Friday, December 6, 2013

Asian Carp In The Ohio River

Tests Find Asian Carp eDNA in PA, WV Sections of Ohio River

            SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. and HARRISBURG, Pa. - State officials from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) have confirmed that environmental DNA (eDNA) from the invasive Asian silver carp has been found in two water samples collected from the Ohio River.
            The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) tested 200 water samples collected from the upper Ohio River between Wheeling, W.V., and Pittsburgh on Oct. 21-22. The tests found eDNA in one Pennsylvania sample taken from the Ohio River in Aliquippa, Beaver County, about six miles upstream of the confluence with the Beaver River. A second positive eDNA result was found in a West Virginia sample near Chester in Hancock County. None of the samples tested positive for bighead carp.
            Researchers use eDNA analysis as a tool for the early detection of Asian carp, which include silver and bighead carp. The findings indicate the presence of genetic material left behind by the species, such as scales, excrement or mucous. But eDNA does not provide physical proof of the presence of live or dead Asian carp.
            “Unfortunately, the test results provide some evidence that this invasive species could be in the upper Ohio River in Pennsylvania,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “This is an early warning sign, since we don’t know for certain the origin of the genetic material. We don’t know if the eDNA came from live or dead fish or if it was transported from other sources, like bilge water or storm sewers, or even waterfowl visiting the basin.”
            “The states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia have been cooperatively working over the last two years to address Asian carp upstream migrations in the Ohio River,” added Curtis Taylor, Chief of the West Virginia Wildlife Resources Section. “These efforts have focused on fishing down these species at the population’s leading edge by using contracted commercial fishermen. The main reach of this effort has centered in the Meldahl and Greenup navigation pools that span the river between Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.” This cooperative effort will continue in 2014.
            Asian carp are a significant threat to aquatic ecosystems because of their voracious appetite and ability to quickly reproduce. Once in a waterway, they devour much of the microscopic algae and animals that other species rely on for food, effectively decimating other species. This, in turn, can harm local economies which rely on the revenue generated from sport fishing and boating.      
            Because of the destructive nature of the Asian carp species, officials urge anglers and boaters to help slow the spread. Anglers and boaters should thoroughly clean gear and boats before entering new waters and learn how to identify Asian carp. A video teaching people how to identify bighead and silver carp is available from the USFWS on YouTube at
            Anglers and boaters are urged to contact the PFBC or WVDNR if they suspect the presence of Asian carp. Both agencies maintain a website for easy communication: PFBC - and WVDNR -
            Additional information is available on the national Asian carp website at:
.            More information about the Clean Your Gear educational campaign is available at:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hemlock Polypore

Hemlock Polypore (C)HVI 2013
We do not usually think of finding fungi or mushrooms in mid-November in this region. I found this interesting specimen today (11/19/13) on Shavers Mountain in Randolph County. It is (Ganoderma tsugae) Hemlock Polypore, also known asHemlock Varnish Shelf. It is very pretty and shiny. I know I should have cleaned the dust off; before taking the photo. But as always; what you see here is REAL. This is not an edible fungi. It is ground into a powder and used in tea in Asian countries. Supposedly as an anti- inflammatory.Ling Chih.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Preparing For Winter

Spicebush Swallowtail (c)2013HVI
That chill is in the breeze; snow is near. This is one lucky little caterpillar. This particular Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus troilus) caterpillar; which was born and raised in my sassafras tree, formed its chrysalis at the corner of my chimney. It started the process on Tuesday (10/16) and finalized the transformation on Friday (10/18). I have noticed that the length of the process varies with the temperature. Colder nights seem to slow them down quite a bit. This caterpillar chose a spot the spend the winter in a fairly open and noticeable spot. That creates a major problem on my porch. It will not make it long enough to turn into a butterfly this spring. That is guaranteed. I saw 2 other Spicebush Caterpillars crawl up underneath my siding earlier last week. They made a better choice.
Why will this one not survive? My Carolina Wrens will not let anything make it to spring on my porch. They will clean up all overwintering critters they may find. they are relentless in their search, too. Very efficient. Don't worry about our little friend, though. I have it taken care of. I keep a little wooden box, filled with leaves and chrysalis on the porch. It is completely wren proof. I have had 100% hatching success with this method, too. I don't go in search of the chrysalis'. I only collect the obvious ones which are out in the open.

Hatch time for the ones I have saved is usually the 2nd week of May.

(c)2013 High Virginia Outdoors Photos (c)High Virginia Images All rights Reserved.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bird Banding This Weekend

Swainson's Thrush (c)2012 HVI

Birding and Banding at Tygart Lake State Park Oct. 11-13, 2013

            GRAFTON, W.Va. – Three days of birding and banding activities for novices and avid birders alike are planned at Tygart Lake State Park Friday through Sunday, Oct. 11-13. Leading the activities will be master bird bander Joey Heron and Tygart State Park activities coordinator Stephanie Bailey.
            “Banding practices in October focus on fall migration and observation of species making their way to South America and elsewhere,” Bailey said.
            Participants will learn to identify many of the birds in the area by sight and sound. Some birds will be traveling through; others will be here to stay for the winter. The banding will include the migrating Swainson's thrush and magnolia warblers.
            “Each day brings more migratory species through the Tygart Valley area and an opportunity to see birds that may only pass through West Virginia on their way to wintering  destinations,” according to Herron.
            Day-only visitors are welcome to participate and overnight packages also are available. Call Tygart Lake Lodge at 304-265-6144 about lodging and meal specials. To learn about Tygart Lake State Park visit
            Herron also conducts saw-whet owl bandings at Valley Falls State Park Nov. 1, 2, 8 and 9. To learn and register to attend these sessions, email
About Joey Herron
                A Lewis County native, Herron has more than 41 years of birding experience, by sight and sound. He is retired from a federal government job with more than 23 years of service. Herron graduated from Glenville State College (’80) with a BS in Biology and Art minor. He is a licensed bird bander with the U.S. Geological Service bird banding lab and is affiliated with numerous birding organizations such as Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Bird Banders Association of North America, Bird Banding Laboratory (master permit, 1997), West Virginia Partners in Flight (working group member), Brooks Bird Club, and an instructor for Pierpont Community College Lifelong Learners group/classes spring and fall on birding and banding (2008 – present) to mention a few. His many published papers on birding include reports on saw-whet owl banding conducted at Valley Falls State Park in October and November over the past several years.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Favorite Mushroom?

