Drizzly flock talk

 

The forecast called for light rain after 9 a.m., but I decided to get out anyhow.  It was 28 degrees & a little breezy as I left the truck this morning.  I didn't have a whole lot of time this morning after work, so I figured I'd go to my reliable flock with hopes that I could capture some quality roost footage.  As I neared the roost site (2 hours before the break of day), I scanned the treetops with my binoculars & could see a cluster of birds at the lip of the ridge.  They didn't seem to be scattered as much as they were the last time I visited this particular roost.  The breezy conditions made it a little easier moving in the leaves.  When I got within 80 yards of the majority of the birds, I noticed one turkey perched on the limb of a huge, red oak that I had to sneak directly under!  It looked to have it's head tucked under it's wing, so I slowly inched my way underneath it.  When I reached the base of that big oak, I stopped behind it to put another layer of clothes on.  I remember checking the time after I finished dressing.  It was 5:35 & I could hear a gobbler or two spitting on the limb already!  I wanted to close the gap between me & that cluster of birds that was now maybe 50 yards in front of me.  But I would have to be careful not to spook the turkey right above me.  I took a deep breath & went for it.  I made it another 25 yards & stopped at the base of another smaller, red oak.  I thought about setting up there, but I pushed on another 5 yards to get a better view of the majority of the flock.  I made it to the base of another, decent sized oak & got my camera gear ready.  It was 6:00 (at least an hour before it would start to slowly, brighten up).  As soon as I was ready, it began to sprinkle & I thought "oh no!  I hope this don't keep up."  But it didn't last long.  Right out of the gate, one of the hens started the show with a couple clucks followed by a louder, scratchy yelp.  The gobblers ate it up!  Then a few older sounding hens joined in with some throaty yelps & clucks.  They really didn't do much soft stuff.  This went on for a few minutes, then they shut up for a while.  The only sounds to be heard were the spitting of the gobblers & the occasional ruffling of feathers.  Maybe fifteen minutes went by & a hen gave a few two & three note yelps.  For the next five minutes or so, hen talk was kept to a minimum.  As the sky slowly began to brighten, I was able to zoom in on one of the longbeards.  Just as I got on him with the camera, I heard wingbeats!  I was kind of surprised, because it was still fairly dark.  But it was only five or six minutes before sunrise.  This started a lot of excitement in the flock.  A few hens threw in some fast cutts, followed by louder, excited yelps.  The gobblers were teetering on the limbs & getting ansy.  Then one by one, most of the gobblers pitched down first.  As they strutted & gobbled on the ground, some of the hens began to descend from the treetops.  One of which gave a beautiful, fly down cackle!  I was able to zoom in on one particular hen that was still sitting down & watching what was going on below her.  As a few other hens pitched down, she began to stretch.  Then she started to look around as if searching for a good, clear runway.  She began yelping & all in one motion, flew down without ever really standing up, cackling as she went.  I slowly got the camera turned on another hen as she got ready to pitch down.  It was fairly quiet on the ground as the few remaining hens still in the trees yelped.  The wind began to pick up & it started to drizzle again.  As the rain picked up, the hens still in the trees acted like they were in a hurry to join the rest of the flock.  One hen pitched directly over top of me & landed so close to me that the leaves on the ground all around me blew like there was someone behind me with a leaf blower!  Shortly after sunrise (even though you couldn't see the sun), they were all on the ground & slowly working away from me.  I let them get out of sight & got out of there.  As I made my way towards the truck, I could hear another gobbler sounding off across the hollow from me. 

 

Sunrise:  7:14 a.m.

 

Temperature:  28 degrees

 

Wind:  12 mph

 

Barometer:  28.67 & steady

 

Location:  southwest Pennsylvania

 

# of gobbles heard:  70-80

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