I just ended, leading my first Webster Groves Nature Study Society field trip. Bill and I decided to head over to the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary to see the Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) a small rusty-colored waterbird, of the family Rallidae. These birds remain fairly common despite continuing loss of habitat, but are secretive by nature and more often heard than seen. They are also considered a game species in some provinces and states, though rarely hunted.
We pulled into a parking lot on the sanctuary, grabbed our gear and slowly walked one of the trails, keeping our eyes and ears open for their vocalization or any movement. I was the first to spot it, so to motioned to Bill where I saw the rail and before you know it we had our eyes on 6 rails, foraging in a ditch.
This is where the fun began, with gear in our arms, we began crawling, on what almost looked like beach sand, there wasn’t much vegetation on our crawl to the ditch area, we reached a spot at the end of the ditch, where the sand slopped up just enough to provide cover. We decided that this low angle approach would be best to break up our form.
The rail foraged and scurried around us, so much so, that one or two of them were within the minimum focusing distance of our 500mm/600mm lenses, it was nice to be so close to these busy rails as they scurried around, weaving in and out of the habitat.
We also had a few other visitors, in the confined area.
A muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)
A Sora (Porzana carolina)
Until the next adventure.
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