"Coloring the Conservation Conversation--One Word at a Time!"

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hog Hunting

A curtain of evening purples the passing sky and in that narrow gap between day and night a twittering in the twilight. A peculiar "peenting" call punctuates the end of another day's waiting in the wild wood. The birdsong catalog in my brain rolls through the memory cards of such sounds and first to mind comes a nighthawk. Common, yes-- and so I look skyward-- surprised that I cannot spy stiff oaring flight-- or wing patches flashing white. And though in shirtsleeves I sit the chill falling fast with the sun's solemn parting reminds me of the date. It is January and the bull bats have long since departed to places where palm trees grow and the wandering warblers go. And then suddenly I know. With the twittering and peenting circling above me- somewhere up there over the tangle of scrubby leavings the axe men  left to rot in the opening where trees once stood--it is the perfect place and the end of the mystery too.  It is the invisible pas de deux. It is the righteous reel of a feathered thing I cannot see through failing light that moves my heart--- and then my mind to remember the woodcock's ways. It is Aldo's sky dancers taking the stage.


  1. "The woodcock is a living refutation of the theory that the utility of a game bird is to serve as a target, or to pose gracefully on a slice of toast. No one would rather hunt woodcock in October than I, but since learning of the sky dance I find myself calling one or two birds enough. I must be sure that, come April, there be no dearth of dancers in the sunset sky."
    -Aldo Leopold

    1. Brian,
      Thanks for sharing Aldo Leopold's prose. I know that you and I share the joy and the wisdom in his words. I hope all is well with you.

    2. All is well here in Ireland! Vet school is tough, as to be expected. I have been enjoying the American seasons vicariously through your blog. So thank you! While here, I am certainly going to have a go at spotting a corncrake, if I'm lucky. I must admit that I am very interested in reading a piece on your Alaska experience :).
      -Your eager student