King Rail!

I'm blogging from the Colonial Coast Birding and Nature Festival on Jekyll Island, GA right now. The island is one of Georgia's many birding hot spots and a favorite destination of mine. This time of year the monsoons come in and make for some magnificent storm fronts. The photo above was taken last night right outside the exhibitor hall as one of these fronts was moving in. In years past, these storms have brought migrating birds into the beach area while I've waited out the weather. I've seen the beaches on this island loaded down with Peregrine Falcons on every perch and piece of driftwood available. Once I was even lucky enough to catch a Long-tailed Jaeger fly in and land on the sand less than 15 meters from me.

I didn't hit the beach this morning, however. I was on a mission for one of the few new birds in this area that could get me closer to that 600th species. My colleagues Jeff Bouton, Cameron Cox, and I drove inland to search for a King Rail. We hit the jackpot at the Altamaha Waterfowl Management Area.

Like most rails, King Rails are extremely elusive and more often heard and not seen. While traversing a raised dyke road along these wetlands we first heard this bird's distinct call. Jeff, being the talented birder that he is, responded back with the perfect imitation. We played this game with the rail, calling back and forth, as we walked along the trail to an open area where we were hoping the bird would reveal itself. Fortunately for us, this bird was cooperative. The bird pictured above is the smaller female, which we set eyes on first. Shortly after she made her presence known, another rail showed up. This second bird was a larger male, presumably coming in to see who was checking out his mate.

Here is a short video of the King Rail, which Jeff digiscoped through his Leica spotting scope. Another new bird that we spotted on this journey was a Purple Gallinule, bringing my new total of North American species sightings up to 572!


Marci said...

Zowie - 572 - you're zoomin'.
Okay, I see your gonna pass me.
And we're not gonna see that 600th together....

Amy said...

Congrats on the gets, Ben (c:

Kevin said...

Nice Ben I always try to turn Clappers into Kings.