“Hope” is the thing with feathers, That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops ... at all - Emily Dickenson

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

South Padre Herons, Rails and Egrets

I really wanted to get a couple of good shots of the tougher birds to get - the rails and bitterns that live in the reeds and make their living by not being seen. I was only marginally successful. There were reports of a King Rail, which got us a little excited. I think it was a bad report. The Gulf sub-species of the Clapper Rail is very similar to the King Rail - hard to tell them apart except by call. I got a few bad shots of a Clapper, still a good bird, but much more common. The last one was a surprise shot. I had lost track of the Rail's location, when it popped up again as I was taking a picture of a Common Egret.

Lorna was the person who initially got eyes on the Clapper Rail and she got a wonderful set of photos before her slacker husband finally got there to get a photo of the west end of a bird headed east before it hit the reeds. Here is a link to her photos. Check these out; they are really fine shots.

Common Egret

Great Blue Heron

This all was a much longer process than  1, 2, 3. Even after he flopped the bird on the ground, stabbed at for a while (to kill it?) he stared at it for a long time, as if deciding if he could actually swallow it - getting up his courage. Even after he got it lined up head first, and grabbed it, the actual swallowing took a long time. After the tail finally disappeared and the lump in his throat slowly slid down, he went back to the pond and took one looong drink of water. I think a beer chaser might have been better, but he was probably under age. And didn't have a pocket to carry the cash.

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Tricolored Heron
Reddish Egret

Soras, a small Rail, don't seem to be fearful, just extremely furtive; one day in a dozen they will hop right out of the cattails, pose for a while, then vanish again. Yesterday wasn't like that. We saw two or three Soras - movement in the cattails, sometimes a Marsh Wren, sometimes a Sora - a blink of a glance, then nothing - vanished into thin air.  Finally I got a solid look for a few seconds. I was studying the cattails trying to get a heartbeat time to focus. Some helpful fellow came up behind me saying, "Did you see the 'gator? C'mon, lemme show you the 'gator." I replied, "Not now, I have (had) something way cooler than an alligator." He glanced down at where the Sora had just been.

Likely he wouldn't have been impressed anyway. A Sora cannot eat you.

- Guunar


Redwing said...

Watching that Heron swallow that fish does indeed get me thinking fish and chips and a beer to chase it down!

Redwing said...

Those King Rail reports are interesting. We always give benefit of doubt to any report, but we've never heard or seen one at that location.