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Archive for February, 2013

This beautiful hawk was hunting from a 150 year old red oak tree in my back yard. They are, of course, more common than either Red Shoulder or Sharp Shinned hawks. I got about 55 shots of him/her going after a vole (he/she was not successful) during the afternoon on February 15th, 2013. Here is a selection using a Canon full-frame 5D-MK2 and Canon 600mm f/4 L IS Lens (Click to enlarge):

 

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I drove and hiked into the lower section of the Little Buffalo River east of Pruitt last week. While no longer in the Boston Mountains, and out on the Springfield Plateau; it retains lots of beauty. I floated the stretch from the Jasper Highway 7 bridge the the old Hasty low-water bridge in early June 1974 (nearly 40 years ago).

I remember a lot about the float, especially the smallmouth bass fishing. It was phenomenal !! By 1974 I put away the spinning rods and was fly-fishing these rivers. On that day I caught so many nice smallmouths; over 20 (14-18 inches) on the Little Buffalo but caught one real good fish on the Buffalo about 1/2 miles below the confluence of the Little and Big Buffalo Rivers. It was 21 inches long and weighed 4 pounds 13 ounces. Sadly, I elected to keep the fish for mounting (it resides a the Ozark Cafe in Jasper today). We released all the other bass, goggle eye, and sunfish we caught that day.

The lower Little Buffalo has fewer riffles and longer, deeper pools than the upper river. Most of the action, when fishing, took place at the head and tail of each pool. The river was sporty and fun to canoe during spring water levels; there were more bottom fields but a good scattering of short-leaf pine on the bluffs. I am planning on floating the Little Buffalo from the Creek’s End (Thomas Creek) all the way to the mouth at the Big Buffalo this May, water and health hold up. Id like to create a float map for tis clear water gem.

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These beautiful little warblers do not have much color yet. By April, they will be beautiful, with very deep blacks and yellows. In February they might even be mistaken for the  many species of sparrows coming through the area at this time. I took this photo last week by Boxley Mill Pond, where they were sifting through the debris in search of worms and grubs. Good numbers of these warblers winter in southern Missouri and Arkansas, and may retreat hundreds of miles in severe winter weather.

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  • Size & Shape
  • Yellow-rumped Warblers are fairly large, full-bodied warblers with a large head, sturdy bill, and long, narrow tail.
  • Color Pattern

    In summer, both sexes are a smart gray with flashes of white in the wings and yellow on the face, sides, and rump. Males are very strikingly shaded; females are duller and may show some brown. Winter birds are paler brown, with bright yellow rump and usually some yellow on the sides.

  • Behavior

    Yellow-rumped Warblers typically forage in the outer tree canopies at middle heights. They’re active, and you’ll often see them sally out to catch insects in midair, sometimes on long flights. In winter they spend lots of time eating berries from shrubs, and they often travel in large flocks.

  • Habitat

    In summer, Yellow-rumped Warblers are birds of open coniferous forests and edges, and to a lesser extent deciduous forests. In fall and winter they move to open woods and shrubby habitats, including coastal vegetation, parks, and residential areas.

  • Yellow-rumped Warblers are impressive in the sheer numbers with which they flood the continent each fall. Shrubs and trees fill with the streaky brown-and-yellow birds and their distinctive, sharp chips. Though the color palette is subdued all winter, you owe it to yourself to seek these birds out on their spring migration or on their breeding grounds. Spring molt brings a transformation, leaving them a dazzling mix of bright yellow, charcoal gray and black, and bold white.

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This appears to be a doe and her fawn from last May; they still have a tight bond to each other; I love that look of nervousness and anticipation (tails up, flags up) they show when the enter the yard in Murray, Arkansas.

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As I stopped in Jasper on Saturday morning I noticed that the top of Round Mountain (south of Jasper), was encased in ice. Drove up to Pruitt and took a photo of the Buffalo River. It looked beautiful and floatable !!

 

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The temperature rose to 42F on Friday, the day after the ice storm. The temperature fell quickly last night to 22F at dawn with heavy fog; which has since mostly lifted. This will leave a beautiful day today. The birds were singing, despite the cold, at dawn. I heard cardinals, chickadees, towhees, and bluebirds in my front yard. Snapped a few photos of the coating of ice the fog left on everything:

 

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I think they cleared a 25 feet wide brush patch:

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I woke up to 27F this morning; it is about 34F at 11:15 AM. The warmup is slow because of the melting ice. Here in Murray Valley we got about 1/2″ of ice but it warmed to 32F by 4:00 PM yesterday preventing more power outages, through melting. The ice did melt until midnight with temperatures at 33F. Also, we never got the strong winds forecast and that really helped us out. I am sure different parts of the High Ozarks got more; I know that the Mullbery River drainage got 4-5 inches of snow and and some ice too. The ice melting has created run off  and has added water to the streams and creeks today; which is good. I do not know how much actual precipitation we got here in Murray Valley because my electronic gauge does not  measure frozen precipitation; when the rain was heaviest, I registered 0.00 inches of rain. I would guess we got at least 0.75 inches. This morning the highest ice totals were at the high elevations. All roads around Parthenon and Jasper were pretty good; except in shady locations were the ice holds on.

I went to Jasper this morning to pick up some odds and ends at the hardware store; and, I took a few pictures along the way:

 

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Lost power and internet at 9:15 just as a strong thunderstorm passed over my weather station (circle with a crosshair inside) a 9:15 AM; lost powert for ~60 seconds. I posted the radar at that time below; temperature is still 31F. More this afternoon.

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It started with light freezing rain late on Wednesday morning; then heavy snow about 12:30, maybe 2 inches in a 45 minutes. By 2 PM it was melted and a small amount of sleet started to fall. By 8 PM ice from sleet and freezing rain had accumulated to about 1/8″ on raised surfaces and the power lines appear fairly clear so far. Next about 10 PM heavy sleet began to fall, at times, mixed with freezing rain. That icing continued all night. At 5:45 AM this morning we had a heavy thunderstorm with moderate hail for about 20 minutes and freezing rain ever since.

At 8:30 AM this morning there appears to be about 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch of solid ice coating everything but the gravel driveway. Fed the birds – they can’t crack through the ice. Several deer have come to the bird feeders (their standby when they are hungry). Now at, 9AM the sleet has picked up again and we do have a Ice Storm Warning until 4 PM today. The temperature has stayed between 28F-31F for 24 hours now. It’s Thundering now ………….  See below:

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