Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Proper Sendoff for Summer

     Today was the last official day of summer, and I am happy to say that in terms of birds- I ended summer on a high note. Got myself a life bird, a Virginia Rail, visiting Prospect Park here in Brooklyn. I warn you that there are a lot of rail pictures to follow, and these are just a few of the (well) over 200 that I snapped. Enjoy...
NOT A VIRGINIA RAIL. Not gonna lie, I checked him out last night, not wanting to miss the chance to see the rail. I saw him/her then too, but its presence was seen from far within the phragmites reeds. Instead I got a shot of a solitary sandpiper, hanging out on the opposite side of the reeds from the rail.
From this morning... as you can see this IS the Virginia rail, and um, he is pretty well camouflaged and quite small, he is just in the foreground compared to that gatorade bottle.
Brace yourself, here comes so much rail...
Saw a lot of foraging behavior, and when he/she needed to, it was able to make a fast dash for cover and (very) successfully disappear.
Not the best picture, but you can get a sense of the (despite being brown and cryptically colored) beautiful plumage this little wader sports.

Unfortunately trash was more common than birds in this area and hard to avoid in photos.

The Virginia rail is much dantier in size to the more familiar clapper rail, a more common resident of Brooklyn in our salt marshes. Virginia rails have their summer ranges in NY, but prefer much more secluded places and are currently in transit South to their wintering grounds.
I learned when reading about this species that they can SWIM UNDERWATER to evade predators-- like how cool is that? Using its wings to swim, like a puffin would.

Cruddy picture, but look- Breakfast! A worm pulled from the muck, using that long, probing bill.
Down the hatch!
A second worm is snagged and meets its end, down the gullet of a petite wading bird.

Some catbirds were causing trouble, when they were in the area of the phragmities, they would dive at the rail, sending it into hiding. So when the catbirds returned, I figured I'd end on a high note (and make sure I got to work on time).

And a floofy song sparrow to end my morning before work.