Thursday, 12 January 2012

A 'Raily' Good Start to the New Year!

"Rallus aquaticus, the Water Rail, a fairly common but highly secretive bird of wetlands, far more often heard than seen" ...or so the field guides say...

At the RSPB reserve of Pulborough Brooks there is a visitor centre which includes a huge floor to ceiling window with an unbeatable view across the wetlands to the rolling south downs. 
Beyond this window is a pond, edged with reeds and rushes; a fantastic place to see dragonflies during the summer months. Between the pond and the visitor centre window are two clumps of brambles, bisected by a grassy slope that stretches the few metres to the edge of the pond. sometimes some seed is tossed out onto the grass, A treat for the noisy raggle-taggle mobs of house sparrows, cheeky characters popular with all the visitors. 

"But wait a moment!" I hear you say, "Thats not a Sparrow!" pointing at the bottom of the picture. 

With that characteristic triangular tail held upright, long red dagger beak and huge spreading feet, it can only be a Water Rail. 
This particular individual has taken up residence in the brambles and around the pond outside the visitor centre and has been providing regular and close views through out the day all weekend, and has continued its performances into this week. Although still very nervous and often dashing back into the undergrowth to hide from perceived danger in typical water rail way, visitors who stand still, quiet and patiently at the window are being treated to fabulous views of this normally extremely secretive bird strutting around 3-4metres beyond the glass. It is not often that a bird such as this allows such close observation and it has been brilliant to get the chance to really study and enjoy the species. 

The following photos were taken from within the visitor centre whilst working there on monday. 

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