The sun has yet to crest the Tree tops as I enter the park to hike. In the dim light of dawn a female Cardinal sings a soulful series of pips perched atop a bush with her crest held high. Light peeking through the Trees Illuminates sprouting leaves as I head up the Dead Chief Trail and connect with the Short Cut Trail. A winged shadow crosses the trail and I follow it to a distant Tree. Hopping lightly up the bark and occasionally stopping to peck is a glorious male Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. In the early morning light his dark red head and throat are almost invisible against the black markings.
On the west side of the Hot Springs Mountain Trail Loop the early Spring decorates the Trees with a delicate green. In a beautiful contrast purple Bird-Foot Violets line the trail edges in bouquet like clusters. Soon I cross the Hot Springs Mountain Road to reach the North Mountain portion of the trail. As I follow the nearly dry creek a gleaming yellow Swallowtail Butterfly lands in the leaves next to me. The sunlight illuminates the new green and its large colorful wings. Further along the trail I nearly miss seeing a black Swallowtail Butterfly with its wings spread out against the trunk of a Tree. Wings shredded this beauty has weathered Nature’s brutal winter and spring storms.
The Upper Dogwood Trail has large colorful patches of Bird-Foot Violets sprouting and newly opening leaf clusters. Heavy winter rain has increased the volume of wildflowers in the Forest. Last year it I was lucky to find 1 or 2 blossoms where I now see multiple patches of Spring Beauty, Violets and Oxalis.
On my way home via Fountain street a sweet Momma Squirrel runs along a wall toward me. I feel blessed to see her, bet she is very busy setting up for the first nesting after surviving winter.
=> 2 1/2 hours of editing photos before heading back out to hike with my husband Rick on Hot Springs Mountain <=
Many of you will recognize a dear friend often featured in my blog images, a sweet Northern Mockingbird that appears to have had an encounter with some hot pink paint. We (Pink and I) have formed a relationship by which this wonderful creature allows me to walk up and take endless photographs. During this special photo shoot where my Husband Rick whistled a duet with my painted friend a third voice joined the musical interlude. It was only as I watched Pink look up that a small ball of feathers high above us was revealed. I took many photographs in hopes of later learning the identity of third singer with the amazing vocal range.
When I returned home my computers ability to magnify parts of images allows me to see that the small ball of feathers is a Carolina Wren Chick. Originally I had thought only a Brown Thrasher had the repertoire to compete with a Northern Mockingbird. It is wonderful to learn that a Carolina Wren vocal range was is varied or that it could mimic other birds.
Nature is waiting for you to come outdoors and play!
Love to You ALL!