Positively Pileated!

Northwoods Journal

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mark let us sleep in – until a whopping 7:30!  At least I was allowed one cup of coffee on the porch and a shower before heading out for a second day of sales.  The sky was clear and it promised to be a glorious day.

We started west of town and worked our way east all the way to Hillman.  At the very first sale we found a really nice glass-fronted bookcase/cabinet that will go perfectly in our vintage dining room back home.  It looks like we will be hauling the trailer home after all.  Mark had planned to leave it here for hauling the canoe, but we had a more successful day of buying treasures today and I don’t think we will get it all home in the FJ!

Being the classy people that we are, we had lunch at the senior center in Hillman.  I was disappointed because a year or so ago we got sloppy Joes there and they were the best and I had my heart set on that again this year but all they had were hot dogs.  Oh well, by then it was well past lunch time and we were hungry.  After our short break we drove north of Hillman to several sales around Long Lake.  It was 2:30 before we headed home.  By then I was pretty much garage saled out!

The temperature rose and pretty soon Mark was complaining that it was too hot.  I am just beginning to thaw out from our long and very cold winter and have vowed to NOT complain about the heat this summer!

I enjoyed the antics of the birds for an hour or so.  I watched a male Baltimore oriole take a dip in the water that is standing in the low-lying area beyond our fire pit.  That part of our woods gets very swampy and almost has a little stream running through it in the spring.  The oriole flew high up into a maple to preen and fluff his feathers.  It was fun to watch!

Oriole preening after its bath.

Oriole preening after its bath.

Fluffing its feathers.

Fluffing its feathers.

Almost dry.

Almost dry.

At one point I got up from the porch and was walking toward the fire pit when a flash of blue landed on the platform feeder – an indigo bunting!!  And there I was half-way between the bird and my camera on the porch table!  I quietly made my way back to the camera and had one chance to get a photo before it flew off.  It stayed in our woods though and we saw it a few more times throughout the afternoon and evening.

Indigo bunting.

Indigo bunting.

I also worked at getting a photo of a hummingbird.  All my attempts to get a photo of one on the nectar or the red flowers met with abysmal failure, but I did manage several shots of one perching in the maple tree!

Tiny hummingbird perched in the maple.

Tiny hummingbird perched in the maple.

Mark had plans to meet my nephews down in Fairview for a night of playing war games, so we had an early dinner.  He made us BBQ chicken and potato wedges and we ate out on the porch.  Mark had told me yesterday he had seen a couple of flycatchers when he was back by the shed.  During dinner, they showed up in the woods.  I was able to get a few photos.  Although not the best shots, we were able to identify the birds as great-crested flycatchers.

Great crested flycatcher.

Great crested flycatcher.

Mark didn’t linger after dinner was over, but hopped right up and hit the road, leaving me to see to the clean-up.  I did up the dishes and then decided I really should take the beagles for a walk since they had been left alone a good portion of the day.

With no vehicle, my options were limited, especially because of the SPOTC.  Normally I would have walked the dogs up Stevens Spring and back to Sportsmen Dam, but with them in residence, this was not an option.  One time we made the mistake of walking our dogs past their place and they had a pit bull mix dog that came flying out of their yard and attacked Milo in the middle of the road.  I was kicking the dog in the head with my hiking boot while the stupid people stood on their porch and watched.  It wasn’t until Mark went for his gun that they decided they should intervene.  (This is another thing on that 13 years-long list I mentioned yesterday.)  One of my biggest fears has been having my dogs attacked while I am walking them alone.  After this incident on the corner I have had two other close calls – both while by myself – at public parks near our home.  It is very scary to me!

The cabin across the way from ours is owned by a wealthy Ohio farm family.  They have a couple miles of hiking trails cut into their woods and have given us permission to use them, so that is where I decided to take the dogs.  This family is devout Catholic and there are many interesting little shrines along the way, including the Stations of the Cross.

We didn’t see anything exciting on our little jaunt but there was a black squirrel high up in a tree giving Ruby fits and, maybe it was my imagination but I am almost positive that squirrel was throwing things down at us!  It reminded me of Mr. Tootlepedal and his recent encounter with a red squirrel in Scotland!  I did find two morel mushrooms in the driveway of a cabin down the road.  I took a photo with my phone and texted it to Mark.

