This morning an American Woodcock was displaying in the pasture near
Brooksville where it has displayed intermittently in recent winters. The
bird was already active when I arrived at 6:45, and continued displaying
until 6:53, when it flew south across the road into the trees. It was
peenting only 20 feet from the road, so I was able to see it while it was
on the ground.
For those not familiar with this display pattern of male Woodcocks, they
begin by making a "peent" sound many times while on the ground. Eventually
they do a series of aerial displays. The twittering sound made in flight is
mechanical, produced by air passing between three attenuated outer
primaries. A third sound, a series of chip notes, is made as the bird
descends to the ground. Unfortunately, it is usually very difficult to see
the bird during this activity, as the displays are done when it is still
quite dark in the morning, or almost dark at night. So this is often more
of an auditory experience, than visual. Occasionally in the morning at this
site, you can see the male and female birds fly over the road into the
woods on the south side, after the displaying concludes.
As I said, the display was already in progress when I stopped. But the
displaying time frame, at dawn and dusk, is usually 20 to 30 minutes. In
Jan 9, 1998, the bird began peenting at 6:30 a.m., began flying at 6:45,
and there was no more activity after 7. In the evening on Jan 7, 1998, the
bird began peenting at 6:15 p.m., and began flying overhead at 6:30, and
the show was over by 7. As the day lengthens, the morning flight will occur
earlier, and the evening flight a little later.
This pasture is on the north side of Croom Road, 0.3 mile east of where the
pavement ends, when you are coming from the west. The best viewing spot is
where there are two gates across from each other, on opposite sides of the
road. Be sure to park well off the road, in the wide spot on the south side
of the road, because vehicles drive very fast on this dirt road.
To reach the site, from the junction of SR-50A (Jefferson St.) and US-41
(Broad St.) in Brooksville, go north on US-41 1.2 miles. Turn right on
CR-480 (Croom Road). When the pavement ends in 4.5 miles, continue another
0.3 miles, until you see a large open field on the left.
There are alternate directions to the site, which will save a few miles if
you are arriving from I-75. When you get off I-75 at SR-50, turn EAST and
drive one mile to the traffic light. Turn left there onto Croom-Rital
Road. You drive on this approximately 10 miles, staying left when a road
to Nobleton splits off on the right. When the pavement ends, you will
reach the site on the right side of the road in exactly four miles.
Spring Hill, FL
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