Sunday, July 6, 2014

White-backed Woodpecker

After passing a group of school children with their teachers and parents out for a hike in the Bukki Nemzeti Park ...

... we drove on and came nose-to-nose with a huge logging truck hauling large timber out of the national park.  We were entering the park on a narrow one-lane road and this confrontation forced Gerard to reverse for some distance - a difficult thing to do - before finding an adequate pull-in to clear the lane.  The truck driver was not the sharpest knife in the drawer and continued, I thought, with an aggressive advance forward even as Gerard was backing into the pull-in area.  This kind of driving brought an avalanche of words from me - mostly related to what a moron the truck driver was.

For Gerard, who did not like reversing the car under those conditions, the situation brought mostly a volley of words about logging in national parks.  The reason for us coming here was for our target bird which is endangered in many parts of its range, secondary to loss of old forest and intensive forestry methods.

This is the forest habitat we were birding in.  

White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos) requires mature, old-growth deciduous or mixed forests with much rotten wood, especially standing dead trees.  

We walked along the road and we saw other things; Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), and the fasting-moving Collared Flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis) at their nest cavity below.  The flycatcher appears to be calmly perched but these birds did not really stop moving hence the dreadful photo.  

When we started out the day was bright, sunny and warm.  Once inside the forest it was dark and cool.  Gerard commented that patience was needed to see this bird.  We made a series of stops calling for the bird.   A Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) flew in to give me a moment of excitement.  On the other hand, I was in no hurry.  Walking through a deep forest is not something I get to do everyday.  It was peaceful, quiet and beautiful.  

We came to an area where darkness seemed to have descended upon us.  Above the trees the sky was threatening rain.  Then, and as if on cue, a response came to Gerard's vocalization and drumming recordings.  A White-backed Woodpecker flew in.       

I took a couple dozen photos of this bird of which these five are the best.  

This bird was so cooperative and thrilling to see.  It flew from tree to tree and perched in the open for long and satisfying views.   White-backed Woodpecker is not an easy bird to find and, because of the relatively specialized habitat, all who search for it are not successful. 

I think the photo above is probably the best of my few poor good photos.  It shows well the bird's long, powerful bill.   

The bird had not lost interest in us yet, but it began to rain.  Before we could get the short distance back to the car the rain fell in heavy drops through the dense forest canopy.  Of all my birding days in Hungary, I may look back and think of this morning as my favorite.

The rain fell so hard and fast that when we drove past the park's visitor center the workers were trying to sweep the water off the flooded patio so that it did not enter the building.  We went to the nearby village and stopped at the cafe in the photo above for a cup of coffee.  The drainage ditches that lined the streets of the village were flooded with fast moving water.

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