Friday 14 January 2011

Mind the live rail

The water rail seems to be a fixture. We saw it yesterday and again today, turning over soggy poplar leaves to find small creatures, just beside the bridge over the bief. This seems to be its favourite spot and it makes full use of the cover overhanging the area.
The little grebe has now found a partner and we have high hopes for little little grebes!

Tuesday 11 January 2011

11/1/11.... A day to remember.

The Water Rail showed up again this morning and I was able to take some photos through the kitchen window... it appeared as I was watching the antics of a young Muskrat... concerned that it might be making for my new willows in the nursery area.
However, it surprised the Rail, which popped out from the vegitation it was skulking in.... the pair froze long enough for me to get to the camera bag and extract same... and get the camera out! They both seemed wary of each other, and I am sure that the rail's beak could be used defensively!

The chicken netting is the 'protection' for the tree nursery... but I've seen a muskrat in there this year!

Then later, Pauline spotted a Great White Egret having an argument with the local Grey Heron over who owned the fishing rights on the Aigronne... as the camera was out of the bag still, I managed to get a picture of the Egret in the field below Grandmont. Again taken through the window and at the maximum range really of the telephoto.

We were able to watch it through the big 'scope and that allowed us to identify it.
The salient points are... elegant heron-sized, all white bird with a 'broken' neck, black legs and yellow beak.

Despite the roughness of the picture, the kink in the neck is clearly visible.

Sunday 2 January 2011

New year, new bird

We spent the New Year in the laiterie, and actually slept there for the first time. Therefore we spent more time looking out over the millstream (bief). Great was Tim's excitement when he spotted a water rail, rallus aquaticus, râle d'eau. On a grey day too murky for a decent photo, the only thing conspicuous about this secretive bird was its long candy pink beak and legs, distinguishing it from the resident moorhens. It worked up and down the edge of the bief turning over drowned poplar leaves in search of insects and small crustaceans, swimming occasionally from one exposed mud patch to another.

This species is reported to nest in Bossay sur Claise and possibly Charnizay, but the damp meadow habitat is ideal for it and we've been hoping to see one.