Today is supposed to be the hottest day of the year. Walking out my front door this morning I’m surprised by how warm and humid it is already. When I reached the Falls, I decided to take cover from the direct sun by walking along the Woodland Trail. All the combined vegetation produces a spicy fragrance. Vines are in their glory and in areas of good sunlight they have grown over some of the trees. Birds are hunting for insects among the leaves. They listen for the locations of singing cicadas.
And, once in a while they catch a cicada as this male Northern cardinal has done. He’s not the only bird moving through the canopy.
Grackles are stalking along the tree limbs. They always seem to be just out of reach of my camera. I had a bit of better luck coming across two Downy Woodpeckers chasing each other in the interest of courtship. So, they didn’t focus on me. The male held still long enough for me to capture this image. He’s waiting for the female to make a counter move and then it will be his turn again. They flew between tree trunks for several minutes.
I’m heading out to the western section of the park. As suspected there are fewer people in this area. After crossing the creek, I was looking for the trail leading to the river when I came across this unexpected floral surprise. I do remember seeing escaped hibiscus blooming among the driftwood collected along the eastern dam. Perhaps these are the same plants that were transplanted here during the last flooding incident?
I will admit to not knowing my plants as well as I do the animals. And so, if I’m wrong on the identification of this plant, please let me know. In the interim, I will keep looking at my guides for other possibilities. What made this encounter even more interesting…another blossum was less than ten feet away. I wonder if this plant came from the same source up river?
These large blooms along with the heat and sticky humidity added an extra jungle-like quality to the walk thus far. Although it’s hot, I’m grateful I have my long pants on instead the cooler shorts. There are stinging nettles, poison ivy, and sharp-edge grasses around to irritate your skin. It’s a big relief today to walk out from under the trees and into the light.
I haven’t yet reached today’s destination, but I’m back at the water’s edge. I accidently frightened away a pair of Great Blue Herons from the rocks they were hunting from. I’m going to continue this adventure in my next post. I have many more nice pictures and I eventually made a piece. On this day, however, it was mostly about the walk. Before closing, here’s another bird picture. It’s a Black-crowned Night -Heron fishing in the shallow, but swift moving river. He would hold his left foot off to the side while in the water. I wondered if he did this so that fish bumping into the leg would alert him? Maybe this helps in water with poor visibility? That’s it for now…I look forward to sharing this outing the next time around.
Postscript: My friend Don Lawler turned me in the right direction by suggesting the hibiscus I saw and photographed are in the mallow family. The white flowers have been identified as being examples of the Crimson-Eyed Rose-Mallow. The pink flower is from the Swamp Rose-Mallow. Interestingly, both flowers are considered to be conspecific, meaning they are the same species! That would explain their proximity to one another at this location. Their scientific name is Hibiscus palustris. You learn something everyday!