Sunday, January 10, 2010

Clapper Rail

After the 6 mile hike in Montauk which was less than satisfying as far as photography goes, I decided to stay close to home in hopes of getting some more Harrier photos.  There also was a chance that I'd be able to locate one (or both) of the Clapper Rail or American Bittern that had been seen near Dockers Restaurant on Dune Rd. in East Quogue.  The ditch just to the east of Dockers is quite productive in the winter and has been host to Black Ducks, Red-Breasted Mergansers, Wilson's Snipe, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Great Blue Heron, and now Clapper Rail.  I spotted the bird feeding in the mudflats (it would be unlikely to find this bird at high tide due to the depth of the water and size of the bird) and parked nearby.  I trekked over the frozen marshland (which was helpful, as when there is no ice it's quite spongy and difficult to walk across) quietly and snuck up on the Rail who was not alarmed by my presence.  After a good showing the Rail walked to the bank of the creek and poked its head curiously in the grasses and in the blink of an eye slipped between the grass and mud bank.  Gone.  No wonder these birds are so tough to photograph!

Long Island is the nothern extreme for this birds wintering range.  Clapper Rails (along with other Rails [King, Virginia]) have a diet consisting of fish, crustaceans and invertebrates.  In this photo it appears to be eating a sand shrimp that it stirred up in the mud.

And here it is in its typical habitat:

No comments:

Post a Comment