Golden Chanterelle (c)3013 HVI
I was asked recently, what my favorite mushroom was. The answer may be surprising to many. I had a pretty bad mushroom year in 2013. Next year may be worse, my morel patch was covered with gravel. But it seemed as if I found quite a few mushrooms this year but; when I found them they were always past peak for eating. Many species are only available for a very short time. That is why I don't get too excited about morels in this area.
Chicken of the woods usually emerge twice during the season but you must get them very quickly after they pop out. They go from great to poor very quickly. Shaggy Manes, well you just about have to see them pop up to get some good ones. I have yet to trust any boletes that I have found. So I would have to say, without a doubt that Oyster Mushrooms are my favorite for consumption. I like the taste and they can be found with reasonable expectations over a long period of time. I have found them from March-December. They are easily identified and tasty. What more could be asked for?
Oyster Mushroom (c) 2012 HVI

 (c) High Virginia Outdoors Photos (c) High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 7, 2013

Welcome Fall

Shaggy Mane (c) 2013 HVI
Summer has finally faded into the past. I was beginning to wonder about this statement last night when it was too hot to sleep but I believe we may be safe, now. The leaves are in various stages of beautiful in the West Virginia Highlands; dependent on elevation. I have not been able to enjoy the outdoors very much over the last few months. For about 3 weeks I was unable to hold up my camera. That wasn't very pleasant

The year of 2013 was my poorest.mushroom year, ever. Many folks had great seasons. When I had time to search, everything I found was well past peak for consumption. I was able to find a few promising locations for next year. especially for chanterelles. I hate waiting for next year. I made on last futile attempt to find some Giant Puffballs today. No luck, but I did manage to spy my first of the season Shaggy Manes (Coprinus comatus). These mushrooms are very good edibles when they are newly emerged. I believe I picked and ate nine out of this small patch. I'm hoping to find several more over the next few weeks. Shaggy Manes and oyster Mushrooms are about all that we can expect to find in any numbers this late in the season. I have seen posted online that a few Chicken of the Woods are still being found. I only had two small pickings of them this year. I have about given up on a Giant Puffball. I thought I had a no fail spot for them. Apparently not.

(c) 2013 High Virginia Outdoors photos (c) High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

What Happened ?

Monarch (c)2009 HVI
Yes, I know that I have been about as scarce as a Monarch this year. I got a new job this spring and it really cut down on creative time. Then I got hurt. I was just getting ready to intensify my postings; then the construction company knocked down my satellite. It took 2 weeks to get internet service back.
It hasn't been a pleasant several months. Maybe I'm back; hoping so anyway.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

More That Got Away

Everyone wants to show you their best photos. Many are impressive, some are computer generated and others just leave you wondering. Here is a photo for you to look at. Go ahead and study on it for awhile. Can't find anything can you? Well that is because it would have been a very good, slightly overexposed photo of a very large bobcat; in broad daylight. Something you don't see very often. Well, you would have seen it here; if I had only been a second faster. Oh. well.

The very next day, I was fishing on the North Fork of the South Branch and catching several small to medium sized small-mouths. I was standing and doing a balancing act on many round, smooth rocks. I saw a yellowish blur go by my head. A Louisiana Waterthrush landed about 5 feet behind my and was poking around in the rocks. The main problem was that my camera was in a bag; about 3 feet behind me. I did manage to get the camera; without spooking the bird. The little waterthrush was quite cooperative and began drinking rainwater from a bowl in the rocks. Nice, right? Nope, it was too close to focus on and I was on both knees in the rocks. There wasn't much that I could do. Yep, nobody wants to show you their bad shots. Here is another of mine; the Louisiana Waterthrush as it runs by me and flies across the river. Enjoy honesty.

(c) 2013 High Virginia Outdoors/High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 2, 2013

And Another One

Double-banded Scoliid (c)2013 HVI
Here is another Digger Wasp that was present on my goldenrod yesterday. There was only one. It is a Double-banded Scoliid (Scolia bicincta). There isn't much information out there for this species; other than it most likely lays its egg in some type of beetle larvae, underground.

(c) 2013 High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

Now We All Know

Blue-winged Wasp (c) HVI 2013
I was heading to the garden yesterday morning to pick some corn and noticed several very pretty wasps on the goldenrod. I had never noticed this species with the two yellow dots before. I snapped a few photos and went to the computer for identification.
This is the Blue-winged Wasp (Scolia dubia) it is also called a Digger Wasp. The female lays its egg in the larvae of green June Beetles and Japanese Beetles. They build a chamber around the paralyzed larvae and a new wasp emerges from the ground in 3 weeks.
They are native to Japan and were introduced to combat Japanese Beetle infestations. These wasps are now common from New England  to the South and West to the Rocky Mountain Region.

