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April 29, 2014 - 8:10am
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, John Arneth, turkey hunting.

John Arneth was in the fifth grade when his father drove him to Barrett's Batavia Marine to see Paul Butski. The year was 1980 and Butski was at Barrett's to give a demonstration on calling turkeys. Then a former world, state and Grand National champion caller, Butski took aside the youngster from Le Roy and taught him how to use a friction call. Not yet old enough to hunt at the time, John put to use what he learned from the renowned caller, practicing the art of imitating communication between turkeys.

In the decades since, John has learned a great deal in the turkey woods, having hunted turkey in several locations throughout Western New York including Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Chautauqua counties. His passion for turkey hunting has also taken him out of state, pursuing toms in Florida and Alabama. In 32 years of turkey hunting he has taken 52 longbeards. No doubt he has become prolific in the art of calling in wily toms, so much in fact, he is on the pro staff of several makers of outdoor gear, among them Duel Game Calls. Over the years he has conducted 250 turkey and deer seminars at places like Cabela's, Bass Pro, Gander Mountain, National Wild Turkey Federation events, outdoor shows, pro shops, churches and calling contests.

These days John is the town of Le Roy highway superintendant and still an avid turkey hunter. Friday evening I sat down with John and listened as he demonstrated one of Duel Game Calls' newest products, the Blodgett Signature Design turkey call, a totally new look in the game call industry.

The Blodgett series was named in honor of Harry Blodgett, legendary turkey call maker. To say that Arneth and the people at Duel Game Calls are optimistic woud be an understatement. At the National Wild Turkey Federation Grand National Convention the new calls raised eyebrows and turned heads, wowing some of the biggest names in the business.

"The calls absolutely blew people away, even turkey hunting legends like Jim Strelic," he said.

While the lamination gives the call a good look, the business end of the call, the striking surface and the sound it produces, was what got the attention of veteral turkey hunters. "Can it purr?" asked some, "Can it yelp and cutt?" asked others. John Arneth was happy to oblige and he answered their questions the only way he knew how, he demonstated by giving a quick clinic and customers went away satisfied, more often than not with a supply of new  Blodgett calls.   

The reason for the call's success in imitating the sound of a turkey lies in the overall makeup of what is known in the turkey hunting industry as pot style calls.

"We use laminated sugar maple, the same lamination process used by Gibson guitars. We pay a royalty to Gibson guitars for the lamination process because they own the patent," he said. "They are machined pots," he added, "from a very precise computer-controlled cutting machine."

The makeup of the striking surface of the call is a bit more interesting, as John explained, resulting in three different surface types, one being borosilicate crystal to be exact, and it creates a high pitched, very high-quality sound. A second was a slate surface, made from a very pure form of ocean slate. The third striking surface was aluminum, 6061 aircraft aluminum, oil free, bead blasted and it produces the highest frequency call in the industry. 

In addition to Duel Game Calls, John Arneth is on the pro staff of Mossy Oak, Ol' Tom, Gold Tip Arrows, Hawk Tree Stands and Wasp Broadheads. He currently lives in the village of Le Roy with his wife and three daughters    

April 27, 2014 - 1:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, alexander, corfu, hunting, outdoors, Turkey Season.

Kilian Lewis, 14, of Corfu, bagged his first turkey yesterday morning in Alexander as part of a Youth Turkey Hunt, the first day of the Spring youth hunt season (the adult season begins May 1). The turkey had a 10-inch beard. Killian's older brother, Collin, 18, helped call it in. (Photo and info submitted by M. Lewis).

John Zambito, 14, of Elba, got his first turkey this morning while hunting with his uncle Kelly Creegan. (Submitted by Chantal Zambito)

April 24, 2014 - 8:30am

Every year thousands of people flock to Letchworth State Park and of course all who come to the park want a look into the Genesee River Gorge, the Grand Canyon of the East. Among the sights in the gorge, several hundred feet below on the river's surface, are what appear to be blips of white. Those blips are waves of white water and all but unnoticed against a panoramic vista from the overlooks. There, high above the river, they appear somewhat obscure, maybe even miniscule -- unless you maneuver over and through those waves via raft or kayak. And only then will you get a real sense of what the Genesee River Gorge is all about.

