Friday, June 14, 2013

Rolling with Mother Nature... Drama in the High Trees!

As soon as I noticed the black sky rolling into view from the 5th
floor at the Dream-job yesterday, I knew where it had already been...
One of the many interesting things about the people who live in the estates along
famed Seventeen Mile Drive in Pebble Beach and in Carmel is that they name
them. My favorite in Pebble Beach is Wit's End, once owned by cartoonist Jimmy
Hatlo and his wife Lois. Although I love where we live now, every time a storm
blows through our neighborhood, I think about hanging a Wit's End sign out on
the fence along the driveway. Although, Storm Canyon might be a better fit!
Surveying the damage, we know we were fortunate to have lost only the tops of
two trees. Even better, if trees can fall correctly, I'm happy to report that this
tulip poplar did... Missing our garden lantern and gazing balls by just inches!
Whew, that was close!
It's amazing how abruptly the landscape can change. Now that
the top of our walnut tree is missing, there is so much less
shade covering the hostas and Japanese maples planted below!
What a mess! On top of it, power was cut to our area for nearly 20
hours. We own a generator so we fared a bit better than some of our
neighbors who are replacing all the food in their refrigerators today!
Despite everything, we are mostly grateful. Especially because
the creek didn't rise enough this time to flood the yard and wash
away all the new koi we stocked into the pond last weekend!
Remember the woodpecker I talked about a few weeks ago here?
I'm about to tell you a sad story with a happy ending...
However, before it gets happy, the story involves a snake. So while
you're looking at my pretty flowers and a bee's butt right now, I
want to warn you that if you hate snakes as much as I do now is
the time to click away and find something prettier to look at!
If you're still with me, I know you'll be as upset as I am to learn that
just before yesterday's storm, this was the scene in our yard... That's a
very large black rat snake feasting on one of my beloved woodpeckers!
I didn't know what kind of snake this was but when I posted the photo to my
facebook page, my sweet cousin in Arkansas identified it as a black rat snake. She
also let me know my woodpecker was a Northern Flicker. Army dad did his best
all night to convince me this wasn't the woodpecker I watched from the pool that
day. At one point he even said it might have been a hawk. Like that would make it
better... All night I couldn't sleep, wondering what this would mean to her babies
in the nest if this was my woodpecker. The first thing I did after our WIFI came
back up this morning was to research whether or not the babies would have been
mature enough to already have flown away... If this was indeed my woodpecker!
Army dad and I have a deal... He will cut the head off any snake he believes
might hurt us or the children next door. He did that for me last year here
The only thing that saved this snake from meeting its maker yesterday is that
one of us thinks it is beneficial to the landscape because it is supposed to eat
voles and moles that destroy his plants. However, now that I know this snake
also eats innocent woodpeckers hopping around the ground collecting ants and
other bugs to feed their babies, it better not catch me with a shovel in my hand!
This morning while watching the clean-up I kept hearing a bird call I
thought might be a woodpecker. As I walked around looking up at the
trees I prayed it wasn't a baby calling for its mommy, especially since
this is the exact area in our yard where the snake ate the woodpecker!
But it was!
Just above the spot in the yard where the woodpecker died, we located her nest!
How could Mother Nature be so cruel? Of course, I began to cry and
begged him to bring over his ladder so we could rescue this baby bird!
I got really insistent about it after seeing there was more than one!
Finally, someone took me seriously and kicked out
the ladder. But just as he was about to make the climb...
Daddy woodpecker swooped in to feed his babies!
And, that's how Mother Nature redeemed herself with me today!
Happy Father's Day, daddy woodpecker!


  1. WOW! Amazing story and terrifying snake! I'm still a little sad but at lease those baby woodpeckers still have someone- and you of coarse! Xo

  2. Sorry I was wrong about the victim being a hawk. :(
    Our old black Lab used to take care of the snakes in our yard; just playing, not intending to kill them, she would pick it up, and throw it into the air. She'd let it drop and watch it coil up, then do it all over again. Of course, these were just little garter snakes, not a big rat snake!
    Just goes to show that anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a daddy!

  3. I had to zip past the snake photos with my eyes mostly closed -- I really, really hate snakes! But, of course, I live in the state with the highest number of rattlesnakes -- go figure! That being said, I have only seen one in the wild in 28 years of living here, so that's good. I'm so glad Daddy Woodpecker came in to be single dad and take care of his babies!

  4. I believe in the cycle of life and nature.... but in this case I might have made an exception for that snake...

  5. I hate ALL snakes. We lost power Thursday and it came back on today-thank God.

    I want a nice, long hot bath. The poor "older'
    lady two houses down from us-lost her garage and car, due to a big tree falling.

    Glad you didn't have another flood and that
    PAPA woodpecker is looking after the baby.

    Happy Father's Day Terry.

  6. That's one thing I can't get used to living here--snakes! We just had the little garter ones up where I used to live. What a great Father's Day story!

  7. I hate snakes.

    I ran over a 15 foot Black Rat Snake in the road the other day and was terrified. I found out today that our neighbor not only raises mice for pet stores to feed snakes but they also raise snakes. I want spray put around the whole perimeter and men armed with guns. When I walk from the office to the house I carry a broom and shovel, I'm terrified.

    I feel you.


    Cottage Making Mommy

  8. So glad that the creek never overflowed like it did last year. Sad about the tree though and especially about the blue jay :( I don't like snakes and I'd freak if I saw something this large in my yard. We have two robin's eggs in a nest on the beam under our deck. Momma tends to them and I hope that no predator takes them from her, nor her from them.

  9. Oh Janet, the storm must have been devastating for you all. When you shared about the woodpecker, I cried. i'm just thankful daddy woodpecker is still there to feed the babies. Thanks for sharing this.


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