(c) 2013 High Virginia Outdoors/High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Moth Week

(c) HVI 2010

Lights on! It’s Moth Week at Pipestem State Park July 20-28

PIPESTEM, W.Va. – National Moth Week is a global celebration of moths and biodiversity held on the last week of July 20-28. Pipestem State Park is participating in the second annual National Moth Week with organized moth hunts, crafts and the showing of the “Godzilla vs. Mothra” movie. The first national event, organized by a group of New Jersey scientists,  recognized citizens from 49 states and 29 countries contributing data on distribution and life histories for this diverse group of insects.
The largest order of insects
Moths have three main body regions – head, thorax, and abdomen, three pairs of jointed legs and one pair of antennae.  Most have two pairs of wings. And most are nocturnal.  “Like fireflies, looking for moths in lights after dark can be some of the best memories of a summer camping trip or sitting on the porch of a cabin at dusk,” said Jim Phillips, park naturalist. Phillips offers a variety of activities at Pipestem during National Moth Week to introduce park visitors to these colorful and often elusive members of the largest order of insects: Lepidoptera. Butterflies are also in this order.
Moth activities at Pipestem Resort State Park include:
July 23 – Moth Craft at 1 p.m. Create a paper plate luna moth. This activity is held at the nature center. Crafters will learn about this green-colored insect as the craft is completed. There is no charge to participate and the activity takes about 45 minutes.
July 24 – Hayride and Campfire begins at 5 p.m. at the fire pit across from the campground bathhouses. There is $1 per person charge to ride the wagon.  Early evening is a good time to begin looking for moths.
The Moth Hunt begins at 9 p.m. July 24 at the Nature Center. This activity plans to attract some moths to a sheet using a black light in order to get a close-up look at these flying nighttime insects for National Moth Week. The activity is open to any age and there is no cost.
July 25 – Gypsy Moth Display is a special program on July 25 at 12:30 p.m. Tim Brown with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture will be at the Pipestem Nature Center with displays of this invasive moth species. Gypsy moths attack trees by feeding on their leaves. Severe defoliation and mortality are most likely in stands having a high percentage of oak, the favorite food of gypsy moth caterpillar. Brown will be at the nature center from 12:30 until 4:30 p.m. to answer questions about moths, how West Virginia conducts surveys, explain how the insect traps work, and other questions visitors may have about Gypsy moths or others.
July 26 – Moth Sidewalk Art. Participants will use color chalk to create moth art from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at the Nature Center. All ages welcome to participate without fee.
“Godzilla vs. Mothra” will be shown at 9:15 p.m. July 26 at the campground. The outdoor venue makes this evening activity great family fun. Snacks and drinks are available to purchase. There is no fee to attend.  
To learn more about National Moth Week, visit For Pipestem State Park activities, events and facility information, go to or call 304-466-1800.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Nemesis Bird

Bobolink (c) 2013 HVI
I have been trying; without any success to get a Bobolink photo since 2007. Finally, on 6-9-2013 one sit still long enough for me to actually press the shutter button. This bird was on the White Grass cross country skiing property on Freeland Road in Tucker County. It was still too far away for a decent shot. But, as I have said before; a bad photo for the collection is much better than no photo.

Over the years, I have not had any problems with finding Bobolinks. The problem has been that they do not seem to want to pose for me. I just can't get them to sit on power-lines or roadside fence posts. Maybe my luck will change since the ice was finally broken.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Gauley River Trout

Summersville Lake tailwater trout stocking

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. – The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources in cooperation with the West Virginia Professional Outfitters Association (WVPRO) stocked 1,500 pounds of rainbow trout in the Summersville Dam tailwater of the Gauley River on June 5. 
The goal of the stocking is to enhance trout fishing opportunities in the Gauley River, especially in the remote canyon section of the Gauley River, according to DNR Director Frank Jezioro. The trout stockings were conducted by helicopter and should provide good fishing in the summer and fall, Jezioro said.
The program is supported by rafting fees to compensate for additional days of whitewater rafting flows on the Gauley River and reduced fishing opportunities during these high flows released from Summersville Dam.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Canaan Valley Birding Festival

(c) HVI

Birding Festival at Canaan Valley Resort rivals western states for birding species observed

