Recognition should be given to all those who have gone before; family members, friends, and others that may have influenced me in their own quiet way.

Special recogition should go to my father Kenneth (Kenny to all who knew him) and my grandfathers Selby and Chester (Jake), both born in the 1890s. All of these gentlemen influenced me in their own way...with time fishing, hunting, trapping, or just time spent togeher.....

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bald Eagles

Perhaps in your area; Bald Eagles are a common sight. Where I live; in Danville, Illinois; they are making a come back, but still not an everyday sight. Last winter, I spotted what I recognized to be a Bald Eagle nest. If not for the absence of leaves on the trees, I likely would not have seen it.

I went back to that area several times and in April was rewarded to see that the nest was occupied. I continued going back and taking pictures until sometime in June, when the nest was again vacant. I hope to catch them there again next spring.

Following are pictures I took this spring.

The parents.....

One of the eaglets in April. There were only two as far as I could tell.

A parent cruising the area. I learned that the female is the larger bird.

The nest in a Sycamore tree at edge of river.

The male perched in what came to be a common spot for me to see him. The parents tolerated my presence without much concern. That section of the river is busy with canoes and kayaks, so that may have let them be used to people; although any I see elsewhere, fly away as soon as they spot me.

I came to recognize that the male was the one normally watching the nest whenever I was there. Here he is leaping off a branch and starting flight.

Trying to stay perched on a very windy day!

May 17...the babies are growing.

June 10....the babies are much bigger. This was the last time I saw them at the nest.

Taking flight from the tree limb below it....

 ....banking into a turn....

.........and flying away....

I had a really great time watching this family of eagles and hope to have the privilege to do so next spring.

Thanks for stopping by..........and enjoy the nature in your area....

Early Fall Fishing and Relaxation

I get a fishing license every year, but it seems I never get out and actually fish as much as I think I will when I get it in the spring. This year has been no exception; but I have gotten out several times recently, and really enjoy the slightly cooler temperatures.

Most of the fishing I do is in smaller rivers and streams. Occasionally I can be found at a lake or pond, but I really like moving along a stream or just finding a nice spot and spending some time there.  There is something peaceful about a small meandering river.

What follows is somewhat a summary of a couple of recent outings.

We are beginning to get a bit of nice fall color here. A view as I was walking to a spot on the river I had in mind to fish and then wade back in direction of where I was parked.

The stream I most often spend time along, is the Middlefork Vermilion River. About a 20 mile section of it is designated as a National Scenic River; to my knowledge the only river in Illinois with that distinction.
It is at a low level now and quite easy to wade along and cast along weed beds or deeper holes of water.

This is a spot that I had passed through earlier in the summer, on a kayak trip with a couple of friends...Rusty and Sal. Of course the water level was higher then, but it just looked like a spot I wanted to get back to and try. The stream makes a slight bend here and the faster flowing water empties into a deeper pool. I caught a couple of nice Smallmouth Bass here and had several more strikes.

This fish is one that I caught in the above mentioned spot. These are fun to catch. They fight hard and will do a few aerial acrobatics before you get them in.....and sometimes those aerial shows shake the hook loose.

I also caught several Rock Bass. These will take your lure or bait, and just starting swimming away, trying to go deep in my experience with them. They do not fight as hard or furious as the Smallmouth does; but they are an attractive little fish with those red eyes. I usually catch these along weed beds in a few feet of water, normally with a rocky bottom.

A few other catches that are not uncommon. I have always called this first fish a Pumpkin Seed and that seems to be the popular name locally. I was corrected on that when I posted a picture on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Facebook page; telling me this is actually a Longear Sunfish. I have done a lot of internet research.....and must admit that seems to be the correct name...BUT I will probably continue to call these Pumpkin Seeds when I catch one. After doing the research, I can see the slight difference in the two species...with the main difference being that on a true Pumpkin Seed the "ear" is much shorter.

These Chubs or I usually call them, are not uncommon to catch with a small lure.

A few more pics of some Smallmouth Bass I caught.

A small mussel I found feeding in the sandy bottom. I do not know the identity of this. Feel free to jump in and identify that if you know.

My faithful tag along companion Emma. She loves going along with me...

....and a few pictures of the River and the area...these being taken yesterday.

That spot visible in the middle of the river, will forever be linked in my memory as "Rusty's Leaking Kayak Sandbar"! At that spot, we had to stop because Rusty's Kayak was slowly taking in water. He and Sal repaired it there, with quite an ingenious way. They took a plastic water bottle, heated a piece with a lighter and let the liquid plastic drip into the hole sealing it.

I certainly plan to get out and do this a few more times, before the weather is too cold. Quite a relaxing experience. ......................and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 14, 2013 - Hike Along the Middlefork River

Well here it is the middle of September; and I see that this blog has not been updated since January. My goal is to get regular updates posted again. I had problems uploading pictures for a while, but that seems to be solved.

September 14
This is a memorable date for me. On this date in 1972, my grandfather Selby Hopkins passed away while hunting Ginseng in the Shelbyville, Illinois area. He was 77 years old. His doctor had told him he should no longer get out in the woods; hiking, digging ginseng, and the other roots he collected. He chose to do so anyway, and in my opinion passed away just where he probably wished.  Then on this date in 1986, our son was born. I did not realize the coincidence of that, until just a few years ago when I found information from my grandfather's funeral.

.........Now to get this latest post....and revival to my blog underway!......

What follows are just a few pictures I took when hiking along the river. These first three show the great love that beavers have for corn. They stripped this are, about 10 rows, pulled it down their well traveled path, and into the river. I found a den under tree roots just downstream from their path.

As I stepped from the brush along the river; I spotted this doe, downstream a bit and on the opposite bank. She spotted my movement, but I immediately sat down and after a bit, she ignored my presence. I eventually saw that there were two other does and a buck. I noticed that they are now getting their fall and winter color to their coat; losing the reddish hue that makes them stank out in the spring and summer. I watched all for a while, till they moved away, then I continued on my way.

...and as is not uncommon; I picked up the very distinctive odor of something dead. It did not take me long to find this deer carcass, that the scavengers are working on. Last year I found at least one carcass every time I was out. I believe if you go back to posts on my blog from that time, you will see those and reference to the Blue Tongue disease that killed so many deer last year, during our drought.

I picked a couple of clusters of these wild grapes to snack on as I hiked. They are a bit tart, but a nice treat.

Since I did mention at the beginning that I was hiking along the river; following are a few pictures of the Middlefork River.

There was still a morning mist rising off the water when I first arrived.

We are now beginning to get a bit of fall color.

A bend of the river. Heavy wooded area to the right. A nice restored prairie area on the left.

There are a few areas where you can just about cross the river without getting your feet wet. We have not had any significant rainfall here for a couple of months and the river is low. I kayaked through this area, over the now exposed rocks back in June.

As always, thanks so much for stopping by! If you are able, get out and enjoy the great outdoors in your area.