Sunday, March 22, 2015

quest completed


Ijams American woodcock searchers and soup-eaters enjoyed Peg's belly-warming soup then completed their quest, finding the elusive squat, upland shorebirds just before darkness fell last night.

American woodcocks are migrating through the county on their way to their breeding grounds to the north. A few nest in East Tennessee, we are at the southern edge of their range but who the heck could find a nest. It's hard enough to locate the re-peenting displaying males.

"Superbly camouflaged against the leaf litter, the brown-mottled American Woodcock walks slowly along the forest floor, probing the soil with its long bill in search of earthworms. Unlike its coastal relatives, this plump little shorebird lives in young forests and shrubby old fields across eastern North America. Its cryptic plumage and low-profile behavior make it hard to find except in the springtime at dawn or dusk, when the males show off for females by giving loud, nasal peent calls and performing dazzling aerial displays," states the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.

Superbly camouflaged, indeed. And finding them in the twilight is always a challenge. This is an annual pre-spring ritual at the nature center.

Special thanks to all who accompanied me out into the mud.

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