With a heat wave blanketing much of the country my home area in South Central Pennsylvania was not spared. Humid air and temperatures into the mid to upper 90's had us seeking either air-conditioned quarters or at the very least shady areas.
With the temperatures soring I decided to spend an evening stream sitting in a section of creek that boarders our family farm. With a camp chair slung over one shoulder and the camera, tripod, and 600mm lens over the other I waded to where I could set up in a spot of shade with water deep enough to help keep me cool but shallow enough to allow for safe camera operation.
Wildlife became active shortly after I settled in. The first visitor, a muskrat, arrived and began feeding in the shallows. While muskrats were plentiful here in the 1960's it has only been in recent years that I have again began seeing them with any regularity.
A pair of Belted Kingfishers were busy flying up and down the creek, occasionally diving to catch prey from water below. It was during one of these fly-bys that the female perched on an overhanging branch.
Male and Female Belted Kingfishers can be identified by the banding on their chest. The male sports one blue band with the female usually displays two; a wide blue band with a thinner chestnut band below. The female pictured here carries two chestnut or copper colored bands.
The most encounter of the evening was when I spotted a Red-headed Woodpecker clinging on a dead tree. This was the first time I have observed and identified this species.
And what made it even more special was the immature woodpeckers that began to materialize as first one, then two and finally three young birds were spotted pecking about the tree. Apparently this tree, which is riddled with woodpecker holes, has served as home to this family of woodpeckers.
While the kingfisher and the woodpeckers were too far for the quality of shots I prefer, the wildlife encounters and the time in the creek made for a refreshing evening in the midst of the heat wave.