Cozy and Warm at Maramec Springs

January 28, 2017

A chipmunk shows off its cozy winter home in a log along Maramec Springs this morning.

I had a nice hike at Maramec Springs Park near St. James this morning. It was a pretty frigid start but by late-morning it was sunny and comfortable. My hike included three circuits around the hatchery area and another circuit to the swinging bridge and back.

Upon arrival at sunrise, I met a couple of high school boys as they were beginning their morning of winter fly fishing, catch and release style. They excitedly informed me about a bald eagle they had just seen, and quizzed me on my plans for the morning. Seeing a couple of young Missourians with fly rods in their hands instead of smart phones left me feeling encouraged in these trying times.

I began my walk along the raceways and on to the beautiful spring outlet. At the outlet, I heard a huge splash and thought, “That must have been a monster trout!” A second later, I saw a beaver swimming through the clear water near the disturbance. I waited a while in case it decided to exit the water along the shoreline but my wait was to no avail, as expected.

As I rounded the head of the spring branch and made my way downstream, the winter birds were uncooperative as usual, especially the kingfishers. I made my way toward the downstream end of the park and suddenly detected movement on the steep hillside to my left. I stopped and scanned the woods and spied a little chipmunk watching me from a moss-lined opening in a fallen log (see featured image). The little fella was pretty tame and it appeared as if it spent much of its day watching passing hikers from its living room window.

After I made a few images of the chipmunk from its shadowed post, it disappeared into the log. I decided I had a nice image in the bag so I said “Thank you” out loud to the tiny critter and began to collapse my tripod. Just before I started down the trail, I sensed another movement at the other end of the log and spotted the chipmunk again, its upper torso protruding from a tiny hole in top of the log. Excited, I muttered a few expletives to myself as I redeployed the tripod. Luckily, I was able to get a few more images before the curious chipmunk disappeared for good.


A curious chipmunk emerges from its home in a hollow log.

Every winter as I share images of birds and mammals in snowy, cold conditions, I receive comments and inquiries about the ability of Missouri critters to stay warm and comfortable in extreme weather. After seeing this chipmunk’s cozy, log home, I knew it was one creature nobody needs to worry about!

As I returned upstream, I encountered several red-headed woodpeckers caching food in riparian tree cavities. I managed a few images of the colorful redheads and chose the following as my favorite.


The red-headed woodpecker is a gorgeous staple for wildlife photographers at Maramec Springs Park.

I made it back to my car around 10:30 but couldn’t resist one more circuit around the spring outlet. The kingfishers kept their distance, as depressingly expected, but I managed to find a pair of Carolina wrens within range.


A Carolina wren poses from a lichens-covered perch below the spring outlet.

I saw the young anglers one last time as I loaded my car. They appeared as fervent as they did at sunrise, discussing casting locations and choosing flies. I left the park feeling warm and optimistic.

Thanks for looking,

Danny Brown

I would love to hear from you at:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Gallery of Images/Print Information:

“America is beautiful. I vote to keep it that way.”


16 comments on “Cozy and Warm at Maramec Springs”

  1. Always look forward to your photos.

  2. Thank you Danny for all the beautiful photos. I live in Wichita, KS. My son lives in St. Louis, MO and forwards your work to me. I am 94 and have always enjoyed the outdoors. Fortunately I am healthy and active. You enable me and many others to see wildlife that we would otherwise never see. Keep up the good work. Sincerely, Fred

    • I appreciate your thoughtful comments, Fred. By the way, if you type your email address in the box at the bottom of the blog, the blog will come directly to your email every month. Take care.

  3. Thanks for the trip. 

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Tab®4

  4. Your images just keep getting better and better.

  5. Such lovely images to begin my day with!

  6. If only the people could be as beautiful as we spot them along our way…

  7. Very nice, Danny. I have to agree, seeing young boys fly fishing is a welcomed site! Love the chipmunk peeking out of the log! Carolina Wren’s are always beautiful! Nice capture.

  8. I’m particularly fond of the curious chipmunk and the Carolina wren – little birds with big mouths ☺

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