Anyone who sits quietly in the autumn woods will tell you there are joys that go far beyond the occasional whitetail sighting.
Before daylight, on clear, moonless nights, there are shooting stars to enjoy as you listen to the mournful calls of roosting owls.
You might see a coyote or bobcat, or be entertained (at least briefly) by the rustling of armadillos rooting for worms.
But if you are extremely lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of one of autumn’s most unusual visitors: the timberdoodle.
I had the pleasure of watching one last weekend, just after sunrise.
It fluttered past, made a broad semi-circle on an overgrown powerline and settled into a boggy bay to the left of my deer stand. Later, it flew off and passed by me at eye level.
They are remarkable, handsome little birds whose behavior and appearance have given them nicknames ranging from mudbat and night partridge to buzzer quail and big-eyed bogsucker.
Most commonly, though, they are called the woodcock, and this is the time to see them here in Georgia.
So keep your eyes open.
NEW KIND OF LITTER: I’ve noticed something else this season that is turning up with increasing regularity along Georgia’s roadsides: empty feed corn bags.
The new law that decriminalized hunting over cornpiles and feeders in some areas this year doesn’t give baiters permission to dump their empty sacks along our highways, but plenty of those bags are ending up there anyway.
I mentioned it to a friend last week who thought, perhaps, this new species of litter was unintentional.
Maybe, he said, people are tossing empty sacks into their truckbeds and forgetting they are there – and maybe those empty sacks blow out during travel.
RALLY A BUST: A four-hour “rally” held last weekend to protest the Corps of Engineers’ water management practices lured only a trickle of participants to Pollards Corner and a second site in South Carolina.
In fact, spokesman Jerry Clontz of the Save Our Lakes Now group that organized the event characterized it as a “bust.”
That doesn’t change the fact that water levels at the lake are continuing to fall, and regardless of who is to blame – the corps or Mother Nature or someone else – the issue is certain to garner more attention during the first half of 2012.
Lake levels are expected to fall to just 316 feet above sea level, or 14 feet low, by January. Without a lot of rain, it could be a tough recreation season next spring for businesses that depend on visitors’ dollars to survive.