A Sora!

A few days ago, very much at the end of the day when the cloud cover had taken over completely and the sun was moving quickly to the horizon, I started my trip back to the house. I had been hanging out at the far west side of the pond where there’s an inlet of marshy, shallow water that supports a small stand of cattails. As I turned the corner, I saw a small tree at the edge of the pond supporting a half dozen little birds. I stopped, took the lens cover off the camera again, and snapped off a few shots. I knew the conditions were poor at best, but with the Spring migration in full swing, I knew these birds might be here for just a few days or less. So, it was worth trying to capture a marginal image. The rest of this story can be found at this blog PAGE – Name That Swallow.

We taught a class over the weekend, so I wasn’t able to get out to evaluate the bird life for a couple of days. But, the first thing I did when I had the time was to go back to the west inlet of the pond. I wanted to see if the unknown Swallow I had filmed was still around and if it would settle long enough for me to get a quality photo.

As I was sitting patiently, gazing over the pond at the swallows that were soaring but not landing, I saw movement in my peripheral vision. A quick head turn and I thought it was a large rat! It disappeared in the taller vegetation at the edge of the pond. Readjusting the camera angle to hopefully record the animal, I didn’t have to wait long. It wasn’t a rat. It was a bird that appeared to be hunting in the shallows. It had a start-stop action like many birds that make a living catching critters in the water. I took photos, but I knew they wouldn’t be stellar and the sun was popping in and out of the clouds, and it left the water looking nearly black. Here are a few of the decent pictures I took of that bird – including a couple showing the characteristic tail feathers, another displaying it’s crazy long legs, and a final one showing what it nabbed to eat, which appears to be a snail.

Fortunately, for me, a second bird slithered out of the cattails which were quite a bit closer to my position. I was elated to take these photos of a bird I knew was a new species for me (our property), but that I didn’t yet know its identity.

Both of the birds were quite elusive – quickly zipping back under cover at the slightest motivation for safety. During that time, I used the Merlin app to learn the identify of this lovely creature. Using the colors yellow (for the brightly colored beak) and brown and “swimming or wading” as the location, a series of birds were displayed. Most of them had very long bills, which is more characteristic of birds that make a living finding aquatic meals. The short beak that was also brilliant colored yellow made the identification very easy. This is a Sora. It’s a member of the Rail family. Yeah. I didn’t know what a Rail was until I encountered this lovely Sora in my pond.

At the Audubon website, it states, “Despite its abundance, it is not often seen: As with other rails, it spends most of its time hidden in dense marshy growth or wet meadows.” Apparently, I was quite lucky to have seen two of them. The Audubon site also places my location on the edge of two zones: “Migration” and “Uncommon breeding.” Who knows, perhaps these two will stick around if they like the option for rearing their chicks. But, probably they are just here for a short while on their way northward where they breed in northern states and Canada.

I was able to film the Sora that was slipping in and out of the cattails one more time. Here are a few of those images. With a bit more sunlight, I was able to capture the glint in the bird’s eye. That always makes me happy.

It was a wonderful surprise and it was a good swap for failing to capture the elusive, unidentified Swallow that I’ve been observing. Perhaps I will accomplish that goal soon!

2 Comments on “A Sora!

  1. Hey Tammie!!! What a find!!! Your Sora photos are pretty nice considering their habitat. How nice to see them skulking around to find food and succeeding!! They do indeed have the most ‘interesting’ legs and feet!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: