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Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday's Foto

Normally I only post North American species for my “Friday’s Foto” series. Today I’ve decided to post about a Eurasian species that has only been recorded around a dozen times in the New World since 1900. The occasion being that one recently appeared in New York on one of Long Island's barrier beaches. I had the good fortune to see it.

The Corncrake, also known as the Corn Crake or Landrail, is a medium-sized rail related to moorhens and coots. Unlike most rails, which prefer wet or marshy habitats, this species makes its living on dry land. Described in most guides as “secretive”, they spend most of their time in tall grasses. Their diet is primarily made up of invertebrates such as earthworms and insects. They also consume plant material such as seeds of grasses and sedges.

This long-distance migrant breeds in Europe and central Asia, as far east as western China, wintering in Zaire, Tanzania and eastern South Africa. The vast majority of their global population is across Russia.

The conservation status of the Corncrake via the IUCN Red List is “Least Concern”.

Their scientific name, Crex crex, is supposedly derived from the sound that they make, which some describe as “two cheese-graters rubbed together”. In addition, the Greek word “krex” means "noisy braggart". Judge for yourselves:

Addendum - From Sean Sime's Facebook posting from that fateful day:

"When you accept the probability of a complete failure yet try anyway sometimes a miracle happens. Minutes before Rob and I arrived to the Corn Crake location we were told State Troopers were aggressively removing cars and people from the median and we should not attempt to park or walk near the bird. We took this unwanted yet predictable lump in stride and figured we would just see the bird and forget about photos. Knowing how eBird moderators are I still wanted to make an attempt to get a documentation shot. Rob drove 4 loops from turnaround to turnaround while I leaned out the window and, as we say in the business, "sprayed and prayed." 55 frames, 3 in focus, one happened to be this. Quite possibly the greatest bird I never got out of the car for!"

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