Woodpecker in Gold

This hairy woodpecker—yes, that's what it's really called, if the mighty Google is to be believed—acted a bit like a supermodel. (Not that I've ever worked with supermodels—or wanted to, for that matter.) Fifty or so shots and only a couple of truly great images. (I suspect that with women, the ratio is even more pronounced!)

Of course, the same could be said of many other small-bird varieties that seem to move rapidly and unpredictably. I mean, considering the favorable lighting and striking autumn colors, couldn't this avian just pose a little? :)

Pileated Woodpecker

You will think that I'm a total nerd (again!), but I was very excited to finally be able to photograph none other than the pileated woodpecker! What's more, I noticed this creature in a fairly populated area, so I didn't have to climb any mountains.

On second thought, I should probably claim that I climb mountains to stalk animals more often to build up my wildwoman "cred."

My dog was annoyed with an extended stop on our walk--this was his time, after all--but allowed me to observe and photograph this drum performance.

Did I mention that this woodpecker is the size of a crow?

Really huge!

Once upon a Hike

It might come as a surprise, but despite my almost daily updates with enviable scenery, most of my life is spent in front of the computer screen. In fact, a good part of it involves screaming at the said screen, my scapegoat of choice!

Therefore, this past weekend was my first time in the mountains during this early-snow season, including two brief hikes.

A mobile shot of this trooper, camera and lenses strapped to the shoulder, ready to head out.

Even the hikes were the computer's fault: I needed to exercise myself and my dog, Roediger, and walking up a rather steep incline with snow past the ankles always does the job.  

You see, I measure a hike's success by how long my dog passes out for afterward.

He slept the rest of the day.

Of course, Roediger's experiences in this quasi-wilderness always exceed mine exponentially. First, after obsessively digging the snow, he discovered several frozen pieces of flesh--some, with black fur still intact.

I'm not sure when the massacre occurred, or by whose jaws, paws, and claws. I just hope the victim wasn't human! ;)

Then Roediger chased the mountain's most common residents, mule deer, down the cliff.

Neither the adults, nor the youngster seemed all that fazed by a 55-pound beast with long ears and giant paws, however. In fact, they just gave us the evil eye and continued to chew fiber-rich...everything.

The evil eye is a particularly effective strategy when used by a cute furbaby with a BLACK UNIBROW.

It certainly deterred us.

Oh, and while all of this was happening, I ran into the local Sasquatch, but you can only see his shadow.

hiking snow 3 850 px.jpg

I think he might've been wearing ski goggles to conceal his identity!

We climbed higher and higher, and what seemed like the top of the world was reduced to every shade of blue.

It was there that I shot my prized-possession photos of a fairly uncommon black-backed woodpecker. She was a very determined lady, to boot, if the tree riddled with beak holes is of any indication. (This avian will get her own blog entry.)

We stopped for a while to rest and to listen to what turned into an impressively rhythmic solo.

Another sound, more subtle than the best female drummer this side of the Rockies, was my favorite part.

At one point, it was so quiet, so deafeningly quiet, that we could hear the flapping wings of an always mythic raven flying past us only to disappear in the unbearable whiteness of the sunlit, partly iced-over lake.

The Littlest Drummer

One of the best things about living in the middle-of-nowhere amidst the Rocky Mountains is the fact that you're bound to run into some kind of wildlife when you go out in the evening, be it your nightly installment of deer or something less frequently encountered.

The downside is that you have to bring bear spray. (Okay, technically, you should always carry bear spray if you're out and about in wooded areas.) 

Walking the dogs up on the mountain, I met this little fellow. He wore a Catholic cardinal's biretta and hopped from tree stump to tree stump. The dogs actually allowed me to photograph. This is what I call combining business with pleasure!

"Сяду на пенёк, съем пирожок!"

"Сяду на пенёк, съем пирожок!"

He might be one of the tiniest creatures in the forest, but you should hear the blast beats when he drums!