Archive for November 5th, 2010


11/5/2010: woodcock on the lawn

I have only ever seen three Woodcocks in my life. The first was just as it was getting too dark to see, in the light of a flashlight in our backyard in Kennebunk during migration. The dog alerted us to that one, and I had to investigate the strange sound it (something) was making out there.

The second was along side the road near Parson’s Beach, about 2 miles from home, in broad daylight, early in the spring. That bird was, after we passed on to the beach, and before we drove back home, hit by a car (we found the remains 😦 ). I have video of him doing his dance…though not so hot as it was taken through the windshield of the car.

The third was a week ago today, on a little patch of grass between the car port of a hotel and the house next door, across the road from the beach in downtown Cape May. A few birders found it as they walked by, and since they were visible from the windows of the room at the Grand Hotel where I was working the ZEISS booth, eventually, as more birder’s gathered, Clay Taylor (Swarovski) and I went out with our digiscoping rigs to photograph what turned out to be this exhausted Woodcock. Chris Woods, who works for eBird (Cornell Lab of Ornithology) was one of the birders there and he knows much of what there is to know about Woodcocks (well, about almost any bird). He and Clay were speculating on how far out to sea the Woodcock had been blown before fighting its way back to land, and barely 100 yards in, before crashing on that little patch of grass. It was huddled up against the base of a porch, perhaps trying to keep out of the wind, which was still blowing strongly.

Clay and I eventually worked our way around through empty stalls in the car port to where we could get some shots at a decent angle. The light was not the best, but the opportunity was too good to miss. This shot was from 30 feet away (we did not want to disturb the bird) at something like the equivalent field of view of a 1600mm lens on a full frame DSLR. ISO 200 at 1/80th second and f5.0 (limited by the camera…by which I mean the f-stop of the actual lens/scope combination was f4.4 computed…and since the camera chose a f-stop of f5, the camera’s f5, which is smaller than f4.4, is the determining f-stop for exposure. But perhaps that is more than you wanted to know.). Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56X Vario on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL. I happened to have the camera in wide mode (16/9 ratio, like HD video) when I took the image.

Sharpened and adjusted to add clarity and intensity in Lightroom.

Note the detain in the eye!

And, of course, since I was shooting with the SD4000IS, I had to do some real HD video…though motion was not what  this Woodcock was about, at least last Friday.

American Woodcock, Cape May NJ