Early fall re-grouping

September 27, 2016

 I spotted a small family flock last night just before sunset.  From what I could tell, there were maybe a dozen birds or so.  They looked to be mostly hens.  They were heading towards a traditional roost site.  So I gave them some time to fly up, then I snuck in underneath them as it got dark & scattered them.  They fanned out across a shallow creek bottom & I was excited to get in there this morning!  I decided to approach from the top & set up right at the flush site long before daybreak.  I got my camera gear all set up & waited in the pitch black darkness.  It was roughly an hour & fifteen minutes before sunrise by the time I was settled in.  As the eastern sky began to light up, I could make out the silhouette of a turkey through the foliage.  It must have sat tight as I flushed most of the others last night.  I hit the record button & hoped for a good morning.  The bird I was looking at was still sitting on the limb as daylight slowly approached.  The distant sounds of vehicles starting broke the morning silence as people began their day.  A far-away train whistle blew as the hum of the engine grew weaker.  The sounds of roosters at a nearby farm could also be heard.  Eventually, the turkey I was focused on gave a few "where are you" type clucks.  Then it broke into a beautiful high-pitched kee-kee run.  Some other birds began clucking down in the creek bottom a little farther.  Then some others joined in with their own unique kee-kee runs.  Some more clucks from the bird I could see as it stood up & stretched it's legs.  It looked to be a young hen.  The kee-kee runs became more numerous as the sky continued to brighten.  Other birds joined in with some tree yelping & clucking.  The young hen above me became more & more anxious as she kee-kee'd.  Her whistles went from clear to scratchy.  Then, a distant bird cackled as it pitched down.  Others joined in & flew down as well.  The hen above me frantically looked around as she kee-kee'd & clucked.  She was only twenty yards or so away & just above eye level to me.  The sounds of more wingbeats below as the hen above me turned & faced up hill toward me.  Then another turkey flew in & landed in another tree within ten yards of me!  The kee-kee runs were more numerous now as the forest floor became clearer to the birds.  More wingbeats...clucks...purrs...whistles.  I now could see two birds just above me.  The first bird flapped it's wings & switched limbs.  Pretty soon, there were birds on the ground behind me kee-keeing.  The second bird gave a half-hearted gobble!  I was surrounded by turkeys & trying to soak it all in.  Another bird flew in & landed on the ground to my left within twenty yards.  She began clucking loudly & moved directly behind me.  More wingbeats, half gobbles, clucks, kee-kee runs!  I was still zoomed in & focused on that "original" hen.  But I couldn't move with all the turkeys around me.  It sounded as if the majority of the birds began to regroup in a field behind me on the ridgetop.  Several young birds continued with kee-kee runs.  Then finally, that first bird pitched down.  Another bird zoomed past my camera's lens from the right within a few feet & landed in the leaves to my left.  Then I caught movement on the ground below me as three birds walked up the hill towards me.  One young hen walked within five or six feet of me!  But one of the others got a little nervous & started in with some putt-purring.  I could hear the birds kee-keeing back & forth in that field for a while.  Then one bird began cutting excitedly up there!  It was turning into a fall concert!  The few birds that were around me putting, eventually settled down & walked up the hill to join the rest.  Around 7:30, it became quiet.  I sat there for maybe another fifteen minutes, then snuck out of there.  But what a morning!

 

Sunrise:  7:11 a.m

 

Temperature:  53 degrees

 

Wind:  calm

 

Barometer:  30.03 & falling

 

Location:  southwest PA

 

# of gobbles heard:  5

 

 

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