“I take flight on the wings of my Dreams to greet the new day.” ~ Lee Hiller
Winter Serenade: Woodpeckers and Warblers appear throughout the Forest this morning. Pileated, Sapsucker and Downy provide a rapping tapping rhythm section as Vireos, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice and Mockingbirds sing a sweet melody. The Trees sway and groan to the glorious song carried by the breeze. The symphony of life carries me along each trail.
The Stud Muffin: Ice, snow, drought, prolonged extreme heat , floods and tornadoes have ravaged Hot Springs National Park the past 18 months. The number of small mammals has greatly diminished. Squirrels, Rabbits, Chipmunks, Fox etc. have now become rare sightings. About 20 minutes into my hike I spotted this little Male Chipmunk chasing Female Chipmunks. Racing across logs, hopping onto rocks and popping in and out of numerous burrows for half an hour this athletic little stud muffin hooked up, made booty calls and knocked up the female population along the Lower Dogwood Trail. He was so busy he nearly ran me over twice crisscrossing the trail to keep the ladies happy. His amorous endeavors are sure to help rebuild the decimated Chipmunk population in Hot Springs National Park. For his selfless entrepreneurial spirit Nature photographers salute this Forest Hero for his re-population efforts!
Signs of Life: Although I know there are several herds of White-tail Deer roaming Hot Springs National Park they are elusive and I am always delighted by any sighting. Heading home I hike down North Mountain it is wonderful to see fresh Deer tracks in the soil. I make a slow 360 turn to see if I can catch a glimpse of an ear tip or vanishing white tail. I will have to hike up a bit earlier to catch them on their morning migration across the mountain in Hot Springs National Park. I love finding these delicate reminders of Forest life.
A Dance of Light: As the sun rises to illuminate the trail I am bathed in the beauty of a new day. Mornings rays dance among the Short Leaf Pines and the tangle of Deciduous limbs. Delicate splash of color appear as the first light kisses each surface of the Forest.
I embrace the beauty of the winter Forest!
Love to ALL!
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!
PS A storm is on the way so I took a detour after my hike to see the Cherry Blossoms :)
I love hiking, I Love Nature, I Love photography and I Love a good workout…
Glorious winter illumination painted many of the trails with jewel hued light. A Turkey Vulture soared above on the morning breeze dipped a wing and glanced back my way. Broken and fallen Trees provided me with an ever changing obstacle course. A Mockingbird greeted me at the beginning of my hike and a lovely Downy Woodpecker revealed itself when I was heading out of the park. My morning journey through the Forest was perfect.
Love to ALL!
PS Yes Baby (Rick) I Love You too… <3
Come Dance with Me in Autumn Leaves and Feel the Wonder of Natures Beauty. Within each season is a secret to be revealed, open your Soul to see what is hidden.
Love to ALL!
A Special THANK YOU to the jogger who saw I was photographing a bird and stopped so I could get the shots. I am extremely grateful for your thoughtful and considerate gesture.
Field Notes January 21 2011:
I open my blog today with a story of an extended paw of friendship. Many of my regular readers will be aware that For nearly a year I have been documenting the activities of what appears to be a feral cat in the park. This beautiful cat seems to live on the neighboring hospital grounds and hunts in the park. This is not a good situation for the cat or the wildlife. Today something was different, instead of keeping the fence between us it came over to see what I was doing. After several minutes of exchanging meows and taking photographs this beautiful creature walked along a ledge and placed it’s nose on my camera hood. Using my lens as a mirror it could be the first time it has seen its reflection. It lead me part way up the path then passed through a gap in the fence and back to the hospital grounds. This sweet lonely creature needs a better home.
As I near the top of the Dead Chief Trail I hear a tapping sound in a Tree ahead of me. I look up and see a beautiful Male Downy Woodpecker hanging on to a small Branch. Usually I only see these industrious birds on the side of large Trees, this is a wonderful view. From this new perspective I can see how they use their feet to grasp and their tail feathers for balance. I am blessed to have a very patient teacher, Nature.
Along the top Hot Springs Mountain the air has a bite and it stings my face as I hike along the trail. The cold air seems to magnify the beauty of the Forest and you can hear even the distant Bird songs clearly. Hiking on the Hot Springs mountain Trail the sound of tapping and pipping is becoming louder. It is as if the source of sound and myself are each moving toward each other. As I pass the ravine I see a small brown flecked Bird hopping up a Tree and pecking. As first it’s size and color make me think it is a large Brown Creeper. As I get closer the truth is revealed, it is a small juvenile male Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. It makes me wonder how I missed seeing all these amazing woodpeckers when I was hiking last year. I have clearly been changed by this year of hiking in the Mountains of Hot Springs National Park.
I am surprised to see so many dead and dying pines as I hike down the Gulpha Gorge Trail. It is a field of rust where once green stood, is this the damage from last winter or something new? On the Goat Rock Trail the spring Bird-Foot Violets are still blooming, but the last snow and freeze has battered the fragile blooms. The cold snow and freezing air transformed their once velvet petals to sheer translucent veils. The storms could only change not destroy their fragile beauty. The upper Goat Rock Trail on North Mountain has become a silvery Forest, and I find myself thinking it is a twin to sunset trail atop West Mountain. As always thank you dear friends for joining me as I travel into the Mountains.
Thank You for all the lovely prayers for my Husband Rick these past several weeks. His kidney stones are passing and he is on the mend, your lovely messages have kept us strong throughout his medical care and healing.
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.
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.
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.