Nearly two months of extreme heat followed by several severe late summer storms has taken a toll on park wildlife populations. Prior to the heat followed by high winds and rain Chipmunks and Squirrels could be seen in or below many Trees. On some days I hardly knew which way to turn my lens as there was so much activity. I am thankful today to spot a Squirrel I call Bob because of the missing portion of her tail. She lives near the Hot Springs National Park Entrance and has erratic road crossing skills.
The multiple families of Brown Thrashers have vanished from the lower portions of Hot Springs National Park. The once abundant highly visible Northern Mockingbirds are now a rare sighting. White Throated Sparrows that once flocked along the southern slope of Hot Springs Mountain appear only in small numbers at the top in the picnic area.
Although there are many American Robins the flocks are smaller than in years past. Cardinals that once flourished on both North and Hot Springs Mountains are a rare sighting beyond Dead Chief Trail. Pine Warblers too have become a rare sight within the park as are many other warblers that would normally be seen in the winter months.
My constant winter companions of winters past the Red Bellied Woodpecker have also vanished from their regular nesting sites. I have only seen two and heard one in the past three months. I miss being verbally heckled by the numerous juvenile Blue Jays that would follow me across the park.
Perhaps the moderate winter of the north has kept the birds away. However I think the weather extremes of the past summer have significantly reduced bird populations. Those birds that flock in the park year round are scarce. As I review old videos I remember the symphony of birdsong that used to echo through the Forest. The silence in the park is heartbreaking.
Love to ALL!