How are y’all on Water Rail identification? Great….
I took these images of a Water Rail sp in the Olympic Forest Park, Beijing, this afternoon. The bird has been around since at least December, frequenting a small area of reedbed with two Moorhens. After two failed attempts to see it, it was third time lucky today. And it showed spectacularly well.
There is a suggestion – initially raised by Jesper Hornskov – that this could be a Western Water Rail rather than the expected Eastern Water Rail (now recognised as a separate species by most authorities). The head pattern, flank barring, colour of the underparts and the undertail coverts are all said to be the key features. From looking at images of Eastern Water Rail on the Oriental Bird Club image database and images of Western on the internet, I am inclined to think that this is possibly a Western. But I have ZERO experience of Eastern Water Rail, having never seen it in China or anywhere else. I guess the question that has to be answered is – can a first winter Eastern Water Rail look like this?
If it is a Western, it would be a significant record (it has occured in Hong Kong apparently).
Anyone willing to put their neck on the line?
I’ll post some more info when I have done some more digging.
A nice surprise as I was watching this bird was a flock of 5 Olive-backed Pipits that landed briefly to drink from a small pool of water before heading off north – spring migration has begun!