Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Posts tagged “Mourning Dove

A Walk to the Post Office Art, Architecture and Aves

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you could view these sights on a walk to the post office wouldn’t you think up reasons to go buy a stamp? I journeyed through Hot Springs Historic District then along Bath House Row on my way to the Post Office and on the Promenade in Hot Springs National Park returning home.

Love to ALL!

Little Birds and Wildflowers in the Spring Green

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sweet juvenile Birds and beautiful Wildflowers all wrapped in an ever growing cocoon of green. Who could ask for a better spring hike?  After last years drought and brutal Christmas Day storm it is wonderful to witness the rebirth of the Forest.  It is time to step outside and breath with Nature…

Love to ALL!

Wildflowers and Birds among the Tree Sculptures

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 :)

Beautiful Juvenile Birds Along the Trails

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nature wraps me in her gentle embrace as she sings to the first light. ~ Lee Hiller

We have experienced several days that included beautiful life giving rain showers.  Sadly this interlude of moisture did not arrive in time to save many beloved Trees in the Forest.  Joyously I can report the rain has brought out many lovely juvenile Birds and wildflowers.  I was also blessed to see my dear friend Bob a female Squirrel this morning as I headed into the Mountains.

Beautiful blue Asiatic Dayflowers are blooming again on the Carriage Road. It was wonderful to see a juvenile Cardinal, Blue Jay, Carolina Wren and Mourning Dove.  Even Lichen had enough moisture to begin painting the Rocks again.

The rain was a glorious gift this week, the Forest felt alive after so many months of drought. It was a perfect morning in the Forest.

Love to ALL!

Cycle Of Life and a Squirrel Heat Dump on a Twilight Hike

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We brave the 90 degree temperatures for a twilight hike up then around Hot Springs Mountain.  As Rick and I head up the Peak Trail we encounter a juvenile Mourning Dove bobbing along in the the dimming light.  I decide it is best to back away when I realize it was not going to fly off.  The young ones are often much too trusting. It is always a blessing to see the beauty of new Life in the Forest.

From the mountain top we hike along the east side of the Hot Springs Mountain Trail.  It is a peaceful journey listening to the rustling leaves and the sound of waking nocturnal residents.  Hidden from sight Hawks and Owls began to call to the impending night.

On the Fountain Trail a lovely baby Squirrel ventures out under the watchful eye of Mom.  It is a joy to watch its delicate leaping, digging and foraging success. So beautiful standing to scan the horizon of it’s new world, we are spellbound by the sight of innocence.

Nearing home Rick spots a squirrel stretched out on it’s belly in the shade near a fountain on the Promenade bricks.  We creep closer in the fading light and at first it appears the unmoving Squirrel is injured. We learn later this behavior is called “Heat Dumping”, a method for reducing body temperature.  A minute later the male Squirrel spots a dog and springs into action.  Once on his feet he begins chasing his mating chase of a female who has been watching him from behind the fountain. A delightful way to end our evening hike.

Love to ALL!

Nature Weaves a New Tapestry of Living Artistry

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some spring days reveal a fantastic transformation as Nature weaves a new tapestry of living artistry before our eyes.  When my Husband Rick and I headed up into Hot Springs National Park it was clear Nature was painting a glorious spring portrait. It began with the “The Chinaberry Butterfly Trees” and continued across the mountain.

Each Tree and Leaf held beauty either of it’s own design or via a delicate visitor.  Butterflies and Hummingbird Moths danced lightly across the green seeking warmth and sustenance.   Tiny birds hid within the new canopy building nests and calling to would be mates and suitors.  Each step along the trail pulled us into a glowing tunnel of new greenery.  Wildflowers became delicate brushstrokes of color on the canvas of the Forest floor.  Spring was creating a magical ever-changing landscape and for a brief moment in time we were a part of its beautiful artistry.