Might anyone be interested in seeing the gorge from below, Adventure Calls Outfitters is ready to accommodate. Not only is there an opportunity to view the gorge from the "bottom up," one gets to take a thrilling ride at the same time. 

The accompanying whitewater pics, courtesy of the folks at ACO, were taken during the first two weekends of the rafting season on April 12th, 13th and 19th. With snowmelt and spring runoff in high gear, now is the optimum time for a wild ride with Western New York's premier river runners.                        

Adventure Calls Outfitters is owned and operated by Stafford resident Kevin Kretschmer who has spent 32 years as a whitewater guide on the Genesee River Gorge, the Salmon River up at Pulaski and Cattaraugus Creek through Zoar Valley. He has been the owner of ACO for the past 16 years. 

ACO has a large contingent of skilled guides on hand, each of whom love their work and enjoy nothing better than taking customers through some smashing whitewater.                                                                                                   

Midway through every trip, groups stop for pictures at the base of Wolf Creek Waterfall. Here guests have the opportunity to take the "leap of faith" -- a plunge into a hole beneath the falls. Not to worry, no one's ever been lost taking the leap of faith.                                                                                                     

The user-friendly and highly maneuverable inflatable kayak...aka  funyak!      

Riding a wave train along the wall. Is this stuff thrilling? Invigorating?   

You bet it is! BOOYAH!

The ACO rafting season is just getting under way. The season on Cattaraugus Creek runs from April though June. Release dates for the Salmon River are July 5th, 6th, 19th and 20th and Aug. 2nd and 3rd. While rafting is their mainstay, Adventure Calls Outfitters offers a variety of packages and events throughout the season. Check out their Web site at http://www.adventure-calls.com/rafting_letchworth.html

April 17, 2014 - 9:23am

June 1980, Northern Manitoba -- We had a great fishing adventure and a bit of an education as well. I learned that lake trout and brook trout are actually members of the char family. Note the white piping on the pectoral and ventral fins of the laker pictured above, distinctive markings on all char.                   

We also I discovered that it was wasn't necessary to fish deep for lake trout thanks to the frigid temps of subarctic waters. But those cold waters also make for a slow growth rate, as little as a half pound per year. That means the laker I'm holding in the above pic had been around for 48 years.                    

Winter, 1991 -- Slow but steady wins the race...Nick Calarco's hounds had this coyote on the run for a considerable time before it finally stopped for a breather.       

It may be winded but it's still full of fight -- note the hair standing up on its back. 

A young Massasauga rattlesnake. These are known to exist in two locales in all of New York State -- in Genesee County's Bergen Swamp and in the Cicero Swamp north of Syracuse.               

This is what it will look like when it's all grown up.

Playtime for Bandit..........Bandit and his siblings were discovered living between a wall and a partition in a small barn that served as chicken coop. Concerned for his chickens, the owner urged the mother raccoon to relocate, which she did -- one baby at a time. She took the first three and never returned for Bandit. After several days passed Bandit was adopted and nurtured by loving hands.

   Nap time!

April 9, 2014 - 8:30am
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, nature, grackles.

There was quite a gathering of grackles around our place recently. Common grackles they were, and over a three day period they alternated between hanging out in the trees, patrolling the lawn and laying seige to the bird feeder.

At first glance, especially from a distance, the grackle appears all black. But depending on the light, they can exhibit a lustrous sheen, displaying iridescent shades of green, blue, purple and bronze.

Despite the brilliant coloration, grackles possess another look, one sinister and menacing in appearance. Looking at this pic I'm reminded of three wildlife dramas involving grackles from years past. My reaction after each varied. The first was not exactly endearing; the second can be described as "WOW!" After the third event my reaction was, surprisingly, a certain degree of admiration.

The first one occurred one summer not so many years ago.

On that day I was thatching the yard with a leaf rake when I noticed a blackbird on the ground, interested in what I first thought to be a small piece of plastic, much like a wadded up bread wrapper, being slowly pushed along by a slight breeze. The blackbird followed after it, striking it repeatedy with its bill. It took a second for my brain to register what I was seeing.

