First, the Quest for the Pileated WP. I did go back to the arboretum the following weekend and spent 2 hours lurking among the cottonwoods by the creek. I found evidence that I was in the right place, looking at the right trees:
The more I looked, the more of the huge excavations I found. There was a tree I suspected they may have been recently using as a nest, but I could only get glimpses of it through the foliage. I looked and waited and waited... Finally, I gave up and started heading back. Then I heard it, right in back of me: the pounding. Two beats, loud and strong, just like what I've heard on my bird sounds cd. It was soooo close, but I couldn't see anything. Some other people were close by and they heard it too. It drummed once more, then called it's kah-kah-kah sound, as it flew further away from us. Arrrgggghhhhhhh!
Some birders will count identifications by sound alone, but for my lifer list, I want an actual sighting. I went back 3 weeks later with a friend, very early in the morning, but didn't see or hear much of anything. The birds all seemed to be sleeping in that day. I've decided that during summer, the forest is too thick and lush to see much of any birds who perch or fly among the canopies. I decided to wait until mid-autumn, maybe October, to go back and try again.
Then, in late June, we headed down for a few days of r&r at the Lake of the Ozarks. We love staying in the quaint family cabin close to the water's edge in a quiet cove, listening to the birds and the gentle lapping of the water. Mr. Criquette, being a Type A personality, has no concept of the word "relaxation". I call him my 2-legged squirrel. He hauls down numerous projects, some of them work, or finds small fix-up projects around the cabin. His idea of fishing is to throw a line off the dock and bustle about doing projects until a fish snags itself on the line. He rushes back to release the fish, throws the line back in and bustles some more. It gets quite exhausting watching him in all of this activity, so I take little mini-naps in between knitting and reading.
I will usually stir myself once or twice a day to take a nature stroll, looking at the various wildflowers and birds that inhabit the area. I was on one of my strolls along the bank of the cove, and had my binoculars looking for the herons that roost in the swampy area at the far back of the cove, when it ocurred to me that the tree I was looking at was a cottonwood - a really big one at that.
Wait a minute! Pileateds love them some big, old cottonwood trees and PWP's are listed as one of the regional inhabitants. I did a quick search around the cove and noticed several big cottonwoods. Best of all, I noticed that the huge, half-rotted tree that sits at one edge of the property is a cottonwood that has several of these:
I about peed my pants as I ran off to tell Mr. C. He was very interested and we both kept a close eye on the tree the rest of the time we were there, but, except for a yellow-bellied sapsucker (a lifer for me), some extremely noisy titmice and chickadees, the herons, a mama wood duck and her babies (another lifer!), yellow finches, a phoebe, a great crested flycatcher, and 2 different warblers I could hear but not see, there was no sign of the big woodpeckers.
I was still happy about adding to my lifetime list, but still felt like the PWP's have a conspiracy to elude me. The most frustrating part was when Mr. C returned the key to the owner (his uncle) and asked about the big guys. His uncle, obviously not a fan, said, "Those big pests? They're around all the time. We wish they'd go somewhere else." Such is my luck.
Even though I've not been blogging, I have been knitting (with a little crochet thrown in for a change). I have made several dishcloths, including several for Ravelry swaps:
And of course, there are the ever-present UFO's, always lurking in my knitting basket...
My most favorite project right now is a very special one. One of my lovely nieces, who is majoring in hotel management and tourism, is taking a class in wines. As part of this class, they have to go on a 2-week tour of the California wine country, which of course includes mandatory tastings and gourmet meals. All this and college credits too!
I missed her birthday earlier this year, an important one. So I decided to make my first shawl. As in the kind of project where I must FOCUS and PAY ATTENTION. As you might imagine, my progress on this shawl is quite slow, despite the fact that the pattern is so easy, a toddler could make it.
I'm using Classic Elite Cotton-Boo in a beautiful light grey, the color of Spanish moss. The entire time I was working on the first 10 rows, I kept feeling like I needed to frog it. But I remembered reading that lacy projects look terrible the first few rows and so I kept going. Now I am past the second repeat and am loving what I am seeing so far!
I'm so excited that all I want to do is spend the entire weekend doing this and nothing else. However, there are massive dust bunnies gathering in force throughout the house, and my closet has become the equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle and must be brought under control, not to mention the mundane weekly chores that have to wait for the weekend. I motivate myself by remembering that we will be going back down to lake soon. And maybe, just maybe, the "big pests" will make me a very happy birder.