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11 June 2008

Mystery revealed

Suze and Jena both correctly guessed that the mystery is a bird. Well, Jena amazed me with her specualtion that there might be two birds.

This crop isn't the greatest quality, but I'm hoping y'all can (kinda) see Momma's beak yanking a fiddler crab out of its hole. That's baby's anticipatory beak in the upper left corner.

Clapper rails, like all their cousins, are very shy creatures. We usually only get a glimpse of one as it merges with the reeds. Audubon wrote about the clapper rail in Birds of America (1842): 'On the least appearance of danger, they lower the head, stretch out the neck, and move off with incomparable speed, always in perfect silence ... they have a power of compressing their body to such a degree as frequently to force a passage between two stems so close that one could hardly believe it possible for them to squeeze themselves through.'


Driving down Bottoms Road the other day, there wasn't much to see. The usual gulls and pelicans weren't scavenging the mud bar that appears when the tide goes out. A few Red-winged Blackbirds watched warily from the saltbush branches as I crept along. At the boat ramp, a Great Egret was wading for supper. A bit disappointed, I turned around and headed back to the highway. The adrenaline started when I caught sight of a rail at the edge of the canal on the left. In a nanosecond, she was gone. Were my eyes playing tricks on me? Was there a little black fuzz-ball next to her? I sat for a few minutes, futilely scouring the reeds for any hint of movement or colour discrepancy. Oh well, maybe I just imagined the baby.


A few yards up the road, where the canal did a little curve away from the road and back, there was another rail. And this one had several chicks with her! And they were all gone in a flash. With scant hope of success, I edged over and parked. Maybe if I sat quietly, they'd get hungry enough to come out again. My rail-radar must be improving, coz I spotted one of the chicks sitting very still at the base of a clump of reeds. I never saw him as much as twitch the whole time. Finally, one adorable little mini-rail shadowed his mother out of the reeds. Just long enough to grab a fiddler and back to the reeds to eat. Watching their every move, I was able to actually see them in their reedy shelter. They went in and out several times and, I suppose, relaxed a bit when I didn't move toward them. By twisting around in my seat, very slowly lifting the camera, I might just get a recognizeable shot or two. Just one problem. My memory card was full. So I deleted a dozen or so old pics... DAWG! Now the little red battery thingy is flashing. OK, wait for the moment, switch on, shoot, switch off. Switch on, shoot, switch off. Repeat 8 times.


Can you see me now?


Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

Finally, I managed two fairly decent pictures, then decided to give my battery and the birds a break.




And speaking of breaks... yes, the extra mystery was my sliding glass door. According to the glass repair guy, it looked like someone has replaced it before and left a sliver of glass in the frame, which eventually delivered the death blow. DS stumbled on the back steps and his hand hit the handle - not very hard, according to him - and SPLOT! (Thank God for double panes!) It crackled for hours after. Replacing the glass is about half the cost of the whole door, so we're waiting for the Glass Doctor to deliver it. Too bad it's unsafe as is... it's kinda purty. 8-}


Not much other news this month, so far. Between the heat and my trying to break my ankle - whacked it, just in front of the bone, so hard on my wood desk, I couldn't walk for a day or so - I haven't been out much. Hopefully, I'll make it to the refuge tomorrow morning, before the thermometer hits 100. Oh, yes, it's been there, and higher, several times already. Which was real fun when the power was out for over 4 hours, in the hottest part of the day, on Saturday.

I'll try to upload some of last month's highlights from Bottoms Road sometime this week. Meanwhile, y'all keep cool. And may God bless!

5 comments:

Floridacracker said...

Dawg!
I blew this one!

jena said...

AAAWWWWWW!!! How cute is THAT?!

SophieMae said...

FC, it was a tricky one. So solly, Chollee. 8-}

Jena, they were so adorable! If I'd had a spare battery, I'd have stayed longer and taken 100 more pics.

Steve said...

Wow! Fantastic pictures of rails, Sophie. That's hard to do. When I saw the clue on Monday, it looked very familiar, but I couldn't bring it up. Keep 'em coming!

SophieMae said...

Thank ya kindly, Steve. Elusive birds are amongst my favourites, probably because of the challenge in finding them. I'm all about the challenge. 8-]