Spotting the Spotted

2012_03_13 LN - Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana) 01
Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)

I went to the Laguna Navaseca having received word of a Bittern there. The Bittern didn’t show after much searching, not that I expected it to be all that obvious, however the day was not without its surprises. At the Navaseca, I managed to count 36 species in two hours. Of the waders were Redshank, Ruff (some in the whiteish plumage), Black-tailed Godwits, Common Snipe, Little Plovers and Black-winged Stilts. A female Reed Bunting was somewhat elusive and a pair of Water Pipits were feeding in the muddy edges of a pool. As well as Mallards, there were Gadwalls, Eurasian Teal, Shovelers, a Marbled Duck and plenty White-headed Ducks. The Marsh Harriers were doing their pre-nuptial acrobatics and a Purple Swamphen was having a refreshing bath.
And then came surprise of the day – a Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana). The Spotted Crake is a secretive bird more often heard than seen. And so I was well pleased when this little figure scuttled across the road 2 metres in front of the car with a cocked tail into the reedbed. I thought that perhaps it was one but couldn’t be sure as I had only gotten a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye. It was just the cocked tail that gave me a clue. About 15 minutes later it was swimming in amongst the reeds next to me and I managed a few shots through the reeds. Luckily I had my extender on and was in manual focus, otherwise I would have just got reeds without seeing through them so to speak.
Not much is known about the Spotted Crake due to its secretive nature, especially during the breeding season. It breeds in well vegetated swamps or lakesides and eats mainly insects, snails, worms, small fish and plant materials. It is easily identified by its short straight bill, yellow with a red base. Adults have mainly brown upperparts and blue-grey breast, with dark barring and white spots on the flanks and a sort of snow effect of white spots on the head, breast and upper-parts . They have green legs with long toes, and a short tail which is buff underneath.
It was September 2009 when I last saw one in Peralvillo as in the following shot. Hopefully it won’t be the same length of a wait before I see another.

Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana) 02
Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)

Go birding in La Mancha, Spain and see if you can spot a Spotted Crake with Oretani Wildlife.

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