Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Archive for February 17, 2010

Sunshine, Snow, A Cardinal and Squirrels on the Hot Springs Trails

Hot Springs National Park Dead Chief Trail Male Cardinalal

Hot Springs National Park Dead Chief Trail Male Cardinal

Any day that starts with a squirrel is always a treat.  I love watching them out and about gathering acorns, scampering up trees and leaping from place to place. Cool sunny and clear a perfect day to be a squirrel.  I left the Tufa Terrace smiling. As I crept down the Carriage Road I could hear the sweet serenade of a Male Cardinal.  He was perched in a high branch facing the morning sun on the Dead Chief Trail. The bright light on the red of his feathers reminded me of a phoenix about to burst into flames.

As I reached the top of the second incline I spotted a White-Throated Sparrow, I had never notice how long their tail feathers are.  When I looked at the photo I wondered if the tail is from a bird hidden from view.  Either way he has a great face.  I think the beauty of sparrows is under rated.

On to the Short Cut Trail a sweet little olive green bird land on branch to my right.  So tiny I wasn’t sure at first if the movement was bird or a fluttering leaf.  I have list this little beauty as a Hutton’s Vireo even though this is not it’s usual territory.  It was the only bird I could find that had the same coloring, wing bands and eye detail.

Nearing the top I could hear chainsaws,  the National Park Service was clearing the trail ahead.  A large tree had fallen during the storm, so large it took with it another big tree and several smaller ones. A crew of two were up top clearing the fallen, lives lost to the harsh winter.

The sound of the chainsaw had emptied the top of the mountain and I was alone as I shot the view from the Pagoda.  The Hot Springs Mountain Trail was a mixed hike, sunny and warm, then cold covered with snow.  My jacket was tied around my hips when I left the Pagoda, half way along it was back on and so were my gloves.  In one of the warm spots I photographed a first sign of spring, a large green fly.

In the warmer areas of the mountain trees were beginning to form buds on their delicate branches.  Spring would be bursting forth in the park soon.  Lovely flowers and green leaves to shelter the birds and welcome the creatures that had slept through the winter. As I hiked down the Peak Trail I thought of all the sleeping creatures waiting for the sun to warm the earth so they could wake.

As I reached the bottom of the Peak Trail a squirrel bounded out of the shadows with an acorn.  He ran to the grass and dug a hole and buried his new found treasure.  A perfect day in the park begins with a Squirrel and ends one too.

Go Out and Play!
Much Love,


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