The blackbird was a grackle, and the "piece of plastic" was a fledgling robin that must have either fallen or was robbed from its nest and was doing its best to escape its tormentor.

About that time I let fly with the rake and naturally the grackle took flight. Scooping up the baby robin, I could see it was still alive, but barely. I tucked it in the shade beneath some vines in hopes that its mom was nearby.

Ever vigilant, even during the late March snowstorm.   

A second incident occured when former Batavians Tim Martino, Keith Emminger and I were mowing lawns on Woodcrest Drive. We had just pulled the equipment trailer up to the curb when a small raptor  --  I'm thinking Cooper's hawk  --  slammed into a grackle in midair.  This happened right in front of our pickup truck. The hawk proceded to land atop its fallen prey where it lay in the street. Whether it intended to make a meal of the grackle I can't say as the hawk immediately flew off, perhaps suddenly aware of our presence. 

The third incident caused me to look at grackles in a different light.

It was a spring day when I heard some rustling coming from within a small stand of dry, brittle phragmites. Judging from the sound, it wasn't a large animal but there was definitely something going on. Try as I might, I was only able to see small, dark flashes of movement. Moments later a grackle took flight, a snake dangling from its bill. The snake was limp, and I'm guessing the commotion in the dry reeds was the grackle dispatching its quarry.

April 4, 2014 - 8:11am
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors.

Despite the up and down weather this year, the bird life has been nothing short of prolific. April has taken up where February and March left off, by offering up a variety of species. Cardinals have been front and center on the color spectrum around here, and will likely remain so until the orioles show up to scour the apple blossoms for insects.

The absence of foliage makes it an opportune time for pics or simply viewing a wide range of species and a flash of red is sure to catch the eye. His tune is easily recognizable, and it seems like he sings best under a blue sky.

Though strikingly handsome, the bluejay is more noisemaker than songster -- they make many sounds, and in the wild are quick to sound the alarm when intruders are about, be it man or beast.

While not as colorful, the white-breasted nuthatch is quite entertaining and almost comical with its trademark upside down movement.

It can be hard to distinguish between the purple finch and the house finch -- with so much red I'm thinking purple.....is that an oxymoron?!

A classic case of frost beak -- the avian equivalent of frostbite......honest :)

Many of the species share at the feeder, or, at the very least take turns, flitting back and forth between the feeder and the trees......that isn't the case with the bluejays......

The bluejays tend to be a bit of a bully at the bird feeder..... but whereas the smaller birds simply wait nearby while the bluejay gorges itself.........

When the grackles show up the songbirds tend to give them a wide berth, usually vacating the premises altogether. We had a large flock of grackles descend on us last week, and it reminded me of a couple tidbits I want to share with you in my next post.

March 26, 2014 - 7:25am

No sooner had the robins arrived when they discovered it might take a while before any worms were available. With their favorite staple somewhere far below earth's frozen layer, the robins had to make do elsewhere, like chilly sumac drupes.

Likewise, these starlings sampled the sumac.....this was not only the first time I had seen starlings eating sumac, it was the first time I remember starlings eating without making a noisy racket. Several dozen descended on the sumac trees and they hardly made a sound.

As the snow recedes, the whitetails aren't having to work so hard to find a meal.

For now yarding up is still commonplace -- warmer weather and greater food availability will result in herd dispersal.

From a distance I first thought this hawk to be a redtail.....the more I look I'm thinking its a rough-legged hawk.

Here it.s about to take flight.

Mourning doves have been showing up in vast numbers. This pair has been enjoying the spillage from our bird feeder.

With the snow all but gone, the red squirrels can get down to some serious foraging........

Score!!!!..................kinda looks like a meatball cookie with no icing!

March 17, 2014 - 5:30pm

The past couple of weeks we've seen an incredible amount of avian activity taking place, species ranging from songbirds to raptors. Among the wide variety were a number of woodpeckers, like the red-bellied woodpecker pictured above. He had been hard at work before sensing my presence and then abruptly snapped to attention.  

After several minutes he decided it was safe to get back to the business at hand.

Pileated wood peckers have been frequent visitors throughout the winter. This is the first frontal pic I've taken - quite by accident as it turned in my direction just as I took his picture.  

