Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Tanager, Cardinal, Chipmunk, Squirrel and Magnolias

Hot Springs Mountain Trail Summer Tanager

Turbulent skies and humidity as I head into the park this morning.  A Sweet Squirrel is forage for it’s breakfast on the Arlington Lawn at the park entrance as I head for the Floral Trail.  It appears we are often on the same morning schedule. I love watching it’s graceful leaping and hunting for the hidden treasures in the lawn.

When I reach the Trail on the North Mountain side a beautiful Moth lands on a fallen Tree. It’s wings are a grayish brown with light blue plus orange and yellow rings.  I cannot remember seeing so many beautiful Moths.   I connect with the Lower Dogwood Trail and spot a little shadow moving on the Trail in front of me.  Looking closely I see a wonderful spiky black with neon orange caterpillar.  I decide to stay and make sure it gets safely across the path.  I believe it letting Nature take it’s course, my purpose was not to save it from predators, it is to make sure a jogger does not mindlessly crush it under foot.

From the Lower Dogwood I hike up to the Upper Dogwood Trail, and catch a young couple making out :) Note to couple the morning is often a busy time on the trails and in the middle of the path not a good plan LOL.  After managing to stifle my laughter I continued along the trail.  Near the trail head I hear a rustling to my side, I turn to look and see a Male Box Turtle. His coloring is fantastic a rust head an black front legs with yellow spots.  In an effort to learn why I rarely see them I decide to stand and watch it’s progress up the side of the bank. To my surprise it climbs up to the leaves and burrows halfway into them, when finished at first glance it appears to be just another rock.

I hike down North Mountain to the Hot Springs Mountain Trail and head over to Hot Springs Mountain.  Along the trail I can hear beautiful bird call, as I am listening I spot a wonderful patch of pink Wild Roses blooming on the trail edge. As I am admiring the beauty of the Rose I hear a Male Cardinal in the Tree above me. I turn to see two bright red birds flitting around the leaves.  It is not until I return home I discover only one of the birds is a male Cardinal, the other is a Summer Tanager. This is my first sighting of a Tanager in the park.

From the Hot Springs Mountain Trail  I connect with the Honeysuckle and then the Floral Trails. Half way down the trail I spot a little Chipmunk peeking out from under a log.  I stand silently and watch as it comes out looks around, climbs up the log, stops to look at me for awhile then vanishes over the other side. It is the first time I have seen a Chipmunk using it’s tail for balance, it reminds me of a miniature fox.  Nature is a beautiful teacher. When I reach the bottom of the trail  I head to the park entrance.  At the entrance Magnolias are opening in greater numbers, the white blossom fill the air with a glorious sweet scent. It is the perfect way to finish my morning in the park.

Be prepared to see what Nature has to show you!
Love to You All!
Lee

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