Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bona Dea Plants Update

Bona Dea was cloudy the last few days with about 1 and a half inches of rain. This is very welcome. The authorities have been pumping Prairie Creek for some stupid reason. This has lowered the water level and the ducks have not been as numerous. I had the opportunity in the last few days to take some photos of some fall and winter plants. The tree with the red leaves is a Red Maple-Acer rubrum L. It was ironically located right next to Maple Creek Bridge. A photo showing the leaves of this tree as a carpet underneath it. All in all the colors at the park were not too good this year. Lack of rain and real not temperatures most likely. The small green bush with red berries is a Heavenly Bamboo-Nandina domestica. It was located below the bluffs on Serendipity Trail at the West end of the park. The other 2 photos is of a Christmas Fern-Polystichum acrostichoides.This was located in the exact same spot as the Bamboo. This is an interesting note about the Christmas Fern: Why the name Christmas?-If you look closely at the leaves, you will see that they are made of many leaflets in pairs on either side of the central stalk. Each of these leaflets has a little "ear" pointing upward along the stalk. These ears make the leaflet look something like a Christmas stocking. Kinda interesting huh!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bona Dea Update

Bona Dea was very cloudy today, Thursday. It had rained about an inch in the past 2 days. We needed it and a whole lot more. I had a visitor with me at the park today from out of town. He was a former co-worker and he is a friend that wanted to bring his camera and take some photos. We walked on most of Serendipity Trail and on Swinging Bridge Trail and did some exploring in the bluffs on the west side. So Paul Ray gets the credit for the photos on this post. We went to where the Alligator usually plays around. Of course it is in its winter sleep format by now. While at the bluffs and going down the steep stairs, he took this water pond photo of Black Water Swamp. It had several ducks in it. It is very run over with lily pads and other vegetation. Also a Great Blue Heron wading bird was there and we actually saw a few more all over the park. Coming into the park after parking, he took these 2 photos of the two separate park signs. The Mallard Ducks photo was taken up stream from the Big Bridge on Prairie Creek. The photo showing all the leaves shows a small White-throated Sparrow bird right in the middle of the photo. There were a lot of birds out today. Some nuthatches, Pileated Wookpeckers, Cardinals, Crows, Cormorants on their on snag on Lake Dardanelle, Carolina Chickadees. Some really small birds that looked like Acadian Flycatchers or something similar birds. Gray Squirrels were all over the place. I had hoped to see a deer but no luck on this trip. Also some very small brown Grebie Ducks out close to the Cormorants. But from both ends of Prairie Creek straight through the park, the Mallard and Blue Teal ducks were all over. Did not see any Wood Ducks. That was odd. But they won't mix with the Mallards to well if they don't have some room. The Bird and Duck populations are starting to look like they did this time last year. But the water levels are really low. Never have seen them that low and Bull Frog Pond is completely dry or was before this last rain. The authorities have completed cleaning out the pumping station debris that accumulates from the drainage from the City of Russellville and backs up at the pumping station screens. We had a good visit and will do it together again pretty soon.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bona Dea Update

Bona Dea was sunny and cool today, Saturday. At the South end of the Swinging Bridge Trail next to Prairie Creek, there were several Downy Woodpeckers being real noisy pecking away for food. Small gleaning birds and some Acadian Flycatchers were with the woodpeckers. Also Robin birds were flocking together all over the park. Great Blue Herons were in several spots. Fox Squirrels are beginning to show up more than usual. The Grey Squirrels far out number the Reddish Fox types. However in urban residential areas the opposite is true. At the Big Bridge over Prairie Creek looking upstream to the South, I saw Mallard Ducks and Wood Ducks mingling together and foraging in the mud areas along the creek. These 3 photos shows the grouping. The 3 wood ducks, 2 females and 1 male, can be seen at the very top of the photos. The female and male Mallards are the ones below them and closest to the camera. I noticed yesterday when I took an exercise walk, something I have never seen before at the park. I had always noticed a mound that looked like a Native American burial mound or some kind of human dirt construction but never walked over and inspected. Well I did yesterday and got quite a surprise. I saw this brick ring just laying over on its side. I could not figure out what it was. There were thorn bushes and small trees and vines all around the area. I walked behind and up on a small dirt mound and again to my surprise I saw a big hole in the ground. Then bingo, I realized that this was a Hand Dug Water Well for some residence long ago. So today I took the camera and took the photo of the brick ring that is actually the protective wall that all such wells have. But it would stand upright on top of the well hole. The other photo is looking down into the well hole. It is probably about 4 feet deep as it has been filled close to the top. It am sure it was pretty deep when in use. The hole is about 2 feet in diameter and the diameter of the outside of the brick protective wall about 4 feet. Also the well hole is lined with brick that you can make out in the hole photo. I have seen these type wells in the Ozark Mountains of this state where my Ancestors used to live. I know of 2 of them on their former properties. They are lined with natural stone and have no remaining protective walls. Also close by were some Blue Mistflower wildflowers. This is a photo of some of the blooms.I walked over the deer trail between the spillway and Serpendipity Trail and saw 2 White Tail deer walking in the Creek and then crossing it to disappear into the thick woods over by the water well site. Could not get a photo shot.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bona Dea Update

The last 2 days has produced about one half inch of much needed rain. The creeks and ponds at Bona Dea are really low. The nights have turned much cooler and the vegetation has started to lose its leaves and has stopped growing. Also the ducks and geese have began to move back in. On Prairie Creek just a few yards north of the Big Bridge on Serendipity Trail there is a flock of Mallard Ducks that just keep moving or swimming in the water chasing each other as they usually do. Only a few feet from them is a flock of Wood Ducks. They keep separated and watch each other. You cannot see these flocks unless you leave the trail and walk down thru the bottom-land and woods and sneak up on them before they fly. Today, I was walking, without camera, and close to the West entrance to the park, I saw a unusual and pretty sight. There were a couple of oak trees next to each other and in the tops were several gray squirrels cutting acorns, the hulls would fall to the ground and through the limbs and leaves making a noise and then several Acadian Flycatcher birds were darting about the lower limps trying to catch food and then on the trunks closer to the ground there were White-breasted Nuthatch birds gleaning the bark for insects. I stayed there and watched for several minutes. All kinds of wildlife in that one spot. Also flocks of Eastern Phobie birds were about. They have long slender tails and constantly flip them up and down. Flocks of American Crows were flying around and the Cormorants were back in Lake Dardanelle on the snags spreading their wings wide open. Just like last year. Also the Grebe very small brown ducks were in the water closeby. Today I also saw a Night Heron wading bird standing in Prairie Creek by the big bridge and just staring down at the water for as long as I was there trying to hypnotize a fish for supper. Have been continuing to feed the fish every few days. But the many many Turkey Vultures have not returned to the area as yet. Yesterday I saw a white tailed deer standing motionless at the edge of Prairie Creek not far from the spillway. He was waiting for me to move first. I did and then he did. A few days ago at a boat launching ramp close to the park on Lake Dardanelle I happened to notice some very pretty and to me unusual type of daisy flowers that were still blooming in this colder weather. I took these photos of a Lobed Tickseed wildflower..