Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Archive for December, 2010

Ice, Steam And Sparrows

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Field Notes:
12/27/2010 – It is a bitter cold morning, 18 degrees with a wind chill of 11.  Cold enough for the bubbling Hot Spring Cascade to form ice cycles and the surrounding grassed to be layered in snow like coating,  Jack Frost has also been busy painting organic and inorganic materials.  Midnight blue metal as been transform with white fern patterns that appear to grow right before my eyes.  The Autumn leaves curling on the ground have spiky shards of ice that resemble crystal rock formations.  Old Man Winter decorates the Forest with flair.  At the Hot Spring Cascade the combination of glinting ice cycle teeth and steam reminds me of a dragons mouth.

This is the kind of morning you hike for warmth and stopping to take photographs is a measured event, especially it require glove removal to find the right settings.  Grateful for the harder inclines that increase the circulation to your fingers.  Blessed to have the strength to be able to see the beauty a cold morning. Thankful for the energy in Hot Honey and Lemon with a dash of my cayenne herbal tincture mix.  Just ordered a cayenne cream, a test to see if it will keep my fingers warmer on the sub freezing hikes. Update to follow.

The term “just us chickens” needs an amendment this morning to “just us sparrows”.  Why? Because other than myself they were almost the only creatures I saw moving during my hike.  The sweet White Throated Sparrows looked uncomfortable but,  fluffed up their feathers and greeted the day.  I always seem to see more of these lovely Sparrows during the winter months, I guess no one told them it get cold here too. Previously I used the term almost, a sweet Mockingbird bid me farewell as I left the park and a rustling of leaves in the wind was more than just air gliding over autumn’s last stand.  When I returned home and began editing my photographs I discovered a barely visible Golden-Crowned Kinglet had taken shelter in the autumn leaves high above me.  I love finding an unexpected gift from Nature in my photographs.

There is a contentment in coming home and fixing a hot bowl of soup on a day of ice and steam.  Sipping it slowly while I look out the window at Jack Frost’s art decorating the Forest, remembering the beauty as I edit my photographs.  The steam warming my face, a feeling of gratitude for all that has lead me to this moment.

Much Love Dearest Readers,
Lee

PS Sorry this post come a few days later than usual… it is a change of holidays Christmas to Valentines and I am still in the business of designing and selling “stuff” Books, Home Decor, Gift, Apparel, Shoes, Jewelry etc.  htp://LeeHillerBooks.com and  http://LeeHillerShopping.com (end of commercial).


Hike With Me On West Mountain


Beautiful Birds As The Cold Winds Blow

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Field Notes:
Day after Christmas is always perfect for hiking off the excesses of the holidays.  The cold blowing wind means I have the park trails to myself, which is rare on a Sunday morning.  I am mindful that hiking in the winter months means layer up, hydrate and use sunscreen, the cold can drain your body quickly.  Special thanks to my friends at Ouachita Outfitters in Hot Springs for helping me prepare for winter hiking.  They are locally owned with a large variety of the best brands for all your outdoor needs.  No they did not pay me or give me free gear to say this… great products, advice and service ALWAYS deserves recognition.

Those of you who regularly read my blog know of the ongoing saga of “The Brats” aka the juvenile Blue Jays.  Today one of them was trying to ride out the cold winds in the bramble.  So cold the sweet thing did not fly away or chide me for being on it’s favorite trail.  They were hunkered down against the wind and this was the first time I had seen one of them subdued.  It felt as if I had an unfair advantage in our ongoing dance in the Forest. Please note that the photos on display of this juvenile Blue Jay accurately show the obstacles of branches, vines and bushes I face to take many of my photographs.  There are few areas in the park that the birds Love to hang out that don’t have a weave of growing and changing photographic challenges.

I Love observing the topsy turvy antics of a female Cardinal foraging for breakfast.  Even though she was clearly aware of my presence she continued to feed. Looking at me from her vulnerable upside down feeding position I was careful not to make any movements that might be perceived as threatening.  When I reached the the top of Hot Springs Mountain a Northern Mockingbird followed me across the picnic area.  The wind was fiercely buffeting and ruffling its downy feathers, yet it still could not contain its curiosity.

Today the cold wind was mostly a blessing, it slowed down the movement of the birds… however we all had the that pinched cold expression in our eyes.  I admire the bravery of the birds that stay with us for the winter.  I respect the strength of their ability to survive the harsh winter months.

