbirds and goldfinches; but little else was to be found. Therefore Ralphie and I went to plan B. Search for some Chicken of the Woods.
Well, that didn't go so well, either. But we did come up with enough Oyster mushrooms for a meal. We found several other clumps which were too old and badly insect infested.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Comb Tooth Fungi

Comb Tooth Fungi (c) 2012 High Virginia Images
I was walking the dogs on Wednesday, near the Shavers Fork River in Randolph County and noticed this white fungi on a rotted log. I had seen this species before, but didn't pay much attention to it. I thought it was one of the coral fungi. Comb Tooth (Hericium ramosum) is supposed to be a good edible. It grows on dead wood. Being a very pretty fungi, I didn't even think of it as an edible, until I looked it up. I plan on trying this one if I find some again.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My Noxious Weed

Japanese Knot-weed (c) 2012 High Virginia Images
I was standing out in my yard last week and was in awe at the number of honey bees on the Japanese Knot-weed (Polygonum cuspidatum) in my yard. There is a solid wall of Knot-weed which is about 25 yards long bordering my front yard. This non-native invasive species sure does make a nice, summertime privacy fence. It was in full bloom and absolutely covered with life. The majority of the insect activity was comprised of several thousand honey bees, busily working on the buckwheat like flowers. I am sure that many pounds of honey will be produced from these tiny white flowers.

As I marveled at the sight and intense activity; I couldn't help but chuckle and think to myself about our silly governments' thinking and reasoning. You see, earlier this summer some federal employees were handing out information about the terrors of knot-weed at one of our local fine eating establishments. You could buy some gray, compressed chicken paste fried in grease and learn all about this nasty invasive. Sometimes you just shake your head and move on.

I started thinking at the time this program was announced; which is worse? I could come up with several good things about this invasive weed and none about the rest of the parties involved therefore; which one is the most noxious? Japanese Knot-weed blocks out noise and sights from the highway, feeds numerous insects, can be turned into honey, makes great compost and I have heard that it is edible when young and prepared like asparagus. On the other hand, I couldn't come up with any redeeming qualities for compressed chicken slime or wasteful spending by the federal government. Now you tell me which is the greatest threat to us all. Both of the latter are very hard to swallow.

(c) 2012 High Virginia Outdoors All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


IO Moth (c) High Virginia Images
Do you ever wonder what that spiny, green, spider web laced caterpillar that is crawling across your porch will be when it grows up? You should.  I found this IO Moth (Automeris io) on my Carolina Wren wintertime boot nest, a few weeks ago. It hung around on my porch for a couple of days, until it disappeared. These caterpillars have a sting which somewhat reminds one of sticking your hands in a nettle patch. The caterpillar pupae overwinters in the leaf litter as a papery cocoon.

I am sure that most of you have seen the lovely moth; which this caterpillar turns into.

IO Moth (c) 2010 High Virginia Images

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ya Never Know

Common Ringlet (c) High Virginia Images 2012
Yep, you just never know what you may find; if you just look. I was sitting along Rt 66 in Pocahontas County, WV today; finishing off a slice of pizza and thought about taking a photo to submit to the Pocahontas Nature Club. I hadn't posted anything to their site in a while and hadn't taken any photos for a couple of days. I saw a Monarch laying eggs on a milkweed, but it headed across the road to the golf course. I was scanning the un-mowed field for some type of other butterfly activity and noticed what I thought was probably an Eastern-tailed Blue sitting on a goldenrod, just a few feet away from my truck. Out comes the camera and as soon as I got a little closer, I realized that this was something different. The Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia) is a butterfly normally found in Alaska, Canada, Northern US and the Pacific Coast. But here it is in good old Pocahontas County, WV. I know that one other was found in the Durbin area a couple of weeks ago. So, be on the lookout, ya never know what you may find. You'll never find anything, unless you look.

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors (c) 2012 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wilted Squash ?

Squash Vine Borer (c) High Virginia Images
Three things are usually to blame when our once proudly standing squash plant begin to droop, sag and just get plain yucky looking. Bacterial Wilt which is spread by squash bugs, cucumber beetles and a host of other crawling critters is very common in our area. Powdery Mildew is the white patches and splotches you see. It doesn't seem to kill the plant, unless it gets real bad. It just makes things unsightly. I think most of mine that ends up in the garden comes from some upwind phlox plants.

The one thing that kills my plants is the Squash Vine Borer (Melittia cucurbitae) this strange looking moth lays eggs in the stems of young squash plants. The plump cream colored caterpillar then feeds inside the hollow squash stems, sometimes quickly killing the plant. My white patty pan squash seem to be the favorite for these moths. You have to admit, though that the moth is kind of cool looking.

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors

What's In Your Corn?

Corn Earworm Moth (c) High Virginia Images
We all expect the nasties when we pull back the shuck from our homegrown corn. Ugly caterpillars of several species can be found. The most common is the Corn Earworm (Helicoverpa zea), this caterpillar feeds upon corn, tomato, tobacco and cotton plants. The only good thing that could possibly be said of this pest; is that it turns into a moth that isn't too bad looking.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Nice Find !!

Carolina Satyr  (c) High Virginia Images 2012
I was returning home from Thomas on Saturday afternoon and decided to take the Sugarlands Road-St. George-Clover Run route back. I was intending to try for a few good mushroom photos. To say the least, mushrooms were a bit sparse on this fine day. It didn't make much difference to me; as this is always a nice ride, no matter the season.

There was a group of Common Mergansers on the Cheat; fifteen in total and close to the road. A female with her brood. I had to go down the road and turn around. I was in luck, they were still there when I got back. I needed to change lenses and was crouched behind some shrubs; feeding the deer flies and heard the dreaded scrape. A pair of kayaks were scraping there way downstream and went right through the mergansers. Oh, well. I took 2 dragonfly shots and headed on downstream. I got on Rt.72 and then Rt.38 and turned up Clover Run Road, still hoping for some fungi. Nothing worth slowing down for. The dogs were getting restless.

I pulled into there favorite squirrel and bunny chasing spot and let them explore. We walked awhile and I got tired of untangling Ralphie. I brought them back and tied them to the truck, so they could roll in the grass; which is one of their favorite sports. I sat there and scanned the area for something, anything to photograph while the dogs were entertaining themselves. Just a Red-spotted Purple was to be found, I guess it will have to do. The wind was picking up as I chased it around and I got some real bad photos. I noticed something was wrong with the pictures. I have a tendency to push some unintended buttons, when putting the new camera away. I haven't quite gotten used to it yet. The ISO somehow managed to get switched to 400 on this bright, sunny day. Not Good.

I was sitting on the tailgate, watching the beagles roll and fake fight and noticed a little brown butterfly, perched on a poison ivy leaf. There were 4 or so of these little brown butterflies flitting around. Well, I don't have many photos of little brown butterflies and the camera was now set up properly. So, I was in pursuit and of course at this time, the wind decided to pick up. I managed to get one decent shot of the little brown butterfly and by that time the dogs were ready for some ice-water. So we headed on home.

I looked the butterfly up when I downloaded to the computer and decided it was an Appalachian Brown (Satyrodes appalachia) that made sense and we have them in our area. Case closed, or so I thought. On Sunday, I was trying to identify some skipper photos (the birding community thinks sparrows are hard), try skippers. I found Butterflies and Moths of North America, a citizens science database for identification and sighting recordings (Really Nice). I submitted some skipper photos for a final answer as to what they were and I threw in the Appalachian Brown for their records. I received an e-mail shortly after identifying the skipper, along with a great notation that this photo wasn't an Appalachian Brown, but was a Carolina Satyr (Hermeuptychia sosybius), which until now has never been recorded and confirmed in the mountains of WV!! Well it has been, Now! What a great  surprise. This butterfly has been found in the southern and western portions of WV. According to the species research I did, it has never been recorded and confirmed East of I-79.

Like I have said before, you never know what you may find; if you just sit and stare.

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors  Photos by High Virginia Images (c)2012 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Beauty and the Beast

We are trained in our minds to associate butterflies and flowers. But did you know that there are some butterfly species that never use nectar as a food source? The Northern Pearly Eye (Enodia anthedon) is one such species. This butterfly is a species of wet woodland areas. The host plants for the larvae are members of the panic grass family.

