Sunday, March 20, 2011


The american woodcock has an elaborate courtship ritual.

The male bird starts his ritual after sunset. First he "peents" repeatedly, then he takes off and flies in a wide spiral, his wings twittering. He descends from a height of around seventy to one hundred meters, chirping as he does, in a zig-zag pattern. He then lands silently.

And starts the whole thing again. Continuing for about an hour.

Fascinating to watch.

Impossible to photograph.

It took me three days to get this one image. I've plenty of blurry ones. And forget about flight images.

(Most times I couldn't even find the bird in flight.)

But sometimes you get lucky. And luck favors the prepared.

This bird is a creature of habit. Beginning and ending on the same patch of open ground. So on the third day I setup with my camera focused on that spot (I had pre-focused while it was still light). And right on schedule he appeared. I think he liked me because he kept landing closer and closer. Which made focusing nigh impossible in the dark.  

And I got one good image. This one.