First, we returned to Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, where the buildings were open. The center has a discovery room with amphibians and reptiles.
On the earlier visit, we hadn’t noticed the raptor aviary behind the main building. Shaver’s Creek is home to a surprising variety of raptors — peregrine falcon(s?); bald and golden eagles; broad-winged, red-shouldered, and red-tailed hawks; barn, barred, eastern screech, and great horned, screech owls; and black and turkey vultures. My favorite was black vulture Matilda. I’m not sure I’ve seen one in flight ; turkey vultures are more common at this latitude. I know I’ve never seen one this close up. No photo due to the cage, but Matilda has a surprisingly sweet face attached to her bald head. The darker coloring may make them more appealing than turkey vultures to human eyes.
Before leaving, I sat by the windows overlooking bird feeders. As seems to happen to me, a hummingbird flew up, looked at me tauntingly, and flew off before I could take a photo. Typical.
Off to elk country in Benzette (sometimes “Benzett”). This time we didn’t see any elk at the campground. We made a stop at the visitor center, where tables with local goods had been set up next to the gift shop. It was here I discovered Moonshine Chocolate . . .
At the Winslow Hill overlook, we didn’t see anything at first, but a handful of turkeys and a white-tailed deer family (buck, doe, two older fawns) appeared.
After we ate dinner at the Benezette Hotel (where none of us ordered the elk burger), this one crossed the road while following others into the woods.
In another place, we joined a little crowd watching a small herd at some distance, including nursing offspring.
In all. we counted 45 to 50 elk (or wapiti), including this last one on a rise next to the road.