Steve, I had seen the woodpecker - actually it is in your second bird post. I also wanted the long lens for birds, and your pictures convinced me it would be useful at the long end, too. What really amazed me was your Long-eared Owl in total darkness - that is quite a trick.
Terry, when you do your comparisons, be sure to take themall at the same ISO - preferably 100, which will give the cleanest image, and the same equivalent focal length. The more pixels they cram into a chip, the noiser it gets, and at the higher ISOs can be so noisy as to be almost useless in some cameras. A small chip is worse than a larger one, so don't expect a P&S size chip to equal the APS size chip of the same MPcapacity ina DSLR. I have both the 6MPK100D (which you also have) and the 10MP K10D, and the K100 is noticeably cleaner than the K10. Bothshould bebetter than a P&S of the same or similar MP capacity, all other things being equal (such as lens quality). Everything is a trade-off with high mega pixel cameras which are reaching their practical limits at current technology, and different manufacturers tune their cameras differently for noise suppression(which affects sharpness, contrast, color intensity, etc) - for instance, the 8 MP Sony H9 (which I also considered) is cleaner at low ISOs, but practically useless at the higher ones, wheras the 8 MP FZ18 is not quiteas clean at low ones, but is much better at the higher ones (all this according to several of the reviews and reviewers). The Sony does not take RAW images, so the Panasonic images potentially can be improved to an equal orbetter level than the Sony's in post processing. If the reviewers are right, you can do a lot more with the feature laden FZ18 than with almost any other similar camera, but not without somesome sacrificeof image quality. By and large, users on this forum seem satisfied with the camera.
Post some of your comparison shots when you get them.