Is this an outstanding year for crakes and rails for some reason?

To: "" <>, "" <>
Subject: Is this an outstanding year for crakes and rails for some reason?
From: Peter Shute <>
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2013 16:56:28 +1100
It would be well worth listening to recordings of Lewin's Rails because they're 
easy to hear if they're calling) but much harder to spot. In my limited 
experience, they tend to stay in or very near the reeds, and you have to be 
lucky to have one stay out on the mud for a while.

I've found you can vastly improve your chances by scanning the edges of and 
into the reeds constantly, with the naked eye occasionally to look for 
movement, but mostly with binoculars because from 20m away they can come out 
without you noticing.

They tend to move along feeding for a few seconds, then run for a bit, even if 
they don't know you're there. That means if you're watching one spot, you can 
miss them if you don't watch it constantly.

It's hard work constantly scanning, and I find it difficult to do it for 
prolonged periods unless I know there are rails there. But of course I won't 
know that unless someone else has seen one, or if I do the hard work (or hear 
one, or fluke it).

Early morning and evening have been best for me. I've seen them near reed beds 
and in salt marsh with what I think is called Samphire - very low shrubs they 
can hide under. Almost always when they come out on the mud, but sometimes 
clambering over reeds, sometimes a glimpse deeper in the reeds or flying to the 
other side of the water.

I've found the constant scanning helpful for Spotless Crakes too, as they seem 
to work their way along the edge of the reeds, weaving in and out, only visible 
for a second or two.

Peter Shute

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