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It was a lovely frosty morning and the sun was not quite able to pierce the clouds. In the open it was light but under the trees in resembled twilight. There were no birds at the entrance or on the promenade, only as I walked up the Tufa Terrace did I begin to see small feathery shapes in the trees. As I neared beginning of the Peak Trail I spotted a lovely squirrel, I was so happy as I had not seen any in the Park since the the winter storms hit.
I headed up the Dead Chief Trail and saw birds I had never seen before, a Yellow-Rumped Warbler and a Brown Creeper. Such tiny beautiful creatures who share their songs with me each day. When I reached the Short Cut Trail a squirrel shot a across the path with an acorn in it’s mouth and I discovered a rock that resembled a dinosaur egg. The snow at the edges of the path made me feel as if I was still in Erie, PA hiking at Presque Isle rather than Arkansas.
Now that the vehicle traffic was back the Woodpeckers and Blues Jay had moved deeper into the park. I missed their lively chatter, but understood as I was not thrilled by the number of motors zooming past and slamming of doors. After my pagoda view shot I decided to head over to goat rock to see how much snow was still on the ground.
There was snow cover of the sides of the Hots Springs Mountain, Gulpha Gorges and Goat Rock Trails. The patches of white made the still cloudy day seem brighter. I was happy to see the gaps in the snow, as these were places the birds and small mammals could easily forage for food. It was wonderful to see sweet female Black-Throated Green Warbler was doing just that.
The Goat Rock Trail was colorful as the multi-color lichen covered rocks painted a contrast to the bright white of the snow. As I traveled the Trail I ran into (not literally) Jay one half on the LoveBirds (Kathy & Jay) I had met them in early February. He gave me a big hug and thanked me for taking the photo of himself and Kathy. We had a lovely chat and we were each on our way. I was stopped taking photos when a couple approached and called out “Hi Lee”. John and Beverly had met Jay on the way up and he had told them about me. Beverly was a bit shy but John, Mikey and Jack were willing to have a photo taken. Soon Mikey and Jack were ready to be on the move again and we parted company.
I caught sight of a familiar face, a sweet Carolina Chickadee that always seems to be on the trail as I head to the North Mountain Overlook. From the Overlook I headed along the Upper Dogwood Trail. As I made my way down the second half of the trail loop I saw another Carolina Chickadee and two Tufted Titmouse foraging for food, it was the first time I had seen one out of a tree.
From the Upper Dogwood I connected with the Hots Springs Mountain Trail. The elusive Blackburnian Warbler appeared and landed next to my boot. I was unable to adjust focus fast enough and captured only a blur of half it’s tiny body. As I neared the connection to the Honeysuckle Trail I met two friends Linda and Haltom. They had not seen their picture yet, so I gave them business card with the link so they could see the blog.
When I reached the “Wedding Chapel” on the Honeysuckle Trail an unusual flock of tiny birds arrived. The mixed flock had Slate-colored Juncos, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse and Black-Throated Green Warbler. So many flew in I cannot be sure what other birds might have been in the flock, it was an amazing site. Another lesson, birds of different types will flock together.
I continued on the Honeysuckle Trail to Peak, onto the Tufa Terrace and out of the park toward home. It was another wonderful adventure in the park.
Valentines Day tomorrow… staying home with my Love Fiance Rick! See you all again on Monday.