First Field Night

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Clearing at Watchung Reservation where I  looked for Woodcock on Friday  night. Photo taken by Kathleen Farley using Samsung Avant and Snapseed  photo processing.

I  finished making the first version of the courtship  data collection sheet and raced the setting sun. An hour previously I had received permission from Union County  Parks System to use Lenape Park and Watchung Reservation for observational study sites.

The site at Watchung Reservation is a small clearing just south of Rte 78 along Glenside Ave. The constant whiz  of cars speeding past worried me as I wondered if it would deter birds from  making an appearance or prevent me from  picking up their sounds.

I parked on the far side of the road, crossed and slide down the embankment to a spot just above the path where I settled in to  wait. American Robins were the most vocal species as they  chattered their goodnight calls. A number of Canada Geese and Mallards called as they flew overhead.

The sun officially set.

The woods grew quieter.

The sound of the cars continued.

There a heard it: a small, fierce “Peent!” from the other side of the clearing. It continued for several minutes before the sound of flight and a black  shape silhouetted against a periwinkle sky climbed upwards fluttering and blustering madly.

I stopped hear the traffic as I walked this one proud bird spin his way upward  until he became so small if I blinked I would lose him between the distance and the dimming light.

He dipped and darted back down tot Earth and intro the brush in a new location where he resumed peenting.

He flew four more times that night, but it was too dark  to do more than imagine following his flight against the night sky, but each time he flew and called alone.  This woodcock had the clearing to himself tonight.

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