Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana) at Birstall Meadows, Leicestershire - August 2012
Spotted Crakes, unfortunately for the prospective viewer, fall squarely in the middle of the category of birds that are both very rare and very secretive. Reed-bed species are generally among the most frustrating anyway because they can be feet away from you and you'd never know they are there, but spotted crakes are also by far the rarest of the rails in the UK. There are only about 70 breeding males in the UK and the number only rises by about 50 in Winter. While, they have similar habits to Water Rails, if anything my impression was slightly more secretive. In this particular case the starling sized bird was on the opposite side of a field which obviously does not make it a very good photography subject. However, if you do get to see one better than these photos (which I did thanks to the kind gentleman who lent me the use of his telescope), they are a rather endearing and pleasantly patterned little bird. Several years later, I believe I saw a second bird briefly at Oare Marshes in Kent (and it fits with a widely reported showy bird that appeared there a few weeks later) but it wasn't a clear enough view for me to be happy counting it, and I didn't get a photo.
Subspecies: None - monotypic
- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Very rare breeding species (80 males) and vagrant
- One vagrant bird seen at Birstall Meadows in 2012