Sunday, 2 March 2008
Sunday afternoon visitor
One of these guys scared me almost out of my wits some years ago when we lived higher up the valley. I was at home alone when I heard loud knocking. I investigated and realized the sounds were coming from the backyard. After several heart-pounding minutes - which I will not describe, especially the part where I armed myself with a kitchen knife - I discovered a woodpecker like the one in the photo tapping away at a dead grapefruit tree in the backyard. I had never seen one before, so once I had ascertained that a murderous thug was not trying to break into the house and hack me to death, I sat at the window and watched the bird until it finally flew away.
Today one of its kin appeared in the yard, tapping away at a wooden fence post. This is the first one I've seen here; I called my mother, who was doing something in the front yard, and we stood at the back door lost in admiration. It didn't seem to notice us about 12 feet away, and if it did that did not distract it from its hunt for insects in the dead wood. After about 10 minutes it flew away into a neighbour's plum tree.
This woodpecker is quite large, about a foot from tip to tail, I estimated. The beak looks lethal. Hope he/she makes a habit of dropping in on us.