Bald Eagle at Cook Forest, PA   Edward Frank
  Apr 30, 2006 09:41 PDT 

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The bald eagle flew down the Clarion River, gliding on the updrafts before circling above our small group at the park office. It was a mature male with white head and tail feathers. Younger birds are dark in color, almost black. The bald eagle is making a comeback along our rivers and among forests. It was a good start for the day.

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Dale Luthringer was doing a program for volunteers in the state park's adopt-a-trail program. There were perhaps a dozen people there to learn some of the basics and get a feel for what they were supposed to do with regard to trail work. (Link to more photos from the program)   We hiked part way up the Seneca Trail through the Seneca old growth area of the park. The group fixed a few wet areas along the trail, pulled some old plastic culverts, and placed some large rocks as steps. The finally of the trip was a stop to see the tallest hemlock in the NE at 145 feet tall, located aside the Seneca Trail.

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After the program I hiked the River trail. It is younger second growth. There are a few thicker white pines in the 110 foot range, a patch of white oaks in the 90 to 100 foot range, some pitch pines - unusual in the park. Carl Harting had reported some American Chestnuts along the trail, but I couldn't identify all of the species by bark alone. The leaves are not out yet form most species and just starting for others. There was a nicely backlit maple across the river from the trail glowing pink in the sunlight. Cherry trees are in flower at the park. Violets are scattered along the path.

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On the section heading back to the hilltop there were some really interesting looking jumbles of boulders partially filling a dry stream valley. The day was sunny. The hike was nice. But I didn't find any impressive trees. Clearly the highlight of the day was the appearance of the bald eagle to start the day off right.

Ed Frank