            DAVIS, W.Va. – Tucker County in West Virginia’s Allegheny Highlands rivals any bird-watching area found in the United States, bar none. Offering a unique mix of boreal forest, wetland habitats, and high altitude (4250’), the land mass and geography is the perfect location each summer for breeding birds. Canaan Valley Resort State Park’s annual Birding Festival is May 31 through June 2. This year’s theme is Migrating Birds and Their Habitat Needs.
            “There is an amazing diversity of bird species,” said licensed bird bander Joey Herron, who is one of the multiple leaders at the festival. Bird walks, guest speakers and other activities are planned for experts to beginners in birding.
            A weekend lodging package is available that includes all birding activities. Two nights at Canaan Valley Lodge is $184 per person based on two people sharing a room; three nights is $250. The cost includes nightly lodging, daily breakfast and lunch buffets, two evening receptions, multiple guest speakers, registration fee and lodge amenities. For reservations or other options, call 800-622-4121 for details. Day-only guests are welcome to join the festival with participation costs of $45-$99 per person.
            The Canaan Valley Birding weekend is supported by the Tucker County CVB; The Nature Conservancy; WVDNR Wildlife Resources; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;  Friends of the 500th;  Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley Resort state parks; and the West Virginia Master Naturalist program.
            Complete event details are online at Details include difficulty of hike or field trip and driving times to special locations.
Birding Festival field trips and activities include
Friday, May 31, 2013
            Stuart Memorial is a full day walk that begins at 5:30 a.m. and includes a boxed lunch. Field trip leaders are Emily Grafton and Joey Herron. This carpool activity may observe Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Typically there are 15-18 species of warblers with the possibility of Ruffed Grouse, Swainson's Thrush and Golden-winged Warbler.
            Pendleton Lake, located at Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, is a high-elevation (3,000 feet) 10-acre impoundment with associated riparian, spruce and northern hardwood forest, shrub, and old field habitats. Breeding species may include Hermit Thrush, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, Dark-eyed Junco, Swamp Sparrow. Other possibilities include Prairie Warbler, Blackthroated Blue Warbler, Nashville Warbler, and Alder Flycatcher. Leaders for this activity are Sue Olcott and Paulita Cousin. The trip departs at 5:45 a.m.
            Blackwater River Trail  includes habitat of forest, marshes, and grasslands along the Blackwater River and Golf Course Road in Canaan Valley Resort State Park – about two miles of easy walking. A good variety of species inhabit these varied habitats – among them Warblers, Flycatchers, Meadowlarks, Woodpeckers, Herons, Raptors and forest birds. Terry Bronson is the featured birding guide, with activity beginning at 7 a.m.
            Canaan Birds for Beginners at 8 a.m. is a short audio-visual prior to this walk. Afterwards, carpooling to nearby trails on Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge will include Balsam wetlands and grasslands. Species to encounter are Bobolinks, Savannah Sparrows, Kingbirds and the haunting song of the Hermit Thrush. This activity is also scheduled on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
            Birds and Butterflies will be the primary focus of the walk with leaders Fran and Bill Pope and Sue Olcott on Friday and Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. Butterfly species include Pink-edged Sulphur and Harris’ Checkerspot.
            Birding by Ear allows birders to identify species in dense foliage, distance, shyness, and darkness or poor light. How to identify birds by listening to their songs, calls, and other noises is part of Terry Bronson’s program that begins at 1 p.m.
            Floor to Ceiling – Forest Road 80 takes participants from the floor of Canaan Valley to the lofty ceiling overlooking it all, providing almost 1,000 feet of elevation change in the process. Likely species include Bobolink, several sparrow possibilities, Northern Harrier and American Kestrel in the lowlands; forest interior breeders such as Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Ovenbird and Hooded Warbler along the way up; and mountaintop species such as Blackburnian Warbler and Goldencrowned Kinglet at the top; specialties such as Northern Waterthrush, Winter Wren, and hopefully even a Swainson’s Thrush is possible. Birding leader is Michael Welch, with activity beginning at 1 p.m.
            Beall Tract – Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge with leaders LeJay Graffious and Dr. Derek Courtney is a 1 p.m. event. The Beall trails pass through forest, field, shrub, swamp and bog habitats, with spur trails leading to the Blackwater River. Kingfishers and flycatchers are often seen along the trails near the river. And the grassland area routes have produced over half a dozen sparrow species.
            A Tour of Bear Rocks and Dolly Sods will be led by Mike Powell with the Nature Conservancy.
            The Saturday keynote speaker is Katie Fallon, “Saving the Cerulean Warbler.” Sounds of the Night – Evening Walk follows the evening keynote speaker.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
            Dolly Sods full-day trip with leaders Emily Grafton and Herb Myers.
            Seneca Rocks – South Branch of the Potomac includes a steep 1.3 mile trail to reach the observation platform and a morning chorus of Pine Warblers. Other species include Worm-eating Warblers, both Cuckoo species and a host of other songbirds. As time allows, the trip will include a venture into the canyon of the Smokehole River, which usually turns up a few breeding Common Mergansers and an assortment of warblers, flycatchers and vireos. The trip concludes in grass- and farmlands north of Petersburg where such state rarities as Dickcissel and Loggerhead Shrike are known to breed, according to leaders LeJay Graffious and Dr. Derek Courtney.
            The Parsons / Fernow Fieldtrip in the past has observed cuckoos; four swallow species, including Cliff, Orchard Oriole, Parula; and Yellow-throated Warblers. Other species spotted include nesting Bluebirds; and a variety of warblers. Field trip leader is Joey Herron.
            Birds & Wildflowers Walk with Jackie Burns is an afternoon option.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
            Northern Tract Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge is the most remote area field trip planned and departs at 5:30 a.m. Habitat includes wetlands, early-successional meadows and hardwood forest. This area has recently hosted Golden-winged Warbler, Clay-colored Sparrow and American Bittern. The drive to this beautiful destination makes the longer field trip worthwhile.
            Mountaintop Birds requires a chairlift ride and begins at 6 a.m. A mixture of forest systems and the altitude change along the route will give tour-goers the chance to see and hear a variety of species usually found in more northern climates.
            Camp 70, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge trip will visit early-succession meadows and hardwood forest and pass by a wetland area in a part of the refuge east of Davis. Among the species possible here are Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Least Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Hermit Thrush, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, and Black-throated Green Warblers, Field and Swamp Sparrows, and perhaps a late Solitary Sandpiper.
            All activities and field trips leave from Canaan Valley Resort State Park to depart for activity destinations.
Canaan Valley Birding Festival Leaders
Keynote Speaker: Katie Fallon “Saving the Cerulean Warbler”
            Fallon is the author of the non-fiction book Cerulean Blues: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird (Ruka Press, 2011).
Terry Bronson an active birder in West Virginia and New Hampshire.  He is the president of Mountaineer Audubon in Morgantown.
Jackie Burns has a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from West Virginia University and has recently retired after 30 years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Derek Courtney, M.D., was born in Fairmont and resides in Morgantown. He has particular interest in avian photography. During the 2010 calendar year, Derek observed 259 bird species within the state's borders.
Paulita Cousin is a park naturalist at Blackwater Falls State Park and a graduate from Garrett College with an associate’s degree in wildlife management.
Ken Dzaack has a degree in wildlife management from Garrett College and is a certified West Virginia master naturalist.
LeJay Graffious had a 36-year career Preston and Monongalia counties school system. He is past president and trustee of the Brooks Bird Club. 
Emily Grafton is a West Virginia native with over 35 years of natural history experience. With degrees in botany and special education with an emphasis on teaching science, she has written numerous articles on plants and wildlife including comprehensive field guides for two state parks, and is an avid birder.
Joey Herron has more than 40 years of birding experience and holds a biology degree from Glenville State College. Herron conducts Saw-whet Owl banding each fall at Valley Falls State Park near Fairmont, banding over 240 migrants. His book, “Birds of Prickett’s Fort State Park,” showcases more than 140 species of birds with photographs. Herron also conducts banding demonstrations in May and October at Tygart Lake State Park.
Diane Holsinger is a licensed veterinary technician from Timberville, Va. Holsinger has assisted with Breeding Bird Surveys, Breeding Bird Atlas in West Virginia and Warbler Project at the Smithsonian in Front Royal, Virginia. Beginner Birding, Wildflowers & Mushrooms are classes she teaches for the Life Long Learning Institute at James Madison University in Virginia. Her birdwatching has led her to the western United States, Iceland, Ireland, India, Africa, Cuba and Scotland.
Herb Myers, M.D., took up birding as a hobby for retirement and has birded in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alberta, Newfoundland, Arizona, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Oregon, Florida, California, Ecuador and the Galápagos but especially likes West Virginia.
Susan Olcott is a wildlife diversity biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Olcott is project leader for the West Virginia Butterfly Atlas and also headed up the West Virginia Dragonfly and Damselfly Atlas. She holds a B.S. from the University of Maine in wildlife biology and an M.S. from Frostburg State University in the same.
Bill Pope is a master naturalist and serves as a monitor for the Cranesville Swamp Preserve. In pursuit of birding adventures, he has traveled the western U.S., South & Central America, and Antarctica. Pope is a physician in public health in Garrett County, Md.
Fran Pope grew up in the tropics, attracting colorful arrays of birds and butterflies with ripe bananas. A resident of  Garrett County, Md., she is a 40-year volunteer with the USGS Breeding Bird Survey program and completes two breeding bird routes in Garrett County, Md., each June. As a birder turned butterflier, Pope is compiling an updated list of the butterflies of Tucker County.
Mike Powell, a resident of Canaan Valley, works for the Nature Conservancy as land steward, where he has management responsibility for all of TNC’s properties in West Virginia. Powell is a WVU graduate with a B.S. in recreation and parks management and holds an M.A. in Forestry and Agriculture.
Michael Welch holds an M.S. from East Tennessee State University, where his thesis work revolved around forest-dependent breeding bird species. He has worked and birded from the mid-Atlantic to Colorado, Texas, and Florida, including monitoring peregrine falcons in the high desert of the Colorado Plateau, performing breeding bird censuses in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and serving as coordinator of the Great Florida Birding Trail. He is currently the Natural Heritage program zoologist with West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
Michael Williams is a native of Marietta, Ohio and attended Marietta College and Ohio State University. He worked for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for 28 years as the departmental photojournalist and as a geologist and started birding in 1995. He has birded from both coasts to Texas and western Canada.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Day Three

