I watched some birds go to roost last night, so I was excited to get up under them this morning! When I left the truck this morning, the sky was clear & the moon was so bright you could see your shadow. This was going to be my first visit to this roost site this year. These birds like to roost off a steep ledge above an abandoned railroad track. I thought about approaching them from the woods above, but they were roosted so close to the tracks that I decided to use the tracks as my access route. I would have to be careful once I got close because the stones could ruin my morning. When I got within eyesight of the birds, I tried to stay in the shadows of the trees to keep the moon from shining on me. I saw a total of nine birds last night (one longbeard, a jake & the rest hens). Once I was under them, all I had to do was dump off the opposite side of the tracks & get set up...easier said than done! I noticed right away, one of the birds had it's head up & a couple of them were dropping bombs around me (turkey droppings)! I was really worried because the one that had it's head up was in plain sight of me & that moon was so bright! I stood there in the middle of the railroad tracks just waiting for the opportunity to drop off the tracks. The moon was dropping so fast that the shadow of the tree I was using for cover was also moving! I only had to go five yards, but I was scared about making noise in the stones. Plus, the moon would be shining directly on me like a spotlight once I got out of the shadow of that large tree! I made it half way & all of a sudden, without warning, two birds flushed! I thought I just ruined my chance of a good morning. Luckily the other birds stayed put, I remained patient, was fortunate to crawl the last few steps & get to my set up. But I was still concerned that their moods would be altered & they wouldn't even talk. It seemed like it took me forever to get set up! It was still early, so I felt like they might settle down by daybreak. I felt better about the situation once I heard the gobbler spitting! Once I had enough camera light, I zoomed in on one of the birds & could see it was calm & preening. A few of the others were as well! The sound of a mallard in a nearby creek echoed through the bottom. Shortly afterwards, one of the hens eked out a tree yelp! I was beginning to think this might work out. A few more scratchy tree yelps were answered by clucks from one of the birds I flushed into the bottom. All the while, that longbeard keeps spitting & strutting. A distant gobble rings out from across the hollow. Then one of the hens I was set up under gets a little louder with her yelps & the longbeard hammers! The conversation picks up between the birds above me & the ones I spooked. One of the gals is just a beautiful sounding older hen with resonance! A crow flies over, cawing as it goes...gobble! The one hen in the bottom begins assembly yelping & they all respond. Some canadanian geese honk as they head downstream...gobble! The yelping back & forth continues as the longbeard spits & struts on the limb. The excitement builds in their calling & in me also! This goes on for a few minutes, then one of the hens pitches over top of me & into the bottom! Then another...then the longbeard. Then the hen I was zoomed in on cackles as she leaves! After they all meet up in the bottom, I can hear them yelping & gobbling at each other & I can't help but think how lucky I was!..& I ALMOST ruined it!
Sunrise: 6:53 a.m.
Temperature: 30 degrees (partly cloudy)
Wind: 2 mph
Barometer: 30.02 & rising
Location: Southwest Pennsylvania
# of gobbles heard: