There are few things more annoying than hearing a bird you know is right in front of you, yet you are unable to find and see it! Moving into an apartment adjacent to a marsh, I was prepared to live the rest of my time here with this annoying feeling always lingering. Why, you ask? It's those darn Clapper Rails! On many days, at just about any time of day, I will hear that clap, clap, clap, clap, clap. Of course, from my apartment, it's expected that we would not be able to see them skulking in the marsh.
But even when we'd venture out into the marsh and would be probably within feet of at least one Clapper Rail, but probably several, we'd hear that distinctive call, but they were nowhere to be found. They seem to be good voice-throwers, or just sneaky and fast movers because as soon as we thought we had pinpointed the exact location, the call would be coming from somewhere else.
|Panorama of Skimmer skimming and catching a fish|
Well, we have finally gained some assurance that Clapper Rails are indeed out there and we are not just hearing things. While I was working last weekend, Nick had gone scouting for some shorebirds at a boat ramp area nearby that has some excellent mud flats at low tide. Amongst the decent variety of birds he saw out there, including Dunlin, Black-necked Stilts, Gull-billed terns, and Skimmers, he also got a great look at none other than a Clapper Rail. When I called him on my way home from work, he said, "You're going to hate me" as he gently let me know that he got great looks at this secretive bird who has not been on our visual list for the year.
|Ta Da! The elusive Clapper Rail!|
|Clapper Rail with a crabby snack|
|Struggling to keep a hold of that little crab|
I must admit that I was a bit disappointed that I missed this sighting although I was excited for Nick to see one. But since I had the next 2 days off, I had a chance to go out on my own and see for myself if I could have any luck at the boat ramp. So this past Tuesday, I headed down to the area, and before I walked all the way down the walkway, there was a Clapper Rail staring me right in the face. I ran back to my car to grab my camera, and was relieved to find that he was still out there upon my return. And boy, did he give me a show! Not only did he come out fairly close (within 10 feet), but he also showed off his clapping-sound-making skills AND his feeding skills for at least 10 minutes or so, which is an epic amount of time to view a secretive rail.
|The Clapper Rail out and about|
|Clapper Rail making that clapping sound. The sun shines for just a second!|
(You will have to forgive the shakey quality of the video. I must have been too excited to keep my hands still while trying to figure out how to use the video function on my DSLR for the first time!)
I even saw another one at one point on the other side of the boat ramp. This one may have been a juvenile as it appeared to have a browner, fuzzier wash all over and was making a different kind of sound.
|Clapper Rail showing his skulking skills|
|Clapper Rail walking through the dead reeds|
|Clapper Rail puffed up|