A Lacy Affair – Woody Woodpecker #3

August 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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I was having my usual morning run when I heard a shrill call….Immediately I recognised it as the call of the Laced Woodpecker. I stopped and looked around the nearby trees, and soon spotted a female bird on one…To my pleasant surprise, I found that it landed not on any tree, but one with a hole on it! Oh my goodness! Did I just found a potential woodpecker nest again?!?

Couldn’t believe my luck! There were the usual number of joggers, walkers and cyclists around but none seemed to have noticed the bird and the hole on the tree, which was actually at eye level, very exposed and near the walking path. The bird seemed to be checking around the hole…Excited, but as it was a weekday morning, there was no way I could get Tisu Boy down to photograph it 😦  Not wanting to attract unnecessary attention to the potential nesting bird, I continued my run.

But for the next few days, I would slow down and jog on the spot to keep an eye on the tree. Had to skip my rest day and even braved a light drizzle to check out on the bird. Most of the days I would see the female hanging around the nest, and once I saw the male. I was quite certain that the pair were going to make their nest there! Wonder which stage of nesting were they at cos sometimes the female would go into the hole. Was so excited to have found another woodpecker nest myself, and the best thing was no one else seemed to have noticed it! 😀

The weekend finally came. As there are usually more weekend warriors exercising in the morning, we decided to go in the later part of the afternoon. Were quite happy to see no other photographers around…We went there about 3 plus, and it didn’t take too long a wait for the female to appear…

The female Laced Woodpecker (Picus vittatus)

Like most nesting birds, this female perched at a nearby tree to check out for potential predators before going to its nest.  We were careful not to go to near to the nesting hole and tried to hide behind a further tree.

After a while, she realised that we were not a threat, and flew to the nesting
tree…Since she had no food in her beak, I presumed that there were no chicks yet….

Just as we were waiting for some action to happen, the female suddenly flew off! Darn! What happened?! Were we still too close? To our surprise, at this hour when the sun was still burning mercilessly, there were already some hardcore joggers and cyclists passing by…Had to look away from the nest in order not to attract too much attention to the bird…

The female came to and fro a few times, each time she would announce
her arrival by calling, then repeat her ritual of perching at a nearby tree to make
sure it was safe before flying to the nesting tree. This time she came closer to the hole…

Last check for safety…? She gave the hole some pecking but didn’t stay for long again…

We only saw the handsome male (with red crown) for a short time. He perched 
on the nesting tree but only inspected from a distance before flying off

The female seemed to be more hardworking, coming back more often

Then she poked her bill into the hole to do some digging! So, the pair
were still at the nest-building stage…

She went deeper for some more digging…The lazy male was nowhere to be
seen or heard when we left

It was getting cooler and that meant we had to leave the birds alone as more and more people were coming out for exercise. Not many people seemed to have noticed the birds, even when we were standing nearby. They must be wondering what were we taking…The next afternoon we went around the same time, and we were again alone shooting the birds’ routine. I guess it would take them some more time to finish digging so I was supposed to observe them again the following week while running. But the next week, I think I only saw the birds once or twice, and then they seemed to have disappeared for the rest of the week! We went back on the weekend but again no birds. Why did the birds decide to abandon the half-bult nest? Did they realise that the location was too open? Did someone disturb them??

It was only some time later when I met another photographer that I found out that Itchyfingers were not the only ones to have discovered the woodpeckers’ nest. He said he knew about it and other photographers were also taking photos. So there were others who knew about it? But I didn’t see anyone shooting during my daily morning runs…Well, maybe they went at some other quiet hours…So did the birds feel uncomfortable with so many people around them? But it may not be the fault of these photographers as it could well be some ignorant joggers or walkers going too close to check it out after seeing people taking photos of the nest. Anyway, the nesting hole was so exposed and near somewhere with high traffic, it might be good for the birds to make their nest somewhere more inconspicuous….In any case that is the reason why when we see nesting birds, we are always careful not to go too close, make too much noise, or attract unwanted attention for fear of the birds abandoning the nest. It was not the first time we discovered Laced Woodpeckers’ nesting hole, but we were always unsuccessful in documenting the whole nesting process, either because we were tied up by work or other commitment, or the nests were abandoned. Sigh, guess we gotta be more alert and look out for more nests then….

Also see related posts:
> The Demands of Parenthood – Woody Woodpecker #2
Raising a Family – Woody Woodpecker #1


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