Special thanks to the sweet Mourning Dove that against its instincts did not fly off as planned.  Your graceful wing stretch should have heralded your departure. Instead you chose to stay and even walked back toward me. Your flight up into the Tree when others approached did however seem prudent. I am grateful you trusted me to take your photograph.

Love to ALL!

Late Summer Hike Among Cool Breezes

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This lovely morning hike was a three part Hike Our Planet blog including The City Cradled By Hot Springs National ParkKnights of the Forest and Late Summer Hike Among Cool Breezes.

I knew it was going to be a lovely hike when the sun was shining through the cool breezes on Labor Day.  People were smiling as my husband Rick and I headed up Fountain Street to North Mountain.  It was wonderful to be hiking, many people were out in the city and park enjoying the low 60s temperature.  There was a festive feeling that only a cool down can create after a blistering summer.

Rick was is a particularly playful mood and had me giggling like a school girl when I was trying to take photographs.  You will find a couple of his wacky staged moments among my the posted Nature photographs.  As always he was a “Wild and Crazy Kinda Guy” and I will not be held responsible for the titles he chose for his images.

We traveled across North Mountain among leaves flickering in the cool breeze.  High above us a faint melody of songbirds flowed on the river of air blowing through the Forest.  When we reached the North Mountain Loop, Gulpha and Hot Springs Mountain Trails junction Rick let me bully him into hiking on the HSM Trail.  It is on this trail we met the “Knights Of The Forest” gracefully moving along the path upon their trusty steeds.   After a lovely chat we each traveled onward in separate directions along the summer trail.

As we were crossing over the Hot Springs Mountain Road to head down the Peak Trail a lovely couple strolled pass with their tiny Poodle companions.  Not long after we headed down the trail another couple passed us in the company of Prince a sweet Golden Lab Retriever mix.  I was surprised how all the Dogs were curious about the Horse scent on my hands and arms, they were full of kisses too :) . Special thanks to the people who leashed their sweet companions today.  With Horses on the trails this was extra important for the safety of all enjoying the park today.

Nearing the bottom of the Mountain on the Tufa Terrace Trail we were watched with cautious eyes by a juvenile Mourning Dove and Mockingbird.  High above in the clear blue sky between West and Hot Springs Mountain Black Headed Vultures surfed in the strong breezes caused by Tropical Storm Lee.  From the Promenade view point it was a perfect day to appreciate that Hot Springs is The City Cradled By Hot Springs National Park.  As Rick and I are often asked why we live in Hot Springs I decided to take a series of photographs and allow them to answer the question.

It was a perfect late summer morning in the park and city.

Go Take A Hike!
Lots of Love,

Birds, Insects, Yellow and Blue Wildflowers in the Summer Forest

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Field Notes: The heat and humidity has returned with a vengeance to Hot Springs National Park.  This morning it is 80 degrees with 80% humidity and a heat index of 85 as I head into the Forest.  The hazy veil of humidity has returned and I am sweating after only a few paces out my door.  Many people I pass as I head up the mountain are carrying rolled towels in an effort and keep their face and neck dry.

Vibrant blue and yellow wildflowers dominate the drying green Forest. Patches of blue Asiatic Dayflowers are popping up all throughout the park. Usually I have found them in small numbers around the few open steam vents on Hot Springs Mountain.  The extreme heat and humidity has provided them the perfect climate to spread out across the park.  I have photographed them on the Carriage and Hot Springs Mountain Roads plus the Tufa, Peak,Floral and Hot Springs Mountain Trails.  For those of you who find yourself having allergies in the summer the culprit might be the lovely daisy shaped yellow aptly named Sneezeweed. The extreme temperatures have also given them a perfect growing environment and they are more abundant on the west side of Hot Springs Mountain.

Although I have not seen most of the multi-generational  families of birds that once inhabited the slopes of Hot Springs Mountain, today was filled with some old winged friends.  As I enter the park a tiny House Sparrow is peering at me from it’s perch on a branch at the bottom of a flowering bush.  When I reach the Peak Trail I hear the familiar sound of whistling flapping wings.  Only one bird take off could make this sound, in the Tree above a Mourning Dove is giving me a shy glance.  When I reach the Hot Springs Mountain Road two molting Crows are perched on branches to my left.  The new fuzzy head feather make their beaks appear larger.  My old dancing partner looks at me in a moment of curiosity and recognition. The park Crows often travel in large family groups and I wonder how many of them survived the storm last week.

Much Love to All!
Thank you for visiting my blog,

PS: The heat today is amplified the aroma of my natural lemon eucalyptus bug repellant by Repel.  I can confirm it has worked for me even in the densest parts of the Forest for more than four hours (I have yet to push it to the full six hours).  It has been a relief this summer not to be covered in DEET when I hike. (this is an unpaid endorsement)

Nature Blog Hike Our Planet – Photography and Design by Lee Hiller
Twitter @LeeHillerLondon @HikeOurPlanet @LeeHillerDesign
Nature On Facebook by Hike Our Planet – Nature on YouTube by Lee Hiller

Stroll in the Park for Our First Wedding Anniversary

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today is my First Wedding Anniversary… I had a lovely early morning stroll in Hot Springs National Park with my beloved husband Rick. A breeze lifted a bit of the heat even though the skies were dotted with dark clouds.

Lovely creatures join us as we moved along the promenade. A sweet Carolina Chickadee sings between pecking at a green seed held against a branch above us in a leafy Tree.  Further up the path a juvenile Northern Mockingbird is hopping in and out of the gaps in a chain link fence.  Ants feasted on something dropped on the brick surface and a Squirrel is foraging for Nuts on a rise to our left.  Below us a colorful Mourning Dove gathers vital nesting materials. It is a perfect day immersed within Natures Love at my Husband’s side.

Much Love to ALL!

Happy 1st Anniversary to my Beloved Husband Rick

Belted Kingfisher, Mountain Birds and Old Ruins

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Field Notes:
I have completed 1 year without a vehicle, it was NOT easy and at times down right frustrating.  However, I did prove it could be done and that perhaps I did not need to drive as much as I had in previous years.  I walked to the post office, bank, local stores etc. all of my own choosing.  Great for the planet and great for my health, a win win.  This said I will enjoy being able to drive to and hike in some of the many nearby state parks in Arkansas that were further afield than walking would allow. This was a personal journey of learning about my carbon footprint.  My Husband Rick was always available to give me a ride to the grocery store for our larger shopping expeditions and trips that we took further afield in the city.  This was a personal challenge for me, especially since I Love to drive.  My lesson is to be more thoughtful about how much and where I drive.

Morning began with a lovely hike up and back down West Mountain via the Oak Trail.   My first treat was watching a sweet sparrow as it flitted up and down a weave of vines and leaves.  It was singing a sweet song as it peeked out from leaves casting a shy glance.  It was the perfect start to peaceful hike. Up the top of West Mountain always reminds me of the Goat Rock Trail on North Mountain or vice versa.  The bare Trees and rocks cast a silver light along the Sunset Trail.  I stop to sit in the ruins where once stood a rest hut that at one time was not unlike the one I was married in on Hot Springs Mountain.  The sky is a perfect Hot Spring blue and the sun warms my face as I tip back a protein drink.

As I head back down the Mountain I hear a familiar winged sound as a flash of beige lands on a branch near the bottom of the West Mountain Trail.  A juvenile Mourning Dove sits staring at me from its perch.  Even as I inch closer it does not move but instead it puffs up its chest.  In the winter light the lovely Mourning Dove and Forest are bathed in golden glow.  It’s sweet demeanor is a blessed sight.  As I near the middle of the Oak Trail I can hear a sweet song so I scan the Trees to my right.  A flash of green leads me to a tiny Orange Crowned Warbler.  Last winter they were always just out of range but now they appear to be along every trail.  I am thankful for my new camera and lens, it has allowed me to see so many beautiful creatures.

I decided to visit Ricks Pond which is on the old Fordyce Estate located within Hot Springs National Park.  The last time I had been here was summer, the greenery was lush and the pond was teaming with life.  Now the Trees are bare and there is a silvery glow around the edges of the water. This time it appeared I was alone as I stepped upon the stone bridge.   A loud rattling call rang out across the march and off in the distance I saw a large blue-gray and white bird fly up into a Tree.  At first I thought the colors indicated a Blue Jay, but the marking and body shape seemed different.  Even though it was well out of range for a clear shot with my 400mm lens I shot several photographs.  As I tried to creep closer it would fly just a bit further away, not completely out of sight but to far for me to identify.  To my delight when I returned home I was able to see my welcoming committee had been a young male Belted Kingfisher.  I Love making new friends in the park.

The water reveals it own beauty, once green aquatic plants have turned gold with a vibrant red center.  Autumns leaves float just below the surface of the pond in dreamlike imagery.  The last of the rust leaves dangle and reflect just above the murky edges of now filled with the autumn debris.

Much Love,

Short Cut Trail Reunion

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I leaving for my hike unable to get one of my favorite songs “New Soul” by Yael Niam out of my head, not that I really want too.  The most peaceful place in the world lay in the Forest outside my window, I am blessed beyond words.  Today I seek wisdom from the Mountains, I hope they have answers.

Little sparrows welcome me in the park, I Love seeing their tiny wings gracefully dancing above me.  The Autumn Trees reveal even the smallest of my friends.  As I hike along the Carriage Road I am led by 3 Mourning Doves, I enjoy their gentle company.  When I reach the Dead Chief Trail they fly up into a near-by Tree.  A cute Squirrel looks down at me while it enjoys a nut for breakfast. The red Leaves of the past few days still remain and I am bathed in a rosy glow as I hike up the Mountain.

When I reach the Short Cut Trail I am joined by dear Friends often heard but not seen this past summer.  Two beautiful Red-Bellied Woodpeckers are flying among the Trees along the Trail.  One lands just above me it’s spectacular red head shining in the sun.  Another calls to me from a Tree across the path, shy and smaller it peeks out from under the remaining leaves.  It is joyous to be reunited with companions who guided me on the trails through the winter months.

The Hot Springs Mountain Trail still has a few red leaves when I reach the top of the Mountain.  From the Pagoda the view is clear across to the ZigZag Mountains at the tip pf the Ouachita Mountains.  It is peaceful to look out across the valley to mountain ridges in the distance.  I hike around the Mountain and continue on the trail to North Mountain and over to the Upper Dogwood Trail.  A Lovely Orange and Black Moth lands in the leaves to my side.  It sits fanning it’s wings in the warmth of the sun on the newly fallen Leaves.

I am surprised how many green Leaves still remain on the north side of the Lower Dogwood Trail. Three lovely Does leap quickly in and out of sight before I can lift my camera.  As I make my way down North Mountain on the south side of the trail the elusive Does again elude my lens.  It is good to see the deer are thriving even after the harsh winter storms.  On my way down the Floral Trail I am bathed in the golden rays of the changing Forest.  Did the Mountain answer the questions in my Heart?  Yes, it always does.

Much Love,

Creatures of the Park Reveal Themselves Before the Storm

Arlington Lawn Sparrows Mom Baby

Upper Dogwood Blue Butterfly on Leaves

Tufa Terrace Eastern Cottontail Breakfast Time

Hot Springs Mountain Trail Black-Capped Chickadee

Upper Dogwood Orange Brown Moth Feeding

I am typing my blog watching a large storm rage outside, thunder, lightning and flash floods.  It is rain that has been so desperately needed in the park, life giving liquid.  For two week we have been under a heat advisory and with each passing day wildlife was becoming less visible.  I was worried they could die from the lack of rain and the extreme heat, Hot Springs has been having “August temperatures” since mid June.  The ground cover foliage was turning yellow and leaves were drying and falling off the Trees as if it were Autumn.   Today a cool breeze came in ahead of the storm and the park came back to life.

When I enter the park at the Arlington Lawn above me in a Magnolia Tree I hear a delicate conversation taking place between two Sparrows.  I look up to see a female House Sparrow teaching her chick how to fly from branch to branch.  It is a beautiful sight to see how loving the instruction is delivered. My heart is filled with joy as I head further into the park.

When I reach the promenade a tiny moth is fluttering on the brick walkway.  As I get closer it fans open it’s tattered wings as it feeds on the pollen that coats everything (everyone too) in the park.  I admire it’s courageous ability to fly off with the tips of it’s wings shredded.  Further along  a small squirrel is coming up from the first level of the hot water spring cascade and I wonder if it was trying to get a drink.

As I move over to the Tufa Terrace  the bird song is lovely and I enjoy the peaceful moment.  Nearing the large Tufa Rocks I see a lovely Wild Rabbit, an Eastern Cottontail having a breakfast of sweet long grass.  Although I am clearly spotted it continues eating and allows me to freely take photographs, I feel blessed.  Further along a juvenile Male Cardinal is searching for water at a site the NPS often vents the upper Hot Springs.  The Juvenile is half way between it’s baby green and it’s soon to be vibrant red.  It is a wild color transformation.

When I reach the Carriage Road I can see a female Cardinal searching for seeds.  Once she locates her treasure she moves into a Tree above me to enjoy her feast.  I love seeing her bright orange and olive green contrasted against the Juniper Tree.  When she flies away I follow her up the Dead Chief and Short Cut Trails to reach the top of Hot Springs Mountain.

I connect with the Hot Springs Mountain Trail and begin hiking on the east side of the Mountain.  When I see what I thought was a leaf move on the Trail I stop.  When I zoom in with my camera I realize it is a tiny Chipmunk sitting in the middle of the trail.  Once I am spotted it dives swiftly in to the undergrowth.  I am however surprised it does give me away by sounding the classic and extremely loud Chipmunk clan alert.

Not more than 10 yards further down the trail I see another Chipmunk gracefully perched on a Rock to my side.  It sits for several minutes before diving into the leaves, again no warning sounded.  I am floating down the trail on the memories of all the beautiful creatures that have allowed me to see them today.  I hear a noise to my side and see another Chipmunk climbing up a fallen Tree, I love how their markings and colors vary.   As I reach the final bend in the trail I notice it is lighter than normal.  It takes me a moment to see the NPS has cut down a large Short Leaf Pine and based on the amount of woodpecker holes on it this might mean it is was dying.  As I scan an old downed Tree near it I see another lovely Chipmunk.  I am so happy so many are alive and survived the extreme heat. At the Trail head I look down as a bright green grasshopper, it is wonderful!

When I reach the west side of the Trail a lovely Black-Capped Chickadee lands in a Tree above me.  They are so tiny and I marvel at their loud and vibrant song.  To my side a tiny juvenile Squirrel peeks at me from a high limb.  As I connect with the Upper Dogwood Trail I look up to see a Juvenile Mourning Dove poised on a high branch in front of a perfect Arkansas Blue sky.  As I continue my hike a lovely blue butterfly lands on the sunlit green leaves next to me.  At one point the sunlight causes a beautiful halo effect around it’s wings.

Nearing the my connection with the Lower Dogwood Trail I notice a large moth feeding on a plant I first noticed on the Hot Springs Mountain Trail a couple of weeks ago.  I Love watching it’s delicate dance as it moves from on blossom to another.  I make a mental note to pay more attention to these bushes.

From the Lower Dogwood I hike down the Floral Trail to finish my hike on North Mountain.  When I reach the trail head I see a group of young people in yellow T-Shirts climbing up the Floral Trail on Hot Springs Mountain.  They are with the Youth Conservation Corps and I extend my thanks to them for helping to take care of the park.

Make taking time to explore Nature a priority.