I know this trick. Whenever I see it I tell everyone, "Freeze!" Young woodchicks are around our feet. Often after careful looking, we can see all four. Today we backed off, but took this photo of one, close by, obvious, motionless (as their instincts insist they be).
|Baby woodcocks freeze - as their mothers perform diversion tactics. The return of breeding woodcocks |
to Somme Woods after many decades absence seems like a happy vote of confidence in our restoration efforts.
In the photo below, all the trees are tall and thin. That's in part because the old spreading oaks have mostly died, and the young ones struggled against each other for light. This woods was so dense with buckthorn that it was difficult to walk through it. At that time, no birds sang in the dark tangle.
|Old bur oaks and young pole trees. Still far from natural, |
but many birds of conservation concern seem to like it.
As we get to know the ecology of woods with-and-without shurbs - and with-and-without sufficient openness for the reproduction of open-grown and woodland-grown oaks, we'll no doubt have exciting surprises. But in the meantime, they're already wonderful.
Below are some photos - taken at Somme by Lisa Culp Musgrave - of birds now breeding in our open oaks:
|Indigo buntings were common in the open areas. Now they're singing, building nests, |
and defending territories well into the open woods.
|It shouldn't be a surprise that humming birds didn't nest in dark buckthorn. But we were surprised how many we started to find wherever the woods was opened up enough for columbine, Michigan lily, and cardinal flower.|
|The wood pewee is now perhaps the commonest bird in the woods.|
They sing all day long. We wonder if they follow us to eat mosquitoes.
|Scarlet tanagers live high in the trees. Why would they care if there was buckthorn underneath? |
But they seem to nest where we've cleared it out. This year we have three pairs nesting
in the about-one-hundred acres of woods we've begun restoring.
Other birds that we've found nesting in the open woods include yellow-billed cuckoo, hairy woodpecker, great-crested flycatcher, blue-gray gnatcatcher, yellow-throated vireo, white-breasted nuthatch, eastern bluebird, Cooper's hawk, red-tailed hawk, and great-horned owl.
It feels like an honor to have this kind of mutually positive relationship with all these feathery wonders.