Reflectioons on log-watching at Kelly Swamp

To: <>
Subject: Reflectioons on log-watching at Kelly Swamp
From: "Steve Read" <>
Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2014 12:46:11 +1100

Lunch at the MCG, and following Geoffrey’s compositions below (poetic and photographic) I’m happy to reinstate the “possible” qualifier alongside my Lewins Rail report from Tuesday, at least until the birds are confirmed by someone else.


I’d dismissed Baillon’s simply on the basis of size – having seen Baillon’s reasonably regularly at Kellys, including yesterday morning – as the two birds I saw just weren’t that tiny.  Darker, browner legs and bill than the pictures below, too.  But the advice of the experienced watchers of crakes and rails (a very peaceful pastime at Kellys, I’ve found) is always appreciated.




From: Geoffrey Dabb [
Sent: Friday, 26 December 2014 10:45 AM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Reflectioons on log-watching at Kelly Swamp


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.


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