For Someone who has just started their bird photography – it can’t get any better than today!

Recently, was it really only yesterday, I had my first encounter with a Pileated Woodpecker and that was fantastic.

Today I was heading for The Celery Fields near Saratoga (well in the last ten days I had been to two different Lettuce Lakes – perhaps there is a salad theme here?) having had the best information from the on-site Audubon folks – there was nothing there!  After yesterday when the photography gods were good to me I thought this might be a day when they were looking elsewhere.  But a nice lady, Mickey, was talking with me and mentioned a lake just up the road that had some shorebirds and White Pelicans and oh yes a park in Sarasota where there was a Pileated Woodpecker nest that had two chicks in, and you get to see them, as well as a pair of Barred Owls with their three fledgelings.

So I went to Palmer lake and made some good clicks, then headed into Sarasota to see if I could find Pinecraft Park.

Well I did.  Entering the park and following the trail I soon came upon about six tripods with cameras and 500mm or 600mm lenses attached and a few people with handhelds.  I thought this must be the place.  So I set up my tripod and D4 with 600mm and a 1.4 Teleconverter and set it on the nest hole.  After about 15 minutes an adult Pileated rested on a nearby tree, someone said “in-coming” so we were all ready waiting to click at the nest opening.  The adult arrive at the nest, posed for a few seconds then entered the nest.  Shortly after it left the nest with some moss in it’s beak – a little house cleaning.  But no sign of the young.  All but myself and another photographer packed up and left.

These are the images at the nest ……..






Why did I stay?  Because my new friend Mickey had said you can see the chicks.  So about twenty minute later an adult appeared on the same tree, click click click.  It moved around the snag with the nest hopping from tree to tree, but not going near the nest.  Then the second adult arrived, click click click.  Then they were briefly in the same tree. THEN the second adult flew to the nest.  This time waited on the outside and two young heads with wide open beaks emerged from the nest opening, brrrrr (by now my D4 was on rapid fire!)……..










The adult performed nicely for the crowd (myself and the other photographer) by bobbing its head left then right then left repeatedly which gave us clear shots of each of the young in turn!














Now it can’t get much better than that can it?  So it was time to go in search of the owls.  On my way who did I meet?  My new friend Mickey.  She quickly said she would show me where the owls were – all five.  So then there was the first adult, sleepy on a branch.  Then the second adult, a little more alert, with two fledgelings space along her bough.  The furthest was lying flat and not moving which caused some concern with some of the photographers.  But it eventually sat up and started preening itself to everyone’s relief.  One fledgeling was behind a twig with a mass of leaves and wasn’t going to move for anyone, so no clicks.  The third was by itself on the other side of the clearing.



















The on the way out a final visit toe the Pileated Woodpecker’s nest.  No adults, but two starving faces at the nest entrance!

Pileated-Woodpecker-nest-Dryocopus-pileatus-13-011231.vv Pileated-Woodpecker-nest-Dryocopus-pileatus-13-011224.vv


Gear: Nikon D4, Nikkor 600mm f/4 VR II, Nikkor TC-17e II, Nikkor TC-14e II, RRS tripod, RRS gmibal head, Leaxar digital film

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