Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dryocopus pileatus

As I chipped away at the avalanche on the sidewalk Saturday morning I watched a giant Pileated chisel away at one of my larger oaks.  I had wondered if he was killing time all the while waiting for me to go back into the cabin so he could frequent the suet feeder.  After finally finishing the mess I did go back inside and settled down nicely to a coffee and some surfing.  Then it donned on me to look out the window.  Low and behold there he was.  He stayed for about 45 mins or more and got his fill from the feeder.  I'm certain he is a regular now.  I finally managed to get a couple decent pics of the fellow now that he is getting used to us.

I googled Pileated Woodpecker and this is what I came up with:

The Pileated Woodpecker is a member of the Picidae family in the avian order of Piciformes. All other living species of woodpecker are also members of Picidae. The Pileated Woodpecker's scientific name is Dryocopus pileatus, which means "crested tree-hitter".

The Pileated Woodpecker is an exceptionally large woodpecker. An adult is usually more than 40 cm long and about 400 grams in weight. In the field, its size alone usually gives it away. Another key field mark are the striking white wing bars that flash in flight. At rest, both sexes display a prominent red crest on top of the heads. In addition, the adult male has a red line from the bill to the throat. An adult female has the same line, but it is black.

The Pileated Woodpecker resides in old coniferous or deciduous forests found in southern Canada and western, midwestern and eastern United States. Because the Pileated Woodpecker is so large, it needs larger trees for nests and to forage on. Its principal foods are beetle larvae and carpenter ants, which it vigorously excavates from standing dead tree trunks (snags). It is also known to eat berries and nuts.

The Pileated Woodpecker is territorial, and is usually a
year-round resident. It characteristically calls in flight, emitting a staccato-like "laugh". It uses it's heavy, thick bill to excavate fist-sized holes in trees in the pursuit of its insect prey. It's location is usually easy to detect because of the loud hammering sound it makes as it digs.

Mating is almost always in monogamous pair bonds. The birds use their bills to excavate melon-sized cavities in large trees. The female will lay 3-5 eggs and both sexes will incubate the eggs for 15-18 days. When the young hatch, they are immobile, blind and helpless. Both parents will care for them for 26-28 days after hatching.

After learning this I googled Norland and this is what I learned:
Scientific name:  Smokus Lotsacockus

Usually found on the couch with his hand on his junk.  Favourite pastimes include cheesies and pornos, wallowing in the filth of his car, and marvelling at his underwear skid marks. His diet consists of anything imported, gay, and smoked.  This includes but is not limited to Morel and Monteray Jack Summer Sausage, Black Cherry Elk Salami and Horgendorfingleamerheimin faghole cheese.  And as for beer...well if you can't pronounce it that's his shizznit.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday afternoon Suicide