Moments later he provided the angle I wanted. Here he's perched on a dead limb of a towering cottonwood.    

Downy woodpeckers have been showing up daily to feast on suet.

It almost seems as if he stopped to check out the falling snow.

Another red-bellied woodpecker investigates the spillage below the bird feeder.

March 11, 2014 - 9:39am
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, nature, genesee county park & forest.

Depending on who you ask, the winter has been judged somewhat lengthy and at times harsh. While Old Man Winter threw us a curve ball or two, the aftermath was sometimes asthetically pleasing to the eye. And nowhere was this more evident than at the Genesee County Park & Forest.

A trail into the hardwoods. Claudia and I logged several hours at the park this winter, trying to cover every bit of the more than 12 miles of trail.

The hike was always exhilarating, even if the air was frigid at times. Even on the coldest of days, we ran into hikers, cross country skiers, snowshoers, and even two or three hearty souls who were jogging.

Of course we met a good number of people out exercising their dogs, like Batavians Dan and Debbie Barone pictured above.

A cross country skier glides along one of the well-maintained trails.  

Gotta love the Boy Scouts. The park is in great shape thanks to many volunteers.

Snow-covered spruce trees as seen from the Turtle Pond trail.

Surrounded by needled giants, this tiny spruce sees limited sunlight.

February 26, 2014 - 9:14am

We had a couple of unexpected visitors to our place last weekend. Being February and given the sort of winter we've had, it was more than a bit of a surprise to see a pair of bluebirds come calling last Saturday morning.            

A male and female alit in the apple tree and I never thought they'd sit tight with the powerful wind gusts whipping the branches about. But sit they did and I was able to get several shots of the male while the female was obscured by branches.

A female cardinal seems to be shrieking with delight, perhaps celebrating the sunshine and blue sky

This cardinal seems content to sample a snow-capped frozen apple.

A chickadee sticks close to brushy cover.......

while another helps itself to sunflower seed and millet.

Pileated woodpeckers have shown up quite regularly this winter......we often hear their raucous call long before they come into view.

How did this gray squirrel get a snow hat?

He and some friends were digging for the walnuts I had tossed into the briars last autumn. I knew the squirrels would find them, but I never thought they would wait till there were several inches of snow on the ground before doing so.

This guy, meanwhile, appears to be rubbing his paws in anticipation while eyeballing the bird feeder. 

Prior to last weekend, the last bluebird I saw was just before Thanksgiving. Winter set in on us right after that. I've never seen one this early in the year. I've heard or read somewhere that bluebirds sometimes winter here, it all depends on the weather and availability of food. Regardless, I know we've got some single-digit lows coming later this week, but I've always felt Mother Nature was pretty good at predicting the weather.....here's hoping!

January 16, 2014 - 5:15pm

This cardinal is no doubt making up for lost time by gorging on what's left of last autumn's wild grapes. Having hunkered down for a few days during last week's blizzard, the usual cast of characters is back in action in and around our neighboring woodlots.

With a poplar directly behind it, a pileated woodpecker knows decaying wood is a better place to find insects, so it pounds away on a dead sumac. There were two pileateds in close proximity on this day, but getting them into the same frame proved futile.

This pileated seems to have found the upper reaches of a dead poplar to its liking.

As the storm descended on us late last Monday afternoon, the last flurry of movement I saw was that of a red squirrel scurrying into our barn. This guy is tightly clutching a dead nub as if expecting the high winds to return at any moment.....

In the next instant it turns and sticks tail high in the air...a bit sassy maybe or perhaps it's suddenly sensing an intruder. If on alert mode, it's with good reason....

Like everything else, this redtail didn't eat for a few days during the storm...    

Hawks have been showing up with greater regularity, what with cottontails, squirrels and, in the warmer months, chipmunks, to prey on.   

Here's the cardinal again...in this photo note the bit of grape stain on his beak.

A gray squirrel gives the once over to a tiny abode that has housed baby wrens for the past few summers.

Sometime before last week's blizzard and after December's flood, we had some freezing rain.....this house finch doesn't seem deterred by the results.

