Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Archive for November, 2011

Blue Skies, Autumn Leaves, Berries, Birds and a Squirrel in the Park

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Finally a glorious sunny morning greets me as I enter Hot Springs National Park.  For the past week the skies have a been covered in a seemingly never ending band of dark gray clouds each morning.  Now the sunlight illuminates autumn Leaves as I enter the park and they look like beautiful glowing strings of lights.  Above me a juvenile Squirrel is practicing it’s balance and forage skills I head up Hot Springs Mountain.  I carry this joyous sight with me during my hike up and around the mountain.

Decorating the trail edges are lovely autumn Berries and glowing autumn Leaves. At the top of Hot Springs Mountain small Tufted Titmice are flying among vibrant leaves of red, orange, yellow and green.  They are busy feasting to prepare for the colder temperatures that have arrived early this year.

As I am reveling in the beauty of the changing Forest it is not long before I reach the Honeysuckle Trail.  I always Love stopping by Rick’s and my wedding Chapel, it is a blessing to remember the glorious day of our marriage.

Nearing home I spot a container lid in the park that has gathered rain water.  House Sparrows are happily splashing in the makeshift bath glittering in the sunlight.  As they fly back into a nearby Magnolia Tree I spot one of their nests.  Now I understand why they are so difficult to spot among the Leaves.  The nests are woven into a bowl that blends into the branches. A perfect place to hide from my lens :)

Love to ALL!
Lee


Into the Dark Autumn Forest and John Lennon Looks Out On Hot Springs

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An autumn chill has fallen over the Forest and only a sprinkling of leaves remain on the Trees.  As Rick and I hike up North Mountain the skies are covered in dark clouds.  The last of the colorful leaves glow in the gray of the late morning.  In the distance the call of of a Red-Bellied Woodpecker echos across the Mountain.

Colorful Leaves give way to bright curling Fungi decorating rotting stumps and Trees.  A small Slug is feasting on pieces of bright yellow fungi on a rust Leaf.  On the trail rocks once hidden by the foliage of spring and winter appear as Nature gives up her treasure.

Along the Promenade the color of the Forest is seen in a pair of beautiful Cardinals.  They are soon joined by a small flock of Juncos in search of food.  Swooping into the scene a pair of Northern Mockingbirds chasee the visiting birds out of their territory.

We decide to walk home through the Historic District and notice John Lennon is peering out from two Gallery windows.  His iconic face is always a welcome sight.  As we parallel the HSNP Bathhouses lovely Molly catches Rick’s eye, she is a sweet Bearded Collie.  Rick’s baby Thor who past away several years ago was also a Bearded Collie so Molly made his heart happy.  Have a lovely road trip Molly, thank you for saying hello!

Much love to ALL!
Lee


Vegan Thanksgiving and Hike – Thankful For My Life

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While the rest of the world shops I am typing my blog, thankful to be warm and rested sitting at my computer.  Yesterday my husband Rick and I went for a lovely Thanksgiving hike, a wonderful new tradition for the Hiller/London household.  Another new tradition was our vegan meal, my first attempt at a formal menu since we both stopped eating animal products.

I am thankful my husband has become a vegan because it means we can have a longer healthier life together.  I am thankful to be able to step out the door and go hiking in a National Park. I am thankful for the wonderful friends and family who care about us. I am thankful to be alive.

I am thankful to have so many lovely people read my blog. Have a wonderful day!

Much Love to ALL!
Lee


Rain, Rain and More Rain with a Flash Flood Warning

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Yesterday it rained almost the entire day so when it momentarily stopped I dashed outside to take a few photographs.  Dense fog kept the Tower and Trees along top of Hot Springs Mountain hidden and caused others to appear as if they were ghostly sentinels.  Rain drops hung like large glinting jewels from Branches and autumn Leaves. Tiny House Sparrows flitted among the Leaves feasting on tender Seeds.  Soon rain resumed casting a veil of gray over the Trees and little Sparrows once again.

Much Love to ALL!
Lee


Autumn Leaves Give A Second Curtain Call

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A cluster of storms are currently sitting over Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas.  As I sit at my desk  typing this blog rain is pouring down through dense dark low clouds, aka fog. Flood warnings are in place with a long term forecast going through Tuesday night.

