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.