Sunday, March 12, 2017


Patty and I, along with our pal Bernie, were scheduled to lead a Woodcock Walk at Whitesbog yesterday evening, a joint trip of the Whitesbog Preservation Trust and the DVOC. But with brutal cold in the forecast we canceled the outing. Woodcock are active at sunset and yesterday the temperature was in the teens (°F) and rather windy. Non-optimal conditions for standing about in the woods. Other woodcock walks throughout New Jersey were also canceled or postponed. We may reschedule ours, although the weather prospects for the coming week are not favorable (six to twelve inches of snow this coming Tuesday). The consensus was that woodcock would not be displaying this night.

So of course, when I was outside last evening topping off the feeding stations, our local critters can be rather glutinous when temperatures drop, I heard the signature "peent" calls. And saw not one but two American Woodcock take flight. One passing right over my head; the other very nicely silhouetted against the still bright evening sky. So much for consensus.

Perhaps they were the two shown in the video linked below, taken on a somewhat warmer day this February. These two, like the two last night, were in our front yard, with, as you can see, one just off the side of our driveway.

The bird front and center is first seen probing the ground for worms. It then starts "peenting" and finally takes flight. The second bird is seen  out of focus in the upper left at the start of the video and exits stage left.

Here's a shot from March 2015 of a timberdoodle in our side yard. Note the bit of snow on ground.

So while we humans can prioritize comfort during what is surely winter's last gasp, the doodles apparently don't have that option. The serious, comical and yet magical business of finding a mate can't be derailed by mere cold snap.

Another hopeful sign of Spring's imminent arrival

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