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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sky Dance: An April Tradition

In "A Sand County Almanac", Leopold writes about the mating ritual of the male woodcock. Calling it a "sky dance", he tells of how the male peents from the ground and then takes flight and dances through the air. When we purchased this property 16 years ago, we discovered that we had sky dancers of our own. Since Danika was four, we have been going out each April to listen and watch for woodcock. We head out just before sunset and get into position. When the woodcock flies up to display, we carefully creep forward in hopes of having him land close to our new location. Several times, we have had a bird within a few feet of one of us. I can remember when Danika was about six, she wanted to move ahead by herself. Even though we were still close by, I thought it was pretty brave of here to venture into a dark field alone. One year, I put a camera trap out in the field in hopes of getting a photo of a woodcock. I never did. But I got the lucky shot below of a female and one of her chicks in our south hedgerow two years ago. Aldo would have been proud.

Woodcock and chick (Seneca Falls, NY 6/09)

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