Monday, May 14, 2007

The elusive tree-hog

Today I got to assist with a rare grassland bird survey with the birdman at a giant site. Now I am not great at birding. I'm still learning and I'm sure the birdman was dreading having me tag along after my numerous misidentifications and the infamous "Hey. What bird is making that noise?" His response "That's not a bird. That's a squirrel." But that was a LONG time ago so y'know and I had a good laugh about that. I've been listening to my birding by ear cds and I've almost mastered them. I almost ready for more birding by ear . I'm not so hot looking through binoculars since I have a hard time finding the bird in the view finder (it usually flies away just as I locate it) and my lens keep fogging up. But we found three rare grassland birds. I'd like to think that I helped located one species a bunch of times by my trusty ears but I'm sure the birdman would be skeptical of that.

Then walking by the woods I hear what I think is a rare woodpecker. I have never heard or seen it in real life...just on my cds and a stuffed toy which makes it call. I almost didn't want to say what bird I thought it was for fear of laughter. But I said it and was correct. Woohoo! It's a red-headed woodpecker and it's call is a loud "Queer!" No. Seriously. Check it out

Later we spotted a healthy looking coyote. He was so far away we needed binoculars and the birdman's fancy spotting scope. The coyote was so frightened of us and took off running full bore even though we were very far away. So that was cool. We don't see coyotes very often.

We walked for what seemed like miles. The site was over 600 acres. So that's like 600 football fields and we walked most of it. I request a horse and dog for the next visit. A horse for me to ride on and a highly trained dog to flush the birdies out of the grass.

Then birdman goes "There's a groundhog in that tree." Wait. What. I need that in the spotting scope. Sure enough there was a groundhog way up in the tree. I'm not talking like 5 feet up on the trunk. He's way up in a big tree (see pic below). I really don't know what to say about that. Not sure what's so fabulous up in a tree for a groundhog. Weird stuff. I guess I'm seeing evolution in the works.


Woody Woodpecker®™©™ said...

Ha ha ha ha hah!

lioux said...

Your job sounds sooo cool.


Colleen said...

i talk about evolution in my blog today, too. of language, though.

Jules said...

I agree with Lioux. What an awesome job. And that red headed bird looks awesome! Did you see it or just hear it?

I read here here that groundhogs climb trees sometimes to escape predators or look for food. They are SO cute. :)

Kartek said...

I did get a quick chance to see the woodpecker but it was so far away.

I could see groundhogs climbing the lower part of the tree. This guy was in the upper branches like a squirrel. Who know they could be so agile!