Monday, January 10, 2011

Feed the Birds

Tabitha and Sean told us it was coming days before it hit, so I made sure to get extra sunflower seeds because I knew the birds would be especially hungry. However, I have had to constantly take out boiling hot water to pour in the bird bath to keep the birds with plenty of water as well. I have had mostly goldfinches, cardinals, and a whole gaggle of crackles with a few redwing blackbirds. I just hope we don't have a Bebe bird death incident in our backyard. Oh by the way, we got up to 8" in a few places in the yard.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lousiana Purchase State Park

On the way to the state Park we were all amazed at the sheer number of migratory birds that filled the skies and fields. Not being from this part of Arkansas, it was a real treat to see all the birds including the Canadian Geese, a large variety of ducks, meadow larks, and lots of hawks.

Well, here we are at another Arkansas State Park and Brayden was up for the adventure. This park is really neat, especially if you would like the opportunity to explore a swamp without getting your feet wet. Located just 20 miles south of Brinkley, the Louisiana Purchase State Park features a short, nicely maintained, boardwalk trail into a cypress, water tupelo swamp. The boardwalk was a couple of feet above the ground that was only partially underwater the day we were there. The trail ends at the famous marker from which all the initial surveys were taken of the 900,000 sq. mi. Louisiana Purchase. Although President Jefferson made the $15 million dollar purchase in 1803, it was President Madison who ordered its survey to begin here in Arkansas in 1815. I guess I had forgotten just how big a purchase this really was with land stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.

Brayden loves bridges, so this was right up his alley.

Cypress "knees" as they are called around here are actually part of the root system that allows these trees to get air even when growing underwater. While we can't see it here, these knees have tiny tubes for the air to pass to the roots. Sort of like a snorkel for the tree roots.

The wide bases of these trunks allow the trees to have as much stability in these soggy soils as possible. Some call these specialized structures "prop" roots because of this stabilizing action. I just think it looks neat.

Feel free to click on the pics to enlarge the image in order to read the writing for yourself. Below is the original western baseline still visibly cut through the swamp forest. The red at the end of the line is our car in the parking lot.

Crowley's Ridge

Mississippi River State Park is just outside of Marianna, AR on the southern most tip of Crowley's ridge. The ridge was originally an island 50 million years ago between the Ohio River on the west and Mississippi River on the east.

The gullies of Bear Creek Trail were great for ferns and mosses. Brayden and I examed a moss growing on this fallen tree.

Christmas ferns were everywhere.

There were vines hanging over the trail in multiple spots, but Brayden is going to have to grow just a little bit more before he gets to do some swinging.

Brayden loves bridges.

My hiking buddy needed a break from walking.

Brayden charged the hills with great determination.

By far this has been one of my favorite hiking trips yet, although it may have been at the current limits of Brayden's walking range because I had to carry him the last few hundred yards. Crowley's ridge is a must see. The ridge is 11 miles wide x 150m long and ~300' high. It is really amazing to see this hill country which reminds me of home (Bismarck, Ouachita Mtns) right in the middle of the flat delta. The plants and animals resemble the flora and fauna of the hills of TN or the Ozarks/Ouachitas of AR. but are separated from these other hill countries by miles of flat, swampy delta land. It is really amazing that in a matter of minutes we went from flatland to hill country.