Clapper Rails

Clapper rail (Rallus longirostris)

We are experiencing exceptionally high tides lately. This is a result of the placement of the moon, sun, and earth in a way that creates the greatest tidal effects of the year. At the height of the tides, some people have been traveling over the marsh in a boat and shooting. I found out that they were hunting clapper rails. The hunting season opened on September 1. There is a lot of shooting going on, so either they are bagging a lot of birds or they are lousy shooters and are shooting at everything.

We went for a walk on the boardwalk over the local marsh during the peak of the high tide. Our gift for today was to see an adult Clapper Rail walking on the wrack that was floating in the water and appearing to be oblivious to us. We were able to walk right by the bird and it didn’t move away. I rarely get to see a Clapper Rail because they stay hidden in the marsh grasses. This was a great experience.

Clapper rail. This is the first time I had an opportunity to see how big their feet are.

And, it gets better. We saw 4 little Clapper Rail chicks. They were struggling with the high water and one little chick clung to the top of the marsh grasses that were barely sticking out of the water. The other three chicks kept popping their little heads out from under the boardwalk and they were walking on floating debris. They were very skittish, so I had a very difficult time getting pictures of them. They were as cute as they could be. I’m sure they can’t wait for low tide to get here!

This little clapper rail chick was staying perched near the top of the marsh grasses, apparently attempting to stay dry. It was reasonably successful. Compare to it’s siblings in the other pictures in this post.

When I got the pictures loaded on my computer, I noticed that one little chick had a spider on its head. Everything was looking for a dry spot with the exceptionally high tide!! A few photographs later, the spider was gone.

A wet little clapper rail chick with a spider on its head. That burry spot on the right side of the picture is the boardwalk. This chick is not walking on mud, it’s walking on floating debris.
The same wet little clapper rail chick without the spider and walking on floating debris during high tide.

Now we wait for Hurricane Dorian…..

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