Early flydown

March 6, 2017

 

I watched a flock of birds go to roost last night along the edge of a gas line right-of-way.  The right-of-way butts up against a cow pasture that has some round bales spread out for the cattle.  The turkeys picked through some of the hay before heading up through the woods & pitching into some decent sized hardwoods on the sidehill!  Best I could tell, there were 32 of them...& all hens!!  So to say the least, I was excited to crawl under them this morning!  

I almost thought it was going to be easy getting under them because they weren't roosted very far in the woods.  Boy was I wrong!  The pasture was saturated from all the recent rains & the cows had craters all through the field.  I sopped & sunk with each step making more noise than I expected!  Then once I reached the edge of the woods, I had to quietly cross a fence while I was less than twenty yards away from them!  Once I got through the fence, I had a forty five degree incline through the leaves & mud to climb in order to get under them!  Luckily it was cloudy, which gave me a little more cover as I slowly made my approach.  But with all the obstacles, I managed to get set up underneath them just in time.  It was just beginning to break daylight as I turned on my camera.  I could hear droppings hitting the forest floor all around me!  It sure felt good to be here doing this again!!  One by one, the sounds of feathers rustling could be heard as the birds shook themselves off.  A distant dove's calls filled the morning air as the songbirds joined in.  A soft, tree yelp from one of the hens started the day's conversation.  Then another joined in with a soft "stretching" yelp as she stretched her wings.  A distant gobble rang out from a quarter mile away.  Droppings continued to smack the leaves all around me.  If not for the limbs between us, the hen directly above me would have dropped a "bomb" on me!  Some clucks & purrs from a few hens were next as it began to sprinkle.  I wasn't expecting any precipitation until later in the morning.  So to say the least, I was a little disappointed.  I had to close my lens cap to keep the rain drops off my lens.  The volume of the yelping picked up a little as daylight neared.  You could hear the excitement in their voices!  The drizzle stopped as one hen started in with some very excited yelps & cutts!  That provoked some of the others to get louder.  Another hen joined in with a string of beautiful "boxy" sounding yelps!  Pretty soon, wingbeats filled the air as a few hens pitched out.  A few of them cackling as they came down!  It was still fairly dark in the woods.  But the pasture was more open & brighter, which allowed them to pitch down early.  So I wasn't able to capture much video of them in the trees.  Once on the ground, they did some single & double note yelps.  But for the most part, they picked around & eventually headed away from me.  It was a great feeling to witness another flydown for the first time this year!!  I can't wait to get out & do it again!  

 

Sunrise:  6:50 a.m

 

Temperature:  41 degrees

 

Wind:  2 mph

 

Barometer:  30.28 & steady

 

Location:  southeast Ohio

 

# of gobbles heard:  27

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