Thursday, June 07, 2007

timberdoodles!

On my way to work this morning, about two miles down the road, I saw a group of odd-looking lumps in the middle of the road. They were too small to be grouse or turkeys, and they were moving just enough to convince me they were not odd clumps of dirt left by our novice road grading person, who needs a bit more practice.

The lumps were moving towards the edge of the road, but not too quickly, so I stopped the car and watched a brood of four or five young woodcock and an anxious mother. I've never seen a woodcock brood before! Usually woodcock are very secretive, and it's a rare thing to see even an adult bird out in the open. I watched as the little ones walked along, stopping to bob their heads after each couple of steps, as the mama called to them with soft high-pitched clucks. The babes were pretty good size already, a little bit smaller than robins. My camera was buried in my backpack, but I found it just in time to take one picture.



It's a bit blurry, but it didn't turn out all that bad for being a quick reflex shot. Woodcock really have beautiful, cryptic coloration. This is the mama; by the time I clicked the shutter, the babes were all off in the grass. She walked back and forth by my idling car, eyeing me and my camera suspiciously, before slipping off into the grass to join her brood.

That crazy sky dance the males do in the spring must really work! At least this gal was taken in by it.

9 comments:

Lynne said...

Oh lucky you! It would be so neat to seee a family.

RuthieJ said...

I've never seen a woodcock at all. That's the #1 bird on my list goals for 2007. I guess I need to start taking more drives down some rural roads....

momadness said...

Nice post. Being that you rarely see them, did you just get lucky or is development cutting into their habitat, making them more vulnerable?

Larry said...

Nice to capture a photo-The only time I see them is when they pop up in front of me and fly away-

Deb said...

Lynne- it hardly beats a peregrine brood, though!

RuthieJ- About the only time I see them is when the males are displaying in early spring. After that it's just luck.

momadness- I'm sure they have been pressured by development in some places, but here they are thriving, ironically due to the logging which keeps their preferred open habitat in good supply.

Larry- It was so amazing to get more than a fleeting glimpse of one!

LauraHinNJ said...

Neat pic, Deb! I agree that they are really beautifully colored.

Floridacracker said...

She's not the first girl to fall for a good dancer...

Good for you for getting a shot of an elusive sprite!

Lynne said...

I came back to show Art your picture. Woodcocksa re such funny looking birds. They look like they're made out of left over pieces!

Deb said...

LauraHinNJ- Thanks. I've never seen them close enough to see the detail on their backs, but it is exquisite.

FC- It's just amazing what lengths some creatures will go to to get a date!

Lynne- Yes; too-short legs, oversized head with eye nearly on top of the skull, and that huge long bill!