December 24, 2013 - 2:00pm

When pine trees bend with heavy snow...and trails are hard to find...the warm glow from the fireplace...brings memories to mind.                                           

I first came across this piece of verse more than forty years ago in a Leanin' Tree Christmas card. Those vintage Leanin' Tree cards beckoned to kindred spirits, especially those whose favorite haunts tended to be somewhere off the beaten path.

Some of those old cards depicted homesteads of yesteryear where kinfolk gathered to celebrate Christ's humble birth and enjoy one another's company. The artists renditions also included a variety of settings, be it a pastoral landscape or wildlife, including but not limited to, songbirds, deer, and waterfowl. There were also those which featured man's best friend, be it hunkered down in a duck blind or flushing pheasants from a swale.

Those cards captured many wilderness moments, compelling its reader to take time to see the wonder of nature and the signature handiwork of an awesome Creator.   

It can be seen in graceful symmetry...

or in beauty sublime.

It can be seen in the love of friend for friend...

Its displayed in vivid, resplendant hues...

and in the amber halo in the eyes of a faithful companion.

The outdoors and the inhabitants of the wild beckoned to the hearts of the writers and wildlife artists who created those Christmas cards of yesteryear. Perhaps they found truth in nature, a natural world in tune with its Maker, a loving God who two thousand years ago sent us a Savior.

To Howard and Billie, the staff of The Batavian and all of its readers, may the joy and wonder of Christmas be yours this holiday season!

November 25, 2013 - 10:11am

The sun was barely up Thursday morning when this bluebird and downy woodpecker showed up to sample the frost-covered sumac. Thanks to their "built in" barometers, bird and other wildlife movement often precedes an impending storm or inclement weather.

This female "downy" opted to try her luck on the apple tree. In her search for a meal, she'll look high and low.....

and probe every nook and cranny, leaving nothing to chance in her quest to locate insects. 

How many times a second do you think she can rat-a-tat-tat the tree trunk? ......go ahead.....count 'em!

Later in in the morning, long after the frost has melted away, the male downy is still giving the sumac drupes a thorough going over.

Mr. & Mrs. house finch take a respite in the upper branches of the apple tree.

High atop the cottonwood, some 80 feet up the air, a lone crow keeps tabs on the surroundings below.

Pair of wild tom's scouring a harvested grain field for kernels of corn. 

For the past couple of days there was a good deal of wildlife movement around our neck of the woods. But that has already ceased, even as I write this. Everything seems to be hunkered down, waiting for whatever it is that's coming our way to pass through.   

November 25, 2013 - 1:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, hunting, outdoors, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

At 4:38 p.m., Bill Schutt, Alabama fire's assistant chief, is reminded the sun sets in three minutes.

"That's what I'm worried about," he says. "It's not just light. It gets colder."

His chief is out on an island in the midst of frigid water with a hunter who became stranded in the swamps of Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge on a day when temperatures dipped into the teens. One firefighter, who was with the chief, is at risk of frostbite after his boots filled with water while trying to reach the hunter.

It's too risky for the firefighters to walk out, even though they've located the hunter and he's in good health.

The hunter called for help at 2:30 in the afternoon. He started hunting at 12:30. He called for help, he said later, having spent an hour in the icy waters of the swamp tracking a deer he'd shot.

"At first the water wasn't too deep," said Colin Phillips, here from Vermont to hunt. "I was hopping from island to island out there and then it started getting deeper and deeper and I'm breaking through the ice. Finally, I reached an island and went about 50 yards and I couldn't go any further. I was exhausted."

His hands were freezing because he didn't have any gloves, but was otherwise appropriately dressed for the conditions. It was so cold that after his gun got wet it jammed with ice. He couldn't even fire a shot to alert rescuers to his location.

He was found with the help of a State Police helicopter and good tracking by Alabama Chief Gary Patnode.

As sunset neared, a hovercraft from Clarence Center returned from its crew's effort to reach the stranded hunter and the two firefighters. 

The sticks and logs popped nearly ever single floatation tube from around the boat. 

One of the crew members said that when they were about halfway to the location, the boat's stern took a nosedive into the water and that's when most of the damage was done.

