Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Archive for February 16, 2010

Microclimates, Fungus and Bird Song on the Hot Springs Trails

Hot Springs National Park Short Cut Trail Green Warbler

Hot Springs National Park Short Cut Trail Green Warbler

Cold clear beautiful day complete with an amazing blue sky.   So perfect, I was amazed there were no visible birds or small mammals on the lower sections of Hot Springs Mountain.  The series of winter storms had left the population of the both wary and weary.  As I headed to the top of Hot Springs Mountain  a single Blue Jay flew over imitating a Hawk.  I had heard this sound before and when researching Blue Jays I learned of their ability to imitate the screech of a Hawk.

Blue Jays will imitate the calls of hawks, especially the Red-shouldered Hawk. It has been suggested that these calls provide information to other jays that a hawk is around, or that they are used to deceive other species into believing a hawk is present. (Cornell)

When I reached the Short Cut Trail I heard then saw my shadow a Red Bellied Woodpecker flying between trees.  A lovely Black-Throated Green Warbler appeared followed by another.  They flew across the path foraged in the leaves, then flew deep into the woods.  I was glad to see the snow was nearly gone and they were able to gather a quick breakfast.

At the top of the mountain the song of a Cardinal rang out and I scanned the trees to find him.  Perched in the bright sunlight with a beautiful blue sky behind him he sang a song glorious enough to lure a female to his side.  For half an hour his calls rang out at the top of the park. As I headed to the pagoda I secretly wished his love match would find him.  A Saucy little female Cardinal in olive with a red crest.

When I was hiking on the Hot Springs Mountain Trail unlike the the short cut trail there were still large areas of snow.  Small birds were darting about looking for bare patches of ground to scratch in for food.  In fact as I hiked the Upper Dogwood and Lower Dogwood I noticed several microclimates.  The north side of the Lower Dogwood Trail was a winter wonderland, but on the south side the snow was gone and I had to remove my gloves and coat.  The same pattern occurred on the Hot Springs Mountain Trail as well.  These changes explained the movement of birds, as micro climate c as small as a few square feet. (Wikipedia)  As I left the Dogwood Trail Nature showed me her artistry, a lovely white fungus flower.

I Hiked along the Hot Springs Mountain Trail to the Honeysuckle Trail to the Fountain Trail.  When I exited the park the city was windy and cold, I had to put on my gloves during the walk home on Fountain Street.

Go outside and play each day!
Much Love,
Lee

PS: I was a bird butt day… the little darling all wanted to show off their tail feathers.


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