Dark skies await me as I enter the park, in the distance I can here the NPS Mower working in the lower levels of the park. On the Tufa Terrace new Wild Roses are blooming and lovely Bumble Bees are moving from flower to flower. I love watching their graceful ballet as collect the pollen from the center of the pink blossom.
I hike to the top of the mountain via the Dead Chief and Short Cut Trails. Lovely new purple wildflowers are appearing along the trail edges. These are the first purple flowers for both the trails and a welcome sight.
At the top of the Mountain I connect with the Hot Springs Mountain Trail and hike around the east side of the Mountain and cross over on to North Mountain. The machines used to groom the park have kept the wildlife in the distance. Today I have felt truly alone in the Forest, I miss the Birds, Chipmunks and Squirrels. The dark skies and cooler temperatures have kept the reptiles away as well, yes I miss the snakes and lizards too.
When I reach the Upper Dogwood Trail the sun begins to sporadically appear. I sit on a bench and look up at the sky in time to see a Hawk and the later a Turkey Vulture soar overhead. While I change the batteries in my camera a regular on the trails Robert stops for a chat then continues down the Hot Springs Mountain Trail as I head up the Upper Dogwood Ttrail.
As the sun begins to stay out for longer periods the Insects in the park emerge and I can see activity on low bushes and high in the Trees. Tiny gnats are in mini swarms high in the Trees and graceful Butterflies are riding the breeze dipping in and out of the Forest green. The Lower Dogwood and Floral Trails are busy with a wonderful array of colorful Insects. While I am photographing a Moth I look up momentarily to see a Hummingbird hovering in front of me. It disappears before I can begin to lift my lens to get a photograph.
When I reach the bottom of the Floral Trail I am surround by a festival of color. Beautiful tiny blue butterflies are dancing all around me. A beautiful Orange Angel-wings Butterfly Land in the long grass at my feet. As it flies away I catch sight of a neon blue dragonfly delicately hovering among the wildflowers.
A sweet romantic couple Suella and Joshua from Ville Platte, Louisiana stop and ask if I will take their photograph. As if on cue a brown and orange Moth appears, it matches the colors in Suella sundress. It lands near us all and is a spectacular site with it’s wings open.
When I reach the park entrance I walk along the Arlington Lawn admiring the beautiful Magnolias that are bursting open. I pack my camera away and am about to head home when the largest Dragonfly I have ever seen zooms past me. Quickly I try to get my camera out as I head back into the park. There are five perhaps six Dragonflies the size of Sparrows, they are flying in a chaotic manner and I keep spinning around trying to capture a single image. I doubt that there will be even a blur on any of the numerous shoot and hope photos I took. A lovely gray and orange Butterfly, or is it a Moth lands at my feet as I am leaving for home. It has been a wonderful day of Insects in the Park.
Thank You for you joining me on my hike today.
Love to You All!