The rooster crows at 4:35; I get up and step outside.  The wind is blowing and the clouds are rolling in. It would probably be a good idea to go back to bed. But, I'm already awake and it is supposed to rain over the next few days. I don't hunt in the rain anymore. I head out in the darkness, still not real enthused. I park in a favorite spot and listen for a little while. The Whip-poor-wills are not enthused on this morning, either. They sound a little slow. I head up the hill and down a logging road. I find a tree big enough to sit against and clear out a few limbs and briers.
Wood Thrushes, Hooded Warblers and towhees dominate the early morning chorus. The turkeys are silent and so am I. I sit; not making a sound for over an hour. At 6:55, I yelped twice on the slate call. Silence; except for the songbirds. I sit for another fifteen minutes. My left leg is asleep, it is getting windier and I'm ready to go. I stand up and try to get the feeling back in my leg. One gobbles about 70 yards away.

I sit back down, dig out my head-net and gloves. Silence. I yelp once more and he gobbles again. He is closer than before. I put a mouth call in my jaw and wait. Nothing; I call once more, he gobbles and is coming down the road from the same direction that I walked in. Another gobbler is coming behind him. I get shifted around in the direction, punch off the safety and wait. I see movement to my right, in the direction I was originally facing. One head, then two and now five adult gobblers in full strut at twenty yards or less. They are staring directly at me. But, I'm still facing up the logging road where the other two are coming. I know I can't move. I'm stuck. The lead gobbler on the road stops behind a fallen tree top. He is in range, but not in the clear. He is frozen; looking for me. I can still see the other five out of the corner of my eye and they are getting real nervous. A couple are starting to walk in circles, everything is going to be over quickly; if I don't do something.

The gobbler in the road begins to turn and walk away; still obscured by the tree-top. I gamble and cutt loudly. He gobbles and steps out from behind the tree. Game over and the sky is full of flying gobblers. It was a pleasant walk back to the truck on this morning 5/6/2013. Just think, I could have went back to bed and not felt a bit guilty about it.

(c) May 6, 2013 High Virginia Outdoors Photos (c) 3013 High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tagged Catfish

Catfish Stockings begin in mid-May 2013 Angler Rewards Possible at West Virginia State Parks

