Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Archive for February 27, 2010

Sweet Chipmunks, Lovely Birds and a note to the NPS

Hot Springs Mountain Trail Chipmunk No. 2

Hot Springs Mountain Trail Chipmunk No. 2

Weekends always show a decline in wildlife populations along the trails.  The two main culprits are increased numbers of dogs on the trails and a higher volume of vehicles on the road racing to the top of the mountain.  This combination often renders the forest near silent.  I will being trying to enter the park much earlier on weekends to avoid both types of traffic.

The lower park was quiet so I headed directly to the Carriage Road and was treated to a Robin serenading the first light from the sun. I Love starting my day with a song.  As I access the Dead Chief Trail I am told off by a Blue Jay trying to teach two younger birds.  The meaning of the stare and squawk are understood and I continued my hike up the trail.  At the top I encountered a beautiful little Black-Capped Chickadee flitting through the Trees.  They always make me feel happy with their sweet song and lovely little black and white  faces.

On the short cut trail a jogger whizzes past me head phones on, he is missing the best tunes and scenery on the planet.  When I reached the Pagoda a car is sitting doors wide open stereo blaring, a van arrives opened it’s doors providing competing audio blasts.  By the time another arrived with it’s own sound preferences I knew it was time for me to move on.  I dropped down to the Hot Springs Mountain Trail and photographed a lovely little wildflower and am on my way.

The trail is peaceful and I enjoy the sound of the Juncos as they moved from Tree to Tree.  At a small flow of water over the rocks I watched as a Dark-Eyed Junco took a sip from the trickling water.  Farther along I see a sweet Chipmunk darting through the leaves to reach the cover of a log.  So fast I often wonder how I even see them. Near the end of the eastern part of the trail loop I catch  movement out of the corner of my eye and it’s another Chipmunk.  This time they are on a log near the path and they have full cheek pouches.  I am very happy to see they are finding plenty of food today.

I hike down the Gulpha Gorge Trail to the Goat Rock Trail and part way along a sweet Labradoodle runs up to me, licks my hand and heads back to his owner.  The owner immediately attaches a leash not knowing I have already seen his dog off leash.  He says the best part of his week is letting his dog run through the park.  All I can think of is the fragile little Chipmunks that might not survive being chased by his Dog.  As sweet as he is, he is a danger to the small creatures who live in the park.

As I near the inclines I spot some lovely wildflowers blooming, a sure sign Spring is on the way.  Each little purple flower is like a cheerful face looking up towards the sun.  There can be only joy at the sight of Spring’s first flowers. I love the upper part of the Goat Rock Trail, it has not had gravel laid down for many years and my footfall is silent upon the earth and moss.  I smile as the forest spirits spin and lift individual leaves on swirling breezes as I move softly through the Trees.

Back on the crunchy gravel Hot Springs Mountain Trail then on to the Honeysuckle Trail where I hear a familiar and favorite voice in the forest.  The voice belongs to a tiny Black-Throated Green Warbler flying in and out of a Short Leaf Pine Tree.  So fast I am barely able to keep an eye on her. From the Honeysuckle I connect with the Peak Trail and I am blessed to see a gorgeous Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker.  Her movements on and over the branches is a ballet in the sky and reminds me of circ du solei.

As I walk down the second to last incline I glance to my right and in the bushes I see another little Chipmunk. It is frozen watching a bird tossing leaves under the bush next to them.  It appears I am the least of their worries and I am glad they are well hidden form the crows above.

Another beautiful day living in paradise, and it ends with a spectacular Moonrise from behind Hot Springs Mountain. I had never seen a Moon Display so amazing.

Love to You ALL!
Lee

PS: Note to NPS of Hot Springs, Arkansas


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