The crew decided to be safe and make its way back to the shore.

"We realized, it's just a machine," he said. "It can be repaired."

As the sun's light wanes outside the command center, Jim Bouton, a coordinator with the Office of Emergency Management, learns that the weather had cleared enough for the State Police helicopter to return to the scene.

The helicopter isn't really equipped to hoist people from the ground, so the plan is for the chopper to hover right on top of the ice and pull one person at a time into the craft.

Bouton relays the plan to Schutt and looks skeptical.

"We need a plan C," he says.

A little later, scene commanders learn the helicopter from the Erie County Sheriff's Office will attempt the rescue. The two-man crew can deploy a hoist.

"I'm usually the type to remain calm and I was confident enough in our resources and our fire companies that I knew we were eventually going to get out," Patnode said after he returned safely to Casey Road. "We were already working on plans B, C and D."

When the rescue effort first started, Schutt noted, it seemed straightforward enough. Dispatchers were able to provide coordinates of the stranded hunter and he wasn't too difficult to find.

But getting him out safely proved to be harder than expected.

"The amount of water they had to go through, lightly frozen over, was the problem the hunter ran into in the first place," Schutt said. "Our firefighters could not have safely gotten back because they would have had to walk back through the water."

Alabama firefighters have all recently been through wilderness rescue training and Patnode had Thompson carrying a backpack equipped with what rescuers would need in a wilderness situation.

Except for a kit to start a fire.

"If I could have started a fire, I would have," Patnode said.

The idea of a nighttime rescue in the wilderness certainly carried an innate sense of risk.

"Any time you have a helicopter operating in the dark close to trees and people, it's definitely an elevated level of danger," said Andy Merkle, who worked the scene during most of the incident as operations manager.

His job was to keep an track of all the people and resources going in so they could be accounted for coming out.

"We want to make sure we don't come up with any more victims," Merkle said.

The first person rescued was Ryan Thompson, the firefighter with the cold feet. He was fine and was out walking around after a few minutes of rehab in an ambulance.

Thompson expressed nothing but confidence in his chief and his fellow firefighters. He said he never felt like it was a desperate situation.

"I knew it was our job and they would get us out some how," Thompson said.

Phillips was the next one brought back to the command post on Casey Road.

Upon his return, the demeanor of his brother and a friend who had been pacing the road for more than two hours went from fretful to joyous.

"You go from being absolutely terrified to utter rejoicing in the matter of two hours," said friend Matthew Laflair.

Laflair had some familiarity with the swamp area and knew what firefighters were up against.

"I know how tough it is to get back there, so to see the effort is good," Laflair said. "It's impressive to see a helicopter pulling some people out of here."

Patnode was the third person airlifted out of the swamp. He was also impressed by the effort of the Erie County pilot.

"I think he went above and beyond," Patnode said. "Maybe he went out of his comfort zone doing a night rescue like that, but he got the job done."

There were two other members of the Alabama team who got stranded in the woods. They were brought out by members of the Clarence Center Fire Department who were dressed in cold-water rescue suits.

In all, volunteers from fire departments in Genesee, Orleans, Erie and Niagara counties assisted in the rescue of Phillips.

"I owe them my life," Phillps said. "If they didn't come out and get me, I'd be dead tonight. I appreciate every second of it. They're great people."

Patnode, Thompson, Schutt, all said, "this is what we do."

So what can we say about that?

"I think you say 'Thank you,' " Schutt said. "I don't know what more you can say than that.

"These guys are out here, no paycheck," Schutt added. "They've been out here in the cold for hours, but it's something you do for your community. When you're part of a volunteer fire department, somebody calls for help, you go help. It's not something you complain about. None of these guys are going to complain about being out here cold and away from home for hours."

The initial post on this incident by Billie Owens contains a lot of details in chronological order of how the rescue went down. If you haven't read it, read it.

Bill Schutt, communicating with dispatchers early in the incident.

Patnode, center of the picture, after being airlifted from the swamp.

Top photo, Colin Phillips escorted to an ambulance after being rescued.

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

November 16, 2013 - 8:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, hunting, outdoors.

