Last Saturday I went on a spectacular birding trip to Cape St. Mary's with Margie McMillan. The variety and sheer numbers of birds that we saw was a fitting reward for our thirteen hours of birding enjoyment. The Ruffed Grouse was certainly not our target bird of the day, nor the best bird of the day, but it was our last. I had very few pictures of this bird, so I started with this one to review the day. The truth is - I took hundreds of pictures, and it takes me a while to sort through them and crop them for uploading. Little by little, I will work my way toward narrowing down images to share.
On the return trip we traveled toward Placentia to St. John's. Birds were scarce in the late afternoon, even the American Robins which were plentiful all day long were no longer being seen. We were cruising along when Margie and I spotted this bird standing up by the side of the road.
Screech when the tires, again. Snap went the seat belt as I scrambled to grab the camera at the same time and open the door. The grouse stayed put, just standing there looking at me. I inched ever so slowly toward it, and it inched even slower away from me. I got really close and was able to get full-frame shots with the sun over my shoulder. As I started to walk back to the car, this bird tip-toed toward the other side of the road. When it reached about 3/4 of the distance, it started to run and disappeared into the woods. I can only imagine it let out a deep sigh of relief that it had escaped with its life.
The Ruffed Grouse can be found in Newfoundland any time of the year. I recall last Spring I went on a couple of guided bird walk in the Botanical Gardens. On one trip, I heard the loud drumming this bird creates in spring when it flaps its wings. Like the American Bittern, it creates a noise that is very distinctly different from any other. On another walk, I saw two grouse in the woods, one on the ground and the other sitting in a tree. The last grouse I saw was in early January on Blackhead Road. I have also seen them around Middle Cove, Second Pond walking trail, and in the woods at Long Pond. Despite the number of times I have seen it, the Ruffed Grouse is always worth stopping for a good look. Maybe one of these days, I will see one with its tail feathers spread or witness the drumming activity. There is always something new to observe with every bird and you never know when the special opportunity it just around the next bend.
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