Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Posts tagged “Venus Looking Glass

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!

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!

First Magnolias, Venus Looking Glass and Baby Birds

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Southern Magnolias line Bath House Row in Hot Springs National Park. From a distance the white blossoms look like popcorn sprinkling the dark green foliage.  Up close the lovely creamy white petals glow in the spring sun.  Sheltered in the leaves baby sparrows await their dad who is bringing them lunch.

Glorious purple Venus Looking-Glass are blooming along the Hot Springs Mountain Trail.  Their star like blooms layer the green foliage with rich color.  Spring grasses ripple in a gentle breeze creating the illusion that the trail is moving. Above me a lovely juvenile Squirrel grooms her still pristine spring fur.

It has been another perfect day in the Forest…

Love to ALL!

The Bounty of the Spring Forest is a Feast for the Birds

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As we move through the spring Forest we see the obvious new greenery and colorful wildflowers.  Beautiful butterflies soar above us on gentle spring breezes landing only to feed on the pollen dusting the Forest canopy and rock ledges.  The bounty of beauty also provides a feast for the birds migrating throughout the park.  A moveable feast that will provide nutrition to mating pairs and their soon to emerge offspring.  They boldly display to my lens grubs, caterpillars and a variety of winged insects dangled proudly from clenched beaks.  The park birds are beautiful winged hunters searching for their next tasty meal.

Love to ALL!

2011 Winter Spring Summer Wildflowers in Arkansas Pt 2

Each of the Wildflowers in this three part 2011 series are in order of discovery Part 2 begins in April 2011
If you missed Part One Click Here

HSNP Tufa Terrace Trail Baby Blue Eyes

HSNP Goat Rock Trail Krigia Potato Dandelion

HSNP Goat Rock Trail Wild Hyacinth American Lady Butterfly

HSNP Floral Trail Pink Phlox

Hot Springs Mountain Trail Birds Foot Violet

HSNP Fordyce Estate Sunset Trail Purple Spiderwort

HSNP Peak Trail Alpine Bluets Spring Early Morning

HSNP Gulpha Gorge Trail Ouachita Blazing Star

HSNP Goat Rock Trail Twistflower

HSNP Goat Rock Trail Cone Flower

Hot Springs Mountain Road Cranesbill Geranium

HSNP Carriage Road Dandelions

Lake Catherine State Park Horseshoe Trail Venus Looking-Glass

Lake Catherine State Park Horseshoe Trail Goat’s Rue

Fountain Street Heal-All

More to come… to continue to Part Three Click Here
If you missed Part One Click Here

May 2011 Hiking Highlights with My Husband Rick

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May has been a busy month of hiking, designing and writing.  My beloved husband Rick also began hiking after a year marked by several health set backs. I am so proud of him and the courage he has shown in beginning a regular exercise routine, especially as we are heading into the humid months of summer.  You are a true survivor my wonderful husband!

Often I have extra photographs from our joint excursions into the Mountains and little time to write a complete blog each time.  I have decided to create a monthly blog featuring photographs from our joint hikes.  There have been wonderful sightings of lovely Squirrels, a shy Turtle, tiny Chipmunk, curious male Cardinal, a flock of Canada Geese and a bold Coopers Hawk.  We are blessed to have close (across the street) access to the beautiful spring trails of vibrant green decorated with spectacular Wildflowers and Fungi within Hot Springs National Park.

Much Love to Everyone!

West Mountain Spring Pink Fire and a Dung Beetle Video

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I am having one of those crazy weeks where I am fighting to catch up with… everything! Aside from normal family activities I have been hiking, designing, blogging, tweeting and editing my photographs. So I am taking a deep breath and admitting to an inability to catch up.  Today my blog will be an exercise in brevity.

Highlights of my hike included colorful Fungi, spectacular Pink Fire Wildflowers, beautiful spring trails and an industrious Dung Beetle. Please enjoy the photographs and video of my hike on West Mountain in Hot Springs National Park!

Love to You ALL!

Spring Wildflowers Butterflies and Birds in Lake Catherine State Park, Arkansas

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Below a clear bluish violet morning sky it is 58 degrees with a light breeze as I enter Lake Catherine State Park. The park glows in the early light as I stand on the balcony of the visitors center looking out over the lake.  I pause to watch the glossy black birds flying back and forth across the lake from the nesting boxes atop a high pole.