My husband Rick and I dashed out for a hike the other day during a break in the storms.  Beautiful rainbow clouds reappeared as we headed into the Forest on West Mountain, a perfect start to our adventure.  They are always a awesome spectacle and I never tire of the view. As we hike up the Canyon Trail the clouds begin to get darker and I wonder if it might rain.   In the low light the last of the autumn Leaves glow in lovely shades yellow red and orange.  Each time I think a storm has taken all the glorious fall colors from the Trees the forest surprises me with another vibrant show of color.

Dark skies continue as we make our way across West Mountain,then back to the city.  At each view point between the Trees the city is framed by blue gray skies. As we hike back down the Canyon Trail a young crow is calling out to it’s family.  It’s cries/caws are a sad song, fortunately a few minutes later we hear a adult Crow answering back.

It was a wonderful break in the Forest…

Much Love to ALL!
Lee


How Nature Creates Beautiful Autumn Leaves

HSNP Hot Springs Mountain Trail Autumn Leaves

As autumn begins sunlight diminishes and the temperatures begin to drop there is not enough water or light for photosynthesis.  Now the sunlight is not warming the Leaves with the same intensity of the summer months. Trees begin to rest living off the nutrients stored during the late spring and summer months.  As Leaves shut down their internal nutrient factories the green chlorophyll vanishes from the Leaves. When the bright green fades away, we can see the now visible yellow and orange colors. These colors have been in the leaves in small amounts all along, but in the spring and summer other colors are hidden by the dominant green chlorophyll.

How are the bright reds and purples we see in Leaves made?  Within some trees, such as Maples the glucose is trapped in the Leaves after photosynthesis stops.  Now the sunlight plus cool nights in autumn causes the Leaves to turn the trapped glucose into a red color. The rust and brown color of Trees Leaves as found on Oaks are made from waste left in the leaves.

What conditions cause the most spectacular color display? The weather affects both the leaf color intensity and its duration.  The perfect combination for spectacular color display are a warm, dry summer followed by a rainy autumn.  Then in autumn, warm, sunny days with cool nights trigger brilliant color formations. If an early frost occurs this lessens the intensity of red. As a photographer I always think a gray rainy or overcast day will intensify the depth of vibrant autumn leaf colors.

For a more detailed scientific explanation please read The chemicals that cause leaves to change color in fall

Hope you all had a glorious leaf hunt this autumn…
Love to ALL!
Lee

HSNP Hot Springs Historic District Red Maple

Autumn's Last Burst Historic District Hot Springs

HSNP Historic District Autumn Leaves

HSNP Lower Dogwood Trail Autumn Leaves

Promanade Autumn Leaves

Tufa Terrace Autumn Leaves

West Mountain Trail Autumn Leaves

HSNP West Mt Canyon Trail Autumn Leaves

HSNP Tufa Terrace Trail Autumn Leaves

HSNP Promenade Autumn Leaves

HSNP Lower Dogwood Trail Autumn Leaves

HSNP Floral Trail Autumn Leaves

HSNP Peak Trail Autumn Leaves

HSNP Hot Springs Mountain Trail Autumn Leaves

HSNP Dead Chief Trail Autumn Leaves

HSNP West Mountain Loop Trail Autumn

HSNP Promenade Autumn Leaves

HSNP Gulpha Gorge Trail Autumn


Autumn Gold and the Return of Winter Friends

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This blog entry is dedicated to my beloved husband Rick. He has struggled through therapy for a torn ligament and when that had healed he was beat up by dental surgery plus a dry socket infection.  Congratulations Baby on getting back out into the Forest today!

If you have ever been to Hot Spring, Arkansas you will know about the amazing blue sky. Today it was so glorious as we stepped out the door to go for a hike I had to stop and breath in it’s beauty.  The sun had just crested Hot Springs Mountain casting a golden glow across the park as we reached the trail head.  Each autumn leaf appeared to have its own back light creating a spectacular glow against the rich blue sky. As autumn wanes individual Leaves becomes a glorious art piece.

As we are leaving the park favorite winter friends have reappeared, lovely little Juncos are perched in branches at the base of North Mountain. When temperatures drop in the north many lovely birds spend the winter in Hot Springs National Park.  Often when I am hiking in the snow it is just me and the Forest birds.

Don’t forget to get out and play!

Much love to ALL!
Lee


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