The Northern Pearly Eye feeds on carrion, dung, fermented fruit and tree sap. Judging from the fruit flies; this coyote turd seems to be a Northern Pearly Eye smorgasbord. This photo was taken on 8/4/12 at Pleasant Creek WMA in Barbour County, WV.

(c) High Virginia Outdoors 2012 All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 16, 2012

Virginia Boater Safety Course

The Virginia General Assembly established boating safety requirements in 2007. These requirements are being phased in and all boaters and personal watercraft users will be required to complete a Virginia boaters safety course by 2016.  All boaters will have to pass a NASBLA approved safety course either in a classroom or online. The only exceptions are for Registered Commercial Fishermen, those who have held or currently hold a license to operate a vessel (Master, Captain or Mate) issued by the US Coast Guard or those who currently hold and posses a NASBLA approved card or certificate. These cards do not expire. It is a once in your lifetime thing that you need to do.

On July, 1 2012 ALL PWC (Personal Watercraft Users) regardless of age must posses a boating safety course card. No person under the age of 14 may operate a PWC.  All Boat operators ages 30 and younger must have completed a course.  In 2013 all boaters 40 and younger must have completed the exam. 2014 includes those 45 and younger and in 2015; everyone operating a boat who is 50 or younger must have passed the exam. Finally, in 2016 ALL boaters must have completed a NASBLA approved boating course.

For additional information: Virginia Boating Regulations
Approved Online Exam:

(2012) High Virginia Outdoors All Rights Reserved

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Glad You're Back

I stopped at my favorite summertime spot on Backbone Mountain, today. The milkweeds are in full bloom and vanilla fills the air. It was even hot up there today. Just a touch of breeze and Monarchs ! I was able to see five individuals at the same time. I believe that may be more than I saw up there all of last year; which was not a good Monarch year. One pair was in the process of mating and I am sure that there will be many eggs laid soon. I don't think I even found one caterpillar last year, up there. I do remember one crystalis which didn't hatch. Hopefully, 2012 will be a good year for the Monarch. They need a good year and deserve a break. I sure do love the smell of a big patch of milkweed in the hot Summer breeze. It just makes a miserably hot day just a little easier to tolerate. 

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors  Photo by High Virginia Images (c) 2012 All Rights Reserved

At Least I Have Some Garlic

I pulled my garlic on Tuesday; yes pulled. Never in my life have I ever been able to pull up my garlic; without damage. The ground is just dry powder. A few years ago, we had some rain and then it got hot and dry at harvest time. I had to beat a crowbar into the ground and pry up each bulb. This year, I didn't even have to pull very hard for it to come up. It is probably the nicest crop that I've had here; though. Glad to have it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fire On The Hill

The skies darkened on June 29, 2012; the wind came. Lots of wind, red oaks and hickories bent almost in half. Some lost the fight. The hill turned an eerie green, a few pops and then bright orange. The fire spread quickly from north to south, popping and crackling. The rain came and extinguished the flames. Seventy-two and a half hours later, electric was restored in Norton. A storm to remember; to be sure.

Friday, June 29, 2012

They Got That One Right !

I was sitting out in the edge of my yard on Tuesday and a little yellow butterfly fluttered by. I had never seen a yellow butterfly that was smaller than the normal sulphur species'. I managed to chase it down and get a good look as it stopped on some white clover.

I went into the house to get my camera; of course the camera was outside in the truck on the other side of the house. Just as standard procedure plays out the little butterfly was nowhere to be found when I returned.

Often, when you look something unfamiliar up; you wonder how they came up with a name for something. Not in this case; they finally got one right. It was a Little Yellow (Eurema lisa) butterfly. It is more common in WV in the southern counties and along the Ohio River. I am pretty sure that I have never seen one around here. We may notice more smaller butterflies this year, since there doesn't seem to be many big ones around.

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors  (c) 2012 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Wonder Why

I am puzzled as to why this Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia) would choose to lay her eggs on an alunimum porch ceiling; instead of a host plant? I found her laying eggs this evening. Host plants for this species are sunflower,cherry,maple and willow. There are numerous cherry and maple trees within site of this location. There are cherry trees within 15 yards. Nature tends to make the observant one wonder..

