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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Elk Viewing in Western PA - Sept 23 - 28, 2015

Sharon and Al at Elk Country Visitor Center
           Sharon and I have always wanted to visit Elk County to watch the Elk do their thing during the autumn rut. Well this was the year. We also have a plan to visit all the state parks in Pennsylvania. On the way to Elk County we stopped at six new state parks, mostly in Centre Co. During our visits we managed to do a little birding. Some of our favorites were Wild Turkey and Ruffed Grouse.
Ruffed Grouse in Poe Paddy State Park

Penn-Roosevelt State Park provided a flock of Wild Turkey
      After visiting the parks and having lunch we stopped at the Creamery on the Penn State campus for some delicious ice cream. At Black Moshannon St Pk we added a Barred Owl calling about two hours before dusk. The visits to the parks took more time then we figured so we had to spend the night in Clearfield Co. 
      From all of our research we knew that the elk were best viewed a little before dusk. Since we were only about an hour away we had to find other things to do until dusk. SO we started driving the dirt roads throughout the county. We came across Shagger's Inn Lake early in the morning and there was still a mist hanging over the lake. It made for a great photo opp.
Shagger's Inn Lake

Shagger's Inn Lake in Clearfield County
        The birds in the area were hard to see but we could hear a lot and see a few. We found Kingfisher, Blue-headed Vireo, three species of woodpecker, Brown Creeper, Black-throated Green and Yellow-rumped Warblers and White-throated Sparrows.
           After traveling the back roads we explored the town of Ridgway and St Mary's in Elk County.  About 4PM we arrived at the Elk Country Visitor Center. Sharon went in and watched the fifteen minute movie while I walked around the center searching for bird life. It was quite active here. I found loads of Killdeer, four woodpeckers including Pileated, Pewee and Phoebe, Black-capped Chickadee, Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, Blackpolls, Pine, Black-throated Green and Yellow-rumped Warblers.
            We then walked about a quarter of a mile and tried to pick a good area to view the elk. Around 5:30PM we could hear the bull elks bugling in the woods
 across the field. Pretty soon the females started exiting the woods and started feeding in the fields. A bull elk finally showed itself and started collecting a harem. But apparently it wasn't his harem. An older, more dominant bull decided it was his harem and starting walking over to the other bull elk. We thought there was going to be an encounter but the first bull just walked away very quickly after the old bull trotted over.
The dominant bull elk bugling

  After watching for about two hours we finally saw a battle between a couple of elk. Once again the old bull was defending his harem against another want-to-be dominant bull. We also got to see why the old bull wanted to guard his harem, if you get my drift. 

Yearling Spike Male Elk

Saying good night to the elk

         We stayed until dark and then drove to St Mary's where we spent the evening. For the next four days we did a loop around Pennsylvania adding about twenty more state parks and also spent one day in southern New York where we visited the Roger Tory Peterson Institute and the Lucy and Desi Museum in Jamestown. It was a fun filled week and something that I would recommend to others. 
          Below are some misc photos of trip.
Set of the "I Love Lucy" Show

Sharon doing a commercial for Vitameatavegamin

Roger Tory Peterson Institute

Peterson's Paintings
Lighthouse at Presque Isle

Kinzua Dam

Eclipse of moon while we were in Franklin County

Pitcher Plant in Pennsylvania bog

Sharon standing atop Waggoner's Gap in Cumberland Co

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