Skywatch Friday: Woodcock Walk

Tonight we went looking for Woodcocks at Crabtree Nature Center in Barrington, Illinois. The nature center is part of the Cook County Forest Preserve district.

We met the naturalist leading the Woodcock Walk at the nature center at 6:30pm, as the sun was setting.

Crabtree Nature Center

Woodcock walks are a popular excursion for nature centers and birding groups each spring because these secretive birds are hard to find outside of breeding season, when the males do an elaborate flight display.

Because the sky was clear, the naturalist thought we should wait until closer to dark before looking for the Woodcocks. So we first went to some ponds near the entrance of the park to look at waterfowl.

Crabtree Nature Center

There we saw Blue-winged Teal, Bufflehead and Northern Shoveler swimming in the shallow water.

Crabtree Nature Center

As the moon rose higher into the sky, we headed to the meadow where the male Woodcocks would soon be performing their unique song and aerial display.

Crabtree Nature Center

Clear skies are beautiful to see, but not perfect conditions for Woodcock watching. Soon darkness fell and the time for photos was over. We heard peenting in the distance and crept slowly into the meadow. The Woodcock finished his last peent before bursting into the air in a wild circular flight over our heads.

For more stories of the sky from all over the world, visit the other posts at Skywatch Friday.

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