Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hang Over Cure- The Power Of The Pileated Woodpecker

Female Pileated Woodpecker


Recently, I spent three consecutive days on Hermit Island from six forty-five to ten AM. Hermit Island is on the end of the Phippsburg peninsula. Because it juts far out into the Atlantic ocean, it is a haven for migrating birds. They don't like crossing expanses of water any more than I like getting up early. So, they congregate building their numbers for the inevitable crossing. To catch the birds as they began to move with the rising sun's heat, I had to rise at 6, which makes me absolutely nauseous. I'm not crabby when I get up, but I am logy and have to fight back the spins. This is just how it is for me; I'm accustomed to plowing my way toward wakefulness. As soon as I start moving, I'm okay and I really do love the light in the morning and the soft silence.
     Hermit Island is privately owned. It's an undeveloped campground with 275 sites. Columbus Day weekend was the last hurrah. There were many die hard campers, none of whom were awake when I arrived. As I walked the two miles of dirt road to the end of the island, I could hear breathing and snoring from the tents. Picnic tables were littered with beer bottles and cans, debris from partying. A Red squirrel toppled a few to the ground, scaring itself, then scampering away. The only other sounds were rustling leaves, and the birds, thousands of them. Chirring, chipping and whirring mingled with the scratching sounds of tiny claws on bark. As I walked, no matter how carefully I placed each step, rocks skidded and gravel crunched. By comparison, my own foot steps were clunky, until I heard the Pileated woodpeckers.
     Pileateds are noisy. They bash, hammer and tear at trees and their call rips the air. I saw five in one day, four of them near one another. I'm sure they were the Pileated family group I had written about this past spring. It was a thrill to see them all grown up and out tearing up the forest. Their raucous screeching and drumming must have been a delight for hung-over campers' headaches. When I was a child, my father was often hung over. To roust him out and torment him, my mother would bang together pots and pans and tell him she was serving him a glass full of cold pork gravey. This formula usually worked, too. He would probably have preferred a Pileated cure.

32 comments:

  1. Wow, Robin those are some awesome images!!!!! Wish I was there, sounds fun...

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  2. Thank you, afinephoto! It was a blast. Just wish I'd been there for the beer, too!

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  3. Haha I love it! The photos are awesome..

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  4. Loved the woodpecker shots. Pretty scarry about the spider.It wasn't a brown recluse was it ?
    bmc

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  5. Where do you get all your information,..toxic secretions of pickerel frogs?…this is hilarious stuff, Minnie Pearl.

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  6. Oh my .... such breathtaking images! WOW!

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  7. Exquisite photography Robin! We had several Red-bellied Woodpeckers visiting our suet feeders and a single Red-headed Woodpecker. Pine Siskin and DEJunco numbers are picking up.

    Batten down the hatches. Big blow coming. And I don't mean the political candidates!

    John

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  8. I am jealous of your Pileated photos - I have had no photo ops for this bird at all. Your previous posts also have stunning photos. I love the composure, variety, crispness - the "eye" !!

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  9. Loved your very descriptive narrative...felt like I was right there joining you on your two mile dirt road walk. You captured the brilliant colors of the woodpeckers.
    HG

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  10. Beautiful photos of the Pileated W.!! I'd love to visit an island like that! would have no trouble waking up for such a morning show of birds.

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  11. HIlke, You'll have to come see me! Then, I'll take you there. Thanks for the compliment, too.

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  12. Thank you, YSMum. I try, honeslty, I try.

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  13. Thanks, Chris, too for the lovely compliments. There can hardly be a better compliment for a photographer than to be told that one has a good eye. Eye-eye to that!

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  14. ...awesome photos of the pileated! I've never been able to get that close. Sounds like a really neat place.

    p.s. I have the same early morning feelings you do! Uugh...

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  15. Wonderful pictures of a beautiful woodpecker!

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  16. Thanks all of you, Kelly, F'O'HK. The trouble is, it's a hard act to follow! I'll be posting soon about my Yellow-billed Loon adventure.....

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  17. I don't know if I've ever seen more magnificent photos of a Pileated, I nearly expected them to come flying off the page. Magic Robin, just magic.
    Ablonde
    December 03, 2010 11:32 PM

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  18. Great photos of a magificent woodpecker!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  19. Some of the best Pileated woodpecker shots I have ever seen. Truly remarkable! ;-)WBW

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  20. Wow, Springman! Coming from you, this is major as you see it all out there!

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  21. Boom & Gary, thanks for looking and commenting. I'm glad you liked the shots.

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  22. Beautiful birds. Lovely images. Thanks for sharing.

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  23. Fantastic shots of the Pileated! They are cool looking woodpeckers. Great post!

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  24. OH MY SUPER--Ive only managed a distant mirage of one of these guys

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  25. I concur, these are some of the best Pileated photos I've ever seen. Fabulous Robin! I am so jealous. I have been yearning to get some good shots of the Pileated Woodpecker but I only get glimpses of them in the high mountains when I visit.

    The funniest thing I saw was a Pileated Woodpecker hanging upside down on a tiny branch feeding on something, but the weight of this large bird had that branch nearly bent down 180 degrees. Of course it was in a dark shaded spot and too far away to photograph ;-)

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  26. thanks much to Larry, eileeninmd, Sondra and theconstantwalker for all the glowing comments, reads and views. It's awesome that you all take the time to look, read and comment. And, the compliments make me blush! Keep that camera handy, Larry. You may get lucky one of these days, at least photographically! :)

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  27. Fantastic Pileated Woodpecker shots! I have had only a brief view of one of these birds before and no chance for a shot! Someday, maybe!
    Wonderful post!

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  28. Pileated woodpeckers are such amazing birds, and often so hard to get close to! Really fantastic shots, especially with that dappled light. Terrific post!

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  29. Pat, thanks for that. You take smashing photos yourself, so I really appreciate this input.

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