Saturday, February 25, 2012


Woodcock are beginning to make their way back to the Blue Jay Barrens breeding grounds.  Several have already joined the odd male that has been displaying since November.  It’s not unusual to see Woodcock, but it is uncommon to get a recognizable photograph.
I’ve flushed several Woodcock in the last couple of weeks, but they usually move quite a distance before settling back down.  This bird took a short hop of about 30 feet and then tried to sneak away through the underbrush.  Woodcock take full advantage of the browns and grays of the late winter landscape.  When at rest, it can be both in full view and nearly invisible.
Its retreat was in the form of a slow walk.  As it moved along, the body swayed rhythmically forward and back.  I just stood and watched as it made its escape.
The bird flushed when I walked over to retrieve this glass bottle I had seen sparkling in the sunlight.  If the Woodcock had stayed put I’d like to think I would have seen it before grabbing the bottle.  Their camouflage is so good that I could easily have picked up the bottle and not noticed the bird.
When I flush a Woodcock, I always check to see if it might have come off a nest.  So far this year each resting site has had a fresh dropping left by the departing bird.  Mid March is the earliest I’ve ever found a nest with eggs.  So as to not endanger any Woodcock nests, I always stop my clearing and mowing projects by the end of February.  That just gives me a few more days to wrap up my current activities.

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