Thursday, October 25, 2007

Appearance on

I used the website to research the spider I saw at Gifford Pinchot State Park. It was great because it featured user-submitted photos which allows for multiple views of different spiders and aids in identification. I decided to submit my photos since I thought they would be helpful/interesting for the website's visitors to see.

Here's a link to the live pictures:

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Gifford Pinchot State Park Insects and Spiders

I was also able to get some great pictures of a Walking Stick and a large spider (turns out it's a Marbled Orb Weaver spider) while camping at Gifford Pinchot. The Walking Stick was especially exciting because neither my boyfriend nor I had ever seen one in real life. This one was missing a leg, but apparently they can grow them back after several successive molts. I also learned that they remain hanging motionless during the day waiting until it gets dark so they can go out and feed. That makes a lot of sense because he barely moved from the small bush where we left him. We can back from our hike and he was still in the same spot. I also learned that the females can lay a batch of female-only eggs in the event that there are no males around to breed with.

We initially encountered him trapped underneath the rainfly of our tent. I pulled back the rainfly (after grabbing my camera of course) and he was free to move around.

I picked him up from here to move him:

Next I moved him onto a nearby bush that he closely resembled:

We also came upon a large spider while we were walking on one of the trails. I just did a little research with Google Image Search and discovered it's a Marbled Orb Weaver spider:

Mysterious Bird

I snapped this picture of a bird at the Museum of Natural History in New York. I just tried doing a little research on my own to see what it is but didn't have any luck. I should have just stopped to read the label on the exhibit but we were moving really quickly through it at that point and it just didn't occur to me.
Let me know if you can identify it, or if you have any ideas about how to research it. The long feather coming out of the crown is the most unique aspect of it but I've had trouble describing it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gifford Pinchot State Park

Finally I was able to get out and do some birding this past weekend. It was great to spend some time outdoors and also to get some good pictures. Thursday and Friday my boyfriend and I were in Vermont visiting his friends and then Friday afternoon we took the ferry from Charlotte, VT over to Essex, NY and cut down to PA for my college homecoming. We really lucked out with weather and had great driving weather and warm temperatures throughout our trip.

The last two days of our trip we left up in the air and after pondering our next move over some craft beers in my college town we picked Gifford Pinchot State Park since there was a camping icon on the map. Oh that and the fact that it was the closest state park to Field of Screams, in Mountsville, PA! My boyfriend found a brochure for it in Sheetz and decided we had to go. It turned out to be pretty impressive. It's a strange feeling to be out in rural PA and then drive up to a such a sophisticated haunted house- it was like a city unto itself. There were three main attractions: two haunted houses and a haunted hayride. In addition, there was a skateboarding competition going on complete with a local radio station covering it. It being the night before the Columbus Day holiday the place was mobbed with teenagers and local college students.

The next day we spent some time exploring Gifford Pinchot State Park before driving back to Boston. I wish we had longer! It was a huge park (2,338 acres) with a lake and lots of tent sites and recreation opportunities. We spent our time on the trails and snapping some shots of birds and wildlife. There was also a frisbee golf (something I've never heard of but my boyfriends knows all about) course that seemed like a lot of fun. Too bad we lost our frisbee to one of the dogs in VT! There were lots of campers going out in rented canoes, and even people swimming, which would have been refreshing since it was in the 80s but unfortunately it didn't occur to me to bring my bathing suit since it's October! Another cool feature of this park is its bird blind which is set up in front of several birdfeeders and suet baskets. According to the sign it was funded by the York Audubon Society. This chapter doesn't have a website, but here is a link to a complete list of Pennsylvania Audubon Society chapters. The blind was pretty cool and I sat in it for a little while watching chickadees, nuthatches, titmice and a downy woodpecker. Unfortunately I didn't have the patience to wait and get some good pictures, but I managed to salvage a few good ones of the woodpecker.

I'm already planning my return visit to Gifford Pinchot! What a great park.


First Great Blue Heron:

Second Great Blue Heron:


Downy Woodpecker from the bird blind:

Red-tailed Hawk: