Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Posts tagged “Nature Blog

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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Damselflies, Wildflowers and Fungi in Cedar Glades Park

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My husband and I realized we had not been out to Cedar Glades Park in Garland County Arkansas since the government shut down in 2013 that locked us out of Hot Springs National Park.  If you like tall Trees, Fungi, Wildflowers and Insects you will enjoy the various park trails.

I love the Fungi but have no clue the names for the majority of them.  The variety of shapes and colors are wonderful.  It is like an Easter egg hunt in the Forest trying to spot all the unique shape and color combinations.  The numerous rainy days and higher temperature have created a bountiful crop throughout our area in Arkansas.

Love to ALL!
Lee

 


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


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


Colorful Prairie Racerunner

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Usually a Prairie Racerunner Lizard is too fast for me to capture an image. I will see a tail diving into leaves or a blur of yellow streaking past me.  My wonderfully tall husband Rick spotted this beautiful Lizard and I immediately leap across rocks trying to get ahead of it. My attention was to catch an image as this colorful creature ran past me.  It was a surprise when we ended up facing one and other.  I stepped back onto a higher rock giving room in case it wanted to flee.  It didn’t so I was blessed to get these lovely images.

Love to ALL!
Lee


Don’t Take My Flowers

Please don't take my flowers

Please don’t take my flowers

Normally I feel great disappointment when I see graffiti in Hot Springs National Park.  However this message written with a marker on a pine got my attention in a good way.

OH DEER!
Don’t take my flowers
Turn Your Phone on & Video

It has been a constant annoyance to find whole fields of Wildflowers picked or dug up in Hot Springs National Park.  I go hiking in the morning and often by evening when I take a second hike with my husband they have been picked or removed.  These Wildflowers are on protected land, the only one who should pick them are the Wildlife that need them for food.  The plants in the park are there for the enjoyment of all not for a select few who steal them.  These beautiful blossoms do not belong in restaurant salads or for sale by herbalists (yes we have seen your truck in the park).  The many beautiful seasonal plants belong along the trails for ALL to enjoy.

It is with a sad heart I must stop listing the trails on which I spot specific Wildflowers and Fungi as some may be using my blog as a guide for their poaching.


Tiny Details among the Colorful False Turkey Tail Fungi

HSNP Upper Dogwood Trail False Turkey TailFungi

HSNP Upper Dogwood Trail False Turkey Tail Fungi

Fungi are in bloom in Hot Springs National Park.  Rain, heat and humidity create the perfect cocktail to feed the spores waiting in logs, along trails edges, among the decomposing Leaves and at the base of many large Trees.  False Turkey Tail Fungi are abundant in the park and are always changing colors as moisture and temperature change.

As I was looking at the photograph above I saw a tiny detail that looked as if little people of the Forest had left their tools among the Fungi.  A teeny hook tool lay near the tiniest of fungi as if it was been used to harvest the little button tops. This is when I reexamined the image and discovered a world of tinier Fungi among the False Turkey Tail fans.

HSNP Upper Dogwood Trail Fungi

HSNP Upper Dogwood Trail Fungi

HSNP Upper Dogwood Trail Fungi

HSNP Upper Dogwood Trail Fungi


Forgotten Folder of Natures Spring Beauty

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At some point May became a busy month and I lost sight of a folder of photographs.  May 4th 2014  was a beautiful spring morning and my beloved husband and I had a lovely hike in the Forest of Hot Springs National Park.  I saw my first Indigo Bunting and shot into the sun trying to capture even a hint of its beauty within the blinding rays.  A lovely Red Spotted Purple Butterfly land on a leaf above my shoulder and bathed in the early warmth of the sun.  Green enveloped my senses and I was sure each breath carried a taste of spring.  Daisy Fleabane danced in the breeze as a Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly drank nectar from cascading blossoms.  How could I have forgotten these photos?


A Beautiful Mosaic of Spring Emerges From May Showers

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I relinquish the burden of the past to step lightly toward my future. ~ Lee Hiller

May showers arrive as waves of thunderstorms barreling out of Texas and Kansas into Arkansas.  After each passing storm the ground cover thickens and new Wildflowers appear as others multiple across the Forest floor.  A lovely Mourning Dove walks us down the trail as a Male Cardinal and Red-Eyed Vireo serenade. Each colorful Wildflower becomes a tile in an always changing Spring Mosaic.

Another line of thunderstorms are heading our way and I wonder what new life the rain will bring forth. Nature patiently teaches us the beauty of change.  Nothing can stay the same, nor would we want and unchanging landscape to greet us each day.  Her subtle shifts between each season soften our Hearts to the unpredictability of life.

Love to ALL!
Lee


America Lady Butterfly feeding on Sweet Olive Blossoms

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Stained glass panes flutter bathed in fragrant nectar. American Lady Butterfly sips sweetness from each tiny bloom. A delicate breeze swaying Sweet Olive blossoms to release their lovely perfume.

Love to ALL!
Lee

 


A Passion For Purple – Venus Looking Glass

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Nature shares the wisdom of the Universe with all who listen. ~ Lee Hiller

One of my favorite Wildflowers are beginning to appear along the Goat Rock Trail.  The rick purple blossoms of the Venus Looking Glass populate the tall green stalks rising up toward the spring sun.

This is a wonderful time to explore as Nature continues to reveal more beautiful Wildflowers.

Love to ALL!
Lee


When the Photographer is Photographed

Here is a rare glimpse of me in my office working.    Special thanks to my beloved husband cartoonist Rick London for the lovely cell phone photographs.

Love to ALL!
Lee

Lee Hiller Hot Springs National  Park

Lee Hiller Hot Springs National Park


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