The party began when I pulled off the road and took a quiet walk in the woods. I happened upon an area with several dead upright trunks fairly peppered with every size hole imaginable. It felt as though I had just entered a woodpecker dining hall.Within minutes a yellow-bellied sapsucker joined me. He didn't stay long, but I got to see his tail brace in action. The sapsucker is a resident of the park but is described as "seldom seen" until the northern migrants start coming through after the end of September. Then they are more easily seen in the lower elevations. Wouldn't you just love to know what's happening on the other side of that trunk? The next visitor practically landed on my head--a male red-bellied woodpecker. I was standing inches from the tree he selected which made photography a challenge. But woodpeckers are flighty characters and I enjoyed the few minutes he did stay. You don't get this angle very often and I must say, its the closest I've ever been to a woodpecker. I love his white petticoat-style tail that drapes over the black bracing feathers. You just can't get the full effect of this from field guides.
The white-breasted nuthatch isn't a woodpecker at all, but he fit right into this parade. I heard his 'yank, yank' calls and saw him at a distance before he landed on the other side of this trunk about six feet away. I focused the camera on the trunk, knowing he would pop around to my side at any second. And he did! He gave me these two shots. Don't you just love them? What a treat.
I love this sort of experience. All we have to do is find a quiet place and keep still for a short while and nature will show us her amazing creatures.
The trees are about two weeks away from peak color in the mountains but the forests and meadows are overflowing with a bounty of nuts, cherries, berries and seeds. A rich harvest is spread for busy wildlife, and for us, a beautiful and peaceful place is waiting any time of the year.