A few weeks ago, I saw a Clapper Rail for the first time, and I was really excited. Well, this morning, while visiting Silver Sands State Park, I was lucky enough to see four of these usually-hidden birds!
One Clapper Rail popped out of the tall marsh grass near the boardwalk to snatch up a small crab for a snack (I'm pretty sure that's what this bird's holding in its beak):
After which it hurried back into the marsh on very dirty (oily?) feet:
A second Clapper Rail was further back in the marsh, preening itself in the morning sun:
And what's that small black fuzzball moving off to the side? Oh my goodness, it's a baby rail!
Wait, make that two babies!
I'm not surprised that these birds were breeding here -- this marsh seems like a great place for a rail to raise a family -- I'm just surprised that I actually got to see the babies! They're such a wonderful combination of adorable and ridiculously awkward, as babies often are -- just look at those gangly legs and huge feet! :D
So that was today's main excitement, but there were plenty of other things to see, too. Down on the beach, dozens of Ring-billed Gulls were beating the heat by panting, and I got to see into quite a few bright orange and red gull-mouths:
A Snowy Egret was standing in the ocean, quickly opening and closing its beak to churn the water, presumably in some sort of feeding technique -- I'm much more used to egrets using the hunting-and-stabbing method for getting food, so this was pretty interesting to watch!
Back in the marsh, a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was hunting in what I think of as the more typical heron/egret manner. But it stood so tall and straight as it waded through the water that it reminded me more of a stork or a crane than a heron:
Once it spotted some prey, it hunkered down into a much more heron-y pose....
Finally, there was this Cabbage White butterfly (Pieris rapae) feeding from some Spotted Knapweed blooms (Centaurea biebersteinii) -- both of these species are non-native and invasive (assuming I've identified them correctly), but I think they're quite pretty nonetheless:
Tomorrow, I'm leaving on a trip with my family to a strange and foreign land: Utah! I'll be there for a week, and I hope to return with stories and pictures aplenty. Stay tuned!