Love to ALL,

Lee


Happy Holidays from Hot Springs National Park


Blues Singer, Warblers and Wildflowers

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Field Notes:
Lovely Birds of Winter, new favorites are the sweet Yellow Rumped Warbler and the Pine Warbler. Last Spring I caught brief sightings, now my new lens allows me to get higher into the Trees to capture lovely warblers.   The beauty of these strong little birds that spend the Winter in with us in Hot Springs National Park is now revealed to me.  To look in the highest Trees and marvel at the gorgeous winged friends that stay with me through the ice and snow is a welcome treat.  I am blessed to hear their joyous songs and graceful antics.

In a distant high Tree a Juvenile Blue Jay watched me, slowly limb by limb it came a bit closer.  Juvenile Blue Jays often follow me at a safe distance, sometimes in silence and other times loudly giving away my presence to the entire Forest.  Even though I could barely see my blue shadow I snapped off a couple of shots.  Imagine my surprise when I began to edit my photographs and discovered this Forest “Blues Singer” wearing vintage Ray-Ban Wayfarers.  I hike in the hippest Forest in the South :)

A storm is nearly upon Hot Springs National Park so I decide to revisit the Goat Rock Trail to see all the lovely violets before they get hammered by rain, sleet and wind.  These beautiful Springs flowers are a gift I do not want to waste.  Their colors vary in each patch or single flower, even the shapes are different from most I saw last Spring.  As my regular readers know I adore Wildflowers and these, Bird-Foot Violets are my favorites. Global warming or a semi regular occurrence, I do not have the answer.

I hope to learn more about what has caused Spring to arrive early in the park.  I spotted Spring Violets on the Dead Chief Trail  on December 11th this year.  Two lone blossoms pushing up through the autumn leaves.  I went back the next day to see if I had miss others along the trail.  On December 22nd I hiked over to the Goat Rock Trail and discover 11 different patches of Bird-Foot Violets.  There was snow on Hot Springs Mountain Christmas last year, I do not believe this will occur in 2010. The intense Summer heat that usually arrives in late July or August began early in June this year and did not let up until mid September.  Now it appears the park is attempting to skip from Autumn into Spring.

Have a Lovely Holiday Weekend! Merry Christmas :)
Much Love,
Lee

PS School holidays means trail runners, I wish they would run the park road instead.  Runners leave a wake of smashed Insects, trampled Wildflowers, frightened Wildlife and I hate being pushed off the trail.  Runner you have miles of road within the park please consider some of seek peace within the Forest, stopping and listening to witness nature’s mircles.


Birds-Foot Violets Blossoming On Winters First Day

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Field Notes:
“The flowers that bloom in the Spring tra la”  When I was a child working in the garden with my Dad he would always sing this song on the first day of Spring.  A celebration to welcome the new flowering planets pushing up through the soil.  I never expected this to be the song in my head as hiked on the first day of winter (yesterday).  Our first day of winter in Hot Springs National Park was overcast, HOT (70) and HUMID by mid morning.  All along the trail delicate patches of green have begun to appear, nestle in the rust of the falling leaves it would be easy to miss their awakening.

When I reach the Goat Rock Trail the new green is more apparent as the Trees along this Trail are mainly Pines.  The Minimal leaf cover and warmer micro-climate are a perfect nursery for early arrivals.  Very early, by about three months!  Lovely Bird-foot Violets are beginning to unfurl in colors and shapes I did not see last Spring.  Waxy white with a hint of violet on the edges, violet with narrow petals, bluish violet and purple.  Mixed in with the beautiful violets are tiny white False Garlic wildflowers (Special Thanks to @USWildflowers  http://uswildflowers.com/).  They open as in a beautiful star lily shape and are sprouting in small delicate clusters all along the trail.

Please enjoy this wonderful first day of Winter Spring bouquet.  Wildflowers are the delicate gems in the Forest and it is always a joy to see them.

