Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Finally! A Pileated Woodpecker

The weather up north on Saturday was all over the place. The sky would go from intense blue with gorgeous white thunderhead clouds to dark gray overcast skies to hour long downpours. This pattern repeated every two hours, all day long. Watching for birds and trying to catch photos of them with these constant lighting changes was a challenge a bit beyond my abilities with my DSLR camera. The best I could do was experiment with the settings until I found a combination that worked and try to remember what they were as the sky changed. I had just finished figuring out what worked for "white birch against sunny blue sky" when I heard the pileated woodpecker calling in the woods. He'd been swooping about the campsite all afternoon but never close enough to get a good look. This time I could see he was working his way up the driveway toward me and darn if he didn't land right in the birch over my head! I quickly got a focus and started firing off shots, taking about thirty. Finally I put the camera down to look with only my eyes at this beautiful giant. I'm sure he looked me in the eye for a moment, called a few more times, then launched himself out of the birch, swooping low before he cleared the treetops and flew across the creek out of sight.
I've seen pileated woodpeckers most every time I've visited Hasty Brook and have found many trees with their uniquely drilled cavities.
I have gotten a couple of quick pictures of them before but not very good ones.

These are the pictures I'd been waiting for.
Corny as it sounds, I thanked him with tears in my eyes.

31 comments:

Red said...

I know how that goes Lynne! Awesome that you had the camera on the right settings when Mr. Pileated came knocking on the birch!

I have the same issues in our backyard... one setting for the hummingbird feeder, one setting for the rooftop of the shed, and one setting for the other hummingbird feeder... it's impossible to remember!

Owlman said...

These are awesome Lynne! Patience is tough when it comes to bird photography, but in your case it REALLY paid off! I love LOVE Pileateds although there aren't that many around here.

Ruth said...

What superb photos Lynne! And you have the blue sky and good light. I was so excited when I saw my first Pileated Woodpecker this winter. But the ones I have seen are always very high in the trees and hard to focus on.

possumlady said...

Breathtaking photos!! I remember seeing my first pileated at my aunt and uncle's resort in northern Wisconsin when I was a wee little girl. I thought it was a chicken!

NatureWoman said...

Wow, Lynne, how VERY cool!!!!! I love the color of the sky in the background. I would have had tears in my eyes, too.

Lynne said...

Red- I would have been sooo frustrated had I not been able to get a decent picture when it was perched right above me!

Owlman- Thanks, patience did pay off for me.

Ruth- Thank you. Like I said, I've seen many but I so wanted a good picture.

Christine- LOL! He was abou the size of a good roasting hen!

Pam- The sky was heartbreak blue. I think I'm beyond the point where admitting my emotional nature embarrasses me. :) It's nice to know I'm not the only one!

Jayne said...

Whooohooohooooo Lynne!!!!! WOWIE KAZOWIE! Just LOOK at those! You need to submit them to...oh, I don't know...somewhere! BWD?? Congratulations! I stand in awe and a wee bit... no a LOT green! :c)

Deb said...

Beautiful! I have tears in my eyes too! I can just hear him calling.

KatDoc said...

Superb! Aren't Pileateds the most awesome birds, as in "awe-inspiring"? I see them when out birding, but don't have them here at home. Love yours!

~Kathi

Leedra said...

Well, it looks like you got them set. I was having trouble with my settings while I was in Cades Cove. Some of the deer photos I had the ISO set at 1600, and they looked right. Who would have thought in the middle of the day, with a flash. I was under the trees, but never would have thought a flash and 1600. You got it right, that 1st photo is excellent. And looking straight at you too.

Marsha said...

How beautiful these shots are. I have only seen a pileated once in my entire life so how fun that you get to experience them at Hasty Brook!

Susan Gets Native said...

Those are beautiful, Lynne.
And don't feel corny about tearing up in front of a pileated woodpecker. I cry at peregrines.

: )

Mike and Lizette's Travels and Thoughts said...

Lizette and I agree Lynne congratulations on the awesome captures!!! Looks like you have great detail.

egretsnest said...

Wow, Lynne. I'd have been teary, too.

RuthieJ said...

Way to go Lynne! I've never had a pileated get close enough to even think about getting the camera ready. Thanks for sharing this wondrous experience with us.

Shellmo said...

I am so happy for you Lynne! (And envious too!) That first photo should be framed - it's a fantastic shot!

NCmountainwoman said...

Oh Lynne, I'm so glad you got the great shots. They are fantastic. Perhaps when you have the cabin, they will come nearer on a regular basis.

Mary C said...

Cool! Lynne, I love how you captured that beautiful red "crest." Being at the right place at the right time and with the right camera settings equals SUCCESS and a feeling of accomplishment!

dguzman said...

Holy moly -- beautiful pics, with a beautiful blue sky in the background.

Darla said...

You sure got great photos this time!!

troutbirder said...

Wow! Great pics. Pileateds are my friends. One left a pile of woodchips,once, at the base of a black cherry leaning over my house. I discovered a lot of carpenter ants in it and had the tree removed before it fell on the roof!

jalynn01 said...

I would have been so excited and nervous I don't know if I could have gotten the stunning shots you did. That first one is absolutely perfectly beautiful.Pileated Woodpeckers are just so beautiful close up and you did a very good job girl!! Be proud.

Linda in Erie said...

Oh, wow! Those are fantastic photos of a pileated! I find them to be such magnificent birds that I get a bit over whelmed by them, too. You really have a special place up there to visit. Nature is all the entertainment you need!

Mary said...

OH MY GOODNESS. You are not corny. I'm crying for for you.

Wow.

Bird Girl said...

Oh, Lynne! Congratulations on some absolutely stunning images of this magnificent woodpecker! What is that old nick name? The 'log cock'? He is wonderfully exposed and great detail in his feathers - the birch against the blue sky - oh my goodness - what MORE could you ask for. I know just how you felt - it is an experience you can't put into words - just tears! Yippee for you!!!

A New England Life said...

Woohoo!!! You hit the jackpot! I love the Pileates, they are so incredibly beautiful! We see them around our house quite frequently in the Summertime and are always awestruck.

Congrats!

LauraO said...

Whoa! Lynne, these are fabulous! What a great experience too - these birds usually so difficult to photograph. I especially liked that you put down the camera and just enjoyed the bird.

Larry said...

I would be more than excited to get photos like that of a Pileated Woodpecker! Congratulations-Awesome! -Maybe they need you out at the Ivory-billed camp for good luck.

ivars krafts said...

Great shots, Lynne! You even got the glint of light in its eye on the last shot. Good work! Keep it up!

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

wonderful pix! What a great sky for a background too.

Q said...

Dear Lynne,
WOW!!!
He is BEAUTIFUL!
I have seen them before but never have gotten any pictures. Good for you.
I also would have thanked him with tears in my eyes.
Fantastic!
Sherry