A Woodcock, how could I resist the temptation to see one of those?
I had no idea what a Woodcock was but having read an Audubon invite to see one, I guessed it was some kind of bird. Trying to find one fit my Never B4 bill so off I went last night in 30-degree temps to join my first-ever Audubon walk in pursuit of this phallic bird.
As a result, I now know the basso beet...beet...beet...that I hear at dusk in the fields of Maine is that of the hungry Woodcock. But could I point one out to you in a bird line-up? Absolutely not. The Woodcock eluded the 15 pairs of eyes that searched the grassy field. Sadly, the Woodcock failed to perform.
Thankfully though, a porcupine was perched nearby to please us all. Yes, perched. Who knew that porcupines climb high into the trees to eat bark? I certainly never knew that and I certainly never saw one in a tree until yesterday. In the dark that had taken over the field, the porcupine could have easily been mistaken for a big bird's nest tucked in the branches overhead. Yet under the scrutiny of our flashlights, it became clear there was a porcupine up there in the tree, looking cute but also a bit dangerous as he wobbled on the thin branch directly over our heads.
The guides didn't let our flashlights linger too long in an effort to prevent Mr. Porcupine from falling to his death and to save us from donning quill hats. So, we left Mr. Porcupine to enjoy his bark and we discovered a blue-spotted salamander!
Honestly, I'll take a prickly porcupine over a slimy salamander any day.
In fact, I was so enamored with Mr. Porcupine that I got up 2 hours early this morning to see if I could snap a few pics of him in the morning light. I lucked
out and found him high in a neighboring tree, not too far from where he was the night before. He was a lot bigger than he appeared 10 hours earlier and in the daylight, he seemed even more out of place on the budding branches.
Yet as I write this now, I realize that as I stood in that field at dawn trying to keep my digital camera steady in my shivering hands, it was me that was completely out of place among the flittering birds, the sleeping salamander and my precarious friend, Mr. Porcupine. Being "out of place" in that way though, was the best place for me to start my day.
For anyone that has the chance to experience a little nature today, do it. The kind of "out of place" feeling it gives you, is worth whatever effort it takes. Click here if you want to see more porcupine pics.