Play today in the Forests and Fields and you will feel refreshed, Nature is a wonderful healing force.
Much Love,
Lee


Belted Kingfisher, Mountain Birds and Old Ruins

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Field Notes:
I have completed 1 year without a vehicle, it was NOT easy and at times down right frustrating.  However, I did prove it could be done and that perhaps I did not need to drive as much as I had in previous years.  I walked to the post office, bank, local stores etc. all of my own choosing.  Great for the planet and great for my health, a win win.  This said I will enjoy being able to drive to and hike in some of the many nearby state parks in Arkansas that were further afield than walking would allow. This was a personal journey of learning about my carbon footprint.  My Husband Rick was always available to give me a ride to the grocery store for our larger shopping expeditions and trips that we took further afield in the city.  This was a personal challenge for me, especially since I Love to drive.  My lesson is to be more thoughtful about how much and where I drive.

Morning began with a lovely hike up and back down West Mountain via the Oak Trail.   My first treat was watching a sweet sparrow as it flitted up and down a weave of vines and leaves.  It was singing a sweet song as it peeked out from leaves casting a shy glance.  It was the perfect start to peaceful hike. Up the top of West Mountain always reminds me of the Goat Rock Trail on North Mountain or vice versa.  The bare Trees and rocks cast a silver light along the Sunset Trail.  I stop to sit in the ruins where once stood a rest hut that at one time was not unlike the one I was married in on Hot Springs Mountain.  The sky is a perfect Hot Spring blue and the sun warms my face as I tip back a protein drink.

As I head back down the Mountain I hear a familiar winged sound as a flash of beige lands on a branch near the bottom of the West Mountain Trail.  A juvenile Mourning Dove sits staring at me from its perch.  Even as I inch closer it does not move but instead it puffs up its chest.  In the winter light the lovely Mourning Dove and Forest are bathed in golden glow.  It’s sweet demeanor is a blessed sight.  As I near the middle of the Oak Trail I can hear a sweet song so I scan the Trees to my right.  A flash of green leads me to a tiny Orange Crowned Warbler.  Last winter they were always just out of range but now they appear to be along every trail.  I am thankful for my new camera and lens, it has allowed me to see so many beautiful creatures.

I decided to visit Ricks Pond which is on the old Fordyce Estate located within Hot Springs National Park.  The last time I had been here was summer, the greenery was lush and the pond was teaming with life.  Now the Trees are bare and there is a silvery glow around the edges of the water. This time it appeared I was alone as I stepped upon the stone bridge.   A loud rattling call rang out across the march and off in the distance I saw a large blue-gray and white bird fly up into a Tree.  At first I thought the colors indicated a Blue Jay, but the marking and body shape seemed different.  Even though it was well out of range for a clear shot with my 400mm lens I shot several photographs.  As I tried to creep closer it would fly just a bit further away, not completely out of sight but to far for me to identify.  To my delight when I returned home I was able to see my welcoming committee had been a young male Belted Kingfisher.  I Love making new friends in the park.

The water reveals it own beauty, once green aquatic plants have turned gold with a vibrant red center.  Autumns leaves float just below the surface of the pond in dreamlike imagery.  The last of the rust leaves dangle and reflect just above the murky edges of now filled with the autumn debris.

Much Love,
Lee


A Mixed Flock Of Little Birds and a Near Miss

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Field Notes:
I Love the bare Forest, it reminds me the Trees living in the park are strong and adaptable.  Beautiful dark sculptures rising upward toward the sky, their delicate limps spread like fingers to touch the clouds. Survivors of past winter storms bent, twisted and missing limbs still guardians of the Mountains that surround my home.  Often wound in an embrace two Trees forever hold one and other as they did long ago to withstand the fierce winds of winter.  Graceful dancers creaking and moaning in the Autumn breezes.

Today I had a close encounter in the Forest, a near miss (or Deer Miss) traffic accident on the Peak Trail. I was watching the little birds flying above me in the Trees and caught sight of a white tail. A White Tail Deer, a young buck. Once it spotted me it headed down a slope so I headed up the trail hoping to get a photograph. What I did not count on was it’s decision to double back and jump across the trail nearly knocking me over. In baseball this would be the pitcher brushing me back from the plate with an inside pitch. Not sure who was more surprised. Considering I did not see any last winter this might be a sign the population has expanded it’s winter territory. I will stalk my photography subjects with greater care :) Thinking back I wonder if this is he same young buck I saw several months ago not far from here peering at me over the ridge. At that time his curiosity was greater than his fear.