            PARKERSBURG, W.Va. – Catfish stocking begins in mid-May in West Virginia, and that provides another opportunity to encourage youth and families to get outdoors. Others include Kids to Parks Day on May 18, National Get Outdoors Day on June 8, and National Fishing and Boating week, June 1 -9. The latter includes Free Fishing days on June 8 and June 9 in West Virginia.
            Fishing is especially attractive to youngsters and is a West Virginia tradition. Catfishing opportunities are available at many lakes in West Virginia’s State Parks in additional to stream and river fishing for other fish species.
             “I got hooked on fishing at an early age,” said Kristi Steed, group sales coordinator at North Bend State Park. “My dad took me hunting and fishing as a child.  I watched my son catch his first fish and for our family, a tradition continues.”
            “Catfishing is increasing in popularity with young people,” according Frank Jezioro, director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “Catchable-size catfish are stocked at user friendly lakes across the state as one of our warmwater fisheries programs.”
            The DNR Wildlife Resources Section and West Virginia’s state parks have teamed to make catfishing even more rewarding. Tagged channel catfish will be stocked into lakes at these state parks in mid-May: Cacapon (Morgan Co.), Cedar Creek (Gilmer Co.), Chief Logan (Logan Co.), Pipestem (Summers Co.), and Tomlinson Run (Hancock Co.). Anglers who catch a tagged fish are asked to return the tag or the tag number along with  information on the date of capture, if the fish was kept or released, and the name and address of the angler to WVDNR, 2311 Ohio Ave, Parkersburg, WV 26101. Anglers also can call in the information (304-420-4550) or provide the information via e-mail
            Anglers who report a tagged fish will receive the “tagged reward,” park information, a certificate and a letter of congratulations via US mail after the information is received and recorded by DNR fisheries biologists. Each certificate has a choice of three prizes: a train ride at Cass Scenic Railroad, a boat ride on the sternwheeler “Island Belle” to Blennerhassett Island or a Recreational Activity Pass at Pipestem resort.
            Other state park area lakes stocked with catfish but not tagged include: Berwind Lake (McDowell Co.), Laurel Lake (Mingo Co.), Little Beaver State Park Lake (Raleigh Co.), North Bend State Park Pond (Ritchie Co.), and Watoga State Park Lake (Pocahontas Co.).
            Fishing at state parks and forests requires a West Virginia fishing license for anyone age 15 and older except for the free fishing days scheduled June 8 and 9, 2013. Also, residents who turn age 65 after January 1, 2012, are required to purchase a Senior Lifetime License.
            There is no admission charge to state-operated parks and forests to go fishing. More than 30 areas in the West Virginia state parks system offer fishing opportunities onsite. Catfish stocking is in addition to spring trout stocking at many state park and forest locations.
                For a complete list of catfish stockings visit For more about West Virginia’s state park system and outdoor activities in May and June, visit and click Event Calendar.

No Swimming

Enforcement of No Swimming Regulation at Pleasant Creek Wildlife Management Area

            GRAFTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) announces that swimming from the shoreline of Tygart Lake on the Pleasant Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is prohibited by regulations governing public use of Wildlife Management Areas (§58-70-2.11). This regulation will be strictly enforced beginning immediately, according to Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the Wildlife Resources Section and Colonel Dave Murphy, Chief of the Law Enforcement Section.
            “Illegal swimming and associated parking of vehicles has negatively impacted the launching and parking of boat trailers using the boat ramp on Pleasant Creek WMA,” Taylor said. “This illegal swimming has also created serious public safety concerns; therefore, strict enforcement of the no swimming regulation is necessary.”
            The DNR Parks and Recreation Section plans to reopen the public swimming area at Tygart Lake State Park in 2014. This will provide the public with safe and convenient shoreline swimming opportunities on Tygart Lake. In addition, swimming from boats and other watercraft is permissible now.
            For additional information, contact the DNR Farmington Office at 304-825-6787.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Day Two

May 3, 2013: A few more Whip-poor-wills have showed up and are signing with more vigor this morning. Still no owls to be heard. Sunrise nears and two gobblers sound off; one at 10 and one at 2. I've picked the perfect spot in the dark. Both are within 80 yards and 4 roads meet right in front of me.

I wait for fly-down time. I hear wing beats from the 10 o'clock gobbler and make a single, short fly-down cackle. I hear the other gobbler pitch down. He double gobbles when he hits the ground. The other answers. Perfect, I make a series of yelps and wait. Another double gobble and the bird is closer. I turn slightly and get the old 870 pointed to the intersection. Both birds are now gobbling and moving closer. I think, as I did on Wednesday that this is going to be quick. Suddenly it is silent. More silence follows, a single gobble from the knob across the hollow. Then another single gobble on the same knob, about 200 yards from the first. Something boogered them up again. Living in coyote city must be hard on everything. I sit for a half hour and hear nothing from the turkeys. Oh well, on the bright side; it sounds as if all of the Hooded Warblers arrived last night. Maybe tomorrow.

Images (c) 5-3-2013 High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day One

5/1/13 (c) HVI
There is nothing finer than a May morning in the turkey woods (or what is left of the turkey woods). I have evolved over the years enough to be able to skip the first week of spring gobbler season in West Virginia. You could say that I just don't enjoy the company.

I pulled into one of my favorite spots near home and listened to a Whip-poor-will as I pulled on my boots. the woods began to awaken as I walked up the hill. Towhees and Wood Thrushes dominated the chorus. One turkey gobbled in the distance; then another, still further in another direction.
I stood, enjoying the music and waiting for a nearer gobble. The crows start and there it was, two gobblers about three-hundred yards away. I hurry and settle into a familiar clump of trees. I dig into my turkey vest for the first time this year, head-net, gloves and slate call are actually in the right pockets. I do a fly-down cackle and the woods erupt with gobbles; all are close. Within 200 yards! They get into a gobbling contest with each other. I stay silent until the first one hits the ground; a few yelps on the slate and he is headed my way; quickly.

