Hiking is my path; I see, feel and breathe Nature becoming one with the Universe. ~ Lee Hiller-London
Beautiful blue skies and glorious song birds make a perfect freezing winter morning. As the sun crests Hot Springs Mountain the park erupts in a glorious chorus of pips, chirps and trills. A Male Cardinal is enjoying a morning feast high above me as I crest the first rise of the Tufa Terrace. He moves throughout the Tree the sun changing his feathers from deep red to a spectacular fiery orange. In a last gesture to get the attention of a nearby female he throws a seed in the air and catches it. A female Cardinal in a nearby Tree on the Promenade is watching the actions of the male Cardinal in the Tree above me. Each chose a perch after a chase that began in the Lower area of the Terrace. She is pipping as the male is feasting and performing a series of acrobatic feats.
Further along a Northern Mockingbird is grooming in the bright light of the new day. Soon it moves to a higher branch and begins to whistle a pretty tune. As it turns it’s head to the side I notice it is missing the tip of the upper part of it’s beak.
When I reach the Carriage Road “The Brats” a pair of lovely Blue Jays are flying back and forth in a game of chase. One lands and moments later the other arrives squawking and mimicking a Hawk. They are so busy teasing one and other for once I think they have not noticed me. However, when I return home and edit my photographs I notice that one of them was well aware of my presence. A female Cardinal perches within the Leaves of a Tree cautiously watching the Blue Jays.
As I hike to the top of Hot Springs Mountain I begin to notice the new spring type growth along the trails. New Leaves are opening, Vines are growing and some Trees are forming Leaf buds. This spring-like growth is appearing on both the east and west sides of Hot Springs Mountain. Will multiple days of a hard freeze kill this growth, will the Vines and Trees be able to restart the budding and growth process later when it warms up again? Berries that form and eaten now will not be available in the spring after a winter of food scarcity. How will this affect migrating bird populations? All these things enter my heart and mind as a Yellow Rumped Warbler sings in a Tree high above me.
Have a glorious New Year… Love and Hugs to ALL,