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Rail, African

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Johan van Rensburg
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Rail, African

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:36 pm

African Rail, Rallus caerulescens

Physical characteristics:
The African Rail is a distinctive bird with a long, slightly decurved bill, legs and feet dull-red, blood-red eyes, a white chin, blue-grey foreneck and breast, black-and-white barred flanks and undertail and dark chestnut upper parts.

Image

Distribution and habitat:
Wide-spread in the “wetter” parts of Africa, so too in Southern Africa. The AR is a resident bird with movement in response to environmental conditions. It keeps to reed beds and dense growth in perennial swamps and marshes.

Behaviour:
Usually found in pairs, sometimes alone. It is active throughout the day, occasionally calls after dark. Bold when in dense vegetation, allowing observers a close approach. Stands upright when alarmed, freezes. AR can swim well. Flies low with dangling legs.

Territorial disputes are regularly seen when two birds face each other in an upright stance and attack by jumping and pecking at each other. Normally the African Rail does not defend territory against other breeding bird species.

Diet:
AR forages in shallow water at the edges of reed beds for earthworms, spiders, insects, crabs, small frogs and fish. Also eats plant matter, including seeds. Sometimes scavenges.
Hunting technique:
Probes deeply into mud and grass tufts, immersing head and neck to catch prey.

Breeding and nesting:
Monogamous, territorial and solitary nester. The nest consists of a shallow saucer constructed with available leaves and stems, well-hidden inside sedge tufts. Seems to nest throughout the year. Lays 2 – 6 eggs at daily intervals. Both parents share incubation duties that lasts 20 days. Sometimes relays after failure.
671 Latest lifer: Black coucal

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Unread postby francoisd » Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:03 am

Great to see a photo of this one. The one and only sighting I had of this bird was from the Geelbek hide in West Coast National Park in 2005. It cam running out of the reeds, spent less than a minute at the water's edge and was gone again. Only enough time for me to realise what it was and to inform the other birder in the hide with me where the bird was.
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:08 am

Saw one in Kruger (In Stevenson Hamilton memorial area) in January 2006.

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Unread postby bucky » Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:10 pm

Eish , saw 1 at marievale the other day , did not know its rare or I would have tried getting more than just 1 photo :wall: .

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Re: Rail, African

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Wed May 20, 2009 11:40 pm

Seen on the Ndebele mining road/ Vlaklaagte . Unfortunately not a great photo :?

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Re: Rail, African

Unread postby Batmad » Sun May 24, 2009 6:25 pm

saw mine at Marieville
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Re: Rail, African

Unread postby Imax » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:22 pm

I wish i could get to see one

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Re: Rail, African

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:03 pm

Imax, quoting the words of a friend: " hey be patient, I 've waited years to see my first one..." 8)

No seriously, it's a great bird to see, but I struggled a lot, and spent hours waiting for it! It was so worth it though!
Good luck!
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Re: Rail, African

Unread postby Imax » Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:12 pm

It just feels like everyone has seen one exept for me! one of my big bogeys

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Yolandé Oelsen
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Re: Rail, African

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:56 pm

With a quick hour and a half "pop - in" at OPM Prozesky today, in icy cold wind at spitting rain, I saw, amongst quite a few other species, :dance: 4 African Rails. They every now and again showed themselfves.

Got these pics, despite the weather. Unfortunately, the photos with 2 of the 4 together, the always present reed got in the way and spoilt the photo's :evil:

Image

Image

Image

Image

{ enjoy them Imax.... :tongue: }
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Re: Rail, African

Unread postby Rusty Justy » Thu Jun 11, 2009 3:04 pm

Yolandé Oelsen wrote:{ enjoy them Imax.... }


:twisted: :lol: :lol:

Very nice Yolande, I think im going to go sulk with Imax for a bit!!!
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Re: Rail, African

Unread postby o-dog » Thu Jun 11, 2009 3:32 pm

Wow guys! These are all lovely pictures - amazing as they are quite secretive birds! :thumbs_up:
I have had good luck seeing them on quite a few occassions at Abrahmskraal in the WCNP as well at the Geelbek hide. Someone said they had seen 8 at the hide on 1 occassion.
Also seen on the Limpopo River, west of Mapungubwe.
8)
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Rusty Justy
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Re: Rail, African

Unread postby Rusty Justy » Thu Jun 11, 2009 3:58 pm

O-DOG :evil:
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Yolandé Oelsen
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Re: Rail, African

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Sat Jun 13, 2009 5:55 pm

Another lucky shot! This time at Abe Bailey NR. There are SO MANY rails there, I didn't know where to look or take photo's. Yesterday ended with no photo's but managed this glimpse photo today. There is a wetland on both sides of the road. Yesterday, saw 3 on the one side and 4 on the other. Yet another few were calling deeper in. So today I walked right up to the deeper part of the wetland, and sat between the reeds for an hour or so. Again saw 4, of which this photo was of one of them, before they took off.
Unfortunately though, they kept calling but didn't show again. ( had a 6 year old with me, who couldn't decide how to sit, and everytime she lifted her bino's to her eyes, made a noice with the reeds) :?

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Re: Rail, African

Unread postby Rusty Justy » Sun Jun 14, 2009 3:53 pm

AGAIN!!! :roll: :naughty:
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