On my way out to gather the mail yesterday afternoon I spooked up two American Woodcock, toward the street end of our driveway. "Cool", I thought, seeing woodcock during the day.
Later when Patty got home she thought she might try to relocate them. And she did, finding the bird in the image below.
See it? I did and didn't at the same time. I saw the lump that is the bird but did not recognize it as a woodcock (it is at the base of the tree, behind the snow line, centered in the frame). Our friend Lori, who had never seen a woodcock, came over when Patty texted we had one in view. I centered it in Patty's spotting scope. And it still took two turns at the scope before before the image crystalized for Lori.
Another image of the same bird, a bit closer.
I took these images after Lori left as I did not want to scare off the bird. And as I crept closer and closer, the bird remained perfectly still. Relying on its evolutionarily engineered camouflaged to keep it hidden.
Can you see it now? The image below was the closest I got because I was distracted ...
... by this much closer bird, that I saw moving ever so slightly, out of the corner of my eye.
It wasn't moving away but rather just moving up and down in place. A behavior that doesn't really make sense to me. If not moving away, why move at all?
In the two images you can see that it has turned slightly to get a better look at me (note the position of the bill). I maneuvered, slowly, to get a side view. And was rewarded with the image below.
After I took these shots I backed away slowly, to leave the bird in peace. And it settled down in to the leaves.
And I flushed a third woodcock which took off through the trees behind me.
I took these images late afternoon Friday. Later in the evening we saw and heard at least four and maybe five or six woodcock foraging and displaying. On Saturday while out and about in the yard just after lunch time, Patty and I encountered four timberdoodles. Very, very cool.