As of February 2016, after 416 posts, and over six and a half years of blogging, I'm taking a break.
I've explained why here. There's plenty of past posts to read, though - hope you enjoy them !
Looking for a brilliant present for a young naturalist ? Buy my book ! Available from Amazon UK,
Amazon US and worldwide but buy from a local bookshop if you can.

The best camouflaged animal ever ?


Before I start: I've just flown back in the last few hours from Faclan, the Hebridean Arts Festival in Stornoway. Thank you to everyone who came to my talk at An Lanntair yesterday - it was brilliant to see so many interested faces and sign so many books ! (they completely sold out). Hope to see you again soon !

 This week's post is more of a spot-the-animal. I'd left my trail camera on a roe deer path last week, about a mile west of the badger wood, and among the other things it filmed, I also had a few frames and video that looked like the picture above. Nothing there, I thought, until I looked closer. But actually, there is a quite common but *very* well camouflaged animal there ! It's one that I've only seen myself once. Can you spot it ?

Okay, it's hard. So I'll give you another clue. Can you spot it now ?

What about closer still ?

Surely you can spot this master of disguise now ?

Because this is one of my favourite birds - a woodcock (Scolopax rusticola )! And it's the first time I've filmed it on the trail camera - even if it is camera shy !

If you want to see a woodcock - then a museum is your best bet. They are shy, nervous and INCREDIBLY well camouflaged, resting for much of the day and searching for insects in the earth with their long beak. This one was foraging right in the middle of the day, between 1pm and 2pm.

The video is quite peculiar. The bird constant moves its body, bobbing up and down, more than is needed to keep balance. Is this to hide in plants which are blown by the wind ? Does it help it detect or attract invertebrates to the surface ?

I first blogged about my first woodcock skull over five years ago, and my knowledge has improved a lot since then. Now I can spot that the ear bone appears to be in the wrong place - under the chin - instead of the lower back part of the skull where it normally is on birds and mammals - but that's because a lot of the time the beak doesn't stick out horizontally - but vertically down - and when it does, the ear bone is where you expect. 

The eye sockets are huge and on the side of the head - this is an animal, like sheep and deer, that had evolved to look around and behind it to look out for predators. It is an animal that is hunted, not that hunts. In fact the woodcock has 360 degree vision which makes it very unusual.

Whether I have had more footage of the woodcock I don't yet know - I'll check again in the next few days, and maybe see whether I can somehow attract it to the camera !

Enjoy this post ? Share it !


Free counters!