Friday, March 24, 2017

Back in the Coverts

The snow has melted and the temperature has warmed up so Thicket and I went to Piney Creek in search of woodcock.




 
 
The birds were there and Thicket showed more interest in them than earlier trips afield. I was able to get one pic of her on point before she crept in and flushed the bird.
 
She still has a long way to go, but I believe she's getting over her "distain" for woodcock and hopefully with time and lots of bird contacts she will become a passable woodcock dog.
 


 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wicked Mother Nature

The weather has taken a turn for the worst here in southcentral Pa. I received 12 inches of snow yesterday and the temperature is 15 degrees with a stiff wind this morning.  With woodcock sighted much further north than my location I have to wonder how they survive these cold spells.  Do they "hunker down" under a pine tree or blowdown and try to stay warm and dry? How many days can they go without nourishment while their earthworms are out of reach?  No doubt some will die of exposure or be caught by predators while in their weakened state.  The males will no doubt take the brunt of the brutal weather as they are the first to head north to seek out prime "singing grounds" while the more sensible females move north later to  find a mate and a suitable nesting site.  But Mother Nature dictates that only the strong survive to breed on and that they will as they have done for thousands of years.

Here at the homestead I've been filling the bird feeders every few hours as the flocks of cardinals, titmice, chickadees, bluejays and other's fill up on the black oil sunflower seed that will fuel their bodies through the long cold night.



 


Somehow this sparrow made it's way into our mudroom, perhaps through the dog door. The Peterson Field Guide identified it as a Song Sparrow. After photos I released it unharmed.



 
Warmer weather is on it's way next week so perhaps I'll be able to get the setters out a few more times into the woodcock coverts before the nesting season starts.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bennett Run Wanderings

Thicket and I headed for the Bennett Run covert on Monday.  It's a small covert in a hollow that requires a hike down off a steep ridge, but it's usually worth it.


 
 
The cover is fairly easy walking and the birds were there.
 




 
Thicket hunted hard but didn't show any interest in the woodcock.


 
The highlight of the day was seeing my first fisher on the ride to the covert. I didn't have my camera handy and only managed this one very poor pic as it went behind a tree, but it was an exciting experience never the less.
 
 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Wandering along Buffalo Creek

Emma and I headed for Buffalo Creek the other day.  The Game Commission has done some serious cutting there last year and hopefully I'll still be hunting when it grows back into woodcock habitat.





There is still some nice cover left to wander through.
 

 
 
 
Years ago some farmer took the time to plant apple trees, some of which still thrive.




 
 
This colorful fungi caught my eye in the otherwise drab landscape.
 
The namesake of the covert.

 
Although Emma hunted the covert thoroughly she found only one woodcock.
 
 
Near the end of the hunt I saw Emma trip in a tangle and fall on her shoulder and I felt a twinge of sadness as I realized her best years were behind her, but they have been good years with many wonderful memories for me to enjoy.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Fifteen Mile Creek Covert

Thicket and I visited this covert last Tuesday.  I had hunted here once several years ago with Emma and found it extremely thick, but we moved several woodcock and I dropped one that Emma made a fine retrieve on. Just recently the powerline that runs through the cover was brushhogged and I had easy walking.


 
Barberry makes up most of the cover with downed pine trees adding to the mix.
 



Signs of on old homestead with a massive Walnut tree near the foundation.

 
 
 
Although Thicket hunted the cover thoroughly no woodcock were found.
 





Thursday, February 23, 2017

Their Moving North

Late getting this posted but Thicket and I walked the Piney Creek Covert last Sunday and moved two woodcock. One I saw flush ahead of her and the other one she pointed and then left the point. Still hoping she will decide that woodcock are the reason we're in the coverts and starts holding her points. Here are some pics of my favorite covert.