When I reached the top of Hot Springs Mountain the air was filled with small bird songs.  A mixed flock of little birds was flitting from Tree to Tree.  I was not sure where to point my lens and I felt a bit dizzy when I was finished.  Pointing up, then down, then over to another Tree it was hard to keep up with these tiny beauties.  A sweet Black-Capped Chickadee was searching for breakfast in the leaves.  A Pine Warbler was strolling on the ground and flew off as a Brown Creeper landed with a seed.  A beautiful pair of Red Breasted Nuthatches were hopping up down and around on a short leaf pine.  As the flock was moving away a Yellow Rumped Warbler landed in the Tree above me and a Pine Warbler waved good-bye.

Thank You ALL for hiking with me in the Mountains of Hot Springs National Park.

Much Love,
Lee


Woodpeckers of Hot Springs National Park

From the tiniest Downy to the largest Pileated the park has a beautiful variety of spectacular Woodpeckers.  I found learning the call of each bird helpful as is listening for pecking sounds.  Once you have heard their calls you will be scanning the Trees to spot these lovely creatures.

Pileated Woodpecker: About the size of a Crow the largest of the North American Woodpeckers.  Wonderful call songs like cackling chickens, one of my favorite sounds in the Forest.  They are a glorious site and I hope to one day to capture a photo looking down as it glides past with it’s wings spread. You can search Trees for the pecking marks created by their heavy chiseled beaks. Males have red markings by their beaks and juveniles have amber brown eyes. Spectacular feature is their red crest found on both males and females.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker: One of my first Forest friends, I am often followed by these beauties.  Like the Pileated Woodpecker they have a distinctive cackling call.  The males have vibrant red heads.  Their beaks have a long cone shape.  To see why they are called red-bellied see picture below of an unflattering shot from behind :).

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker: Each time I see one of these beauties I have hope for the park.  The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker is a Keystone species its presence is important to the environmental balance of the Forest. The Male has distinct red coloring on its head and throat, females have white throats.  Juveniles have a murky appearance as brown transitions to black and red forms on the head.

Hairy Woodpecker: Slightly larger than it’s look-a-like of the Downy Woodpecker, easily distinguished by heavier chisel shaped beak.

Downy Woodpecker: Small black and white Woodpecker, acrobatic often found flocking with Chickadees and Nuthatches. Acrobatic movement rapidly hopping up, down and around Trees. They make a lively pipping joyful sound.

Hot Springs Mountain Road Pileated Woodpecker
West Mountain Oak Trail Juvenile Pileated Woodpecker
Short Cut Trail Red Bellied Woodpecker
Short Cut Trail Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Peak Trail Bed-Bellied Woodpecker
Short Cut Trail Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
Hot Springs Mountain Trail Juvenile Yellow Bellied Sapsucker
Lower Dogwood Trail Juvenile Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
Floral Trail Female Hairy Woodpecker
Hot Springs Mountain Trail Male Downy Woodpecker
Short Cut Trail Male Downy Woodpecker

 


Little Birds Out Foraging In The Cold Weather

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Field Notes:
Whether you call it “Wordless Wednesday” or “Wings on Wednesday” I always have a little something to say about my winged friends and more :) The sun has abandoned me and even when it peeks through the clouds the a gray haze hangs in the air.  Not quite fog, it makes focus and lighting difficult. The cold has made the small mammals vanish and I have not see a Chipmunk or Squirrel for since the temperatures dipped.

The Bird-Foot Violets are blooming as we head into winter.  As much as I adore these beauties I suspect they are out early/late because of climate change as all references indicate they are Spring bloomers.  I found 2 individuals and 1 patch hiking on the Goat Rock Trail, a small patch on the Dead Chief Trail several days ago.  Their delicate beauty hides their inner strength to bloom in harsh conditions, fragile grace in the impending winter chill.

The birds are very busy preparing for winter.  They move with great speed even in the cold air and many are blurs against the gray skies. I Love the industrious activity of the tiniest of warblers,  many have their winter plumage and have a lovely plumped appearance.  A sweet Carolina Wren  looked miserable in the 24 degree wind, while the Tufted Titmouse working on a leaf seem oblivious to the cold. A tiny Orange Crowned Warbler hovering under hanging leaves was moving so quickly only the back of it’s head was clearly visible. Please enjoy the all lovely wings I spotted on this wonderful hazy gray morning.

Much Love,
Lee

PS A special shout out to the Ouachita Hikers, it was lovely meeting on the trails.


