**Fair warning: I got kind of picture-happy in this post.... This is what happens when I run into two interesting, active creatures I'm not likely to see again anytime soon!**
Have you ever seen a rail? That is, the bird? Clapper Rails are apparently quite common around here, and I've heard them calling several times in the beach-side marshes of Silver Sands State Park. But I'd never actually seen one until this morning:
This Clapper Rail wandered out from under the boardwalk at Silver Sands, right where I happened to be standing, and began an intensive grooming routine:
(Look at those lovely stripey feathers, all puffed out!)
I'm not at all surprised that I've never seen one of these birds before, because their habitat of choice is among tall, thick marsh grass, where they can wander around and eat and breed and stay completely concealed. Their short, dumpy shape and cryptic brown coloring certainly helps them hide!
And for being such a (supposedly) common bird, this creature was drawing quite a bit of attention -- I heard several comments of "What is that bird? I've never seen a bird like that before!" from people passing by. At least I'm not alone!
After a little more fluffing and grooming, the rail started moving off into the marsh, but only after a few good stretches. Streeeetch, you stretchy bird!
With its wings held carefully out like that, I feel like this bird was displaying for its admirers:
(I don't actually know why it was holding its wings that way, but it didn't seem to be injured, so I'll just have to assume it's some quirky rail behavior.) Yes, I know, you're gorgeous:
In the marshes on the other end of the park, a female White-tailed Deer was wandering along:
I've seen deer in this marsh before, but something was different this time.... Is that a tail sticking up out of the grass? And a little wriggling body? OMG, nursing deer baby!
The baby was wandering along with its mother, sticking close and staying remarkably well hidden (for the most part) in the tall grass -- was it taking lessons from the rail?
These deer were very close to the path along the beach, but Mom seemed to know that none of the passing people posed a threat -- she was alert, but confident in their safety:
At one point, Mom spotted me as well, but apparently I wasn't too scary, either:
I cannot get over the cuteness of this baby!
When I left, Mom and Baby were still grazing contentedly. Keep that baby safe!
OK, I'll close this post with one last picture. I saw this scene and just couldn't resist! (No, I don't actually know the people-family... I hope they don't mind playing counterpoint to the Great Egrets!)
Everybody likes the beach. :)