Sunday, April 15, 2018

In Quest of a Scarce Bird

Words about a rare bird called white-backed woodpecker reached our ears. This is actually a hush-hush matter because of the governmental decree to protect it due to its declining population. I heard that only about 30 of them remain in the whole country. News about its existence in our city floated in secrecy, but we were fortunate to catch the words from a reliable source.

On March 8, we set out to a nature reserve where we hiked last summer and followed the snowy trail through the coniferous forest until we got to the local patch where some birds stop by to feed.

Total silence greeted us when we came to a halt and waited for our "quarry" bird.  Several minutes passed before I peripherally saw a silhouette of a bird flitting through the bare trees. And then we heard the familiar drumming of a woodpecker. It was a downy woodpecker.

A few minutes later, another winged creature flew by. And there it was, the white-backed woodpecker! I was so excited as I followed its flight from one tree to another until it stopped to feed.

As it kept appearing and disappearing, I kept waiting patiently and shooting frenziedly. It was so beautiful and luminous that I was utterly captivated!

When all the excitement abated, another bird showed up, a Eurasian jay, and perched still on a branch. I've seen one some months ago but I had difficulty capturing it as it was too afraid to sit still. This time, I had a good chance to take a lot of shots.

Satisfied at finding the white-backed woodpecker, we started back to our car while randomly shooting here and there.

As we exited the woods, my eyes were caught by an atmospheric optical phenomenon looming over us. It turned out to be a composite of 22° halo, parhelia or sundogs, upper tangent arc, supralateral arc and circumzenithal arc, each one heralding the presence of ice crystals in the atmosphere. This was an extra treat for us during that birding day!

Our quest was a success and my soul was fed, gratified and rejuvenated!

"Of the glorious splendor of your majesty they will speak
And on your wonderful works I will meditate."

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