Going through the footage from the trail cameras, I got a shock. Just after midnight in the early hours of this morning, there was a wading bird standing under the feeders in the pitch dark. And then again at 6am
Its a Woodcock. Its a wader, but doesn’t ever wade. It’s a nocturnal woodland bird and uses that long beak to get worms out of the soil. And other insects as well, but mainly worms.
There is a resident British population, but during the winter there is an influx from the Baltic areas that outnumbers our birds by 5 to 1. This is the first time that we have seen Woodcock here and no doubt this bird is here in some way because of yesterday’s severe weather.
Woodcock have been hunted and eaten since Roman times, although I would like to think that a UK restaurant would face public disapproval if it had Woodcock on its menu these days, wouldn’t it? I hope so, because the bird is not doing so well. Another mildly interesting fact about these birds is that their pin feathers were used for drawing the gold stripe down the side of a Rolls Royce.
Here is an internet photo of what they look like in proper light:
What was it doing under the feeder though? Its beak does not look like something that is designed to eat the chopped peanuts and sunflowers hearts that were scattered on the ground.
During the night there was a thaw and for the first time for several nights the ground was not frozen and it actually might have been possible to get at the worms. In fact, the Woodcock was not the only thing out worming last night:
Look at the state of that badgers face.