I drive over to the trail head and begin my hike on the Horseshoe Mountain Trail.  The first thing I notice is the trail has been cleaned up a bit since my last hike here in January 2011.  Last winter I could barely see the trail as the Autumn leaves were several inches deep from the winter wind.  The beginning of my hike along the Horseshoe Trail is a series of gentle inclines in a Short Leaf pine Forest.  Soon the landscape changes and a large Rock formation appears on my right.  The dirt trail now is a series of well-worn boulders heading higher into the park.  Glorious yellow Lance-Leaf Coreopsis are growing in patches among the Rocks, drops of sunlight in the spring Forest. A Pine Warbler peeks at me from the branch of a Pine Tree while higher up a Male Blue Grosbeak looks out across the park.

The higher I climb Pines begin to give way to a mixed forest and greater numbers of wildflowers.  Twistflowers in pink and magenta cast a lovely pink glow over the top of lovely green undergrowth. Accents of Purple Small Skull Caps and Clasping Venus Looking Glass, Blue Carolina Larkspur plus yellow Lance-Leaf Coreopsis create a colorful feast for the eyes. The tall growth waves gently in the morning breeze and Forest has the appearance of taking rhythmic breaths.   I cannot express the beauty of each step along the trail and can only hope my photographs will be an ample expression.

As I proceed up the second climb on the trail bright pink Ouachita Shooting Stars appear in greater numbers. At the top a lovely garden of Wildflowers is revealed in the rocky loose soil.  Ouachita Blazing Stars,  Clasping Venus Looking Glass and Twistflowers create a glorious Butterfly haven.  Vibrant orange and Large Black Swallowtail Butterflies move from flower to flower surfing on a perfect spring breeze.

Soon the trail is winding down the Mountain and rounding the next bend I have a clear view of the lake below.  On this perfect day I am surprised there are no boats out on the Lake.  Further along the trail more Ouachita Blazing Stars sprinkled across the left side of the trail, on the right lovely blush and yellow Goat’s Rue are just beginning to bloom.  As I hike down the Mountain the mixed Forest gives way to Tall Pines stretching up toward the sky and glimpse of the lake appears between their large trunks.

At the bottom I look across a small cove,  on the opposite shore I spot the silhouettes of two familiar large birds sitting in the shade. Turtles are lined up along partially submerged logs catching the warmth of the spring sun. A beautiful garden of green is growing on log near the shore.  Soon I reach a chain suspension bridge that likely would have water below it when the lake levels are higher.  When I leave the trail to reach the Lake front I can see my to photographic subjects are still resting in the grass.

A pair of Canada Geese and Mallards Ducks are sitting at the edge of the Lake and I approach slowly, 15 minutes later all four get up and swim out into the Lake.  The Mallard pair swim into the cove and tuck their heads under their wings to float and sleep.  The Canada Geese paddle out into Lake and swim cautiously past a Fisherman standing on the bank.

Back on the trail it isn’t long before I spot a Squirrel foraging in the Forest and climbing Trees. It is always a delight watching Squirrel agility, their amazing skill at leaping from Tree to Tree. When I reach the Trail Head I glance once more back into the wonderful Forest where I spent my morning.

Find time to get out and let Nature wrap you in her arms.
Love to ALL!

PS Special Thanks to K J Garrett for settling the debate of Canada Geese vs Canadian Geese… although the Internet has many articles debating this issue here a Hike Our Planet we tip our hat in deference to KJ.

Wildflowers Everywhere and a Surprise Discovery

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I spent so much time hiking, taking and editing photographs that words will be kept to a minimum.  I must begin by mentioning my delight in seeing Stubby, she is a sweet Squirrel who is missing nearly half of her tail.  It has been many weeks since our last encounter, I was concerned that she might have been killed or injured.

Wildflowers are bursting open across the park with purple, pink and yellow being the predominant colors. I discovered one lonely battered Birds-Foot Violet with a teeny tiny grasshopper sitting on its bottom petal. The new park arrival abundant on both the Gulpha Gorge and Goat Rock Trails is the Pink Ouachita Blazing Star.  Lovely bell shaped pale purple Smooth Petunias are blossoming on nearly every trail in the park.  The spectacular array of Wildflowers are attracting a variety of colorful Butterflies.  There colors rival the flowers on which they are feeding.  A nearly invisible Prairie Lizard is frozen on an old log resting within a field of Pink Wildflowers.

My biggest surprise was discovering a patch of Cactus hidden among the Wildflowers I was photographing.  Yes, Cactus! I had no idea they could grow and survive in this climate.  I must return soon as they will be blooming soon.

My final comment is about the Male Cardinal I photographed today.  This poor fellow is molting in on one spot, his head.  He has a receding hair/feather line and looks as if one of his parents was a vulture.   To learn more about molting please read this great article by The Cornell Lab.  Embarrassed to say I had no idea this was happening to my feathered friends in the park. I Love learning something new everyday, Nature is the best teacher!

Love to ALL!