Date: 11/21/20 7:52 am From: Tom Siegwald <siegwald...> Subject: Re: [ALbirds] Astonishing bird!
On November 21, 2020, at 8:01 AM, Lucy & Bob Email <RobertADuncan...> wrote:
The walkway between the corner of our house and the patio is short, but its length is bordered by thick, low cover of ferns and other plants in the shade of bayberry, azalea and camellias beneath a canopy of live oaks. About 20 feet to the south this thicket intersects with a small pond surrounded by walking irises, ferns, palmettos and, well, Lord knows what. Today about 10:00 a.m. I rounded the corner and headed to the patio when "it" ran across the open walkway right in front of me, never to be seen again.
This small, dark bird was running. Not flying. No wing flapping, and seemingly tail-less, it was slightly larger and chunkier than a Carolina Wren. The head was held close to the body and pointing forward giving the impression of a bird with very little neck. The color was a deep sooty gray with some rufescent brown, not the overall color rusty brown of a Carolina. I could see its legs running then it disappeared into the undergrowth. I knew it was a rail, and of all amazing things....a Black Rail !
Previously, our 3-county area (Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa) had 17 records of Black Rail, the earliest of which was a specimen taken on a ship in the Gulf near Pensacola on March 10, 1885. Two specimens were taken from the upper balcony of the Pensacola LIghthouse on the night of March 22-23, 1885. Other records came from the Pensacola Bay bridge in 1941 and 1946. Weston was shown a specimen from a Pensacola garden, and was told of others from neighboring gardens. One was found in October 1949 on the beach at Ft. Walton, Okaloosa Co., in October 1949. In January 1997 one was found at Air Products (now Eastman/Taminco) in Pace (Santa Rosa). Between 2000 and 2007, there were six records from the Okaloosa "Spray Fields" and Sanitary Landfill, and in March of this year (2020) one was found in the water on Pensacola Beach and taken to the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida. It was subsequently rehabilitated and released in a marsh in West Pensacola.
The amazing thing is how this bird escapes notice, and even when seen, pulls a vanishing act.