Monday, May 26, 2014

Black-backed Woodpecker at Schoolhouse Gulch

Earlier in April, Ellen and I discovered a nice little hotspot in the woods north of Crouch along Bell Creek that has proved to be a fantastic place to bird. We returned a week later, and immediately after parking the car we heard Ruffed Grouse drumming in at least three different directions. I tried several times to shoot a video clip that would capture the sound of all the drumming going on, but upon playing the videos back, it seems like the thumping sounds are at too low of a frequency for most laptop or phone speakers to play, and I’m not sure how many of my readers are looking at this blog while plugged in to bigger speakers at home, so I left the videos out. You’ll just have to imagine you’re out in the woods on a beautiful spring morning, and hearing thump ……. thump …… thump …. thump .. thump thump thump thump thump thump.

Better yet, let’s let the Cornell Lab of Ornithology help you imagine with their well produced video:

After enjoying our time surround by the thumping Ruffed Grouse, we headed over to Schoolhouse Gulch Trail to make our second attempt for the Black-backed Woodpeckers. This time we were successful! For those that struggle (as I often do) to interpret other people's directions, here's a map and a link to the exact coordinates where we saw the bird, and you can figure out your own navigation to get there:

Schoolhouse Gulch Map

Hiking trail at Schoolhouse Gulch near Garden Valley, Boise County. April 12, 2014.

I didn’t realize until we were half way down the trail that I had forgotten to change the battery in our camera, so we decided not to take any pictures on the way up to save the remaining battery life for the woodpeckers. We did see a few fun birds before I shut the camera off, like this Say’s Phoebe right by the hiking area, a Western Bluebird, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch.

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Say’s Phoebe at Schoolhouse Gulch, Boise County. April 12, 2014.

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Western Bluebird at Schoolhouse Gulch, Boise County. April 12, 2014.

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Red-breasted Nuthatch at Schoolhouse Gulch, Boise County. April 12, 2014.

I’m definitely glad the batteries held out, since this wasn’t our first time seeing a Black-backed Woodpecker, but we were really hoping to make it our first time photographing one. We got up to the top of the trail, and quickly knew we were in the right area because one of the woodpeckers was flying back and forth across the trail. We watched him land on a tree that he seemed to favor, and started to snap pictures.

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Black-backed Woodpecker at Schoolhouse Gulch, Boise County. April 12, 2014.

Soon we noticed he had a freshly excavated hole he was tending to.

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Black-backed Woodpecker at Schoolhouse Gulch, Boise County. April 12, 2014.

Later it was joined by another, and we got to enjoy both for a little while.

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Black-backed Woodpecker at Schoolhouse Gulch, Boise County. April 12, 2014.

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Black-backed Woodpeckers at Schoolhouse Gulch, Boise County. April 12, 2014.

Hopefully they’ll stay in the area for a while and we’ll get to return and find fledglings later in the year.

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