Thursday, 29 June 2017

Not Always Picture Perfect.

Good bird pictures can happen by accident. You can get lucky.  You can make luck more likely to happen by knowing your bird. Often luck does not work out at all and all your pictures are full of sticks crossing the bird or everything is wrong with exposures, focus etc etc.  Sometimes I still keep them.

Yesterday I was walking out in the Goulds when I came across a female Black-backed Woodpecker.  BBWO is one of those deep woods birds that does not give much notice to man kind. With a little caution they are usually easy to watch at close range.  Photo Opt!  BBWO is my favourite woodpecker.  I only encounter it a couple times per year mainly because  I don't go into their habitat.  I see its habitat all along the roads everywhere but walking far into the fir and spruce forest is not my typical birding habitat.

Even though I was near the bird for about an hour I saw it only 5% of the time. I was also being entertained by Mourning Warblers that thrive in the young deciduous growing up on the edge of the field. The woodpecker was feeding in log debris along the edge of hay field where trees bulldozed to clear the land were left in a tangled ridge paralleling the field.  The bird was tantalizing close. I could hear the churk churk calls. Occasionally it would pop up into view but always hidden behind a mass of sticks and twigs.  In the end I never got a Picture Perfect shot but I kept many of the photos to remind me of the experience and it shows a real Black-backed Woodpecker doing what they do.

The very first frame was like the majority, too many sticks between the lens and the bird.

It worked over up rooted trees that have been dead for many years

Its back was coal black.

It worked over this fir for a while providing the best views.

It used its tongue to reach into holes it made in search of some beetle larvae.

A little twisting was required to get that tongue up the tunnels carved into the trunk by the larvae. 

The reward - a fat grub.  

Three toes - count 'em.  Note the red stain on underside of tail that was probably resin. Time for a change of feathers.  

The last shot, complete with the imperfection of stick over its body, just before it flew across the field to work on the debris ridge on the other side.


  1. I have no luck photographing black backed and three-toeds they move so fast as they eat grubs well that's not true I have a great shot of a three-toed female and it took me over 20 years to get it! The black-backeds I have are still record shots. You should Ben proud of these!

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