There seemed to be a major influx of Woodcock over the last couple of weeks. The first observation was when I put up a bird in my garden a first for the garden. By the time I got onto it with the camera it was heading off into the morning sun.
On the 13th I was out at Killard and flushed five or six. I think I have only ever seen one out there over the past ten years. On thursday I was walking Pickle and she flushed a bird and it landed on the ground close by running out of sight. Then within quick succession another three birds were flushed and I got this shot as the bird just cleared the gorse.
They are very hard to get onto before they go out of sight. I went back there today with Anthony McGeehan to see if we could get some more shots but unfortunately nothing only various cowpats with evidence of probing. All was not lost as there were a few Great Northern Divers and a Red Throated Diver just off the shore and loads of Skylarks.
A few weeks ago Anthony told me he didn't have many shots of Jack Snipe and I said jokingly that I would go and get some that afternoon. Well I went out to Killard that afternoon to ostensibly walk the dog and blow me down if a Jack Snipe didn't explode away in front of me. This was the shot I got I know its not sharp or a great photo but you can see what it is and it amused me after what I had said previously in the day.
While we were out at Killard we met former RSPB Northern Ireland Director Bob Brown who was doing a shorebird count. He told Anthony that Michael Viney had written a nice review of his book in the Irish Times the previous day and on buying it on the way home it proved to be.
Now talking of Woodcock my father was picking up at a shoot with his dog Burkett in Co.Tyrone last week. A Woodcock was flushed and my father got a very brief view but there were a couple of other guns who noticed that it was smaller and had shorter wings than our birds. One of the guns remarked that it was not one of our birds and another thought it might be an American Bird. They also think there is an article in one of the shooting magazines that said two American Birds were either shot or seen in Galway in December, which I am following up at present. It would be nice to think that some of the American birds are getting over to this side of the Atlantic. It seems to me that it is probably overlooked as I doubt many birders go out looking specifically for Woodcock. It is a migratory bird in the States and is the widest populated of the American Shorebirds with an estimated population of 5 million (Brown et al. 2004)
I am heading back next week to have a look but not holding up much hope!!
Mike Watson from Mike Watson's Diary has pointed me to this blog post from Mike Crewe of Cape May Birding & Wildlife about American Woodcock!.
UPDATE: Went looking for woodcock on saturday 23rd in Co Tyrone. No Luck and shooter hadnt spoken to other guns re magazine article about American Woodcock in Galway :-(