(c) High Virginia Images  All Rights Reserved 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Another Nice Morning

I got up early this morning and drove to Cassity to do an abundance count for the WV Breeding Bird Atlas in the Cassity-6 block. The time spent there was fairly uneventful; nothing unexpected and no rarities. I did record a nice variety at a couple of points. I'm sure that I found a few new species for the block. I haven't had time to look at the previous entries, yet.

On the way back home, I decided to check out Camp Garnett on the Rich Mountain Battlefield property. I have heard a Golden-winged Warbler, or a hybrid of such there twice in the last couple of weeks. I messed around there for about a half hour and gave up. There was just too much traffic. Nothing had a chance to settle down, before another vehicle came through. I headed back toward Mabie; the family of American Kestrels were where I found them last week. I headed on down the road and much to my surprise there was a male Bobolink sitting on the power line. You just don't know how much time I've spent in Canaan Valley; trying to get a good Bobolink photo. Here one is, totally unexpected and 6 miles from home.

I dug my camera out, set some adjustments and turned around. It was still there, but there was nowhere to pull-off. I drove on up the road and was planning on getting a photo out of the window, when I came back down. Of course, it was then gone. It was all ready running through my head to come back tomorrow morning and try again. I still had the window down as I drove down the hill and a baby bird noise caught my attention. I looked over and a young Kestrel was sitting on top of a fence post. I quickly pulled off the road and got out; hoping for one decent photo. I kept walking and pressing the shutter and as luck will sometimes happen, it let me get very close! There was another young one about 100 yards away in a maple tree and both adults were present. There are two successful Kestrel nests in the same area, within a quarter mile of each other, Nice! But still no Bobolink photo.

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors
Photos by High Virginia Images
(c) 2012 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, June 2, 2012

That Clouser Thump

I decided to celebrate the end of the WVDNR's annual food dispersal program this morning and go fishing for a little while. I knew that there would not be anyone else out there; since they have finally quit stocking. Flags were flying straight out when I got to Elkins. I almost turned around, but decided to just go to Bowden, instead of heading up on Cheat Mountain. I knew that with the wind and the cold front the fishing would be slow and the trout would be hugging the bottom.

I arrived on the Shavers Fork and tied on a pair of Clouser Minnows. These are my favorite flies; when the fishing is though. It has been a long time since I have had a chance to actually fly fish. Probably 4 years other than stop and cast a few times. I entered the river and the water was nicely cool for June. The wind was howling upstream. I crossed the river to a split on the other side, which was protected from the wind; slightly. Casting was difficult with my 5 weight rod and a pair of weighted flies. On my third cast; there it was, that clouser thump. It has been a long time since I have felt that. Nice fish, too. I fished the section thoroughly and had only one other strike. The wind picked up and I was hitting myself with the flies, as often as they were hitting the water. But; it was really nice to fish for a hour and a half and not be bothered by others. I'm glad that the fish trucks are finished. Now; maybe the rest of us can catch a few fish !

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors  Photos by High Virginia Images (c)2012 All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 1, 2012

Our Other Oriole

Everyone is familiar with the brightly colored Baltimore Oriole but its smaller relative often goes unnoticed. The Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurtius) is not as colorful. The breast color of the Orchard Oriole more resembles the coloring of a Robin. These orioles also tend to nest in close proximity, unlike the Baltimore who doesn't like anyone in their territory.

We seem to have an abundance of Orchard Oriole in our region this year be on the lookout for them and meet your new neighbor. They will not be around for long; maybe another month or so and they will be headed South once again.

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors
Photo by High Virginia Images
(c) 2012 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Missed Opportunity

Sometimes; you just wonder why you didn't reach for the camera. I was sitting at the lower end of the Bowden Fish Hatchery this afternoon. It was too hot for any birds and I was looking at this turtle; through my binoculars. I am guessing that it is a painted turtle. It was facing away in the mossy spot above the elbow of this concrete.
Just to the left of the concrete; up popped what I thought was a baby duck. I looked away in search for the other ducks and when I looked back at the turtle, something was different. A huge snapping turtle was stalking the other turtle. Its head was above the concrete and had to be at least 5 inches wide. The other turtle didn't have a clue and I thought that it was going to be snatched up very quickly. As it turned out, I would have had time to get my camera from behind the seat; but at the time you never know. The snapper twisted its head and neck in every position it could think of, but the other turtle was just a little too far away. The snapper lowered its head and tried to attack from the left side of the concrete and by that time the other turtle got a little spooked. It must have sensed something. This shot is when it decided to head for the safety of the water. The snapping turtle circled the concrete twice searching. I believe that was the biggest Common Snapping Turtle that I have ever seen !!!

