During an hour or two log watching at Kelly Swamp over the last couple of days, I found the time could be passed by mentally composing a little verse:
Crakeless in the morning light the dead tree sprawls supine,
where coot and moorhen come to play, and brownish ducks recline.
Our eyes ache for a smaller shape, that quick and furtive skulk,
but all the rails in view today are of a larger bulk.
Actually that’s not quite accurate. When a night heron flew onto the dead tree this morning, Shorty saw a crakelike shape flush from lower down. When this reappeared in the tangled branches it was clearly the little chap that Louis Vieillot, in 1819, called Rallus Bailloni for the natural history collector ‘who first discovered it in Picardy where it arrives in the month of April’ . This is the species some have seen in the last couple of days, but it does not rule out a Lewin’s Rail at the same spot, that other chap having been regularly reported by its call over the last few months, in the general vicinity.