After a morning of doing battle with the mountain of roof snow on the walk I regrouped in the cabin with a coffee.  The days options were now wide open.  I contemplated taking the sled out for a ride but the river was calling so I went to the garage and gathered up my gear.  The inside bend of Suicide was beckoning.  The last time I had fished there was in the spring with Norland and Arn and we had a pretty good day.  This coupled with a local tip that there had been a few fish taken there recently had my interest peaked.  The only thing that lay between me and my destination was a mile hike and a bush under two feet of snow.
Anyone that has waded the inside of Suicide knows the hike through the scrub brush can only be described as a son of a bitch.  The under and over growth takes a toll on ones patience and truly tests ones determination.  Now throw two feet of snow on the ground and its a deadly combination that almost makes travel inhumanly possible.  The hike back to the scrub is fairly uneventful as I follow a fresh set of tracks.
Upon reaching the scrub I see a single set of fresh tracks meandering through the tangled mess.  I decide to take the blazon trail and use it to my advantage.   The hike back through the scrub was worse than I had remembered and was taking twice as long.  The vision of hooking a giant fresh chromer was quickly loosing it's appeal and at more than one time I considered doubling back.  After multiple mental checks and self reassurances I cleared the scrub and came upon an opening with the far bank of Suicide in my sights.  I could not have been happier and stopped for a breather.  As I scanned the surrounding area I noticed visible signs of a commotion in the snow.
As I approached the site closer it was apparent that a rodent had been plowing along the surface of the snow and was swept up by a small raptor.  The wing feathers and tail feather of the raptor were evident in the snow and the trail from the rodent abruptly ended at the feather markings.   I gathered up my remaining energy and continued on through the snow towards the river.
As I approached the top of the bank the river came into sight and as I slid down the slope a burst of energy ran through my body.  For the next hour or so I meticulously picked away at the inside bend to no avail.  The river level is down but the water still looked good.  Determined I continued upriver towards the top of the bend until I had exhausted every piece of fishable water.  Part way through the bend I had decided I would not be taking the same route back so I struggled up the steep embankment and began to plow through the now waist deep snow and scrub.  With no trail to follow the going was very tough.  What would take seconds seemed like hours and my legs were burning as I fought the thick underbrush and snow.  Part way through the brush I decided to slip down into the river for a breather and fish a very sexy piece of water.
It wasn't long and I was into a nice 14" resident Rainbow.  It was not the giant chrome hen that I had been working so hard for but nonetheless was a very pretty representation of what this river has to offer.  By now the light was showing signs of failing and I amped it up a bit and made my way up and out of the scrub.  The remainder of the hike out was fairly uneventful in comparison to the days earlier travels.
As I made the giant climb up the snow laden stairway I recalled the days events and remembered the cold beer and hot crock pot of chili awaiting me back at the cabin.  I was also conscious of the fact that I didn't have to make a three and a half hour drive to get home.  Cabin life has its advantages.

When the levee breaks

I had all aspirations of hitting the river this morning but the shovels had a totally different plan for my time. When the snow comes off the roof it really comes off the roof. After an hour and a half of cutting ice and packed snow I managed to find the concrete. LOL!! And to think my wife thought I was heading up for a weekend of leisure.
Now where are my waders...

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Obsession Intensifies

Anyone that knows me can tell you I have a minor case of OCD.  My obsessive compulsion is steelheading.  It is what fuels my spirit.  It makes me feel young and it sets me straight when life knocks me off kilter.  With the recent property acquisition in the heart of Michigan's fabled trout and steelheading waters I have been frantically searching for a means of reaching the inaccessible waters.  I was certain I wanted a Jet Sled but couldn't justify the price for the boat that I wanted.  At the same time the Hyde Low Profile drift boat intrigued me and brought a flexibility and value that no Jet Sled could parallel.  An opportunity came by earlier this week and after careful deliberation and negotiation I struck a deal with a gentleman who's leisure time focus had changed.
I have yet to pick her up but hope to in the coming weeks.  I must admit...I am rather excited about getting out on the water in her with some friends.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Cabin Friends

Getting rather acquainted with the locals lately...

Although still a little apprehensive I think they are starting to accept us funny Canadians... 


Seldom do temps hover around 0 in February but when they do coupled with sun, clear blue skies and a weekend at the cabin well that all equals  up to one big opportunity.  An opportunity that I couldn't pass up.

It was nice to spend a few hours floating the big river with some sense of confidence.

The blue sky, the warmth of the sun, and the clean clear water was healing for the soul.

The big river decided to grant me an encounter with a couple of willing players to top it all off.
A very rewarding opportunity indeed.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Today's Mail

Well I had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the January STS mag and low and behold in todays mailbox offering of newspapers, bills, and other assorted junk there it was.  My pics made the index page as well as the main body of the article but only one of them.  Norland's pic wasn't published.  Sorry brother.  I had submitted 4 pics and I guess they decided to only run with the best pic of the bunch.  It is a good picture of a stellar fish that Norland caught.  Best fish of that trip and a memory I'm certain he will never forget.  I just wish his pic made the print. I'm already kicking ideas around for my next submission.  I'm aiming for a cover now so my work is cut out for me.  I know it's a long shot but it's a dream now so I'm certain a little hard work will bring it to fruition.  Besides...someone has to take that cover shot.
Stay tuned...