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors
Photo by High Virginia Images
(c) 2012 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I Finally Found Proof !!

The Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) is a newly confirmed nesting species in our region. There have been confirmed reports on the upper Shavers Fork, Dry Fork and Cheat River. These are the first confirmed sightings on the lower Shavers Fork, near Bowden. I saw a lone female at this spot in June of 2009 and have checked it out numerous times since then; with no success. Today (5-27-12) I found what I was looking for! I was walking around near the river at 7:30 am; with my beagle Ralphie and heard a quack. I looked up and there they were, headed downstream and of course, I didn't have my camera with me. So, back to the truck we headed. I was trying to hurry and the truck was a quarter of a mile away. You just can't hurry with Ralphie.  If I remember right; he got tangled up 6 times on the way back. We got the camera and I believe he only got tangled up 4 times on the return trip. We finally got back to the river and I couldn't find the mergansers.
I finally heard them upstream from the original spot. Ralphie and I tried to sneak upstream; but a fisherman spooked them back down toward us. I was able to get a few quick photos as they went by.There were ten young in the group. Confirmed nesting success at last! It has already been a good day.

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors
Photos are the property of High Virginia Images

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Really Nice Morning

I decided this morning to celebrate the end of the trout stocking season; by going fishing. I knew that I would have the streams to myself, even on Memorial Day weekend. Everyone knows that when the fish trucks quit running; that is the end of trout fishing for the year.
This is when I start. No crowds and plenty of fish are out there; for as long as we have enough water and the water temperature stays down. I had a plan this morning and it proved to be a bad plan.

I left my truck at daylight and just carried with me the things that I thought I would need. Thought is a key word here. I stuck a box of wet flies and nymphs in my vest and there was all ready a brown woolly bugger tied on my leader. Off; I went. The first section that I tried has changed, since I last fished it. The water is very low and no fish-holding structure was to be found. the bead-headed woolly bugger was getting hung-up on every cast.
I moved further upstream, common yellowthroats, catbirds and yellow warblers were filling the air with song. Two hen turkeys were showing their numerous offspring how to find food. I was just soaking up the morning and finally found some rising trout. Many rising trout! I carefully got into position and cast and cast and cast to the fish; with absolutely no response. Nice fish, too. Mostly browns in the 12-16 inch range, splashing and slashing the surface. I of course had NO dry flies with me. I stood motionless in the stream for several minutes and finally saw what they were feeding on. Tent caterpillars were on the menu and they would sample nothing else. Of course, I had nothing to imitate the meal of the day. My terrestrial box was back in the truck. Moral of the story: Be Prepared and Be Successful. It was still a nice morning; though.

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors
Photos by High Virginia Images
(c) 2012 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spring Trophy

I had a couple of hours to spend in the spring gobbler woods, this morning. The whip-poor-wills were very enthusiastic; as I was leaving the truck. The turkeys were silent. I was walking up a small ridge, shortly after daylight and a ruffed grouse flushed; about 4 feet away. There were 7 eggs in the nest. I believe this is the first grouse nest I have ever seen. One interesting note about it was that it was maybe 10 yards away from where I found a woodcock nest last year.
I proceeded to stroll around on some log roads, waiting to hear a gobble. It wasn't going to happen on this day. I walked right into a silent strutting gobbler. Moving to a different area, I found the trophy of the day. Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostereatus) are one of my favorites. I usually do not find many of these edibles this early in the season. The spring woods offer many enjoyable bounties for the observant one. I sat for about a half-hour, called a few times and walked back to my vehicle. Of course upon arrival at my truck, I saw several turkeys feeding in an overgrown field; within 50 yards of my vehicle. You have to love May in the spring gobbler woods. The best time of the year.

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors
Photos by High Virginia Images
(c) 2012 All Rights Reserved