I had just gotten back and got the dogs settled in and was going to work at my computer when I saw a large something fly into the yard.  I got up and peeked out the window – it was a pileated woodpecker on the suet!!  I was positively trembling with excitement and muttering, “please don’t fly off, please don’t fly off” as I reached for my camera.  I was forced to take the photos through the kitchen window, so they didn’t turn out the best.  The windows here are crank-outs and have four horizontal sections with metal trim.  The glass itself is something out of a carnival fun house, very wavy, which you can see in the photo!

This pileated had me dancing!

This pileated had me dancing!

I could not believe it!  We have had pileated woodpeckers in our woods regularly and I’ve even gotten a few bad photos, but I’ve never had one this close before – on the suet!!  And Mark wasn’t here to see it!  I was practically dancing around the kitchen!  I LOVE NATURE!!

A short while later it came back, landing on the tree with the suet that is a little farther away.  I was able to open the door a crack, stick my camera out and shoot two quick photos before it flew off again.  Only one of them came out.  This isn’t bad, for a super-quick attempt!

Pileated woodpecker - the rock star of the bird world.

Pileated woodpecker – the rock star of the bird world.

It was a great day for birding.  Altogether I counted 19 species in our yard:  indigo bunting, Baltimore oriole, rose-breasted grosbeak, white-crowned sparrow, brown-headed cowbird, grackle, blue jay, chipping sparrow, great-crested flycatcher, purple finch, chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, mourning dove, robin, hairy woodpecker, downy woodpecker, ruby-throated hummingbird, goldfinch, and pileated woodpecker.

I will leave you with a few random bird photos from my day. 🙂

Female Baltimore oriole.

Female Baltimore oriole.

Male rose-breasted grosbeak.

Male rose-breasted grosbeak.

Mourning doves.

Mourning doves.

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6 Responses to Positively Pileated!

  1. It’s too bad that you have the obnoxious redneck neighbors, I’ve run into a few jerks like them myself over the years.

    You’re doing great with the new camera! Some of these photos would have serious birders drooling!

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  2. Thank you so much, Jerry! I really have you to thank for any good pictures I am getting now! I would have been totally lost when purchasing a new camera if I hadn’t had your expert advice! I still have an awful lot to learn. So far, birds are about the only thing I’ve photographed well. I wish I knew Mr. Tootledpedals secret to a good landscape. Any I’ve taken so far are — ugh!! 🙂

    Thankfully the redneck neighbors only come up on the long holiday weekends. And they will probably leave today which means we will get one day of quiet! The thing that bugs Mark the most is that they will start their ATV’s and then just leave them idling forever, revving the engines once in awhile. He’ll start muttering, “just go already!” LOL

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  3. avian101 says:

    Great shooting Amy! You’re a fast learner I see, With a little more practice you’ll get the timing right and calm enough to shoot a masterpiece! Have a great Memorial Day! 🙂

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    • Thank you, H.J! I had a moment of sheer panic this morning. We went into town for the Memorial Day parade and I accidentally hit the disp. button on the back and next thing you know, I changed some settings and had a grid and all kinds of other stuff on my viewfinder and the harder I tried to fix it, the worse I made things. Needless to say, my photos of the parade and wreath laying did not turn out very well. I was almost in tears! I am not too good with technology! Thankfully, when we got back I pulled up the manual on my computer and tried to figure out what I did and undo it. I think I have it “fixed” now, but only the next few photos will tell!! I was wishing I had someone like you near at hand to tell me what to do and calm me down. My husband doesn’t know anything about cameras and with his eyesight, he wouldn’t even be able to see the icons on the screen.

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  4. tootlepedal says:

    The secret of landscapes as far as I can see is to live in a place with lovely views and then try to find a day when the light is right. There are those who say that the early morning or the evening are the only times to take landscape pictures as otherwise the light is too flattening. I would also say, don’t hesitate to crop your landscape shots. It is hard to get the composition right through the viewfinder on on the screen.

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