Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Archive for March, 2011

Mockingbirds, Bees and Flowering Trees Between Spring Storms

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Hot Springs has been the target of a line of extreme Spring storms, including rain, snow, hail and lightning over six hour period. The morning storm clouds finally clear at  3:30 pm so I dashed out for a quick visit to the park. Last nights storm has left the park both refreshed and battered. New sprouts are appearing among the Tree Buds, Blossoms and Branches that now cover the damp Earth. Heavy rains have transformed the once browning Leaves of the old Southern Magnolias surrounding the park to a glossy dark green.  Further into the park the Forest Trees are undergoing a spectacular transformation.  Once barren Red Bud Trees that recently turned pink are now sprouting bright green leaves among their blossoms.  Life giving rains are constantly repainting the Forest.

One of the Juvenile Northern Mockingbirds that were chicks late last spring flew over to a bush in front of me.  I noticed a reddish color around it’s beak which at first I thought was a wound. I am relieved to discover it is a streak of fuchsia paint, still trying to imagine how this could have occurred.   Further along on the Promenade my journey leads me to another of last years Mockingbird chicks.  It gets my attention with a sweet song and a wave of a wing.  I hope you will enjoy the brief video below of this sweet Northern Mockingbird.

Dance between the spring Rain drops and you will find the Sun.

Love to ALL!

Nesting, Foraging and Sprouting in the Spring Forest

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Winter rains have fallen and spring has brought forth an abundance of life sprouting along the Forest Trails. The once barren Trees are a flowing canopy of green, pink, orange, red and silver shimmering against a bright blue sky. The Forest floor is a carpet of brown now embroidered with green, purple, pink, white, violet, yellow, lavender and red. The ever-changing artistry at Nature’s hand is a glorious rainbow that dips into my Soul. Standing in the Spring Forest I am reminded how easily we can be reborn if only our Hearts awaken to the realization that our past failures are merely signposts leading us toward opportunities not yet realized.
May Spring Fill You Life with Beauty!
Love to ALL,

Turtles, Fish and Wildflowers at Fordyce Ricks Pond

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As our planet Earth gently spins tragedy and turmoil seem to be on the rise. The people of the Middle East struggle for freedoms we take for granted, risking their lives daily. In Japan an unthinkable triple blow of destruction (Earthquakes, Tsunami and Nuclear Leaks) has taken lives and leaves an uncertain future for an entire nation. I was thankful to learn Mercy Corps have a longstanding partnership with Japanese charity Peace Winds. Donations are getting to those on the ground in Japan rapidly without having to wait to be cleared through government channels. Dame Elizabeth Taylor passed away this week, had she not lived I would never have met my Beloved Husband Rick. We met on Twitter when I was asked to help with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Campaign to honor her work to find a cure for those afflicted with HIV/AIDS via AMFAR.

Please pause for a moment and take a stroll around the Fordyce Ricks pond and find peace in its beauty, gather strength from its calming waters.

Much Love to All,

Chickadees Mockingbirds Wildflowers Bulldogs and a Wedding Couple

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Another beautiful day out with my beloved husband Rick exploring the lower reaches of Hot Springs Mountain. We enter the park as a pair of sweet Bulldogs come trotting past and exit to the sight of a wedding couple posing for photographs. Families are still enjoying the beauty of the park during Spring break.

Everywhere I look Spring colors are exploding across the Forest orange, pink, green and silver decorate the Trees. Wildflowers of white and purple create a tapestry on the green of the many lawns. Sweet song birds create a melody as we waltz through Nature’s landscape. Spring brings the delicate rebirth of of Forests and Meadows, wildlife is mating preparing new nests and burrows. It is a blessing to bear witness to the unfurling new life! Please stroll through my photographs and open your heart to the song of Spring.

Much Love Sweet Readers,

Moths, Butterflies, Wildflowers and Fordyce Peaks Hiking Along the Sunset Trail

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It is fun to explore the least traveled parts of the park.  To be honest I am not sure how far I hiked (at least 5 miles) as the last park marker was a metal post with no plaque.  The trail continued and I assumed the section I entered was the “Fordyce Peaks” and after climbing up, up and more up I reached the tails end.  The trails end is a relative term as it was marked by red neon nylon tape tied around two trees. It looked more like an arbitrary decision to call it the end and without a map I cannot say for sure.  Yes I looked for a map but this is a side trip according to the NPS and judging by the trail is rarely used.

This is one of the best hikes in the park winding up, down and up again as you travel between ridges and peaks.  It is a mixed Forest and will be beautiful in all four seasons.  As I near the top of the first ridge on Sunset Trail I notice a spectacular display of Pink Oxalis lining the trail edges.  Further along birdsong fills the air in the distance tiny Bluets begin to appear among the Oxalis.  As in many places in Hot Springs National Park the ghost of a carriage road now sprinkled with Trees parallels the trail.   Tiny yet to be identified white wildflowers and Pussy Toes now join the colorful display on the edges of the trail.

