Thursday, July 8, 2010

Clapper Rail

When I stopped on the prairie to photograph sulphur butterflies puddling on a cow patty, somebody else caught my eye.  At first I thought it was one of our juvenile Attwater's Prairie Chickens!  But one glance at the long beak corrected that idea.  It was a large brown bird slowly stalking through the grass near a culvert and drainage ditch.  This was a spot where there was usually standing water, but now the ground was hard, dry and cracked because of our scorching, dry weather.  He took cover in a thicket of short Rattlebox trees to preen briefly, then strutted back into the culvert beneath the gravel road.  The Preserve Manager identified him for me - a Clapper Rail.

Little Sulphurs

There have been clouds of these small, flitty sulphur butterflies on the prairie.  During our dry spell, the dainty insects gathered to sip moisture in the only place it could be found - in fresh cow manure.