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While playing with my dogs around dusk yesterday evening, I heard the
familiar "peent" very nearby.  In full darkness the other night, we'd seen
we guessed was an AMERICAN WOODCOCK on our (long gravel in the middle of a
field) driveway, so I looked in the same general vicinity, and sure enough,
saw the familiar shape.  I was amazed that my presence and that of two
German Shepherds didn't scare the bird off, but it seemed oblivious, and
fortunately the dogs did not spot or smell it.

I ran back to the house for my binos, as it was still light enough to catch
a glimpse, and put my furry companions inside.  When I returned to the spot,
no bird on the ground, but I heard the twittering of its flight above my
head, so I waited and listened. Within about 30 seconds, it swooped down
quite dramatically and landed right back on the driveway about 20 feet away
from me.

It was more dark than light at this point, but I was able to get a clear
enough view of the long bill to feel I'd gotten a bona fide look at the bird
-- and of course, had a great time listening to it peent so close to me.

After about a minute, I had the extreme pleasure of watching it take off
again, and was able to locate the flight with my binos.  I watched the bird
swoop and soar for about 30 more seconds, twittering all the while, before
he again landed on the driveway, peented a bit, then flew off into the
night.

This was my first time seeing a woodcock in the wild (although I handled one
at a bird rehab clinic many years ago). What a great first viewing it was!

Also, can't be 100% certain but I think I saw a PILEATED WOODPECKER flying
east across Silver Street about a mile south of Hinesburg this morning.  It
was definitely a woodpecker by flight, and it was large, but I was driving
and couldn't see enough to be sure.  There was definitely one hanging around
in that general vicinity last year or the year before, so it's not unlikely.


If anyone spots it and confirms the species, whether it's a pileated or
something else, I'd love to hear about it.

Miriam Lawrence
Monkton Ridge