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Wine Country Woody

From Dr. Walter Hunt, Personal Care Dentistry
The loud rat-tat-tat of a pileated woodpecker hunting bugs in the Napa Valley was as much of a highlight as the cabernets at my friend’s winery.
One of my all-time favorite birds is the pileated woodpecker, who looks like Woody the Woodpecker of cartoon fame combined with a prehistoric mini-pterodactyl. I was out for one of my regular photo jaunts, this time in the Napa Valley. My wife and I were staying with some friends who own a small winery (Black Cordon Vineyard) in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains during a vacation to California. It was early morning and the light was fairly low. As I walked down a dirt road separating the rolling vineyards and a dense forest, I heard a loud pecking to my right. I was familiar with the sound we have quite a few pileated woodpeckers near our Minnesota home and also with how difficult it can be to photograph them. I walked into the forest of pines and oak to get a better look, and there was Woody busily work on a dead log, happily gobbling up one bug after another. I got within 30 yards of him, propped myself against a tree, and started shooting.
He knew I was there, but must have decided the wealth of bugs was worth the risk of human contact. In fact, a couple of times, he flew up to a tree near the log, then returned for more bugs each time. I shot several photos of him with an ant in his mouth, which I have also included with this photo. But I really like this one that I have featured because he looks like he is looking directly in my camera with a You know, this is my forest and I am allowing you the privilege of taking my photo look in his eye

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