Monday, March 25, 2013

Clapper Rail

Florida 2013 continued

This year's Florida blog is taking a long time. That's OK, really, since winter is in no hurry to loosen its grip here in Michigan. A few more posts and I should be done.

While I was photographing the American bittern that my mother had spotted from the van, she had wandered farther down the road.  Withing a few minutes she called out yet another bird. Bob and Joyce, the birders we'd met along the way, and I rushed to see what she'd found this time.

There in the ditch was a rail, working its way from the far to near shore. I only managed a few shots before it was out of view. I was so excited to have seen yet another new bird, but frustrated at not getting good shots or even knowing exactly what it was.

A rail, but which one??

I went back to shooting the bittern when mom found another rail on the other side of the road. We all jockeyed into position. "Clapper rail!" someone called out. I really couldn't believe my luck. They started calling my mother Ol' Eagle Eye.

Clapper rail working the mudflats along the ditch.

She worked her way through the mangrove knees, then veered away from the water and out of sight. I got distracted by a pair of Great Southern white butterflies feeding along the side of the road.

Within a few moments the rail emerged again. You can see why they're so hard to find! Anyone cruising down the road at 10 mph would never see this bird.

She made her way into deeper water. None of these birds were living up to their shy reputations. Perhaps the rather cold night (lower 40's) had caused them to burn more calories to stay warm and forced them to feed a bit more carelessly.

She continued down the water's edge, belly deep in the muck, until she moved off again into the mangroves and out of sight.  

How far would you or I sink in this muck?!?

What an amazing morning it had been. I took this image at around noon, which meant in about two hours I'd seen and photographed four new species. That would be the end of the firsts for me (bird-wise anyway) but there were still some exciting encounters to come.

Next: Finish the Black Point Drive, morning version, then off to the Visitor Center.


  1. Love it. I came her from Julie Zickefoose's blog. I'm always looking for something interesting to read nature-wise and am glad to have stumbled onto your blog!

    Kathy in Delray Beach, FL

    1. Thanks Kathy! I have fun writing it, and it gives my photography hobby an outlet. I just wish I had more time to devote to it. I'm glad you found me and are enjoying my posts.