I Love hiking on West Mountain, it has a varied terrain and there is always the music of often invisible small songbirds. Heading up the Canyon Trail I see an unusual bird nest if you know what bird might have created it I would appreciate a shout out. I have heard from two sources one saying Oriole and the other Hummingbird… Further up I hear a familiar song and see sweet Black-Capped Chickadees singing to the morning sun. They are tiny and so full of energy hopping or flitting from branch to branch.
As I near the Oak Trail there is a light breeze and in the distance I can see a small bird hanging on to a gently waving branch. When I am closer a lovely flash of yellow in gray feathers is visible, this is a Yellow-Rumped Warbler. Seeking a breakfast of berries it carefully angles it’s body on the moving branch reaching downward toward the feast.
Along the Oak Trail I am greeted by the wonderful people from the Ouachita Hiking Club. It is a perfect day for hiking in the winter sun on West Mountain. I have not seen them since our encounter on North Mountain several months ago.
As I approach the steps leading up to the junction of the West Mountain Trail I see what I think is a leaf waving in the breeze. Upon closer inspection I see the leaf is actually a camouflaged Angelwing Butterfly. It is only when it flexes it’s wings that I can see the glorious Orange of the top of it’s wings. Now I understand why I have not seen many of these Butterflies.
On the top of West Mountain I take the Sunset Trail and receive a fly over by the Turkey Vultures that appear to hang out at the Music Mountain Towers. When I reach the Towers I can see three Vultures perched on the metal rails. To my delight I realize one of them is a Black Vulture, the first one I have seen in the park. In the sky the Black Vultures wings are black except for a patch of lighter feathers near the tip feathers. Turkey Vulture wings are light in color along the bottom of the wing spread.
On the hike down from the towers along the east side of Music Mountain I discover two patches of Birds Foot Violets. The trail reminds me of the Goat Rock Trail, rocky and receiving lots of sunlight. These are the first Violets I have seen on Music Mountain, I will check back often to see if there are more blooms to be found.
As I near the end of the Sunset Trail retuning to West Mountain a jogger (Jamie) recounted some of his wonderful birds sightings. I hope to see many of the wonderful birds he has mentioned. Later in the conversation he was able to tell me where I can find a basic trail at the foot of Indian Mountain. I will be checking this out very soon… special thanks for this wonderful information.
A Carolina Chickadee sings a sweet song as I head down West Mountain to return home. Nature is a glorious gift and we must protect these sacred spaces.