Mt. Doug Hiking

A bird’s screech, a flash of red across my path, and I stop.

I’m pretty good at keeping my head up to take in the forest, but there are days when I find myself treading carefully or else lost in thoughts, and that is when I miss what is happening around me. I stand still and wait to see if the bird will return.

Thinking it may have been trying to distract a predator from a nest or mate, I look carefully into every tree around me. Birders know how to do this–I am not an intensive birdwatcher. Should I lean into the brush? Do I crouch down? Why did I leave my camera at home?

Within a few seconds I hear a tapping in the trees. Stepping into the brush, I can see the tip of a tail and then the bird about halfway up an old fir. It taps determinedly, lifting its head frequently and looking left and right.

It is a woodpecker, and not until I get home and look through my West Coast Birds do I learn that it is a Pileated Woodpecker. West Coast Birds writes that these are “secretive and retiring birds” recognized by a “laughing call” or “rhythmic drumming.”

So, I have documented two Pileated Woodpeckers in Mt. Doug forest. My book says it is a good idea to carry a notebook, maybe a pencil to document quick observations, dates and activities, as these are often lost in the excitement of sightings. I think I’ll just try to remember the camera.

I’d be curious to know how many of these birds have been seen by other Mt. Doug hikers.

Here is a link to the bird and its call.

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pileated_Woodpecker/id

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Mt. Doug Hiking

It isn’t spring.

The rain and cold that mark January in this place makes that clear, and yet as I head toward the mountain, the smell of wood smoke and wet earth verging on new birth stirs a memory of cold spring in another landscape.

Prairie spring. Mud replacing the snow, puddles in fields and ditches, crocus and pussy willow arriving according to their own timing. Many poets have written about the landscape of our birth imprinting itself on us forever. Walking in the woods today, I had the feeling of being in two places at the same time – here and in a long ago prairie spring (I can’t say when I last physically experienced a prairie spring.)

Memory senses quickened in me a need to be near the water. Perhaps a need to walk in puddles. The creek was low, and I guessed rightly that the tide was out. I breathed in ocean, sand, and water running to the sea. Were the seagulls on this shore the same as those of my childhood near the Redberry Lake Biosphere?

If  you are called to the seashore side of Mt. Doug Park and want to indulge yourself in puddle/tide pool jumping in January wear rubber boots, so that you don’t walk home with wet feet, wet socks, and wet hiking boots.

Remember, it is only spring somewhere in your memories.