Monday, April 15, 2013

Joe Neal's weekend report on birding includes reminder of reasons to demand that hog-farm plan in Buffalo River watershed be quashed

Broad-winged Hawks (2) over. White-eyed Vireo (2), Yellow-throated Vireo (6), Red-eyed Vireo (2), Blue-winged Warbler (1), Northern Parula (6), Yellow-rumped Warbler (10), Cerulean Warbler (2), Black-and-white Warbler (4), Ovenbird (4), Louisiana Waterthrush (1), Hooded Warbler (5), Scarlet Tanager (1). Wood Ducks -- 17 on Boxley mill pond, plus 2 Trumpeter Swans. Barred Owl silently sailed low over Lost Valley trail.

Big blooming peak for purple trilliums, umbrella magnolias starting to bloom, first white Ozark spiderworts along the spring seeps off Cave Mountain, and wood betony, ginger and golden seal in bloom, some scattered blooming jack-in-the-pulpits, including one along the trail in Lost Valley with gorgeous purplish veins in the peaked hood over ole jack. 

Gorgeous yellow trout lilies that Carl Hunter used on his Wildflowers of Arkansas cover are mainly gone for the season. So too most Ozark wake robins.

In case anyone out there thinks the Buffalo National River isn't worth a fight to protect, you should have been at Lost Valley yesterday. The parking and trails were FULL of people, mainly families, and not mainly folks with fancy outdoor gear. It was Mom, Pop, the kids, sometimes grandma and grandpa, plus folks entertaining visitors from other states, and church groups in Jesus Saves t-shirts. They were there because it is the finest and most accessible of National Parks, family-friendly, for old and young, and really gorgeous. The Park Service continues to improve the trail to absorb so much impact, and to make it accessible to users with a variety of walking abilities. It was readily seen why over one million people a year visit this park, and why protecting its ecological integrity should be the Number One priority for those who value high quality recreation for us common folks, value the idea of parks generally, and who want to keep meaningful nature experiences in the Natural State.

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