Tiny Birds Within The Late Autumn Forest

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Field Notes:
I awoke up to falling temperatures 33 with wind chill of 22 fell to 29 with a wind chill of 19 by the time I headed out the door at 9:30 am. This is one of my favorites times of the year, being from Oregon the cold never stops me from hiking. See some my ice and snow blog entries from early 2010.   The park wildlife senses there are less people and dogs in the park and they begin to reveal themselves more often as I move along the trails.   I am finally able to see the lovely creatures whose songs I had heard all throughout the spring and summer.  Hidden in the Forest now revealed sweet song birds and woodpeckers on bare branches.  Sunny and cold I hike for the beauty, this morning I also hike to stay warm.

As I reach the top of the Tufa Terrace Trail ramp I am greeted by a Male Cardinal basking in the early morning sunlight. He peeks out from behind a small tree, a spectacular sight glowing as the sun rises behind him. Many of the male Cardinals in this area are vermilion rather than red and I wonder if this is the color of the juveniles or a genetic anomaly.  Perhaps with maturity comes the deeper red we associate with male Cardinals in art and photographs.  I have so much to learn.

On the Dead Chief trail I have discovered a lovely place where tiny birds regularly gather to search for food.  Today I am blessed o final get a clear view of a yellow rumped warbler, it stays although i know it sees me.  A White Throated Sparrow hops among the now bare vines to my right, ahead a green warbler pecks in the leaves along the trail.  A familiar pipping sound leads my eyes to a Brown Creeper hopping up a Tree searching  for breakfast.

On the Short Cut Trail an industrious male Downy Woodpecker is working a branch.  Each peck of his beak creates a cloud of wood fibers flying int o the air.  I Love the industrious nature of these tiny beauties.

When I reach the top of Hot Springs Mountain I spot a Tree in a glorious late autumn display.  It is a rich display of red, coral and orange leaves dancing in the frigid Forest breezes.  As I stand below this glorious Tree, it feels wonderful to be bathed in its radiant glow.  I am rejuvenated by the healing spirit of Manataka.

Each moment in Nature is a precious gift.
Much Love,
Lee

PS To the  young woman who called me a Bitch for commenting she did not have control of her dogs…  If you are hiking up the mountain and your dogs are jumping on me plus following me down the mountain… you do not have control of your dogs. Just because you have them on a leash does not mean you are in control of their behavior.  They are sweet but strong dogs that were all over the trail because you did not give them the most basic leash training.  A child or elderly person could easily have been hurt by their boisterous uncontrolled activity.


A Spring Beauty in the Gloom of Autumn Gray

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Field Notes:
This morning was gray and gloomy, the worst possible light for photography… but perfect for a hike.  Okay, yes I think everyday is the perfect day for a hike.  It was a good day to work with my new camera equipment weather protection by LensCoat, think neoprene wet suit for your cameras and lenses.  I realize I will need to make a few minor modifications to the camera covers so I can shoot with the speed I prefer.  I am making all my winter preparations, even got a new pair of Kako Snow/ice traction devices for my boots.

When I reach the Dead Chief Trail I decide to go around the base Hot Springs Mountain.  The gray gloom makes photographing the tiny shadowy birds impossible.  I am blessed to hear the beautiful songs echoing through the Forest as I hike. Nearly all the leaves have fallen and it feels as if winter has came early to the park.  Ahead and to my right I see what I believe to be a bright candy wrapper.  When I reach the violet object I am amazed to see it is in fact a wildflower, a spring wildflower.  In the gloom of a dark Autumn Morning an unexpected gem glows along the trail side. Spring has arrived within the late Autumn Forest. Small and delicate Bird-Foot Violets are blooming. Tiny ghosts of seasons past. Petals spread like wings as if to take flight from the Forest floor.  I had always thought the one I spotted on the Goat Rock Trail February 06 2009 just before the snow and ice winter storms was early.  Nature always presents me with the most glorious bouquets.

On the Upper Dogwood I meet two wonderful Nature Lovers, Pamela and Al.  They are a lovely couple who live a green lifestyle caring for our delicate planet earth.  I am thankful they took the time to stop and speak with me today in the park.

