April 24 2016 Safari Road, West Flamboro, On. Around midday a small group of us spent a while staring at the rather winter-weary edge of a marsh hoping for a glimpse of a Sora. We’d heard it utter its funny whinnying call just a few feet away across an expanse of shallow water; but hearing a Sora (or a Virginia Rail, American Bittern or Least Bittern for that matter) is one thing; seeing one is quite another. They generally don’t waste time out in the open where they’re more exposed to predators. For birders they can be very frustrating, frequently heard but rarely seen. They (the birds) spend their lives among dense marsh vegetation picking for frogs, small fish and other food in the shallows, silts and vegetative debris. They raise their brood in this wet and gloomy world which must surely provide a super-abundance of things to eat – provided you’re okay with wrigley pond life.
The marsh was at one time, I imagine, a fifty-acre lake, a left-over remnant of the last ice age. But it has filled in over the eons to become an expanse of cattail-choked shallows dotted with Buttonbush and willows. Sometime in the last century, progress sliced a road across, bisecting it into neat halves. There’s plenty about this road to regret: the traffic is noisy, the margins swallow prodigious amounts of car-tossed litter and racing traffic kills birds, frogs and snakes that dare to cross. But on the plus side the road gives birders access into the heart of the marsh.
We caught a few momentary glimpses of the Sora, but eventually one wearies of such non-events. I wandered up the road to see what else might be around, a waste of time as it turned out, then turned back to the site of hopelessness where the other couple were at the point of leaving. As they started their car I re-found our Sora, this time out in the open and apparently moderately happy to be there. I pointed my camera and kept clicking, all the while beckoning the others to come back. My half of the story is a happy one, theirs is not for as they got out of their car the Sora slunk back into thick cover and left us. I got my Bird of the Day, another time they will get theirs. Here it is.