Anyone who has followed my blog knows I adore Wildflowers. The arrival of spring means I am on the hunt for the colorful beauties that poke up from the Forest floor. Imagine my surprise when I found a lovely assortment of spring Wildflowers on Dec 03 2012 at the end of Autumn. This got me thinking about the warmth of the morning as I was taking my photographs. I realized I was wearing my spring hiking clothing and I was not cold. According to the Arkansas tourism site the average December temperatures should be: http://www.arkansas.com/travel-tools/weather-in-arkansas/
- average maximum temperature 52.4
- average minimum temperature 35.2
At 9:30 am when I headed out to hike it was already 62 degrees heading toward a daytime high of 69. The week of Thanksgiving we had temperatures bordering on 80. The overnight temperatures the past 4 weeks have hovered been 58-62. It appears the Wildflowers are correct… It does feel like spring.
- average maximum temperature 72.5
- average minimum temperature 52.6
This year spring temperatures arrived in late January and summer heat arrived in late April. Global warming has arrived in Hot Springs National Park and it is changing the Forest. Soon we will know which Trees survived the severe 2012 drought.
Love to ALL!
There are 10 days left in May and we are into our 2nd week of 90+ temperatures. Spring Wildflowers barely had time to bloom in early April before the heat took over and they withered. Bird numbers appear to be lower in most areas in the park, but Lizard and Turtle numbers are up. Magnolia leaves are loosing their glossy deep green and now are olive or a toasted brown color.
Today I decided to try and get a few Southern Magnolia photographs before they all turn brown. As I was hiking from Tree to Tree I noticed the park service was watering all the small decorative foliage in the groomed areas of the park. This is not the first time I have seen them do this, but usually it happens late in the summer, not spring. The usually lush spring green grasses have already dried and small Trees are loosing their Leaves.
The fragile delicate balance needs us to stop heating our planet Earth… I am already planning my fire escape routes for every trail before I hike. We really need some rain to feed the Forest!
On a brighter note Nature still has wonderful surprises even on the hottest days. I found a few lovely creamy Southern Magnolias and watched a lovely Mockingbird flight school for new offspring. Nature calls to my Heart to come and see her beauty…
Love to ALL!
I decide to hike to a location in Hot Springs National Park that has a lower visitor count. It is my hope the Fordyce/Ricks Pond and the Sunset Trail will have an abundance of Wildflowers. The heat this spring has sorely limited the number of Wildflowers blooming along the most accessible trails in the park.
Unexpectedly the only blooms I can locate around the pond turn out to be an alien invader… a domestic pink Tea Rose. The pond is low and murky, the Striped Bass are barely visible even in the sunlight. The shell to shell line of Turtles that usually line the exposed logs basking in the sun are scarce. The usually abundant Dragonflies are not present either, the most hopeful sign is a swarm of gnats.
Further into the Forest on the Sunset Trail only tattered single Wildflowers appear on the trail edges. The usually encompassing canopy has many gaps and it seems too bright in the early morning light. I miss being wrapped in the dark green of past late springs. Even broad Leaf evergreen Trees are dropping there leaves covering the trail as if it were Autumn.
As I photograph and stare wistfully at a Black-Eyed Susan I have the feeling I am being watched. Slowly turning I see a sweet face peeking at me from the top of an old stump. A tiny Five-Lined Skink is watching me, after I take couple of photos he/she vanishes. As I take a step forward past the stump I see the beautiful blue tail of my new friend. It calmly stretches its full exposed body until we are eye to eye. I am surprised it is not moving it’s bright blue tail to lure me from seeing the lovely striped face.
Another half mile along the trail, still no sign of birds or small mammals and only a distant huff of a deer. Nearing the top of the ridge I spot a lovely turtle walking toward me. She stops momentarily unsure of my presence, then pokes her head back out continuing past me to the edge of the trail. Stopping to look back at me I am taken by the beauty of her markings and the lack of damage to her shell. Living off the beaten path has offered her some protection. The shells of most of the turtle on Hot Springs, North and West Mountains always seem to have damage including canine teeth punctures. This is becoming the year of reptiles in Hot Springs National Park.
I am concerned the extreme heat will add an extra layer of combustibility to the Forest. If you are out in the park this spring/summer please don’t smoke.
Love to ALL!
It is the hottest year on record in the United States (USAToday). In Arkansas our winter lasted about 10 days then we began a cycle of above normal record breaking temperatures. The Cherry and Magnolia Trees began to bud and bloom in February and March. In DC they had to moved the Cherry Blossom Festival ahead several weeks. It is currently mid May and I discovered Asters blooming, usually they appear in Hot Springs National Park in late summer or after the first frost of autumn.
The light in the park feels different, the color of the leaves are not the deep rich green of years past. It is as if the new foliage was unable to fully open and complete the upper canopy. The overly bright heated Forest floor has created the perfect landscape for the park reptiles. I have seen more snakes, box turtles and lizards in the first 4 months of this year than in the past two years combined.
Although this is only one small eco-system it is obvious the Forest is undergoing a dramatic climate change. What have you noticed in your part of our precious planet?
Love to ALL!