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Thursday, January 14, 2010


Meanwhile, back in icy England, I was lucky to catch a Woodcock during a bird-ringing session.

My Woodcock - noticed the large eyes for nocturnal feeding

Woodcocks are not particular rare birds in Britain but they are not often seen. They are very secretive, feed at night (notice the large eyes!) and roost by day on the ground hidden under some thick undergrowth vegetation on the floor of a wood. They are not easily disturbed because, being so well camouflaged, they prefer to 'sit tight' and let you walk on by. The most likely people to see a Woodcock are dog walkers, as the dog may sniff one out and flush it. They fly off silently through the trees and easily escape attention.

The brown dappled tones of the Woodcock gives excellent camouflage and easily escapes notice as it sits tight among the leaves of a woodland floor

The best time of year to see Woodcocks is spring, when they undertake their remarkable display flights (called "roding") above the tree tops at dusk. They are regarded by some as a "game bird" and are sometimes hunted for the kitchen. I preferred to ring and release my bird, we may get some information about his travels.

The Woodcock's very long bill is for probing into soft ground for worms and other delicacies. They have a difficult time in winter when the ground is frozen
and they will migrate to warmer places. Notice the ring on its leg.

During winter, conditions are icy, birds will migrate to places where the ground is softer to probe with their sensitive bills. There is a massive influx into Britain from the continent each winter and it is very likely that my bird was one of these. Now that it is ringed, there is a chance that we will find out.


Blogger willow said...

What a handsome fellow! (Oh, and you, too, Maalie.)

2:53 pm  
Blogger Badger said...

An outstanding bird! I am impressed - do we have them here?

3:09 pm  
Blogger Maalie said...

Thanks both!

Badger, yes, I have seen them in the Donau Auen National Park. Bus 91a from VIC to Roter Hiasl - start walking!

3:14 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Hope you kept your fingers out of the way of his beak!

5:01 pm  
Blogger donsands said...

Wonderful looking bird. I wonder, would you like me to send you off to England a few Audubon Society photos my brother has taken of some are birds I have? I'd be glad to, if you would e-mail me your address.

Thanks for the nice post.

I wonder if this game bird would taste similiar to pheasant, or perhaps quail.

I can't imagine shooting one of these though, with such a slendid beak as it has, but I'm sure hunting them is quite a marvelous thing to do as well.
Similiar to grouse I expect. I have done a bit of dove hunting myself. But I put away my shotgun years ago.

9:29 pm  
Blogger Jenny Holden said...

Very cool catch! We have so many woodcock around at the moment up here. They fly laps around the field when I feed the sheep in the evening and fly up as the dogs and I walk along the foest tracks. I've never seen so many!

10:38 pm  
Blogger simon said...

what an interesting bird and quite a good looker

3:14 am  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Quite interesting, Maalie. I can't recall seeing such a bird, and certainly interesting what you share about them here. What a beak,and really an interesting looking bird. I don't see the like here, though it is interesting when it comes to wildlife just what Michigan does have. Though not so sure about that when it comes to birds.

I wonder if bird migration has changed in some instances due to climate change.

3:52 am  

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