I woke up this morning hoping to dash out to look for a grouse drumming log. I put on a cup of coffee and was chit chatting with Non Birding Bill when I looked behind him and saw a male yellow-bellied sapsucker--I was so excited on a nearby pine! It was low and in great light. I grabbed my scope and NBB grabbed my camera and I went to work trying to get a photo. I was getting some okay photos, but it was through a window and it wasn't as crisp as I would like them. Sapsuckers have never been a very cooperative bird for me and I didn't want to scare it off.
But it continued to peck when I went outside so I got some great shots. It's weird, I was trying to find information about sapsuckers and tree health and I couldn't find a conclusive study about whether or not sapsuckers damage healthy trees or go after trees already in ill health. There did seem to be information from tree people calling them pests and information from bird people saying that we don't know for sure and most trees survive. Looks like more study needs to be done.
I did go out to look for grouse and NBB came with me. Mr. Neil told me that a week ago he heard strong drumming. We went to the area he described and sure enough we heard the drumming. We slowly followed a trail up the hill and I spotted this tangle. I saw a log...I saw a grouse shape--we found the grouse! It was frozen, it knew we there and we were not going to get to see it drum. After about thirty seconds it took off.
In spring, male ruffed grouse find a log and beat their wings against their chest to attract a female. If you've never heard it before, let me tell you, it's a crazy sound. It's such a low resonance, I tend to feel it as opposed to hear it. My friend Larry from banding has been giving information on what to look for in grouse drumming sites. This one fit the bill--it was a clearing, but the log itself was surrounded by some branches.
We found some grouse poop, but not a lot. I wonder if this isn't the usual log? I wanted to set up the motion sensitive camera, but the log is on someone else's property and in full view of a cabin. No one was home for me to ask and I momentarily thought of setting it up anyway, but NBB wisely pointed out that leaving a motion sensitive camera for someone to find might freak them out. I'll try again next weekend. Nonetheless, it is a goal realized--I've always wanted to find a grouse drumming log. Now I just need to get some footage of it in action.
And now I leave you with a video of the sapsucker drilling. There's a bee entry coming up, we did our first big spring hive inspection. I also have an idea for another entry, but I'm not sure. NBB says it's gold. I'm worried, that it might be too much information. I'll sleep on it.