March 17, 2009

A Rail on Old South Saint Vrain Road

Yesterday evening, my mom and I (Joel) walked along Old S. Saint Vrain Road just outside of Lyons.  There is a side creek of the Saint Vrain River that flows into a little pond.  I noticed some movement at the creek's edge, looked more closely, and saw a Virginia Rail!!! The only time I have seen this rail species before was on a rail walk in Texas last year where we got fleeting looks as they flushed up.  In Colorado, I had previously only heard them.  This rail was very close (~10 feet) and I was able to clearly observe its field marks . . . fist-sized body; long, decurved bill with lower orange mandible; gray face; faint rufous underparts; faint black and white barring on flanks; flicking, up-cocked tail; and yellow-orange legs with very long toes.  The Virginia Rail quickly walked right through a densely packed stick dam.  Rails look chunky, but they really are "thin as a rail!"

Virginia Rail - by Joel Such
I needed to photograph through some dead branches, which is why there are blurry streaks.

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