water-rail



water-rail defined in 1930 year

water-rail - Water-Rail;
water-rail - Bill red; crown, hind neck, and upper parts olive-brown, a black streak in the centre of each feather; cheeks, neck, and breast grey; flanks blackish, barred with white; legs and feet brownish flesh-colour. Length, eleven inches and a half. Female: duller in colour, the wing-coverts sometimes barred with white.

The water-rail inhabits fens, marshes, and watercourses, moving rapidly in the rank vegetation, swimming and diving with ease, flying only when compelled, and rising heavily, with fluttering wings and dangling legs, and after a short flight dropping again into cover. Its shy, skulking habits make it appear a very rare bird, but it is found, although in small numbers, in most suitable localities in Great Britain and Ireland. Although it is met with throughout the year in this country, it is believed to be migratory, the birds that breed with us moving southwards in winter, when their places are taken by migrants arriving from more northern regions.

The nest is made of reed-leaves, and is placed among coarse herbage or in a tussock of sedge. Seven to eleven eggs are laid, in colour pale creamy white, thinly flecked with reddish brown and grey. The nestlings are covered with black down. During the pairing and breeding time the rails are loquacious, frequently uttering their loud peculiar cry.

Three other rails (genus Porzana) occur in the British Islands, one a regular visitant. They inhabit marshes, but in form are more like the corncrake than the water-rail.

Spotted crake (Porzana maruetta). - A summer visitor, breeding sparingly in different parts of Great Britain. On account of its skulking habits and small size it is rarely seen. It lays eight to ten eggs, olive-buff in ground-colour, spotted with dark reddish brown. In size it is about a fourth less than the water-rail; the upper parts are olive-brown spotted with white; crown dark brown; face and neck dull grey; breast brown spotted with white.

Baillon's crake (Porzana bailloni). - A somewhat rare visitor to Great Britain, but known to have bred in Norfolk. General colour warm brown flecked with black and white. Length, seven inches.

near water-rail in Knolik


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