Beautiful Birds, Sweet Mammals and the Need for Rain
Its already 90 degrees as I am heading out this morning at 7:50 a.m., the humidity is a visible haze. I washed my sunglasses in warm water before I left so they are not foggy over as I head into the park. As I reach the Arlington Lawn the girls a group of female House Sparrows are lined up looking at me from a bench back. A beautiful Peony catches my eye glowing in the low light of the early morning. A sweet little sparrow lands in the Tree next to me. I look back to the bench to see a Male Cardinal has scared all the sparrows into nearby Trees.
I head up the Tufa Terrace Trail to the Promenade to see a lovely juvenile female Cardinal in a Tree catching the first light of morning. She is singing a sweet tune as I head further up the Trail. I almost miss the male Eastern Cottontail in the earth and brush to my side. He is always a welcome sight, I wonder where is the female. As I move ahead a juvenile black bird lands in a Tree above me, this young bird is about the size of a large adult Robin. If you know what it is I would appreciate your help.
When I reach the Peak Trail Tufa Terrace junction a Small Sparrow lands near me on a branch. As I finish taking a photograph, a Squirrel peeks out at me high in the leaves above. Near the end of the Carriage Road I spot two Chipmunks chasing each other across the Tufa Rocks. I hope they will find a cool resting place for the day. The heat is rising so I sip some water before I head up the Mountain. Looking down at the steps leading to the Dead Chief Trail and notice it is crawling with striped garden Caterpillars. I step carefully so as not to crush any of them.
When I reach the top of the first incline on the Dead Chief Trail I can hear a male Cardinal singing to the morning sun. I turn to see a bright red male Cardinal sitting on a high branch. He is spectacular is the early morning light. The heat is climbing as I reach the Short Cut Trail and I sweat my way to the top of Hot Springs Mountain. When I reach the picnic area there are no hikers, bikers or vehicles, I don’t blame them the humidity is draining. I drink a lot of water before I continue my hike.
When I reach the Hot Springs Mountain Trail below the Pagoda I watch two juvenile Cardinals flitting and walking ahead of me. I love all these wonderful young birds in the park, they are exuberant and show great joy for life. They stay with me as I head deeper into the Forest. I can’t stop thinking about the need for a big rain storm in the park. On every trail the leaves are turning brown as if Autumn has arrived.
The heat is draining and I decide I better head home before I run out of water. I leave the park on the Floral Trail where I spot a Grasshopper type insect sitting on a flat leaf. Again if you know what it is I would appreciate your help with an identification.
Step outside and no matter where you are Nature will find you.
PS: Late this afternoon the rains came, beautiful Life Giving moisture so desperately needed in the Forest.