Date: 9/11/17 2:32 pm
From: Tom Wood <tcwood729...>
Subject: [wisb] Horicon NWR Auto Tour this morning/Dodge County
Up until today, I had not been able to see the King Rail(s) near the red
rock, but after viewing Jeremy Meyer's great images and seeing that Lorri H.
(eBird report) had also seen and photographed the rail, I thought I might
have a chance to finally catch a glimpse of this bird.
I arrived at the red rock at 8:40 and did not see the bird so I walked
farther down the road. As I scanned the edges of the ditch on the east side
of the road, about 170 yards north of the red rock, I saw a Sora quickly
moving along the edge. I then spotted the King Rail preening in a tiny cove
along the ditch and the Sora quickly passed in front of it. My impression
was that the Sora was about 1/3 the size of the rail, but it must be because
the King Rail was fully erect and the Sora was squatting as it ran in front
of the rail. According to field guides, my impression of size was way off!
I have little experience with King Rails, but I suppose that I was looking
at a juvenile. The face seemed quite brown and the belly was white, and I
believe on an adult female the face should be grayer and the belly pale
rufous. Still, this bird seemed very close to being in adult plumage.
It preened for 20 minutes and then started feeding and moving toward the
direction of the red rock. Suddenly it stopped, flew across the ditch in my
direction, gave 2 loud "kyo-kyk" calls and landed on the near side of the
ditch out of view. Later, Bill B. and 2 other birders were able to see it
closer to the red rock than where I saw it, so I guess it works up and down
the ditch. I'm fairly certain I saw a second King Rail back in the cattails
briefly near the bird I was watching, but it never appeared again, so I am
unable to confirm if it was the adult female.
A photographer got me on a young American Bittern on the west side of the
road; it was catching frogs. An adult flew across the last pond along the
auto tour while I was counting Northern Pintails (at least 60 of them).
I had a short look at a Least Bittern as it flew slightly east and then
disappeared into the cattails. There were American White Pelicans, Great
Egrets, and a couple of cooperative Marsh Wrens, so it was a great birding
day on an absolutely perfect weather day.
Thomas Wood, Menomonee Falls, Waukesha County

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