Sunday, March 11, 2007

It's official

Spring officially arrived for me today because I had two firsts - the first eastern phoebe and the first woodcock.

I haven't managed to see any woodcock in the last few years because I never got around to looking for them. There's certain places locally that I know to find them, but I've been too lazy to get in the car and drive to then stand out in the near dark and cold on the chance that the night was warm enough and windless enough to suit them and their dizzying courtship display.

Well, guess what? I had woodcock almost in my backyard this morning! Our property backs up to a small park with athletic fields and a small market and farm bordered by wet woods. I was up before the sun today because of the time change and a bird trip to the Pine Barrens. After a shower I was here in the office with the window open a little so I could hear the cardinals and robins greeting the day when I heard the first "Peeent!" from the field behind the house. I thought for sure that I had imagined it, but putting my ear to the window confirmed what I'd heard. I stepped out the back door in my robe and saw a woodcock twittering over the house. It amazes me to find these birds so close to home when for years I've been driving out to Sandy Hook or the fields around the college to see them.

I took a walk back to the farm this evening just at dusk and was treated to a show by half a dozen or so woodcock. What a treat! They're fun to watch because no two birds fly alike. Some go straight up and hover at tree-top level, some corkscrew off low to the ground, and many zig and zag through the brush making it very hard to follow them with binoculars in the dying light. Sometimes one will take off or land almost at your feet.

I have to wonder how long I've been missing out on this! Now that I know they're back there, I'll be sure to listen for them at dusk.

Image from Google Images

22 comments:

Mary said...

I'll bet your heart was racing! Wow. Now you need to slip some warm shoes on when your feet hit the floor in the morning, wrap that robe around you and step outside. There's no tellin' what you might find!

Body Soul Spirit said...

Now that it is somewhat warmer here, I am sleeping with the window open a wee bit so I can hear the morning birds. I hope this is the week I will hear or see my first robin. I will have to look up woodcocks...
Ruth

Larry said...

I think that I heard a Chipping Sparrow today-mechanical trill-right? I've seen a few Woodcock but never witnessed the display-It must be quite interesting.

Larry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

Have you ever heard them called Timberdoodles? Here the mating flight is known as the Dance of the Timberdoodle. I have seen it once. All I saw today were two crows chasing a Sharpie. K

mon@rch said...

How exciting to have found that American Woodcock right in your back yard! I have been waiting but they just have not shown up yet! I do hope soon they get here! Also, phoebe's! Yeah!! Spring is where you are at!! Should be another week or so till they get here!

MojoMan said...

What a great idea! You have inspired me to get out at nightfall to look for woodcock. I imagine it will take them another week or two to get to Massachusetts.

John said...

I have never actually seen that flight. It's not easy to find a good spot to watch in an urban area.

NatureWoman said...

Happy Spring Laura! Yay! I'm glad the woodcock is so close to your home. I can't wait to hear the "Peeent" sosund myself and then hopefully see the bird. That and red winged blackbirds, and etc. etc.

debie said...

just stopping by to say hi. i am glad the weather has brought you cheer.that's a good thing.

Susan Gets Native said...

You lucky thing.

Glad Spring has arrived for you. It's looking rather Springy here, too. I will be getting my butt out there in the near dark and finally see some hot woodcock action!

Liza Lee Miller said...

So cool. I was woken up by birdsong this morning but it wasn't the peent of a woodcock. It was the "Craw" of a Steller's Jay! :)

Jayne said...

I don't think I've ever seen a Woodcock, but will keep my eyes and ears peeled. Glad you are seeing signs of spring there now Laura!

Anonymous said...

I made it to Sandy Hook on Saturday. Didn't see any seals, but with the warmth of the sun who cares. It was a good chance to poke around and get used to the area. I was glad to see I could get around pretty well while using my cane. Now I'll have to check closer next time to see if I can find the Woodcock. Jackie

LauraO said...

Nice to have a woodcock in the backyard and be able to witness their dizzy flights. And yes! Spring is here!

DK & The Fluffies said...

AAAAAAAAAAchoooooooooo

Yep, spring is here full force!

Floridacracker said...

I sometimes have timberdoodles down by my pond. There were lots of suspicious holes in the earthworm laden pond shore a few weeks ago.

Sandy said...

Bet that made your day. I don't think I have seen a woodcock.
Saturday must have been the day the birds starting singing. It was the same here. I was out early with my camera, and the songs came from everywhere.

Dave said...

You're about a week ahead of us, I think. I don't think it's quite warm enough for either bird to come back here, yet. But soon!

Cathy said...

I heard my first killdeer today. I know how exciting it is to know that the harbingers of Spring are close at hand. My night (dusk,too) vision is getting worse - so I've had more difficulty seeing woodcock in their displays. You are sooooo lucky to have them nearby.

Susan said...

I've never seen a woodcock, but their courtship display sure sounds like something that I would love to see!

Dave said...

Well, I spoke too soon - the first phoebe returned this morning. And a lot of other things. We'll be listening for woodcocks tonight.