I pass a metal NPS post missing a plaque that likely once had valuable trail information, it saddens me that people often steal these important markers.  The trail now steadily winds down from this first ridge and into a lovely valley, I love the silence of hiking on a trail of dirt, old pine needles and moss.  Slowly the Trail begins to wind upward toward a once distant ridge I often photographed from the North Mountain Overlook.  As I climb higher rocks appear and the Forest begins to change as Pines give way to a mix of deciduous Trees.  This is a familiar landscape found on ridges throughout Hot Springs National Park and in nearby State Parks.  The trail along the top of the Fordyce Peaks winds gently through the rocky Forest floor and now barren Trees waiting for Spring.

At trails end the first thing I notice is the silence, only myself, 20 or so moths and 4 Swallowtail Butterflies (3 yellow 1 black) are at the top.  The Moths and Butterflies are engaging in a beautiful mating display flying in and around a glorious pink flowering Tree.  For half an hour I stand within a perfect moment of serenity.  A cool breeze begins to carry a sweet honey like scent as it circles the Flowers and blooming Trees. I take a deep breath, close my eyes and spread my arms as if to soar with the Vultures overhead.  I will return often to see the the beautiful transition of this peaceful place.

On my return journey I spot a a sweet Tufted Titmouse moving and hoping on a branch, in it’s beak a lovely bunch of moss.  It is nest building time in the park and I feel blessed to see this sweet bird.  Further up the the trail to the next ridge a pair of Black and White Warblers are singing a joyful tune.  The fly quickly together from Tree to Tree. Nature always reveals new sights along the trails once traversed earlier in the day.

Upon my arrival back at the Fordyce Ricks Pond Sunset Trail head a wonderful surprise from Nature awaited me.  After I pack my cameras into the van I come around the back to the drivers side door.  On a Tree next to my van door is a large green Moth.  I slowly back up and get my camera.  On my return the spectacular Luna Moth is still spread out across the trunk of the Short Leaf Pine.  It is holding tight as winds tug at its delicate wings. This is my first chance to photograph one of these green beauties.  Yesterday the Moon moved closer to the Earth than it has been in 20 years and I am a Moon Child, this Luna Moth is a wonderful sign… just not sure what it means, yet!

Thank You for traveling through the Forest with me.
Much Love,

PS I never know what I will see in the Urban Jungle heading out to go for a hike…

Pansies, Northern Mockingbirds and Green Fountains on St. Patricks Day

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In the park, the plaza, the city children are running and families are celebrating St. Patricks Day in Hot Springs Arkansas.  Nature is being engulfed in a party and in the distance the faint sound of Celtic pipes and drums are getting louder with each step.  Fountains are bubbling green and people are out enjoying a perfect Hot Springs Day.  The pansies are in full bloom creating a colorful display among the revelers.

In Hot Springs National Park the Northern Mockingbirds are singing and mimicking a wide variety of sounds.  As always my husband Rick has a lovely song fest with the birds and I suspect the next time he visits the Mockingbirds will have added Celtic instruments to their repertoire. Spring Trees are colorful as leaves, buds and blossoms burst open.  The Forest is painted in vibrant pink, orange, silver and green twinkling is a subtle breeze.

Get out and play in the Urban Jungle, Nature is everywhere.



Colorful Spring Trees and Birds – Japan Relief: Photographers Can You Help?

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Please enjoy my nearly wordless ;) Wednesday post of the gorgeous colors of the changing Spring Forest in Hot Springs National Park.

I need your help! I am setting up a website to aid Japan relief… I need Photographers to donate photos for the online gallery showing which will last for a 1 year.  Photographers can help in two ways: 1) Donate a Image (Landscape, Cityscape, Wildlife, Flowers or Nature etc. NO PEOPLE)  for the site (Photographer name with details of camera and location of shot) if you are willing to pledge $10 or more a month to Mercy Corp for one year (send me copy of email receipt) I will provide link to your business site .   I am setting up a donation links for Mercy Corp as I am VERY familiar with the distance they will go to save lives during a disaster.  I will need an image with a  minimum width of  1280 pixels and bearing a not to obscuring watermark for HD production.  Those donating to Mercy Corp will get a full placement static image with blurb and link for your business and you will also be listed on the Thank You page listed at the top of all gallery sets plus you may add one photograph per week for the year… all others will be limited to one photograph and only be included in the HD video slide shows.  Please contact me at Hike Our Planet if you would like to participate.

http://photos4japan.org/ You don’t have to donate money… only let me display an image (all copyrights remain with you) so we have a pretty gallery to attract donors :o)


PS when my sister-in-law was helping with the Haiti earthquake relief out of all the agencies my husband contacted only Mercy Corp stepped up and sent a Cardiologist into a remote area to save the lives of a small child and an elderly woman. Thanks to their efforts both were saved.


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