The Biggest Week in American Birding – on the shores of lake Erie, Ohio – is going really nicely. Sure, this is my first trip to North America, but still, who could find fault with 20+ wood warblers in a day?

On my first day, we had found an American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) along the Magee Marsh board-walk, but the views were singularly unfulfilling in that the woodcock was buried deep in the undergrowth vegetation – probably on a nest – and if you craned your neck in exactly the right position you could potentially make out an eye or a little bit of camouflaged feathering. Unsatisfying.

And so when we heard that there were Woodcocks displaying in the Maumee Bay State Park, we naturally jumped on the opportunity to get out there and experience the action live in person.

If you have ever experienced Woodcocks displaying then you will know just how cool that is. This male was hanging out on a lawn making a repetitive “peep” and at some stage would take off circling and calling in to the sky before tumbling back down to the ground to again start with his peeps.

With patience, this woodcock allowed us to get really close – close enough to digiscope him with a little flashlight in complete darkness. I am not saying it was easy, but possible. What a cool bird!

Just before we went out to go try find the displaying Woodcocks, an Eastern Screech Owl had payed us a visit. But he was shy and didn’t want to show himself nicely.

Tomorrow should be another grand day – after reports of a Kirtland’s Warbler this afternoon (which I dipped) – my hopes are high that we will get something really cool tomorrow.


All images digiscoped with a Swarovski STM80, TLS800 and a Canon 7D.





Written by Dale Forbes
Dale grew up in the forests and savannas of South Africa, developing a love for nature from a young age. After studying Zoology and Wildlife Science, he moved to Central America to continue his work in conservation biology. He is a member of BirdLife International’s Advisory Board and is Swarovski Optik’s Head of Strategic Business Development.