hearing and seeing

I’m still in the middle of some office work, but wanted to share a couple of nice things heard and seen while out on my morning walk with Sabrina. The first is a little .mp4 movie clip (approx. 1.1MB) of a male Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) which I heard drumming on a very dried out tree snag in the ruins of an old barn here at the farm. As you can hear on the clip, the old tree provided some great resonance, so the woodpecker was making quite a ruckus when we came upon him. Unfortunately, the compressed video clip doesn’t give a very good idea of all of the drumming he was doing as it is missing so many frames, but take my word for it that his little head was a blur each time he began to drum at the wood. I’ve uploaded a second clip (approx 1MB) of him in which he is doing more grooming than drumming. It’s of interest more for the other birds that can be heard in the background. I’m not sure if they’ll be that audible on the .mp4 clip, but we’ll see. It’s kind of amazing how we’ve gone from very little birdsong to quite a lot just in the space of a day or two. This time of the year, before the trees leaf out, is always a good time to observe birds around the farm, so I tend to carry binoculars with me along with my camera (often giving me a pain in the neck!).

Above is a photo of something also seen while out on my walk. Actually, I first spied it yesterday while Don and I were out on our evening walk. It’s a cocoon – probably of the Hyalophora cecropia as I do occasionally find them here at the farm and they’re quite distinctive. At this time of the year, with the softer vegetation matted down on the ground by the receding snow, these cocoons can sometimes be found by scanning the brush, looking for something that resembles a tea-stain coloured kleenex stuck among the twigs. I usually find them fastened to Meadowsweet (Spirea alba), especially in the vicinity of Buckthorn (Rhamnus). In the past, I’ve found the caterpillars feeding on Buckthorn — see photo below, taken here at the farm on August 2, 2004 (click on images for larger view).

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9 Responses to “hearing and seeing”

  1. Cathy Says:

    I LOVE the picture of the cecropia caterpillar. For some reason (could be sleep deprivation) it evokes the caterpillar in Alice In Wonderland – the one sitting atop the mushroom smoking a hookah. Is this the moth with the red and white striped body?

  2. burning silo Says:

    Cathy – You’re quite right — there’s something about the caterpillar in that photo that seems unusual to me too. I always thought it looked like it was friendly… sort of amusing. Here’s a nice webpage with photos of the moth and other life stages. They’re large brown ones, but yes, I guess you could describe the body as being red and white striped

  3. robin andrea Says:

    You remind me that the very first moth I ever photographed was a Hylaphora Euryalus. They are such gorgeous moths. I hope you get to photograph them when they emerge.

    Downy’s are such cute woodpeckers. I always love when they come around. Suddenly our mornings are filled migrating songbirds. What a difference it makes to hear those notes during the sunrise. Our hummingbirds and tree swallows have returned as well. Ah spring.

  4. Celeste Says:

    HI! Don’t you just love those three orange, um, buns? knobs? bumps? ??? on the caterpillar’s head? with black warts? and those turquoize feet-paws? and those robin egg warts with black hairs? and the yellow hairy butt warts? If this doesn’t show God(or the universe) has a sense of humor, well… ;0)

  5. Laura Says:

    What a handsome caterpillar!

    I couldn’t get your clips to work?

  6. burning silo Says:

    robin – I’d love to have a chance to photograph an emerging Cecropia moth someday. I’ve thought of bringing a cocoon in so that it wil eclose inside my screened in porch, and I may do so with this one. I’ve even thought of seeing if I can keep a female to lay eggs and then rear some caterpillars as this species is so prone to being parasitized by a couple of introduced species of parasitic wasps and flies. I’d love to see a generation of these grown out without facing their usual demise, especially as this is one of the only species of caterpillars I know that actually like to eat Buckthorn (a problematic invasive species).

    Celeste – Aren’t these caterpillars weird and fun? I can still remember the first time I saw one and how amazed I was at the colours.

    Laura – Sorry about the movie clips. Are you usually able to post the .mp4 clips that I post here? What kind of clips work best for you (QuickTime or .avi or something else). I can make just about any type of media file but it seemed that the .mp4 clips worked best on the widest variety of computers.

  7. Laura Says:

    I’ve never had a problem before. Maybe something is out of whack with my computer.

  8. Cindy Says:

    I just had to check out that headbanging downy after reading your post.. and yep, that looks very familiar.. they may be the smallest, but they know how to make BIG noise when they have too :)
    great photos as always and am interested in the bioblitz.. will have to check into that further when/if I can find time. I can keep up with maybe 4-5 blogs and that’s stretching it!

  9. Virginie Jalal Says:

    You don’t know how lucky you are boy. Virginie Jalal.