Water Rail

Today at RSPB Rainham Marshes we had some fantastic views of a Water Rail, normally a shy sulking bird. We watched as it stalked through the reeds to the waters edge, extended its neck in a heron-like fashion, and then in a split second made a snatch at something just below the surface. On the first occasion this was a enormous Great Diving Beetle, and on the second, a Stickleback. These sizable food items required a bit of pre-dinner preparation. The bird repeatedly struck its prey by stretching upwards and plunging it’s bill vertically downwards into the morsel on the ground, firstly killing its prey and then breaking it into smaller pieces. We could hear the loud taps as the bird tried to pierce the hard casing of the beetle. What a wonderful intimate peep into the secretive world of the Water Rail.

Water RailWater Rail 2Water Rail 3

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