Weather at Bedford, Hanscom Field, MA - via NOAA's National Weather Service

Saturday, April 18, 2009

flock of flickers

I had a nice long walk with the dog this morning. Going across a meadow up the hill from my house I saw a flicker up in a tree. I'm more used to seeing them on the ground because these woodpeckers prefer to eat ants and beetles and other ground-dwelling bugs. With my binoculars I got a beautiful view of this yellow-shafted flicker. I came out of the field, and toward the ball field at the school and there were a whole bunch of robins foraging on the outfield. Robins are fun because they are so ubiquitous, so I got out the binocs again, and among the robins was a flicker. Wait, there were two flickers. That's neat! I'm scanning the field with the binocs to see a bunch of robins, the flickers and a crow, or maybe it's a raven, and suddenly I see more flickers! I counted at least eight flickers on that ball field this morning. There might have been nine, or one might have flown from one side of the group to the other; they were sort of spread out. And I got to see two of them fan their tails and do a little dance around each other. I don't know if that was a mating thing or a territorial thing, but it was cool to watch. And a good thing I had my binocs, or I wouldn't have seen any of it. Flickers have lovely yellow shafts on their feathers (red in the western states) and a bright red patch on the back of the head. They also have a white patch that shows at the base of the tail when they fly, but their overall color is a muted tan with black spots. Anyway, they don't show up much on ground that is primarily still brown at this time of year. The dog waited patiently while I watched the bird activity.
I also saw red-winged blackbird, cardinal, blue jay, goldfinch, junco, and heard woodpeckers, phoebe, and carolina wren.
And the dog got to chase a coyote! He ran off after some scent while I was looking at birds - finally got bored, I suppose - and I heard him bark, which he hardly ever does. I could hear him running through the leaf litter up the hill from where I was, and I suddenly saw a grayer, smaller version run through the trees, followed by our mutt. He ran after the coyote for a while, in spite of me calling him - he's going deaf, plus was excited, I'm sure, by the chase - but finally came back, looking very pleased with himself. I was feeling grateful, both for seeing the coyote, and that my dog was safe and that all his shots are up to date.

1 comment:

  1. Funny I came across your blog -- yesterday for the first time that I can recall, I also saw a flock of flickers. I live in the country on about 3 1/2 acres, and flickers and robins like all the grassy areas. I've often seen large numbers of robins on the ground (especially fall and spring), but this was the first time I've seen more than 2 or 3 flickers at a time. There were about 16 that I could count. Like your experience, there were also robins around, so I had to count carefully through the binoculars to be sure what was what. I live near St. Peter, Minnesota and fall is just beginning here (September 27, 2009).

    Fred Nicholson


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