Every couple of months, I head up to Lake Erie in western New York to spend some time hiking the beaches and wandering around the forests in the area. If you have never been to western NY, the lake plain is dominated by vineyards and during the harvest season the smell of Concord grapes is quite pleasant. But the area also has several nice streams and two of my favorites to hunt waterfalls, wildlife, and whatever else I can find, Canadaway and Chautauqua creeks, are close by.
The muddy cliffs that form where the forest meets the beach are full of Wild Strawberries and their blossoms are in full bloom this time of year, which bodes well for a good harvest to come... but I am sure the berries will be gone by the time I return.
I always thought these were Sandpipers but after doing some research, I discovered that they are actually Dunlins. Although Dunlins and Sanpipers are in the same family, so they are closely related. This little guy was hunting the shore break at the mouth of Canadaway Creek on Lake Erie and moved so quickly, I was glad to get at least one in focus shot.
I found this snapper climbing up the bank of Canadaway creek a few hundred yards from the lake. Common Snapping Turtle females retreat to the forest this time of year to lay their eggs, so I can only assume that was her plan. She stayed around for me to take a few pictures and when I used my hiking stick to try to help her up the bank, and I was amazed at her strength when she resisted.
The Common Carp, an invasive species in Lake Erie, returns to the streams this time of year to spawn. While I don't normally like to feature invasive species, when they shoot past your foot or hammer their way up shallow, rock-filled riffles I must say their spawn run is quite impressive. The carp I photographed were all very close the mouth of Chautauqua creek, so I guess their journey was just beginning.
I was taking a break at the mouth of Chautauqua creek when I noticed this Green Heron fishing from an exposed limb. It was pretty comical to watch as it would lean as far forward as it could then use its bill like a spear to fish for small minnows. I wish it would have gotten one in front of me, but at least it never fell in.
Red Osier Dogwood, a common plant used in landscaping, is a native species early peoples used for arrowshafts due to their propensity to grow straight shoots. I myself have harvested some from near Candaway creek and have found that it does provide a durable shaft for primitive bow hunting.