Friday, September 26, 2008

Railing and quailing over ID

What's small, brown, silent, a bit clumsy in the air, without much tail, rising out of the head-high bulrushes and landing like a rail in short new-growth before vanishing into the tall stuff?

How about Baillon's Crake (Porzana pusilla)? Smallest of the rails. Fits the colouring as seen from behind. Perfect location. Almost the ideal answer. Too bad the species isn't known in these wetlands.

So. Almost. But maybe a bit too big. Perhaps too much tail to match the bird briefly observed in gusting breezes early today.

Come noon after two laps of Tyto and it's much hotter and breezier. What are the chances of another sighting? Zero? But then again...

Stalk slowly along edge of bulrush beside track. Sneak around corner and spot hurried movement just ahead. Hello, Red-backed Button-Quail (Turnix maculosa). Why are you here? You should be in knee-high weeds, not messing about flying up out of the tall bulrushes.
Easy answer - on reflection. Much of the weed habitat foraged over by the button-quail has been heavily sprayed and mown. Sightings may be fewer this year as the birds that stick around make greater use of the bulrushes.

Whatever proves the case, the nippy movers will be no easier to capture with a camera. (Today's dodgy efforts further obscured by a thumb smear on the main lens while detaching 1.7x telephoto.)


Mosura said...

Nice find!

Steve Borichevsky said...

Wow! Rails can be the hardest to get photos of. They can be back into the reeds before you can say, "Where’s my camera?"

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