Emily Staniszewski, a 14-year-old Oakfield resident, killed her first deer this week bow hunting, but not just any deer. It's an albino buck.

She made the kill of the three pointer in Chautauqua County.

Kimberly Staniszewski said the deer is quite the trophy for her daughter.

"Needless to say we are planning on having a full mount of this unique animal to admire for many years to come," Kimberly said.

November 14, 2013 - 6:04pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, chocolate lab, man's best friend.

That's Tate, our chocolate lab and his sidekick Ernie, a feisty little mix-breed. Like most dogs, they love to hear the magic words, "wanna go outside?" Better yet, once outside, these two long to hear the words, "let's go out back." With that, they're off and running for the creek bank.

Tate's routine never deviates -- he sniffs his way along the small woodlot before working his way along the creek, stopping only briefly to wonder at the occassional green blur that darts through the grass at his feet. Tate poses no threat to the leopard frogs -- he's only interested investigating the numerous scents he comes across.

Ernie, while feisty at times, likes to relax when out back. He does seem to take an interest in the  wood ducks, watching intently as they take flight upon our arrival.

He's content to watch the world go by, paying no mind to the gray squirrels that like to feed on the mast from our hickory trees.

When I say, "let's go" and start walking back toward the house, as you might guess by his expression, Tate appears to be thinking..,"but we just got here!" 

Meanwhile, Ernie becomes invisible!

It's hard to figure which they like better, a run out by the creek or a roadtrip!

November 1, 2013 - 12:01pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, Genesee County Park.

With 12 miles of trail, there is no shortage of hikeable terrain in the Genesee County Park & Forest.

If you enjoy nature, the park is both a relaxing getaway and outdoor classroom. The variety of flora and fauna found within the park is prolific. As autumn progresses, these Hawthorn hips have turned a deeper shade of red.

This couple from the Buffalo area, along with pets Angus and Bailey, spent the afternoon geocaching.   

The trails offer a bit of diversity in the form of knolls, hills and flat ground.

With an algae-covered pond in the background, a sugar maple stands out in contrast amid a stand of pines.

The fire break trail carpeted with fallen leaves

Looking into the colorful canopy of a sugar maple

The smaller of the park's two wetlands....the other encompasses four acres

This trail, lined with black cherry and beech trees, is narrow compared to the others depicted here....

with an understory of young maple and beech trees, this trail through a stand of pines seems narrower still. Just an optical illusion - it's nowhere near the tight squeeze it appears to be!

Whatever your choice of activity, whether it be bird watching, mountain biking, leisure hiking, geocaching and - come winter - snowshoeing and cross country skiing, there is plenty of room for everyone.

October 31, 2013 - 8:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fishing, outdoors.

Every year about this time of year it seems, Kyle Kendall hauls in a giant fish. Here he is with a 35-inch, 11-pound pike caught at a location in Genesee County.


October 27, 2013 - 4:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, alexander, hunting, outdoors.

Submitted by Jodi Wolfley.

Austin Wolfley with his nine-point buck he shot in Alexander.

October 24, 2013 - 9:50am

This stretch of the Little Tonawanda was perhaps my favorite place in the world during my formative years. Here I stalked crayfish, hunted fossils, discovered water snakes and later, in my teen years, learned the place was teeming with creek chubs, suckers, shiners, and dace. Claudia was 16 years old the first time she helped me drag a 4' x 12' minnow seine through knee-deep water along this stretch of the creek! While taking this photo I couldn't help thinking, so much of our world has changed, but the riffles of the Little T still make the same sound they did in those early years.

These crab apples look as though they've been spit shined. Like every other apple tree, this year's crab apples were also laden with fruit.

I've seen abundant wildlife along the power line clear-cut over the years....even the critters like to travel the path of least resistance.

Maple leaves in tints of yellow, red and orange.....photo taken along the Little T where it flows past the old Judge Kone place, a favorite among pike fishermen in the '50s and '60s.

Day fades into night.....dusk along the power lines - diurnal creatures have foraged and retired; the nocturnal denizens are just beginning their watch. 

Their pods burst, these milkweed seeds will become windborne, the leaves of the new plants  providing food for next year's monarch butterfly caterpillars.

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