A Quiet Sit
For me the woods are not a place to go and contemplate life’s inconveniences and problems. I go to listen, watch, and escape. More often than not, when I spend time in the woods, I walk. Like most people I wear sturdy footwear; they are sturdy, not quiet. So, with this in mind, today I sat still, doing my level best to blend in (I wore dark browns and greens).
I sat beneath the many clattering bare branches of a small ridge and enjoyed the cold stillness of the air. I opened my eyes and ears, and closed off my mind. The play unfolded.
The amount of life skittering around the remnants of autumn and newly fallen snow was astounding. Nuthatches, woodpeckers, flickers, juncos, sparrows, cardinals, jays, kingfishers, finches, robins and hawks sounded, fluttered, climbed, and soared by! The contrast of the lifeless set and feathered players was incredible. There were so many critters busy about their activities that the whole woodland scene looked like an ant hill.
After getting a couple of shots of a curious WTSP, I stood up. I am not sure who was more surprised to see who.
For a moment he stared at me, and I at him. My heart raced and for the first time all morning, I couldn’t feel the cold. Epinephrine has that effect I suppose. Its likely our chance encounter would not have happened had I been walking. After all, I am heavy footed and his ears are remarkably better than mine.
As fast as he appeared, he was gone. So I sat back down and recovered from the moment. After capturing a few more shots of the sparrows, I turned to walk down. Suddenly, two brown shapes loped up a slope opposite from me! I was so shocked that my face met some thorns behind me as I turned. The minor sting was worth it.
As I walked back the direction I came, I fully believed that the day couldn’t get any better. I was so wrong!
I heard him first. The haunting, primeval cry of the Pileated Woodpecker. I have only ever glimpsed a Pileated high among the trees once before. Even then, he was blocked by the summer foliage, and far away to boot. Now, here sat this one, not fifty yards away! I took a couple quick shots for my photo life list before he disappeared in the direction I had just come. Quickly, I sprinted back down the icy path, over branches, stumps and rocks to flank him. When I burst out where I thought he might be, there was no sign. I was happy I had seen him, but slightly disappointed. Scratch, scratch scratch! There, right above me, he was climbing up the tree foraging! I had never dreamed of getting this close! I quickly snapped some shots. Just as suddenly he had appeared, he was gone.
I walked out of the woods feeling refreshed and excited for witnessing the drama of the winter woods. What a day!
(All images included in this and other entries on this site were taken by and belong to me)
All Images © 2013 Brian Lang
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