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I am starting today’s post not from the beginning as I would do normally. Instead I am Introducing you to two new friends I met while hiking today, a pair of Turkey Vultures. It is the second time I have seen them in the same area perching and on the ground. They nest on the ground and I might have stumbled upon their nesting site. They are settling into a new location in the park and I would prefer to let them do so without a crowd coming to look at them. Turkey Vultures DO NOT eat live prey, they are Nature’s sanitation department. They clean up the park by eating deceased herbivores, this keeps diseases from being spread. Their presence is going to help provide a healthy eco-system for Hot Springs National Park. I have added many images below so you can all see and admire these amazing birds.
Cold with sunny skies greeted me as I entered the park this morning. At the Head of the Peak Trail a Lovely female Cardinal landed in a tree to my side, she was catching the first rays of the morning sun. On the Carriage Road a Robin sang perched in a Tree with tiny new pink blossoms forming. It was a perfect start to my hike in the park.
On the Dead Chief Trail the bird song was lively. I was happy to see an old friend a Tufted Titmouse and meet a new one a Black-Capped Chickadee. As I neared the Short Cut Trail I heard a familiar call, a tap tap tap and looked up to see a Red-Bellied Woodpecker. A few yards up the trail the forest went silent, then I heard a Kaw Kaw Kaw. I looked up and spotted several crows crisscrossing the skies above.
When I reached the top of Hot Springs Mountain the only bird I could spot was a Carolina Chickadee. I hoped they would take cover soon. I arrived earlier than normal at the Pagoda, the land had a dark cast in contrast to the bright sky above. I headed down to the Hot Springs Mountain Trail and a lovely friend flew up to greet me, a Northern Mockingbird. A quick hello then a dive deep into the bushes. The trail was busy a young couple ran past giggling and a another couple walking their dog passed by deep in conversation.
Further along I saw a sweet group of Dark-Eyed Juncos al perched in tree as I passed. I rarely see a Junco sitting still so this was a wonderful treat. All during my hike I began to notice a bit more green appearing in the forest. I Love to see even the smallest changes. The Honeysuckle Trail was as always a wonderful hike, up hill down hill and everything in-between. It was however very quiet, I missed the chirping of birds and chattering of squirrels.
When I reached the Peak Trail I could hear loud bird song. The tiniest body a Black-Throated Warbler was filling the lower park, this little bird has a powerful voice. Another little bird arrived, a Black-Capped Chickadee and flitted from branch to branch. These two tiny creatures were a beautiful sight. As I reached the bottom of the trail a Male Cardinal shot out of the bushes like a bright red missile. His precision flying through the bushes was thrilling to watch. It was a perfect end to my morning on the trails.
Nature nourishes our soul.