Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Texas: Clapper Rail and friends

One of the more memorable moments on the trip came at Yacht Basin Road, near Rollover Pass and High Island – this area of cordgrass and saltmarsh channels is a notable site for Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows, and also for Clapper Rails. Normally the latter species is pretty elusive and skulking… but we found a very obliging bird that showed superbly!


Starting to venture out away from the cover of its favoured creek…


Nearing the edge of the track…


…carefully considering whether it’s safe to cross…


And having completely ignored the presence of three photographers and their rapidly-firing motor-drives, off he goes (like the clappers, perhaps?)


And finally, back into cover on the other side.

But the interests of variety, here’s a few shots of some related species:


Sora Rail – we saw quite a few of these at various sites. This one was parading around in the open near the South Padre Island Birding Center


American Coot – one of the commonest waterbirds


But conversely, we were surprised to only see just this one American Purple Gallinule on the trip – at Anahuac, near High Island. Pretty smart bird, though – quite how anyone can mistake it for a Moorhen is beyond me!


And finally, what appears to be another common bird: a Moorhen, right? Well, maybe not for long: this American subspecies is likely to become Common Gallinule in future, having been mooted as a likely split by the ‘Sound Approach to Birding' and Martin Garner amongst others. Note the shape of the top of the frontal shield (squared off on American birds); although we didn’t hear any, they apparently also have clearly different vocalisations. So, an ‘armchair tick’ in waiting…

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