One day last week we saw two species of woodpeckers in our oak tree, a coast live oak (quercus agrifolia). We seldom see woodpeckers, much less two different kinds on the same day.
My wife spotted a bird flitting through the oak tree. After consulting The Sibley Guide to Birds, we think it’s a female Nuttal’s woodpecker. We watched the woodpecker for a while, trying to get a good photo as it moved frequently from branch to branch, usually obscured by leaves. This woodpecker looks smaller than others we’ve seen.
Then a large bird appeared on our fence. We think it’s a female northern flicker. From Sibley, “flickers are large, distinctive woodpeckers often seen on the ground in open areas, eating ants. Their bright flight feathers and white rumps are instantly recognizable in flight.” See the “slightly downcurved tail”. Click on photos to see a larger image.
It flew up into the oak tree and sat on a high branch for a while. The next photo shows that the underside of the tail feathers are reddish, so this northern flicker is red-shafted, as you would expect for California. We’ve seen this bird during the past week or two; this was the first time our photos were clear enough to identify it.
This photo shows the underside of the Nuttal’s woodpecker. Its claws must be very sharp and strong to cling to a vertical surface and peck.
The coast live oak is a California native tree. It provides a wonderful habitat for wildlife, as well as a sheltering canopy for our yard and home.
I recently upgraded my long telephoto lens, replacing a Canon 100-400mm lens with the model II. The model II is great — fast autofocus and sharp images. I get more shots, my recent bird photos have a higher rate of keepers, and the images are usually sharp viewed at 1:1! The upgrade is very expensive, but it’s so much better that you wish you had done it sooner. I got a windfall check from my past employer, and it nearly paid for the lens upgrade. 🙂
While photographing bald eagles and bears at Brooks Falls last year, I chatted with a professional photographer who used the model II lens. We watched and pointed out photo opportunities for each other. One person can’t keep an eye on a bald eagle and all the bears at the same time. He really liked his lens and let me look through his camera — sharp images, even with a 1.4 tele-extender. We learn and improve through other people.