Its seems surreal that I actually have reached post 366, that it has been a whole year and that this project has now been completed. So much has happened during this year, I am one year older, my teen is different person altogether and the world has changed profoundly. I was anticipating and expecting some of these changes, others I could not have imagined in even my wildest dreams. All of this in a blink of eye. This post comes in an age of upheaval and pain with an uncertain future where the world is changing at an unprecedented rate and in unpredictable directions. Just to show the sever limitations of foresight we humans are capable of. So much for trying to be well-informed and staying ahead of the curve.
I will be scaling back my blogging and quite likely the nature of the posts will change as well. Stay tuned for my reappearance here or somewhere else on the interwebs. I have plans that are forming, but not yet ready to see the light of day. Rest assure, however, that my focus will be creating something beautiful and timeless like a sliver of light dispelling the darkness, even if only momentarily, that has enveloped the world.
In the Whitemud Ravine one often comes across ravens around the orange pipeline that crosses the creek close to the Snow Valley end. Last spring the several raven couples even tried to build stick nests on the pipeline. None of them seemed to be successful, however. The other day I caught a raven sitting on the catwalk railing above the pipeline. Is it staking a territory? Is its choice of vantage point just a matter of a good view? Who knows why the ravens enjoy the pipeline.
What is black and white and red all over? Both Hairy an Downy Woodpeckers unfortunately. I like this picture because it nicely shows the feature that distinguished the Hairy Woodpecker from the almost identical Downy Woodpecker. The bill in the Hairy Woodpecker is chisel-like and nearly the same length as the head. In contrast the bill in the Downy Woodpecker is dainty and noticeably shorter relative to the width of the head. Its not, however, always easy to see the bill as it usually is facing the tree trunk, that is why I like this picture.
On our walk along the Whitemud Creek we came across a Red Squirrel that seemed to be just resting on a tree branch. Our presence did not bother it. Even when I slowly walked up to only about 5 feet away it did not budge. It did not seem to be afraid or worried, it just sort of was in a restful position and was eyeing us with equanimity. Squirrels along the trail are used to people so many of them are completely desensitize to human presence.
The forest was filled with excited buzzing trills. It was a familiar sound, yet I could not put my finger on who was making it. Fleeting fast shadows passed between the tree tops overhead. I was still stumped. I had it on the tip of my tongue…, until my teenager triumphantly declared “Look, Bohemian Waxwings”. Indeed, there must have been a few dozen Bohemian Waxwings gorging themselves in on berries in a tree on the bank of the creek. One can never grow tired of waxwings, Bohemian nor Cedar Waxwings. Just as stunningly beautiful they are charismatic and gregarious chatter boxes that love to eat berries and the occasional good intoxication. In these times of “social distancing”, Bohemian Waxwings represent the complete opposite behavior. You will never find a waxwing on its own and typically you will hear them long before you see them. Nothing a like beautiful bird to brighten up ones day in these gloomy and anxious times.
So finally we have reached the end of the official winter season. Spring has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, at least astronomically speaking. While the landscape remain snow covered and the creeks and rivers frozen over the forest is changing. You can hear and see the changes. There is more bird song carrying through the forest, the Great Horned Owls are nesting, and today we saw our first Canada Geese flyby in many months. We had finished our walk along the Whitemud Creek and were heading back to our vehicle. As we were crossing the parking lot, out of nowhere, three Canada geese swooped in. Circled overhead, almost as if they were looking for a place to land, and then decided not to land and disappeared over the tree tops.
Yesterday’s post was about an audacious and carefree Black-backed Woodpecker. Well, today’s post is about the damage he caused. The picture shows the “trail of destruction” he left behind. On our way back the woodpecker was gone but the handiwork of his activity was clearly visible. The woodpecker’s strategy seems to have been to focus on peeling the bark off the pine tree and then “dig” deeper at promising locations under the bark. This seems like a pretty effective strategy for a smaller woodpecker. Larger woodpeckers, such as the Pileated Woodpecker, typically seems to focus more on digging deeper into the tree, which makes sense considering their substantially larger size.