[CT Birds] Finding Woodcocks
ctgregh at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 27 20:42:02 EDT 2015
American Woodcock reports are rising fast, so I thought I'd make some suggestions on finding what is a rather common bird, but one whose habits make finding it far from routine. I thought the most enjoyable (for me) way to do this was to make a search in areas I haven't searched before, even though they're close to home. I just got back from a 40-minute loop through about 3.5 miles of roads in rural Watertown. This is a area I know well, but I picked a section where I'd never taken a drive at dusk to try for woodcocks. I started to 7:25.
Result: Woodcocks at 7 locations.
I was on roads where I was able to drive slowly and stop if I wanted to. Choosing open areas to stop, I heard woodcocks at wet meadows but also at corn fields and pastures. The nasal "peent" calls carry well, and a few times I heard birds through open car windows before stopping. There were at least one or 2 woodcocks at each stop, but without seeing them the exact number can be hard to determine. I didn't make any effort to see them, But if you find an active spot before it gets really dark you can often see males doing their aerial "dance" silhouetted against the sky. If you can walk into the open area, you may get lucky and have one land near you. This kind of effort should be able to produce similar results at many places all around the state. (By the way, the woodcock reported by John Marshall in Watertown within the last hour or so was at a different location from the ones I checked).
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