Get out in Nature you never know what surprises are waiting for you :o)
Love,
Lee


Hot Springs Mountain Tower Video – Hot Springs National Park, AR

Please Join me on my 1st Anniversary ride to the top of the Mountain Tower
Can be viewed in HD selecting 720 and full screen options after you press play


Life and Death in the Waning Autumn Forest

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Field Notes:
As I enter the park today and head up the Tufa Terrace Trail I spot several piles Northern Mockingbird feathers.  I cannot see any blood, yet cannot imagine this sweet creature surviving with this many feathers lost.  Sadly the only predators in the park that could have done this would be either a feral Cat or Human.  The feathers appear to have been plucked rather than ripped off with skin. As I reach the top of the Tufa Terrace there is an unnatural silence, it is as if there is a moment of silence for the loss of one of the winged family members.

At the entrance and exit to  the Hot Springs Mountain Road I was serenaded by Northern Mockingbirds.  This lifted some of the pain I experienced at the sight of the feathers strewn about on the Tufa Terrace.  I feel a mix of emotions while I am hiking.  The sadness of a life loss and the joy of seeing those still living.

It’s early morning and I spot a squirrel dumpster diving, well it is really garbage can diving.  The receptacle sits below an Oak Tree and it catches all the falling acorns, the squirrel carefully fishes them out. Judging by the look on its face I am an unexpected witness. Adaptation means survival, the squirrel population exploded in the lower areas of the park.

When is a feral Cat not feral?  There is a lovely cat living on the ground of the old Gothic hospital, I cannot tell if it is a pet of some of the employees living on site.  I have captured photographs of this cat hunting in the park, yet when I come near it there is not the normal fear.  This time after taking photos it meowed at me as I walked away,  this cat needs to stay out of the park.  In the area I have seen it hunting the rabbits have vanished, as have the chipmunks, squirrels and bird populations are down by half.  This is a cat in serious need of a relocation.  A barn ratter would be an excellent occupation for uncollared cat.

I am new to world of Dragonflies, should I be surprised to see them all over the park?  We have had many nights of below freezing temperatures, not sure why I thought this might end their cycle of life.  We had a little warm up today so perhaps they all woke from a sweet cold slumber.

Wonderful discovery, a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers on the Upper Dogwood Trail.  High, very high above me I spot a male and female feasting on berries.  The female stays in the Tree for several minutes after the male leaves.  She does a delicate dance holding on to the thin branch as it blows in the wind.  Later the male returns landing in a nearby Short Leaf Pine and I can see the lovely red markings near his beak.

On the Lower Dogwood Trail I hear a familiar call and see a juvenile Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker.  It is hopping up and down the Tree pecking and pipping, I am so blessed to witness Nature’s changing face as the seasons transition from one to another.  As I hike out of the Forest I am stuck by how fast the autumn Leaves are falling from the Trees.  Winter is nearing.

I am thankful for the chance to hike in Hot Springs National Park and the new lens that has allowed me to see more of its lovely creatures.  I am blessed to have an amazingly understanding husband, my beloved Rick London and his faith  in my reignited passion for Nature photography.

Get Out and play, breath in the air and feel Nature’s blessings.
Love,
Lee


Falling Leaves Reveal My Feathered Friends

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Field Notes:
The Autumn Leaves are falling revealing hidden friends, I have missed them through these many months.  As the rust, gold and red drift lazily down to the Forest floor, Trees are delicate dark scultures rising to meet the sky.  Dancing on the trunks and limbs are winged beauties showcasing their vibrant songs flashing spectacular plumage.  I know their voices from my year of hiking in the Mountains and am blessed to know who has arrived along the trail as I hike.

On the Short Cut Trail  a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker kept a pecking rhythm as a Yellow-Rumped Warbler sang a lovely melody harmonizing with a Tufted Titmouse.  On the Hot Springs Mountain Top Trail a lively light pipping sound is filling the air, I look up to see a sweet Brown Creeper moving from Tree Branches to Pine Cone clusters.  As I move further along the path I see a lovely Chipmunk sunning on a rock to my side, its golden fur glistens in the light.   Pecking grows louder as I head further up the trail, to my side I see a Male Downy Woodpecker pecking and digging to create a new home in a Tree.

As I am preparing to leave the park and head over to photograph a wonderful rainbow Tree near the visitors center I am happy to see a family of Northern Mockingbirds.  Please note I did nothing to deserve “Sometimes Even Nature Flips Me The Bird :o)” it is why I adore these winged friends.

Thank You for coming into the Forest with me.
Love,
Lee


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