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.