The Heavens Declare

How it all started#

Two weeks ago Nicole and I decided to finally take my friend Mary up on her invitation. I’ve known and worked with Mary for years and now that she has retired, she’s spending a lot more time doing what she loves; riding her horses.

So, we went to visit Mary and her horses at the barn where she keeps them. We had a nice visit. We fed some carrots and apples, Nicole and Mary talked shop (Nicole is very familiar with horses having gone to school for stable management and having worked as a show groom for years), we got mobbed by horses looking for more goodies. All-in-all we had a really nice visit.

When we were getting ready to leave Mary suggested that, since I like walking, we should check out some of the nature preserves and walking trails in the area. We’ve always meant to do that, but just haven’t gotten ‘round to it for some reason. Inertia, I’d guess. An area with ponds and forest and walking trails called Corner’s Corner sounded especially attractive. We said our goodbyes and Nicole and I decided, as we drove home, to see what it was like the next chance we had.

Corner’s Corner Conservation Area#

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On Friday morning we set out on our little adventure. Nicole and I both love going for walks in the woods, so this suited us just fine. When we arrived, we were a little surprised to drive off Fruit Ridge Line into the middle of a nice tract of native Carolinian forest to a parking area that was right next to someone’s house.

Having parked we walked up the side of a nice pond and then into the woods with a very large pond (really a small lake) on our left. There were quite a few ducks and geese swimming around and making lots of noise surrounded by many wooden birdhouses on metal poles all around the edge of the water.

As we strolled, we kept our eyes open and saw lots of chickadees, nuthatches, sparrows, cardinals, downy woodpeckers and blue jays flitting about. At the end of the trail we saw another residence, so we turned around and came back. As we approached the first pond, Nicole handed me the binoculars and pointed up. There was a red-tailed hawk circling quite close and I got a very nice view of him before he disappeared behind some trees.

Our New Friend#

We turned to the left before reaching the pond again and, as we turned the corner I commented “I bet there are pileated woodpeckers here”. Just as I finished speaking, a large, black bird flew out of the trees right beside us and off in the direction we were heading. It was very obviously a beautiful, big pileated woodpecker!

black and white woodpecker on brown tree bar

Photo by Bill Pennell on Unsplash

I’ve only seen one of these a few times in my life, and I think they’re amazing. We have a lot of other woodpeckers around our house, like little downys and larger red-bellied and hairy varieties, but the pileated is the king of woodpeckers and the rat-tat-tat it makes on the tree trunks is unmistakable.

We followed our new friend as he flew ahead of us from tree to tree and then across a clearing with another house to a large wood on the other side where we lost track of him. We tried to follow and catch another glimpse but he was too quick and too far away, although we could hear his distinctive rapping away off in the trees somewhere.

For the Birds#

Nicole has always loved wildlife. I have as well, but not to the same extent, at least until I met her. In our 23 years of marriage I’ve come to appreciate the beauties of God’s world in a way I probably wouldn’t have without her. We have birdfeeders everywhere and have seen dozens of different species of birds here and on our little farm before we moved into town.

We love the rare birds, though, and our favourites are things like the nothern harrier which comes hunting into our front yard, the great horned owl which wakes us up in the middle of the night with his hooting, the snowy owl which we once saw on a sign on the side of the 401 overpass and the pileated woodpecker which only Nicole has seen here during a very short-lived fly-by.

We thank God on a regular basis for the spendour of his world and, if Nicole’s collection of bird-themed Cobble Hill puzzles is any indication, we aren’t going to be tired of any of this any time soon.

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