On Monday evening I walked over to the IU cross country course to (once again) listen for American Woodcocks. I was on the XC course in the damp chill for 40-50 minutes, pretty much standing in one spot the whole time. A glutton for punishment, I guess.
At one point I heard a "peent" call in the distance off to the north, from a 20 acre field that isn't part of the XC course. Then I heard one closer to me, out towards the middle of the lower section of the XC course. I forgot about the cold as I waited for the dazzling aerial display flights to begin. One display flight in the distance, and then the birds were done. Kinda anti-climactic, but at least I'd finally found them!
On the way home, I was walking past the field at the southeast corner of 10th Street and Pete Ellis Drive (the field is part of the old John Hinkle farmstead). I was surprised to hear a woodcock "peent" twice from the general direction of the trees along the railroad tracks. I was surprised because this area is in town, and I'd never heard woodcocks there before.
For some reason I love hearing woodcocks in the spring, probably because it takes some effort on my part (stumbling around, alone, in the cold, in the dark). And I think it’s pretty cool to know enough about a bird that I can go out looking for it and find it doing something special...a bird doing something that most people don't get to experience. I guess it makes me feel more in touch with the natural world.
I think I'll go out looking for woodcocks again in a couple of days. Especially since the weather is supposed to warm up a bit!