He double-gobbles at about 80 yards, the others join in. I think; this is going to be quick. I see movement to my right. A coyote head, now a whole blond coyote; headed straight to me. I must have sounded good. He is within thirty yards, I can't turn on him from my location. He gets straight behind me and the wind is in my face. He winds me and heads up the power-line towards the turkeys. All goes silent.
American Redstart (c) HVI
Slowly, the songbirds begin sounding off and within fifteen minutes; all was back to normal. Except for the turkeys. They remained silent. I sat there for about an hour. Nothing. I head on a morel stroll back to my truck. Again, nothing. I reach my truck and get ready to leave. I turn the key and once again; nothing. My fuel pump has decided not to work anymore. Oh well, it was a good morning, this day; 5-01-2013.
Posted by High Virginia Outdoors

Photos (c)5/1/13 High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

First Trout 2013

(c)2013 HVI
Well, I finally did it. I made myself go fishing for the first time since June 2, 2012. Every time I have had a little time in 2013; the water has been frozen or flooded. I rode over to the Middle Fork this morning and arrived on the stream at 6:40. I was back in the truck at 7:12. I believe that I made a grand total of 11 casts. It was a pleasant morning, my waders had no holes and the Barn Swallows were quite entertaining. Maybe I'll make myself go again. I hope the rain we are supposed to get today turns out to be the Mushroom Rain.

Middle Fork (c)2013 HVI

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Micro Morels 2013

Morels 4/17/13 (c) 2013 HVI
It is really nice to be fortunate enough to have morels pop up in your own yard every year. This enables you to know exactly what is going on in your area. The morels in the photo on the left came up this morning. They may be a quarter of an inch tall and you would never see them if you didn't know exactly where to look.

My first yard morels emerged yesterday morning (4/16/13) and as always; my first asparagus shoots came up later in the afternoon. I am guessing that asparagus needs slightly warmer soil temperatures than does the morels. It couldn't be more than a degree or two. Over the past 14 years, they have never failed to come up on the same day; the morels are always first in the late morning with asparagus following the same afternoon.

Asparagus 4/16/13 (c) HVI
I never get a big picking of morels from the yard, I think the fewest I have ever gotten was around 10. I believe the record was 22 or so; but it is good to know that I can count on them to tell when to search more productive areas.

Morels 4/16/13 (c) HVI

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fifty-two Degrees

Hendrickson (c) 2012 HVI
It will happen; at some point this spring, the water temperature will reach 52. When this happens, trout will begin looking up. The first major mayfly hatch will be getting into action. Hendrickson nymphs (Ephemerella subvaria) will begin to emerge. The sky will be full of swarms of this mayfly over the riffles of your favorite trout stream. Birds and fish will get their fill. In 2012; there was a great hatch on the lower Shavers Fork on April 3. The date of emergence this year will be anyone's guess. There is a lot of warming up and allot of snow melt that needs to happen; before the Hendrickson hatch; this year. I'm betting that it will not happen until mid-April. Only your trusty stream thermometer will know for sure. They were hatching on Horseshoe Run on April 2 last year, also.Whether you are a fly-fisher or not, you should make the effort to go and see a big mayfly hatch. You will never forget the experience. The best way to predict when it will happen on your favorite section of water is to keep checking the water temperature. One day, when the magic number is reached in late-morning; the show will start. Try to be there.
(c) 2012 HVI

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors Photos by High Virginia Images (c) 2013 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Change is in the Air

Pied-billed Grebe (c) 2013 HVI
That little drab bird that you have seen all winter long bobbing and diving in the ponds and backwaters is no longer drab. Our Pied-billed Grebes are getting some color. They are getting ready to move into secluded cattail stands to raise their broods. We do not have a strong breeding population here in West Virginia; but there are a few pairs that choose to stay here and raise their young. Soon they will be stamping down a mat of vegetation and laying their eggs. It may be somewhere near you. One will never know what is going on around them; unless they make the effort to observe.

(c) 2012 HVI
Changes happen on a continuous basis but; do we see them? Yes, changes are in the air on this first day of pseudo Spring.

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors  Photos by High Virginia Images (c) 2013 All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 4, 2013

Do You Remember These?

1980 WV Trout Stamp (2013) HVI
Do you remember when you really wished for your hunting and fishing license at Christmas? Do you remember when trout stamps looked like trout stamps? Do you remember the anxiety of making sure you had your trout stamp by the first pretty day of the new year (if you didn't get it for Christmas)? Consider yourself fortunate if you do.

I bet you can even remember pulling off in a spot on a mountain stream and not having two other vehicles pull in behind you. Maybe you can remember when you could actually catch a trout and not be converged upon by others. Consider yourself lucky. Lucky enough to remember when trout fishing was an enjoyable experience in the mountain state.Lucky enough to remember when 10 dollars worth of gas would get you somewhere and trout stamps looked like trout stamps'
Posted by High Virginia Outdoors photo by High Virginia Images (c)2013 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Signs of Life

Case- Maker Caddisflies
I stopped along the Dry Fork River on Sunday (2/24/13), just to let the dogs out for a walk. The sky was blue and the winds were somewhat calm but the air was still quite cool. We pulled of in the mud and snow; downstream from Jenningston. I noticed that there was some underwater activity going on.

There were hundreds of these Case-Maker Caddidflies clinging to the rocks in the calm shallow water areas. Some were actually crawling around, seeming to jockey for position and intercept some rays of sun.

Case-Maker Caddisflies are of the (Limnephildae) family. They live in stationary waters and can be found in the streams margins and calm backwaters.They are climbers and clingers and do not attach their cases to the substrate. They are shredders and feed upon decaying vegetation. The stick-worms in the photo are probably from the genus Pycnopsyche  and will hatch into adults during mid-summer. No matter what you want to call them; they are fish food. There are millions of them out there in the streams and they are available year-round. They don't look like Power-bait either, do they?

Dry Fork
Posted by High Virginia Outdoors  Photos (c)2013 High Virginia Images

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Are You Taking Part ? Why Not?

GBBC eNewsletter

February 15, 2013
Yellow dots on the map show where checklists are being submitted in real time.

GBBC is Underway Around the World

The 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count has officially begun! We're on a record-breaking pace with 928 species already reported by mid-day on the first day. The previous species record for the entire four-day count was just over 600!

