Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Posts tagged “Hot Springs National Park

How I became a Birder

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In 2009 when I began my foray into Nature photography I was not a birder.  When I began hiking in Hot Springs National Park during the winter of 2009-2010 Birds became my companions.  Even in the harshest weather Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Sparrows, Mockingbirds and Pine Warblers were with me along each trail.  In those early days of hiking I only had my 5-year-old Sony Cybershot and each clear shot of a moving bird felt like a miracle.  I used to call my camera the “Magic Box” as often I had no clue what I had captured until I returned home and scoured the Internet for bird identification.

To get better shots of the many beautiful birds I would stand out-of-sight in the pagoda on Hot Springs Mountain.  One morning in February of 2010 as I was looking out over the valley when I heard loud squawking on the lawn below.  I glance down and saw a flock of Robins grabbing at seeds and in the melee were smaller Birds holding their own. The Lovely Creatures of the Forest on the Hot Springs Trails  I realized they were the same type of Bird I had seen briefly in January.

The exotic markings on the Cedar Waxwing made me take a second look all Birds.  I began to see them all with a greater appreciation for their unique and individual beauty. Nature’s winged artistry.

Love to ALL!
Lee

 


Light Flows and Caresses The Forest At Dusk

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The dipping light at dusk flows like golden liquid as it caresses the Forest.  Exquisite details emerge as beings appear to greet the impending night. This is not a time for clarity of focus, it is a time to capture a world the waning light chooses to share.

Love to ALL!

Lee


Silk Strands Weave a Subtle Tapestry

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Nature’s artists weave a subtle tapestry along each trail. Morning light ignites the strands of a of their web to create a prism effect.  Silk flows capturing leaves and light a suspended sculpture emerges within the gallery of ancient sentinels.

Have a Lovely Day… don’t forget to play!

Love to ALL!
Lee

 


A Glittering Bokeh of Dewdrops

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The beautiful bokeh effect is created by layers of focus and light. Mysterious orbs in the background hovering behind the point(s) of focus. I am hoping to explore the bokeh effect this winter when the holiday lights are up in the Historic District.  Nature willing my lens and I can experiment in a variety of weather conditions. Below are links to some of my past encounters with bokeh plus shots of the holiday lights (2013) and colorful raindrops (2011) in Hot Springs National Park.

Explore your creativity…

Love to ALL,
Lee

The Art Of Ice and Snow in the Trees
The Caged Lily

HSNP Holiday Lights Bokeh

HSNP Holiday Lights Bokeh

 

01172011 Colorful Raindrops Bokeh

01172011 Colorful Raindrops Bokeh

 


First Aster of Summer Illuminated in the Forest

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“I walk among the sentinels of our Forest listening as they sing to the Universe.” ~ Lee Hiller

Love to ALL!
Lee


Beautiful Deer and a Surprise Guest on the Trail

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Leaves have begun to change in the Forest joining the Woodland Sunflowers adding additional color to the trail edges.  Migrating Deer families graze on tender new grass and leaves as the sun slowly rises.  In the soft light of an early morning a Red Fox is stopped in the middle of the trail as we come around the bend at the top of North Mountain.  I barely have time to raise my camera before it leaps off the path and vanishes into the Forest.

Love to ALL!
Lee


A Golden Beacon on the Forest Floor

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Even if we see the ‘Big Picture’ Nature reminds us it is made of beautiful details.  In the early morning light a beacon shines on the Forest floor. A golden orange gilled fungus rising up within the layers of fallen autumn leaves from years past.  Its beauty tempting us further toward a new adventure.

Love to ALL!
Lee


New Forest Friend – Eastern Wood Pewee

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I am an inconsistent whistler.  Until today the birds I could imitate with answering results were Hawks, Mockingbirds and Thrashers.  The later two basically taking pity on my lame attempts, plus they imitate everything. I saw a Hawk fly over and did my classic impersonation.  Instead of an answer from above a slightly different call rang out from the Trees to my left.  I scanned the canopy and came up with no sighting.  In an attempt to find the bird with the clear voice  I did my best imitation.  To my amazement it answered back getting closer with each exchange.  In the fading light I was  finally able to spot the sweet little olive brown bird and took several photos.  after a few minutes of musical exchange it flew down toward the trail, turned and hovered within inches my face.  It sang, I sang and then it returned to the branch high above my shoulder.  I thanked the lovely Eastern Wood Pewee for a lovely duet in the fading light.

