Archive for November, 2012

I saw this little (I mean really little) guy at the base of an oak tree flicking through the leaves looking for insects:

It is a Brown Creeper.

Brown Creepers are tiny woodland birds with an affinity for the biggest trees they can find. Look for these little, long-tailed scraps of brown and white spiraling up stout trunks and main branches, sometimes passing downward-facing nuthatches along the way. They probe into crevices and pick at loose bark with their slender, down-curved bills, and build their hammock-shaped nests behind peeling flakes of bark. Their piercing calls can make it much easier to find this hard-to-see but common species.

Cool Facts

  • The naturalist W.M. Tyler, writing in 1948, captured this species’ energy and fragility in a memorable description, “The Brown Creeper, as he hitches along the bole of a tree, looks like a fragment of detached bark that is defying the law of gravitation by moving upward over the trunk, and as he flies off to another tree he resembles a little dry leaf blown about by the wind.”
  • The Brown Creeper builds a hammock-like nest behind a loosened flap of bark on a dead or dying tree. It wasn’t until 1879 that naturalists discovered this unique nesting strategy.
  • In Arizona, Brown Creeper nests often have two openings, one which serves as an entrance and the other as an exit. Entrances face downward and exits upward.
  • Sometimes creepers build nests in unusual places, such as behind window shutters, in or under roofs, inside fenceposts, or inside concrete blocks. One brought up a family in a specially constructed box made of pieces of Douglas-fir bark.
  • Wildlife managers sometimes use the Brown Creeper as an indicator species to help gauge the effects of logging on wildlife habitat.
  • Brown Creepers burn an estimated 4–10 calories (technically, kilocalories) per day, a tiny fraction of a human’s daily intake of about 2,000 kilocalories. By eating a single spider, a creeper gains enough energy to climb nearly 200 feet vertically.
  • The oldest Brown Creeper on record was at least 4 years, 5 months old and lived in Illinois.


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Three weeks ago this hawk went frogging on the Little Buffalo River. She was successful on many occasions. I caught this one:


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A little rain here and there and warmer than normal temperatures has been the theme since spring 2012. I have only recorded 17.12 inches since mid-May 2012 (when my station came up). That total keeps un in SEVERE DROUGHT. We did have some rain in Feb-Mar but not the usual late winter early spring amounts. Witness, the Buffalo River never really had a float season in 2012.

Moderate (not frigid) temperatures and above to much above normal rain is forecasted this mid-winter.

According to the NWS, some relief (rain, maybe snow, and moderate temperatures) may be in store in Dec–Feb 2012-2013 — I sure hope so:

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You’d think that in late November of a drought year, that fish would be hard to find. It is cold and windy and the pools are small, but the water is flowing (especially under the gravel). I spent an hour at the crossing below Parthenon watching the fish move around. I saw a dozen small Goggle-eye (Rock Bass), many Smallmouth Bass up to 15 inches, 1 channel catfish, many suckers, and a small school of shiners and other assorted minnows. The bass were not visible until I flicked a yellow jacket wasp that had landed on my coat, into the river. There was a mayfly hatch in progress also. It was an interesting hour:


Two juvenile smallmouth bass


smallmouth bass chasing a wasp







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Hiked the Buffalo River Trail (BRT) early in the morning on a late November day last year. I captured the sunrise above the bluffs on the trail; this is an HDR:


Sunrise on the BRT

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A frosty, yet warm, tranquil and pastel setting:

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Yes! 18 Months ago !


Photos of Big Bluff  (500′ tall) and Gray Rock rapids in 2011.

The upper river has not been floatable except after heavy rains since the  ……….

(one photo from the 1970’s)


Approaching Big Bluff


Under first terrace of Big Bluff


Above gray rock 1975


Below Ponca May 2011






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The temperature have been above normal in the afternoon each day in November and, surprisingly, a single Umbrella Magnolia in a canyon along Murray Road near Creek’s End has burst into bloom. This same tree bloomed last November before the cold set in for the winter. They are fairly common in the canyons and hollows of the Boston Mountains especially along the Buffalo and Little Buffalo Rivers. What is surprising, is how late in the year it bloomed; but, I have seen many spring wildflowers bloom this autumn; perhaps due to the drought and warm fall weather.

Description The leaves of this 15-45 ft. deciduous magnolia are clustered at the end of stems to resemble an umbrella. Individual leaves are 10-24 in. in length. The showy flowers are 6-8 in. in diameter and creamy-white in color. Their petals are thin and less symmetrical than those of other magnolias. The flowers are followed by cone-shaped, rosy-red fruits.

Habitat Mountains, Canyons & valleys.



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Taken a few weeks ago — look at her gorgeous eyes:

Red Shouldered Hawk

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Video by Michael Dougherty from over in Compton taken 10/21/12 near Smith Creek in the Boxley Valley (about 4 miles as a crow flies) from the Murray Valley:


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