A Morning at Hyland Park

Something I never noticed before until today: there is a difference between the red on the back of a male hairy woodpecker vs the back of a male downy woodpecker. Can you tell from looking at the red on the two photos below, which one is a downy and which on is a hairy?

The answer will be at the end of this blog entry.

When I used to have a job with regular business hours, I always thought of all the things I would do if I ever had the opportunity to have a job where I could set my own hours. For some reason, I always thought that I would have unlimited time to go birding. It's not that easy.

Since I work from home now, I feel I have to really put my nose to the grindstone and hole myself up in the apartment. My first two weeks were a rough transition. I thought that I would have no problem working in my new dress code of pajamas--that was a failure and led to me paying more attention to reruns of ER and other tv shows I'm afraid to admit to (okay, I'll admit to one: I'm a sucker for Little House on the Prairie--what can I say, I love Dean Butler, sue me). After that I decided that if I was going to actually work from home, I would need to get dressed for work and put on clothes. The real topper that makes sure that I feel like I'm working is to always wear shoes around the home--that really feels like you mean business.

I remember once being at Hyland Park with a friend thinking how cool it would be to have a laptop and set up in one of their rooms for watching their bird feeders and write all day long
I remember thinking, "Wouldn't that just be the best job ever?" Alas, I have not done that, since I started my new job. So, today I thought I would give it a try. I really didn't get much writing accomplished because of the lack of internet (boy if nature centers ever offer wireless internet, I will be the happiest girl in the world). But I think I might actually hole myself up at Hyland Park on days when I need to get some serious writing accomplished without the distraction of the internet--Don't get me wrong, I love the internet and find it a valuable tool for work, but it can easily be a distraction--like an interactive television.

When I arrived at Hyland, there was a group of volunteers conducting a Project Feeder Watch count for the nature center. I tried my hand at some digiscoping. I had forgotten how much I enjoy the steady feeder activity at a nature center's feeding station: the steady stream of chickadees, the surprise and awe of a pileated woodpecker, the unexpected surprises like a hermit thrush or a white-throated sparrow skulking about the winter feeders. I really, really love the rush hour at a feeding station. As I was photographing the birds with my camera and scope I noticed that hairy woodpeckers have a different pattern of red than the downy woodpeckers. This may have been an obvious field mark to many birders, but since I could always tell downy and hairy apart by bill size and overall woodpecker body size, I had never really paid attention to tall the field marks. It was certainly a lesson and a reminder that sometimes the little things really do make a difference.

Photo on the top: Downy Woodpecker
Photo on the bottom: Hairy Woodpecker