The Bear Valley Visitor's Center in Point Reyes National Seashore is a great place to look for birds. Quail are almost always hanging around, there's a great blue heron that likes to hunt for gophers in the area, and in addition to many other birds in the trees, there is a family unit of acorn woodpeckers that maintain some granary trees right in the middle of the picnic area. Whenever the light is still reasonable on my way out of the park I'll stop by and check out these colorful birds.
Much to my delight on this trip, instead of having to crane my neck to watch the birds up high in the trees, this woodpecker was pecking away at eye level on the tree. It was so focused on chipping apart the bark, and apparently digging out insects from inside, that I was able to get quite close without disturbing it.
The vertical frames are cropped from horizontal images, which isn't something I like to do on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I made the worst mistake a nature photographer can do before approaching the woodpecker -- I decided to leave my bag in the car, which held all of my extra memory cards. I almost always have an extra card in my jacket pocket, to make sure that this never happens. But on this day I made the mistake. So I fired away horizontally to get some establishing shots, and then just as I was getting ready to go vertical, I realized that I was out of "film". Very frustrated with myself for that one, since my long lens caught the attention of other visitors to the park, and after I walked away from the woodpecker to get another memory card, they proceeded to photograph it with their point and shoot -- which required getting way too close, and the bird flew off. Oh well, just another lesson of why you should always have an extra memory card in an accessible pocket and not in your bag (or in the car!).
This last shot was a bit of an experiment, as I tried to capture the motion of the bird as it pounded away at the bark. I'm not always a big fan of blurred images, but this characteristic motion almost works for me.
Visit my Bear Valley Visitor's Center Gallery.
Submitted to the World Bird Wednesday blog meme -- follow the link to check out this week's posts!