Posts Tagged ‘Woodcock



In the recent hard weather the East coast has had an influx. Videos, photographs, tweets and facebook postings have all been about ‘Woodcock’. Indeed there has been a large hard weather movement from the continent of this woodland wader.

I went out last week and inadvertently flushed at least two from within 200m of the front door. Another flew high overhead. I went out with the camera a couple of days ago to see if I could at least get a few shots off. The snow had become crispier and it crunched as I placed my feet. Not as easy to get close to these birds now as it was when it was sugary soft silent stuff (try saying that after a few Shackleton’s)

As I crept towards the small pine belt where I had previously flushed up a bird from under a wall, I stood still and scoured up and down for at least 20 minutes. Nothing. I went around the belt on the other side of the wall only to flush a bird from open ground where I least expected it to be. At the same time a second bird flew up from exactly where I’d been standing minutes earlier. I must have been almost stood on it. Grrrr. It wasn’t until I wandered the other side of the coast road and searched a likely looking spot I saw one feeding in among brambles. The lovely underestimated cryptic plumage these birds have makes them difficult to find unless they move.


Woodland Wader

Some birds you can call ‘Birders Birds’ Perhaps only appreciated by someone with a little more knowledge of the avian world than Joe public. Others have a fascination for all. The Woodcock has a foot in both camps. It’s an enigmatic species. It migrates, it’s active at night, it’s a wader that lives in woodlands and it’s so cryptically coloured that they are almost impossible to find. To cap it all they have their eyes set high and to the side of their head giving them almost three hundred and sixty degrees of vision and they sit motionless for hours. Finding one, then getting close enough to photograph one is not easy. We found this bird hidden among leaf litter after a lot of searching.




The Woodcock, The Mallard and the 34th President

Many years ago I had an occasion to visit the railway station in Sheffield. By chance my visit coincided with the appearance of the ‘Mallard’. This was a steam engine of legend; a steam engine of my childhood books. An A4 class Pacific that reflected the Décor age in design and its status as the pinnacle of industrial Britain. An era when we were faster, higher and quicker than any nation on earth. As I stood on the platform the sheer power of this engine rose through my feet resonating every fibre in my body. The machinery pulsed with energy almost threatening detonation. I was being showered in sparks and soot. I had never seen or felt anything like it.

I was in York this weekend to attend a wedding. Just the other side of the railway station to our hotel was the National Railway Museum … and I’d heard the Mallard was present. Don’t get me wrong I’m not a keen railway anorak but the thought of seeing it again was pulling me to pay a visit. I did so today.

Not one but three of the six remaining A4 class Pacific’s together. The Mallard, The Dominion of Canada (originally called the Woodcock) and the Dweight D. Eisenhower.

Ok not wildlife I grant you. Forgive me. It’s just I was brought up with trains and these apices of machinery are guaranteed to purge the regular heartbeat from this son of a simple shunter.

2013 12 22 A4 Class Steam Engines York Rail Museum Yorks !cid_D8A3326D-4717-498B-8B70-3E97EF8BD559


Dutch invaders

The easterly winds coupled with sub-zero temperatures over Europe, has prompted a cold weather movement from the continent. The Norfolk coast is rife with Song Thrushes, Woodcock and Smew; no doubt all from Holland. Another invader from the Netherlands are Goosanders.

We stumbled upon a notable flock of 24 yesterday on a small boating lake. They were engaged in a feeding frenzy. At first I thought they were feeding on some sort of crustacean amid weed in the lake but photographs show they were pulling out small fish. I can’t ever remember seeing a larger winter flock.

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Jun 2023


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