Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How many Virginia Rails can fit in an acre of wetlands!?

After birding Ashurst Lake (see my previous post) we drove over to the Lower Lake Mary area. I didn't have the highest hopes for bird life here, but was hoping for something good anyway! We paid our entrance fee and were off birding around the small river like marsh. There were a bunch of sedges on the opposite side of the lake that we were on. As Mr. Ford, Alexia, and I sat down we noticed a juvenile Virginia Rail (wow!) there have not been any reports of VIRA's ever being at the lake so I was pumped! The bird stayed out in the open for a while but was pretty distant, however I was able to capture at least one okay photo.
While watching the young rail another juvenile came out. Here are photos of both birds.
You can see the body of the new bird on the left and the first bird is on the right.
We have two Virginia Rails! As we watched the two birds walking along the reed line we saw a third bird, only this was an adult!!!
I was amazed, three VIRA's within 40 feet of wetlands. Once we watched the birds for a time we walked further up along the waters edge. Stopping when we saw a Spotted Sandpiper fly into a muddy area along the bank .Watching the bird we noticed that there were two more VIRA's near the sandpiper. They were not the same birds from before because the birds were walking the opposite direction than when we had left them. Here is a bad photo but a photo indeed.
These birds also have a lot more baring on the sides then the others.
We were now at five birds, and only about half way through the wetlands! As we neared the end we had two more juveniles, but I was only able to photograph one of them.
Before realizing it we were at the end of the wetlands and had seen eight Virginia Rails, I was stoked!  While celebrating I saw a black dot on the other side of the pond.
This is what the bird looked like through my binocs. It did not take much time for me to call it a fledgeling VIRA! I knew that there should be one or two parents around and maybe some more fledgelings. While I was watching the birds Alexia said "I think I see four fledgelings!!!" but Mr. Ford and I did not see them so we walked closer. That's when we saw the adult and eventually a few fledgelings.

 It was not until I cropped my photos a bunch that I noticed Alexia was right, there were four fledgelings!!!  The day ended with twelve Virginia Rails at Lower Lake Mary, a pretty good count for a place that has never reported them before!!!


  1. That is a lot of Rails...c'mon Nature, find your balance!

    1. Thanks Mr. Laurence!!!
      I know right, I didn't think there was enough habitat to hold one rail!! I almost made a record for Coconino county with 17 being heard at the Kachina Wetlands.

  2. I'd take just one of 'em in plain sight! I've only ever caught a glimpse before.

    1. Thanks Mr. Josh!!!
      That's how I started out, with only a glimpse but after lots of waiting I started finding them all over!!!

  3. Way to bring them on in Caleb! What a great count and great day of birding for you, Mr. Ford, and Alexia!

    1. Thanks Mr. Tommy!!!
      I was pumped after that trip, and Mr. Ford and Alexia were too!!!