On Friday, I spent time working in our Greenbelt restoration site. As I turned to go back home, I heard a loud sound. It took a moment for me to figure out what it was. When I looked ahead of me, I saw a woodpecker pecking at a dead tree. It was unlike any woodpecker I’ve ever seen. One of the remarkable things about it was that it looked huge.
I used the burst setting on my phone camera and was able to capture a shot of it in the action of pecking.
I wish I had thought to take a video so you could hear the loud sound it made when it was pecking.
Later, I learned that it was a Pileated woodpecker. which is similar in size to a crow. One of their most notable features is their bright red crest. The males have a red streak on their cheek, so the one I saw must have been a female.
These birds are often found around dead trees, foraging for carpenter ants. They are known for the triangle shape holes they create in trees, holes that become habitat to “swifts, owls, ducks, bats, and pine martens.”
Pileated woodpeckers apparently have bright white underwings. I hope that someday I have the opportunity to see one in flight!
There have been very few geckos in my room (in India) this year. I have missed them. The ones I have seen have been very small, about a third of the size of the ones I see in December. Maybe this is the time of year they are born.
A few days ago, when I was lounging on my bed, I looked up and saw a baby gecko. It was less than two inches from its head to the bottom of its tail. My photo didn’t turn out very clear so I decided to share it using a PicMonkey effect called Edge. That effect allows only the outline of the object being photographed to be visible. Do you see the outline of the little gecko? I really like how the photo turned out.
The gecko was located just below the place where the ceiling meets the wall. I watched it for some time. I was struck by how long it stayed in one place. I knew geckos eat insects so I decided it was waiting for one to come near. The only insects I’ve seen in the room are mosquitoes so it was probably waiting to eat one of those. The gecko was more patient than I was, so in time I stopped waiting for it to move and left the room.
When I returned an hour later, the gecko was in the same part of the room, but it had turned the other direction; it was facing south instead of north. The gecko continued to wait. I continued to watch it periodically. I didn’t have the patience to be waiting quietly to see what happened next.
About an hour later, I noticed the gecko start to walk down the wall. My half-hearted attempt at waiting was over! I decided I would video the gecko’s descent. The problem was, I had to get closer to do that. And when I moved in, the gecko stopped. It looked like it was watching me, waiting for me to go away. I waited for some time but once again, the gecko had more patience than I did. Eventually, I stopped waiting for the opportunity to take a video and took a still photo instead. I decided to use the PicMonkey Frost effect on this one.
I could learn a lot about patience from a gecko, if I was willing to wait long enough to learn it! But I guess that is a learning in and of itself.
On Sunday, when I was waiting in line to be admitted to a wedding feast, a nearby tree caught my eye. The flowers were fascinating. I soon realized a young man standing near me was talking about the tree. He said it was called Naga Linga and was a very sacred tree. He mentioned that the tree had that name because the flowers look like the hood of a cobra (naga is the Sanskrit word for snake). Later, I learned that another name for the tree is Shiva Linga and that they are often planted near Shiva temples. The tree is also sacred to Buddhists. (Click on the gallery below to enlarge the pictures.)
There were only a few flowers on the tree in Amritapuri. I hope someday I will be here when all the buds are open. It must be a stunning sight.
The English name for the tree is Cannonball. The reason for that becomes obvious when you see the fruit. I found these photos on Wikimedia.
The fruit can reach a diameter of 10 inches. When one falls to the ground it may cause a loud explosive sound. The fruit usually cracks open at that time. The pulp inside is edible but humans often don’t like the smell so it is usually eaten by animals.
Wikipedia says this about the tree’s medicinal value:
On the morning I arrived in Amritapuri, I looked out the window of my flat and saw two small birds sitting together in a nearby palm tree. They looked like fluffy baby birds although were not tiny. I tried to take a photo but could not get the camera to zoom close enough.
Early the next morning, I saw the same, or similar, birds in the tree. They were usually perched side-by-side but occasionally they separated. This time, I could snap close up photos.
The birds groomed each other. At times, they were so close that if I hadn’t known better I would have thought there was only one bird in the tree.
At one point, one of them started to open its wings…
… but then tucked them in again.
Then they both flew away. Their wings were pure white and way bigger than I had thought. I believed I had been able to capture a photo of the birds in flight, but when I looked all that was on my camera was a picture of the empty tree!
At least I have the vision of their beautiful wings etched in my memory.
To view the previous posts in this series click here.