Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Elated By A Pileated

The sun was still below the horizon and as the dawn began to break, I knew the old adage "Red sky in the morning, sailor's warning" was in effect. As I drove southeast of Chestermere the sky was setting up for a red sunrise by passing its rays through the dust particles of a system that had just passed through from the west. The mornings deep fiery red was telling me that the atmosphere had a high water content and snow was on its way.

I hope you don't mind my sunrise silhouettes as they must be the most cliched shots that I know of. However I find myself in their presence most mornings, as I normally rise before the dawn and never tire of sunrises or shooting photos of them. I could see the clouds forming off to the west and knew before long we would be experiencing a taste of winter as the clouds pushed their way into the area and brought us snow. Of course this reminded me that I needed a new set of tires on my truck and should do something about that soon.

I made the turn from the Chestermere School road on to Highway 22 and proceeded west. I then turned south on to the road that takes you past the Indus airfield and noticed that there were several planes doing touch and goes. The thing I found interesting about this is the fact the approach to the strip was across the road that runs across the end of the airfield. I'll bet that the odd driver passing by in a car is on occasion somewhat startled as a light plane just clears the roof, they should have a sign that says "Caution, airplane crossing".

Some time later after a break from my cameras and snow now in the area, I found myself down along the Bow checking out a area where I had been told that a Bald Eagle had been hanging out and I hoped that I could possibly get a capture or two of him. I had pretty much given up on this happening as the snow was making visibility poor and had decided to hang it up and head for the barn. About then I did a double take as I spotted one of my favorite birds that resides in Alberta. That would be the Pileated Woodpecker. If you have never seen one then you are in for a adrenalin rush the first time you spot one. The Pileated Woodpecker was used as the model for the cartoon "Woody Woodpecker".

This bird is big, like in the vicinity of 40 cm to 50 cm in lenght (16-20 inches) and with its shockingly red-crest and being the size of a crow, it is unmistakable. At first, I only saw the one and he seemed quite unafraid as I was able to approach within 7 meters or so from him. I then realized there were a pair of them and they were amazing to watch as they chipped out large holes in this tree that was under attack from their beaks as they stripped bark away in their search for insects, their favorite being carpenter ants. I wished that I had recording equipment with me, as the drumming sounded like someone hitting the tree with a hammer. I finally annoyed them enough, that they flew off in a huff with their wild laugh reverberating off the trees, leaving me feeling very pleased with my captures of this most impressive of birds. The snow coming down quite heavy now, was of no consequence to me anymore as I headed home-Pileated Woodpecker laughter playing in my head.

Canon EOS with EF 10/22 @ 10mm - f8 - 1/8 sec - ISO 100

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