Sunday, 28 November 2010

One hundred and one not out

Ah well, back again. Once a blogger always a blogger, I guess.  So to kick-start things for my 101st post, here is a slab of concrete.

It's my front drive actually, in urban north Newcastle. The only thing I can think of to say about it is that it's not very good woodcock habitat.  For example, when my wife went out to take the kids to school the other morning there wasn't a woodcock to be seen on it anywhere.

When she came back there was.  Dead as a dodo. Fresh as a daisy.

No doubt one of the gazillion cats round here did the damage but its notable in that it's the second successive year we've seen woodcock here -except that last year's was alive and well in the back garden. (If you missed that one you can catch up on the story and some interesting comments here)

The opportunity for a decent look at the plumage was too good to miss, and what a beautiful bird it really is - particularly on the scapulars and the upper wing coverts shown below.

Wonderful leafy camouflage and therein probably lay this one's downfall. My guess would be that it dropped into the street after a lengthy migration flight to the UK and holed up, knackered, under a bush somewhere, only to get Tiddlesed for its trouble. Pesky things - dumping in me raised beds and knobbling me woodcocks. Grrr gnash.

The tail feathers are very distinctive, should you ever come across one.  The shape is unusual with a tapered, squared end and the tip is lighter on the upper side but flip it over and it's bright white.


  1. It's an ill wind .... etc. It's great to read your interesting posts again. Exquisite plumage. It must be a real bummer to fly all the way across the North Sea, only to find yourself in a country that's frozen solid and infested with cats.

  2. Thanks for the welcome back, Phil. I've missed the researching and recording that blogging encourages so I've decided to keep going for a while longer.

  3. Great post Allan. The feathers are beautiful.
    Cats? Mmmmm!!

  4. Cheers Steve. A friend of mine was seen digging the garden in the deep snow today. No - he hadn't gone mad. The woodcock he found was still alive and he was trying to find it some worms to eat. Maybe that cat did me a favour after all!!

  5. Gorgeous feathers! Did you keep some? I've got some Woodcock feathers in my collection (including some of those weird double-sided tail feathers) - they seem to shed loads when they're sitting about the undergrowth.

    For me, Woodcock are part of the Mysterious League of Semi-mythical Birds - alongside Nightjar and Grasshopper Warbler - I see Woodcock nearly every time I'm out hillwalking and I'm yet to spot one before it spots me!

    P.S. Glad to see you're still here! :)

  6. Hi Theresa. Yes still here though quieter at the moment. I did indeed keep some add to the heap already in the drawer. Couldn't bear to just chuck them out - I mean, you never know when they might come in handy.