Love to ALL!
Lee

 


Beautiful Beings On An Early Soul Day Hike

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July is the birthday month for both myself the 4th and my husband the 16th.  So we celebrate our special Soul Day on the 10th of July.  This year we took an early morning hike and were blessed with the beauty of seeing many beings in the Forest.

Breakfast was stuffed in the mouth of a chipmunk as above a pair of warblers (Vireos I think) collected nesting materials.

A lovely Whitetail Doe pick at us from the brush then stepped fully out into the open.  We did not want to startle her as it was clear she is nursing at least one fawn.  She turned several times on the trail pausing to eat and then leap up a small rise.  I sprinted down the trail once he was gone to a rock look out and saw her in the ravine below with a fawn and a juvenile Doe.

Near the end of our hike a flash of red in the pines alerts us to the presence of a family of Summer Tanagers.  A vibrant male in transitional colors, a tiny buff green chick and a female in her green.

It was a perfect start to our Soul Day!

Love to ALL!
Lee


Twin Fawns and Beautiful Birds

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Often we are focused on the obvious like a Male Summer Tanager as he distracts us from seeing his mate.  Female Tanagers are a pretty green and usually  blend into the dense spring and summer foliage.  It was a blessing to look up and see a Lovely female Summer Tanager a few branches away from her bright red mate.

A week ago I saw a flash of red and gold diving between the Trees at the top of of North Mountain. It looked like a tiny fireball darting from limb to limb.  Finally I got a glimpse of a vibrant juvenile Male Scarlet Tanager.  His transition from yellowish green to red gives him a dazzling fiery appearance.

As we came out of the trail head and on to the road I spotted a Whitetail Doe and her twin Fawns.  It was the perfect end to a marvelous evening hike.

Love to ALL!
Lee


The Wildlife Comes Out At night

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As the heat and humidity rise we have begun enjoying lovely early evening hiking.   We were delighted to see a flock of juvenile Robins that still had speckling on their chests and a lovely Whitetail Deer stepping out onto thepath ahead of us. A colorful Indigo Bunting and Summer Tanager sang beautiful songs above us in the Trees. Fungi and Wildflowers painted the Forest floor attracting mollusks (snail) and Insects (False Bee).

There is no better Soul therapy than escaping in to the Mountains and communing with the Trees and beings who call the park home.

Special thanks to my husband Rick for spot the lovely Whitetail Doe quickly enough so I could get these photographs without startling her.

Love to ALL!
Lee


Rare Find: Pinesap (Monotropa hypopitys) A Parasitic Wildflower

HSNP Pinesap (Monotropa hypopitys)

HSNP Pinesap (Monotropa hypopitys)

 

This is the plant geek portion of our programming…

On June 06th of 2010 I was searching for fungi on the trails of Hot Springs National Park and I took a photo that I labeled “Fungi Flowers”.  The past four years I have searched the Upper Dogwood trail for another sighting of the unusual flowers.  On June 17th of 2014 I was bless with a eureka moment and found a cluster of the same plant at a later growth stage.  After further investigation I discovered they are Pinesap (Monotropa hypopitys) a Parasitic Wildflower.

Location: Hot Springs National Park – Garland County, Arkansas
Mountain: North
Trail: Upper Dogwood
Years: 2010, 2014
GPS (2014 only):
Latitude: 34;31;26.627999999996987
Longitude: 93;2;46.936999999976237
Altitude: 304.8

The USDA cutbacks mean they no longer have anyone accepting images and data regarding rare and endangered plants.  According to the data on their site Pinesap (Monotropa hypopitys) has not been verified as sighted in Garland County Arkansas. http://plants.usda.gov/java/county?state_name=Arkansas&statefips=05&symbol=MOHY3  I am creating this posting as a record for later use to update their information.

I have sighted and photographed Pinesap (Monotropa hypopitys) twice on the same trail in separate years but only have GPS data for 2014.

Test below is from the USDA website:
Monotropa hypopitys – Pinesap, Dutchman’s Pipe

Pinesap is an herbaceous perennial wildflower with a wide geographic distribution throughout the United States and Canada. However, Pinesap is a rarely encountered wildflower.

Monotropa hypopitys (Monotropa – once turned; hypopitys – under the pine or fir from its habitat) ranges in height from 10 to 35 centimeters. The entire plant is a pale creamy white, coral pink or red. The leaves are scale-like and occur along the flower stalk (peduncle). The inflorescence is a raceme of 2 to 11 flowers at the tip of the flower stalk. Upon emerging from the ground, the flowers are pendant. As the anthers and stigma mature, the flowers are spreading to all most perpendicular to the stem. The fruit is a capsule. As the capsule matures, the flowers become erect. Once ripened, seed is released through slits that open from the tip to the base of the capsules. The plant is persistent after the seeds have dispersed.”

