I finally got a photograph of a woodpecker in our garden thanks to a cantankerous squirrel

Male Nuttall's Woodpecker eating a bug off our Santa Rose plum tree
Maybe for other people getting a photograph of a woodpecker isn't such a major feat but for me it's HUGE! Over the past 11 years, I've heard woodpeckers in our neighbors' trees. I've tried to follow the sound to catch a glimpse of them. But the woodpeckers around here are very elusive, and the glimpses I've gotten are fleeting. Photographing them seemed impossible.

Today, I went out to catch some sun on our deck and brought my camera with me (something I usually don't do when catching rays). The usual birds were flitting about and eating the seed I put out yesterday. Several squirrels were helping themselves to the sunflower seeds I put out for them.

Then in my peripheral vision I saw a red flash on the trunk of the neighbor's pine tree. I turned and focused my attention and saw a male Nuttall's woodpecker casually pulling bugs from the cracks in the bark and eating them. I couldn't believe it! I focused my zoom lens and started shooting.

But it wasn't long before Mr. Woodpecker, was joined by one of the squirrels that had been dining in my garden. The squirrel stood on the tree, suspended head down, for quite some time just calmly observing Mr. Woodpecker. The woodpecker didn't seem bothered and continued to eat as if the squirrel wasn't there. All seemed right with the world...

The woodpecker and the squirrel thoughtfully regarded one another

...until another rotten-tempered squirrel came down from the upper branches of the pine tree having made up its mind that the tree belonged to him!

Mr. Woodpecker gave the two squirrels a glance as the cantakerous squirrel chased the other benevolent squirrel down the tree trunk. The two squirrels quickly looped back up the trunk and Mr. Woodpecker was forced to hop out of the way as the chase blasted over his dining spot.

A second squirrel enters the scene and the chase is on

The squirrels seemed to have continued the chase onto the ground, so Mr. Woodpecker started to settled into a new spot to eat...

Mr. Woodpecker tries to settle back down to eat after the squirrels' interruption

... but the crabby squirrel, having evicted all other squirrels from the tree, came back up the ready to evict all other species as well.

Mr. Woodpecker had had enough and flew away.

Mr. Woodpecker has had enough

I was disappointed. I thought my opportunity to get a decent shot had passed until I realized that the squirrels had done me a favor. Mr. Woodpecker flew into our garden and landed in the Santa Rosa plum tree next to the pond. In full view of my zoom lens, he commenced finding bugs again. I couldn't have asked for a better vantage point to watch and shoot. The squirrels and their shenanigans had created a moment of photographic serendipity in more ways than one.
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