Friday, August 5, 2011


No, don't be surprised, no woodcock would turn up in Kyushu during mid summer of course. These are some old photos I took in March. After I came back from Thailand during the spring vacation, I brought my 550D out and wandered around Asami 3 Chou-me. It was March 31. I was trying to get photos of a pair of Brown Dipper, which was nesting in a small hole on the upper stream of Oyukaeri-gawa. However, the birds were extremely shy and I couldn't even get a single shot. Then I luckily came across Furuso-san and we shared some new information about birds in Beppu. She told me that there are 2 Eurasian Woodcocks (Scolopax rusticola) staying in a small neglected area next to the car park behind Shiragiku Hotel near Beppu Park. She said that they had been there for over a month. I looked at the time and saw that we still had some time left before sunset, so I headed there with the lead of Furuso-san.

Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)
As we arrived at the place, I almost couldn't believe how close they live with human. In Thailand, woodcocks are extremely scarce. They can only be found in montane evergreen forest with marshy area far away from human. Here, we could watch it even from the busy roadside. Furuso-san quickly scanned the area and caught a single bird sleeping at its usual spot. She said the birds always stayed close to the white plastic bag, so it wasn't too difficult to find. Unfortunately, there was only one bird showing up that day. She showed me photos that she took the other day where 2 birds can be seen sitting close to each other. There's a white fence that separated the area where the bird was and the street. We first watched it from behind the fence, but then I tried walking in to get some better shots without the fence getting in the way of my camera. However, the bird suddenly flew off as I stepped over the fence. I then sat down and waited behind a big tree hoping that it'll come back again. The sun slowly set behind Mt. Tsurumi and I was about to give up, when I heard a cracking sound of dry leaves. I looked around and suddenly the same woodcock finally showed up. It came running from behind the dune and stopped right in front of me. It quickly walked into the shadow. All I could do was waiting, so I waited and waited, until it finally came out of the shadow and walked into the warm evening light, probing its long beak into the soft soil looking for food. Though I could only get a few shots of it under the light, and it didn't turn up again on the next day, I was really satisfied with the result. Furuso-san spotted the bird again few days later before it disappeared with all the other winter migrants. I hope that they'll come back to use this roosting area again next season.

Love the pattern on the back of its head!


Phil said...

I liked the Woodcock story. Amazing how the birds returned to exactly the same spot and how urban they are. They can turn up in urban UK, but only after very cold weather when they resort to looking in frost free gardens for food.

Anonymous said...

So well camoflaged but such a cute shape and beautiful colours. They look difficult to find but they are distinctive in your beautiful photos. Russell

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

Thanks a lot, Phil and Russell!
Guess it's much easier to see woodcock over there in the UK than here.

Mark Young said...

That Woodcock would be easy to miss! Nice images as usual.