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Colorful Fungi in the Rain Soaked Forest

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Sometimes we have to push through the debris in our life to reach the sunlight. ~ Lee Hiller

I Love the strength and beauty of Fungi.  Even the tiniest Fungus pushes through Leaves, Rocks and Pine Needles to reach for the light.

Love to ALL!
Lee


The Blue Bird is an Indigo Bunting

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The lovely Indigo Buntings have been teasing me since late April.  Only allowing tantalizing glimpses of their beautiful blue feathers as the lush foliage emerged. I took a few photos many weeks ago, but shooting into the sun meant I had to over lighten the image to see his colors.  This time two let me see them out in the open.  A larger male stalked through the grass looking for breakfast as a younger male perched in a dead tree say a lovely mating song.

I need to apologize to my beloved husband for bumping him out of my way as I raced up and down the trail tracking these lovely birds. When I am in my photography zone nothing but the subject has my attention.

Love to ALL!
Lee


A Subtle Pallet of Color Paints the Edges of Each Trail

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Our curiosity leads us along the path of discovery, often to find ourselves. ~ Lee Hiller

Love to ALL!
Lee


Looking Out Over The Rainforest

HSNP Rainforest

HSNP Rainforest

I am sitting in my office darkness haunts the sky.  The rain outside my window glitters with each lightning strike, sparkling tears of joy sliding down my window.  Thunder echoes between Hot Springs and West Mountains as each triumphant BOOM follows closer to a flash of light.  Wave after wave of storms arrive to feed our beautiful Rainforest. Life giving rains to wash away the past renewing a path to the future.

Love to ALL!
Lee

 


I Love My Office in Hot Springs National Park


Lovely Whitetail Deer Fawn in Hot Springs National Park

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As my husband Rick and I were heading down the North Mountain Loop in Hot Springs National Park a Whitetail Doe leaped out of the Trees and up a rise.  A few moments later a tiny fawn stepped out of the bushes.  Standing with tail between its legs the Fawn looked for its Mother.  Soon however curiosity overtook fear and the fawn began to explore…  don’t miss the video below.

Love to ALL!
Lee

 


Humidity Creates a Unique Lens Filter

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I am originally from Oregon and had never experienced the humidity of the South until I moved to Arkansas in 2009.  Air that you can see was something I had previously associated with 70s air pollution.  Yup I am that old LOL.  In Hot Springs, Arkansas the humidity mixes with the minerals escaping from steam vents to create a filter on my lens cover.  I have often complained and grumbled as I tried to take photographs in the dense air.  This year I am going to embrace the phenomena as my camera’s Chi.

Love to ALL!
Lee


Juvenile Male Summer Tanager in his Transition Colors

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This beautiful juvenile male Summer Tanager landed on a branch overhead.  He proceeded to show off his breakfast catch and sang a lovely song before flying deeper into the Forest.  Soon he will resemble the lovely adult male Summer Tanager pictured below.

We are blessed to see many spectacular winged migrants in our Forest.

Love to ALL!
Lee

HSNP Male Summer Tanager

HSNP Male Summer Tanager

Love to ALL!


Lee


Vibrant Prickly Pear Cactus Blossoms

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Celebrate in the Morning light, reborn in our Dreams we greet this new day. ~ Lee Hiller

Love to ALL!
Lee


Tiny Eastern Tailed-Blue Butterfly

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Gentle wings brush my Heart with Love as songs of the Forest fill the air around us. ~ Lee Hiller

Tiny Eastern Tailed-Blue Butterfly is a beautiful site perched upon the tip of a dewy blade of grass or warming wings on leaf.

Love to ALL!
Lee


Glowing Coral and Golden Fairy Helmet Fungi

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Our path often leads us to an unexpected destination. ~ Lee Hiller

Legends of little folk living in the Forest and Fields cross all cultures. When I see colorful tiny fungi casting shadows across the surface of the mountains over which I hike, I know they are with me. Nature knows no limits and I choose to imagine that thousand of stories spanning many centuries and continents must hold a truth seen only by those who believe. My inner child comes out to play when I am immersed in Nature’s embrace.  So I tread carefully as I move through the Forest and Field so as not to crush that which is often unseen by our eyes.

Love to ALL!
Lee


A Colorful Pallet of Petals

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Nature’s path is clear, Let it lead your Heart toward your Dreams. ~ Lee Hiller


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