Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Consturction Continues At Gilbert Farm Viewing Area

I arrived in Elk Country last week to find construction going full bore on the new parking lot atop Winslow Hill at the Gilbert Farm Viewing Area.  Thanks to photos posted on Facebook by Tom Dorsey and others and verbal reports from Ron, "Buckwheat" Saffer and Billie Cromwell, what I found was not a great surprise..  The first photo posted below is taken from Winslow Hill Road going north up the hill.  I was standing in Winslow Hill Road at the point where the new Dewey Road branches off from Winslow Hill Road.  Where the equipment is parked is just in front of the old parking lot.  At the time this photo was taken, construction netting was across the new section of road at both ends and also along the entire frontage with Winslow Hill Road.

New Dewey Road And Parking Lot Construction
Billie Cromwell reports that he was there on the day the hard surface was torn up.  A big dozer arrived with a scarifier attached to the blade and in a short time the blacktop was removed.  This section of Winslow Hill Road is now a narrow gravel road for the time being.  Below is the view looking up the hill with the old parking lot being on the left.

Winslow Hill Road
In the photo below I am standing in old Dewey Road and looking up the new portion of the road which was fenced off at that time.

New Dewey Road
 I was somewhat surprised to find that the old portion of Dewey Road was still there and was still being used  when I arrived, but I suspect that situation will change soon if it has not already as by Thursday the workers were spreading a coat of gravel on the new portion of the road, which seemed to indicate they were getting it ready to use in the near future.

Old Portion Of Dewey Road Still In Use Last Week
Spreading Gravel At Winslow Hill-New Dewey Rd Intersection
Below is a photo of the intersection of the old portion of the road with the new.  As I understand it the old portion will be covered over and landscaped into the new viewing area.

Intersection Of Old And New Portions Of Dewey Road
Spreading Gravel On New Portion Of Dewey Rd
It will be interesting to see what this all looks like when it is completed and how it impacts the elk viewing experience.  An important concern to many is whether parking will still be permitted  along the portion of Dewey Road that will travel along the meadow to where the old farm house used to be.  If parking is not permitted it is at least hoped that people will still be allowed to stand along the side of the road where the current parking strip is.  If this is not permitted and one must remain in the viewing area at the top of  the hill if they wish to watch this portion of the meadow it will effectively ruin elk photography at this spot.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Calves And Bulls In Pennsylvania Elk Country

I spent most of the past week in Pennsylvania Elk Country with the primary focus of the trip being the photography of elk calves and bulls in velvet.  A large herd of cows was seen most mornings and evenings along Dewey Road.  At times it was possible to see calves with them and sometimes there were many of them.  Mostly the calves were seen either very early or very late when the light was less than ideal for quality photographs.

Elk Calf

Many of the elk were very shy and calves especially usually didn't linger near the road.  It is common for them to be more spooky at this time of year as the cows are especially concerned about protecting the young from danger.  Many of the calves were fitted with ear tags.  This is done by workers capturing the calves and fitting them with the tags and collecting biological data and it seems likely that this also contributes to the animals being especially shy at this time of year.

Extended Family Group
No ear  tags are visible in today's photographs, but I have quite a bit of video of calves with tags and will hopefully be posting a short video of wildlife seen on the trip in the near future.  As usual, I took mostly video as it works better in very low light conditions or at long range. 

Most of the bulls seen from the road on Winslow Hill were small, but one 5x5  was of respectable size, although it is still a young bull and far from realizing its' maximum potential. A few years ago this meadow provided an excellent background of wildflowers and tall grasses, but now it is kept mowed.

5x5 Pauses From Grazing In Short Grass
The largest bull of the trip was seen well over 100 yards away in Cameron County  one morning and I took a few photos of him. hand-held with the  70D and the new model 100-400mm as the animal was very edgy and seemed likely to flee at any moment..

Cameron County 6x6-Canon 70D-100-400mm IS II
Although he acted very nervous he did not leave, so I cautiously set up the 600mm and the 7D MK II on a tripod and took a few frames.

Cameron County 6x6-Canon 7D MK II-600mm F4
It was a good trip on the whole and I hope to post more about it in the next few days, which will include photos of the relocation of Dewey Rd and the construction of the new parking lot there.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.