Ever-changing weather

La Nina’s presence is definitely being felt. Lately, the weather has been unpredictable with 60-degree weather one day, followed by snow the next. I’ve loved the warmer winter — I hate being cold — but I’m ready for a more steady climate.

The local high school fountain.
Cedar Waxwing
Dark-eyed Junco
Eastern Meadlowlark
Cedar Waxwing

Eurasian Collared-Dove
white-crowned sparrow

Arkansas Post National Memorial

Gillett, Ark. — Spanish explorer Hernan de Soto passed through what is now known as Arkansas County in 1542 followed by French missionary and explorer Father Marquette nearly 160 years later.

Later, five nations would all fly their flags within this same area. Frenchman Henri de Tonti founded the initial Arkansas Post in 1686 — the first European settlement in the lower Mississippi Vally (it predated New Orleans by 32 years). The area has since flown flags belonging to the French House of Bourbon, Castillian Spain, Republican Spain, Republican France, the United States and the Southern Confederacy.

Arkansas Post became a part of the United States in 1804 and, 15 years later, would become the Arkansas Territory capital. It wouldn’t last though. In 1821, the capital was moved to the newly founded city, Little Rock. Arkansas Post had about 1,000 residents at the height of its political importance in the 1820s and 1830s.

In January 1863, Union forces would capture the Confederate fort at Arkansas Post and destroy much of its town. The Arkansas Post is located along the Arkansas River and is now part of the national park system.

"This stone was taken from ruins of old bank, built at Arkansas Post, 1839. Arkansas Post State Park. Created by Act of Legislature 1929..."
One of the trails.
A Great Egret greeted me as I entered the Arkansas Post National Memorial.
White-breasted Nuthatch.
Tufted Titmouse.
Yellow-rumped Warbler.

High winds, sunsets and destruction.

Sun pierces through morning fog.

It’s been gorgeous weather for the most part this week. The temperatures are in the 60s, the sun is shining and the first flowers are blooming. What’s not to love — well, excluding the mosquitoes now biting me?

Here’s 5 reasons this week was so interesting:

1. There’s storm chasers, then there’s us — damage chasers.

A rainbow appears after the storm.

A severe thunderstorm passed through Arkansas County on Wednesday causing power outages to more than 1,000 people. There was not a lot of damage but there were a few accidents including a tractor trailer blown off the road. My co-worker and I teamed up (she drove since I hate to and I took pictures) to get damage pictures.

We first headed to take pictures of the tractor trailer and fallen power lines on a nearby busy highway. However, we got stuck in traffic.
We eventually snapped a picture with our long lens and tried to take a short cut. However, we barely made it through one flooded section of the gravel road before we saw the above. We turned around.


This skunk apparently didn't like the flooded gravel road either. We saw him scurrying away as well.
We snapped a picture of this busy Entergy worker.
Finally, we had this amazing view to our right as we headed back to the office with the rainbow on our left. Not a bad way to end our storm damage trip.

2. Salvaging airplanes

A former Southwest commercial airplane is dismantled.

For work, I visited a local business on Tuesday to snap pictures of the last stage in their work. The company is a parts distribution company that dismantles commercial aircrafts at the end of their life cycle before repairing and reselling the parts. The stripped plane is then sold for recycling. On Tuesday, the recycling company was in town to tear the stripped plane into smaller pieces. Why is destruction so fascinating?

In this photo, Southwest pilots land a commercial plane in 2011. The plane was one of the three taken apart on Tuesday.
One plane nearly complete with two left to go.

3. Watching the sun set.

Ducks rest near Stuttgart as the sun sets in late January.
A red-tailed hawk flies high in the sky.

 4. Blooming flowers.

One of my favorite times in the year is when the flowers begin blooming.

5. Photographing new birds.

Belted Kingfisher
Common Grackle
OK, I've already crossed Snow Geese off my bird list but these coupling birds were too cute.

Pouvez-vous répéter?

Bonjour! I attended my very first meeting of the Arkansas County French Club. They had French wine, lots of finger food and free French lessons on basic phrases.

I have never attempted to learn the French language before. My past foreign language attempts have been in German and Spanish. I love the German language, which I think came from my fascination with my German heritage. Spanish was the only foreign language taught in my high school and two years worth was required for honor graduates.

I would still prefer to refresh my German and Spanish, but it was fun to learn some basic French phrases. Here’s the critical ones I remember.

Je m’appelle Sarah. My name is Sarah.

Comment vous appellez-vous? What is your name?

Je ne comprends pas. I don’t understand.

Parlez-vous anglais? Do you speak English?

Water under the WRNWR Boardwalk

There’s been water underneath White River National Wildlife Refuge boardwalk within the past month. Recent rainfall had the White River above its 26-foot flood stage and flowing into the refuge. It’s back down now at 23.7 feet this morning. Here’s some pictures from my trip to see how flooded it was.

My dog Izzie.

A leucistic Red-Headed Woodpecker (I had to email the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for help on this one)
A House Sparrow lounges on a bird feeder outside of the visitor's center.