Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sloop Creek Rd 5/31--KING RAIL

When a life bird is a 23 minute drive away from your house you can only ignore it for so long. A few days ago a couple of Ocean County birders stumbled upon a KING RAIL in the marshes around Bayville while trying to hear the even rarer Black Rail. I figured it was a one-off. I had no doubt as to the i.d. (these are good birders) but I'm a pessimist. Then I saw another report. Then another from last night. Finally, this afternoon, I mentioned it to Shari who quickly said we should go. She'd never been to that portion of the county so she was interested to see what it was like anyway.

We drove over, arriving at 8:10. Sunset was around 8:20. I figured we'd have to wait at least 15 to 30 minutes before we might hear the rail (again, a pessimist) but Shari hadn't even turned off the engine before I heard it. We had to wait about a minute for it to call again. It sounded exactly like the recording we have of it on our Thayer's Birding Software eField Guide program. Shari does an excellent impression of one and when she tried hers out she started a conversation with the rail. We listened for about 15 minutes then left with a life bird, state bird, county bird. We thought the wind might make recording impossible, but, if you turn up the sound, you can clearly hear the dry, rattling "kik-kkkkkker," of the King Rail.

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