It was a sunny, cloudy and everything in-between kind of day, perfect for hiking. Stopped by the Turkey Vulture Nesting area and received a friendly fly over. Once the foliage reappears they will have much more privacy and unless a person knows the exact location they will likely go unnoticed.
The Tufa Terrace was a squirrel commuter zone, they all seemed to be on the same mission, food. Hiding in Trees, running up Rocks and leaping through the air it was a wonderful sight. When I reached the Carriage Road the Robins were in full voice as a Cedar Waxwing made an appearance. Every time I see this mixed flock of Robins and Cedar Waxwings I wonder how the two groups became a single team.
As I hike up the Dead Chief Trail, it was lovely being surrounded by the ever growing greenery. The leaves flickered in the wind allowing the sunshine to glimmer on the path ahead. There was a familiar bird call and I turned to see a sweet little Tufted Titmouse in the branch above me. It is a sight that always makes me feel joyous. Further up the trail and I can see the how different the bend of the Dead Chief looks in comparison to the Short Cut Trail. The Dead Chief Trail is a preview of coming events for the rest of the park, it resides on the warm south side of the mountain
Up the Short Cut Trail to the Top of Hot Springs Mountain where I am greeted by a sweet White-Throated Sparrow. It’s markings confused me at first as it has gray where I usually see white on the top of the head. There is however no mistaking the definite white on the throat.
At the Pagoda a gang of three Blue Jays sat in the tallest tree and squawked a warning to every bird that landed. The only one they could not scare off was my friend a Northern Mockingbird. Even when one Blue Jay landed in the same bush they did not budge. When the Blue Jays get together they can be slightly annoying.
Along the Hot Springs Mountain Trail I got a lovely shot of an Ovenbird. They have beautiful markings on the chest and a defining white ring around the eyes. Continuing on the trail I see the sad sight of the ever present Rent-A-Center helium balloons blowing in the the breeze. Who knows how long they will polluting the park. As I photographed the balloons I heard a familiar bird call followed by a tapping sound. I looked up to see a wonderful Red-Bellied Woodpecker looking for a meal in the highest branches of a near-by Tree.
A bit further up the trail I can see lovely Dark-Eyed Juncos flying in and out of the now bare vines. Their rapid maneuvers at high speed are always a delight to watch. On the West side of the mountain and I look up in time to catch another fly over by a Turkey Vulture. They are so graceful soaring above the Trees riding a beautiful breeze.
The Honeysuckle Trail is quiet as I pick my way through the loose rock sections of the path. Trying to find solid footing is often useless and it’s better to go with the flow and skate down the slopes. Passing the Fountain street exit I head back up the mountain and pass my favorite rock in the Trails, it reminds me of a Sea Serpent rising out of the ocean.
I take the Honeysuckle to the Peak Trail, cut over to the Tufa and back out the Park entrance. As I head down the ramp that lead out of the Park a beautiful Carolina Wren begins to sing about the suddenly changing weather in the Park. It’s persistence to relay the message is exuberant and continuous for several minutes. It is a wonderful moment to finish my visit to the park.
Open your heart to Nature and she will show you many wondrous secrets.
Love to You ALL!