Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Creek

Where's a cool place to go on an unseasonably warm and humid day? Down to the creek! That's Middle Spring Creek, called Branch Creek in town. Here are three cooling views I took this morning.

And here's a video slideshow I put together last year following the creek from Dykeman Spring down to close to its confluence with Conodoguinet Creek, set to hammered dulcimer virtuoso Malcolm Dalglish's "Spring Water at Jerry's Run", from his 1985 recording "Jogging the Memory". Enjoy!

Photos © 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Monday, May 18, 2015


Nature has always been my sanctuary. Starting when I was a child, I would always feel most at peace out in the woods and fields, anywhere outdoors and away from everyday life. To quote John Muir, my favorite naturalist and environmentalist:
“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” 

“The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”  

“Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray, where nature heals and gives strength to body and soul alike.” 

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”  

“No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening - still all is Beauty!” 
I've always been lucky in that wherever I've lived Nature was within easy reach - in the hills and trails around Loch Raven where I grew up in Maryland, and in the salt marshes and inlets and the rocky coast in and around Newport, RI. And here in Shippensburg, PA I live a 5 minute walk from a nature preserve. So if you wonder why you get pictures from the Dykeman Spring Nature Park every week, it's because it's part of my daily path, and at least once a week I spend some sitting-down-and-meditating time there. It's my local sanctuary, my church, my meditation center. And yes, here are some more pictures, taken this morning.

Hobblebush, also known as Nannyberry, growing along the Dykeman Walking Trail
Locust blossoms along the Dykeman Walking Trail
A family of Mallards on the north duck pond
Daisy Fleabane in the upland meadow
An island of trees in a sea of grass on the upland meadow
A panoramic view of Blue Mountain from the upland meadow
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Another Wetland

There are three wetland areas in Shippensburg borough. The Dykeman Spring wetland and the wetland behind the shopping center on South Fayette St. both feed Branch Creek/Middle Spring Creek, but the wetland running beside Brookside Ave. has an interesting function. Burd Run comes down off of South Mountain, but by the time it gets to Shippensburg around Walnut Bottom Rd. and South Conestoga Drive it has pretty much dried up. Just north of that dry spot is the Brookside Ave. wetland, where the local aquifer comes to the surface and acts as a second feed for Burd Run for the rest of its run north to Middle Spring Creek. I found it a couple of years ago while chasing a geocache in the area, but today was the first time I did a dedicated photo shoot there. The area is a labyrinth of little streamlets eventually emptying into Burd Run, and in the center of the wetland is a man-made collection pond. The wetland is green and lush, and plays host to many birds, most notably Mallard Ducks and Canada Geese, as well as lots of Red-winged Blackbirds and Tree Swallows; in fact there are at least a dozen Tree Swallow houses set up in the area. So come walk through this gorgeous wetland with me.

The Brookside Ave. entrance to the wetland
A Mama Mallard and her chicks on one of the streamlets in the wetland
One of the many streamlets in the wetland
The central collection pond in the wetland
Mama Canada Goose on her nest
Burd Run refilled by the wetland
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

More May Flowers

Spring moves on apace. The blossoming trees have dropped their blooms and sprouted leaves and are much more green and full. Now the Spring wildflowers are popping up all over the place. The color seems to have dropped from the ceiling to decorate the floor.

Dame's Rocket is springing up all along the Dykeman Walking Trail
Swamp Buttercup is blooming in the Dykeman Spring wetland
Blackberry blossoms in the upland meadow
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, May 08, 2015

All Creatures Great and Small

On today's walk through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park on the way to the grocery store it became evident that the critters are out and stirring. The place was loud with bird song - Baltimore Orioles, Catbirds, both House and Carolina Wrens, Cardinals, Robins, Song Sparrows... Unfortunately most of them stayed out of reach of my camera, although I did manage to catch a male Oriole at the very outer limit of my zoom lens. There were also lots of other creatures - turtles, rabbits, and such. And to top it off, up on the upland meadow the butterfly population is booming, mostly the Spring appearances like the Cabbage and Mustard Whites, Spring Azures, Painted Ladies; I managed to get a shot of an Eastern Tailed-Blue, a relative of the Spring Azure. So come on, let's take a walk.

Baltimore Orioles like to hang out way up in the tops of trees; I just barely caught this one at the end of the range of my zoom
A Painted Turtle dozing in the Dykeman Spring wetland
Two Eastern Cottontails on the Dykeman Walking Trail
A huge and ancient Snapping Turtle coming up for air in the Dykeman Spring wetland
A young Green Frog in the grass by the northern duck pond
A trio of handsome Mallard drakes in the grass beside the northern duck pond
A Tailed-Blue butterfly on the upland meadow
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, May 03, 2015

May Flowers

Today has been a gorgeous Spring day, and fortunately I have a day off to enjoy it. I wandered through the increasingly fragrant and colorful Dykeman Spring Nature Park this morning, wrapping myself in Mama Gaia's bounty. There was lots of birdsong, and I saw one Oriole and heard several others singing in different parts of the park, but what got my attention most was the increasing amount of blooming going on. So wander with me through the park and enjoy a great Spring morning's worth of wildflowers.

Heal-all growing in the Dykeman Spring wetland
Common Blue Violet growing on the forest floor along the Dykeman Walking Trail
Barberry blossoms by the duck ponds
Apple blossoms along the Meadow Trail
The Redbuds along the eastern edge of the upland meadow are blooming
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My Backyard "Community"

I have quite a wildlife "community" happening on and under the feeder station in my backyard. Lots of House Sparrows and Starlings, unfortunately (both invasive species who have squeezed out -  and have even led to the extinction of several species - native songbird species across the continent and are vermin as far as I'm concerned), but also lots of Finches since I added the Finch sock full of Thistle seed - Goldfinches, the red-headed House Finches, and two Pine Siskins who drop by occasionally. But I also get some occasional surprise visits - one or two Chipmunks, the Eastern Cottontail rabbit pictured here, the Red-winged Blackbird (the first one since I set up the station), and a mating pair of Mallards who drop by every Spring. The following pictures are representative of what I see every day when I look out my kitchen window. Enjoy!

Here's a handsome fellow! And he knows it, too.
Mr. & Mrs. Red share the feeder station with some female Goldfinches
I looked out the window one day to see Peter here enjoying the spillage under the feeders
This male Red-winged Blackbird has been visiting a lot lately

Mr. & Mrs. Mallard drop by every Spring
Finches R Us!
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger