Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Posts tagged “Bluets

Spring Poetry Cadence in Pink and Purple

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Wildflowers whisper to my Heart with the poetry of spring. ~ Lee Hiller

Love to ALL!
Lee


Spring Beauty Emerges in the Forest

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Peaceful hearts commune with Nature never seeking to destroy her beauty. ~ Lee Hiller

Get outside and Play today…

Love to ALL!
Lee


Spring paints with a broad pallet of color along the trails

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Spring is a chaotic rapidly changing slideshow of color.  Wildflowers, Rocks, Birds, new Leaves and flowering Trees are glorious eye candy along the trails.  Nature always has surprises waiting for me to share via my lens.  Yesterday’s surprise was the return of a favorite hiking partner, a male Red-Bellied Woodpecker.  His vibrant red head glowed in the sunlight high above me.  Before the drought of 2012 it was rare not to see one every day I hiked,  sometimes on every trail across Hot Springs and North Mountains.  This sighting was beautiful gift.

Love to ALL!
Lee


Wildflowers and Birds among the Tree Sculptures

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Each hike reveals an ever changing open space art gallery.  The winter Forest of Hot Springs National Park is filled with beautiful Tree sculptures.  You can see a struggle for life in each trunk curve and branch bend.  Pushed by storms, twisted by high winds, battered by ice and snow each Tree has a story to share.   Colorful Rocks are a canvas for the lichen, mold and fungi to paint their glorious abstracts.  Awakening wildflowers push through the leaves, twigs and seeds reaching for sunlight.  Their late winter petal pallet of purple and violet dot the landscape.   Lovely Birds are beginning to build homes in the branches that will soon be sheltered by new leaves.  They sing sweet songs to visitors about the promise of spring.  A living art gallery near you is waiting for you to visit… get out and play!

Love to ALL!
Lee

PS A storm is on the way so I took a detour after my hike to see the Cherry Blossoms :)


Wildflowers create tiny flourishes of color in the Winter Forest

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Before winter comes to an end and the leaves begin to create a canopy of green lovely Wildflowers delicately paint the Forest floor.  The first Wildflowers to appear this year are Violets and Bluets.  Their varying shades of purple with accents of yellow, pink and white are spectacular against the dried rust colored autumn Leaves along the Hot Springs Mountain Trail.  The tiny blooms created a treasure hunt as I sought their delicate petals along the trail edges.   At the top of the mountain a flash of red lead my eye to a Male Cardinal that landed on a branch above a newly revealed egg shaped rock. The rock reminded me of the eggs in the film Alien.  It was another lovely winter hike with my husband.

Love to ALL!
Lee


Early Spring Arrivals in Purple and Blue

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I sit inside today watching lightning strikes, pea size hail and heavy rain.  The darkening sky mimics night as a series of storms blow through for a forecast of five hours.

When my husband and I took a quick hike yesterday the sky was a brilliant blue with a spectacular winter sun warming the Rocks and Forest floor.  Beautiful patches of Bluets, Chickweed and Dog Violets dotted the park trail and road edges.  A familiar scurrying sound was ever present as we interrupt lizard sunbathing on the trail edges.  A big male Prairie Lizard flashes his bright blue belly scales from on top of a cluster of Rocks.  It had not rained for 5 days but the soil was saturated and seeping on several trails. It appears as if the drought has lifted in time to create a spectacular spring for 2013.

Love to ALL!
Lee


Magnolias, Wildflowers and Racing Pigeons in the Spring Forest

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I know it is wordless Wednesday… so I will attempt to be brief. My hike began with a melodic Male Cardinal and a chatty Squirrel. It ended with another but less vocal Squirrel eating beneath the beautiful blooms of the old Southern Magnolia Trees at the entrance to the park.  In-between I was surprised to see a pair of Racing Pigeons strolling along the Carriage Road and discovered beautiful purple Venus Looking Glass Wildflowers on the Floral Trail. Last year the the lack of rain meant there were hardly any Flowers on the Floral Trail. Now the entire park is bursting with glorious color.

On a sad note I found the body of a young Blue Jay as I was heading out of the park on the Hot Springs Mountain Road.  With no apparent injury at first glance it appeared only to be in a sweet sleep.   I took a moment to remember how its short life brought beauty to the Forest and prayed for its young spirit to have peaceful journey.

Love to ALL! Make a play date with yourself to get out in Nature :)
Lee


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,
Lee

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


Spring Blooms, Wildflowers and Nuthatch Parents

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The first of the Azaleas are blooming, they are some of my favorite flowers as they look so beautiful in Rain or Sunlight.  As they age their color changes creating an exotic wild bouquet from Nature.  Once the Azaleas bloom Spring cannot be denied.

New Wildflowers are bursting forth along the bank below the Pagoda on the Hot Springs Mountain Trail.  Tiny Wild Violets sprout along side even smaller bluets transforming the green into an iridescent blue sea of Spring life. Nature’s beautiful outburst of joy.

When I reach the junction of the Hot Springs Mountain and Honeysuckle Trail the Forest reveals a lovely secret.  High in the hollow of a Tree above me two Nuthatches are flying back and forth carrying and delivering fat juicy grubs.   As I am new to bird observations my first thought is there are young being fed.  I would appreciate hearing from anyone with birding experience if I have misunderstood the actions I observed today.

“If your going to San Francisco be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”….  ~ Scott McKenzie  I dance in the of first morning light along the Springs Trails… lets all get out and play.
Love to ALL!
Lee


Spring Wildflowers, Little Birds and Small Creatures

Hot Springs Mountain Trail Spiderwort Fuchsia

I Love the Park, an overcast day is made sunny by Squirrels and more Squirrels.  I am taking photographs on the Tufa Terrace and Peak Trail of blossoms and small buds.  As I straighten up it becomes apparent I am surround by squirrels.  On the ground in Trees everywhere I look Squirrels, some are indifferent, others skittish and a few are curious.  Digging for nuts, eating breakfast, staring at me and hanging off of Trees. They are a beautiful early morning sight.

As I head up the the Dead Chief and short Cut Trails it is still Twilight and the only thing I see moving is a large gray rabbit in the Army Navy Hospital grounds on the edge of the park.  The very fast bunny is impossible to photograph, but now I know where it lives :o)

At the top of the mountain I discover a colorful assortment of Spiderwort in Blue, Purple and Fuchsia just below the Pagoda.  The colors have deepened since the rain a few days ago, it is a gorgeous display of Wildflowers.  As I am about to step onto the Hot Springs Mountain Trail a Male Cardinal and White-Throated Sparrow appear.  They happily forage for their breakfast and are undaunted by my presences.

As I near the end of the east  Hot Springs Mountain Trail Loop I am nearly run over my two squirrels as they chase each other across the Trail.  I am trying to follow their antics and see a lovely little chipmunk who was watching the squirrel chase in-between the Trees.  The dry leaves are flying around in the light breeze adding to the  scene.

Along the Upper and Lower Dogwood Trails Birds-Foot Violets are popping up in small patches.  Fungus fans are forming on many of the logs laying near the trail edges.  Spring leaf pods are bursting open reaching  up to the sunlight.

As I walk along the  Hot Springs Mountain Road to exit the park I marvel at the glorious Spring Beauty that is beginning to blanket the creek edges.  A final treat awaits me as I near the park entrance, a lovely little Chipmunk  appears to my left.  It is busy searching, digging, climbing on and around the rocks.

Nature soothes your soul.
Love to You All,
Lee


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