Today through Monday, February 18, we invite you to be part of this massive citizen-science effort. Join tens of thousands of fellow bird watchers from around the world by counting birds and submitting your checklists to Simply watch birds for at least 15 minutes at any location and tally the number of each bird species you see. Submit a new checklist for each day and for each new location. You can count in as many locations as you like. Just be sure to enter a new list for each site.

Here are a few things that you can do to help:

Check this out: Jim Carpenter, CEO of Wild Birds Unlimited, longtime sponsor of the GBBC, talked about the count this morning on the network program Fox & Friends, and he brought some feathered friends with him!

GBBC Participant Perks

Drawing Prizes

Don't forget to check out some of the great prizes you could win just by taking part in the GBBC. We'll award prizes in a random drawing from among all participants. See the prizes.

Birding App Special

A special GBBC offer on the BirdLog app is available through the February 18. You can get the BirdLog app for iPhone (iOS4 and higher) and Android smartphones for just 99 cents. BirdLog allows you to upload your sightings from the field into the free eBird online checklist program as well as the GBBC. Take it for a test flight today!

Software Deal

GBBC participants can also get a special deal from Thayer Software. You'll receive a 20% discount on Thayer Birding Software DVDs at the OnlineNatureMall. Just enter the promotional code “GBBC” at checkout. Offer valid now through March 30.

Behind the Scenes

As bird sightings pour in at a record-breaking pace from around the world, our technical team is working hard to help keep all systems up and running smoothly. Some participants may have had trouble connecting to the website or signing in this morning. The team has resolved these issues, so if you encountered a problem before, please try again.

Tips for signing in:

• Remember that usernames and passwords are case sensitive. Double check your capital and lower case letters.

• If you're not yet signed in, you'll see two options after you click on the "Submit Your Checklists" button. Select the one you want—to either create a new account or sign in to an existing one.

Thank you for your patience and understanding! We are thrilled to see so many people participating from around the world. As the count continues, if you have trouble connecting to the website, please try again another time. You can submit your data any time during the count and afterward until March 1.
Visit Wild Birds Unlimited, a sponsor of the Great Backyard Bird Count!

Get Your Common Birds Poster

If you're new to birding, start learning a few of the most common species first. Download and print our PDF Guide to Common Birds. This poster features beautiful watercolors of some of the most common and easily identified birds found in the U.S. and Canada, and is a great way to start learning about common North American birds.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Great Backyard Bird Count & eBird !!!!

16th GBBC merges with eBird - 15-18 Feb 2013
February 12, 2013
16th GBBC merges with eBird - 15-18 Feb 2013
Are you ready for the 2013 Great Backyard Bird Count (15-18 February 2013)? This promises to be the biggest year ever as we open the GBBC to the entire world and integrate it with eBird! This means that for the first time ever, the GBBC will take a snapshot of the global avifauna. This year all data entered into eBird go into GBBC and vice versa. From now on, GBBC data entry will use the eBird checklist interface, will take advantage of eBird output tools, and will be completely integrated with your personal eBird account. New visitors to eBird should be sure to check out the eBird Quick Start Guide. If you are already an avid eBirder, we ask one more thing of you for the GBBC. Please try to take out at least one or two people who don't use eBird and introduce them to counting birds and eBird.

Monday, February 11, 2013

April 2011- Laurel Creek, Clay County, WV

Trout Stocking Suspended on Laurel Creek, Clay County

ELKINS, W.Va. – The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources announces that trout stockings on Laurel Creek in Clay County have been suspended indefinitely due to poor road conditions.
“Over the years, the access road used for stocking trout has deteriorated to the point where our stock trucks are constantly getting stuck,” according to Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the Wildlife Resources Section. “We cannot afford to have our stock trucks damaged or put our employees in danger of getting hurt while attempting to free their trucks from the mud and soft gravel areas.”
Laurel Creek was added to the DNR’s stocking schedule in the mid-1990s, at which time stockings could be made throughout much of its length. A number of fords must be crossed to complete the stockings, and over the years these have deteriorated so much, that in recent years, only a few of the upper fords could be crossed.

Friday, February 8, 2013

WV Trout Stocking Changes

DNR Announces Changes for the 2013 Spring Trout Stocking Season

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has several changes for the current trout stocking season, according to Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the DNR Wildlife Resources Section.
Trout stocking of Laurel Fork of Holly River in Webster County will be delayed as a result of ongoing work at Holly River State Park. The park is currently closed as contractors work to restore power and repair infrastructure that was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. “We hope to stock trout there in March,” Taylor said.
Trout stocking of Boley Lake and Glade Creek (of Manns Creek) in Fayette County also will be delayed due to replacement of the bridge that spans Glade Creek and provides access to the stream and lake. Work on the new bridge is expected to be completed by late March and trout stockings should resume in April.
The Corps of Engineers plans to dewater and clean the stilling basin at R. D. Bailey Lake in Wyoming/Mingo counties. Trout typically are stocked in the stilling basin below the dam and downstream. This work is scheduled for late March and is expected to be completed by April 4, 2013. Due to the scheduled dewatering, trout will not be stocked in the stilling basin until after the work is completed. Trout will be stocked downstream according to the normal schedule.
New Creek Lake (Site 14), in Grant County, will not be stocked until the Natural Resources Conservation Service has filled the impoundment. The lake was drained a couple of years ago to facilitate repairs to the water-release structure. After partial filling, NRCS will test the gates used to regulate the amount of water discharged from the lake. If the tests are satisfactory, the lake will be filled to its normal pool level. Trout stocking is expected to begin later this spring.
“As these waters become available for trout stocking, we will put a notice on the daily trout stocking update page,” said Taylor.
Anglers can call the Fishing Hotline at 304-558-3399 or visit the website at to find out which streams and lakes have been stocked each day.