This morning I came across two Virginia Rail near the boardwalk at Otter View Park in Middlebury. They were acting rather fearless, one allowing me to take several pictures and a video from fifteen feet away. This spring is the first time since the boardwalk was built in 2008 that this species has been observed in the park. I believe it was the unusually high water in the marsh in early spring which attracted them.

While taking the video, another of the Park’s regular visitors came along and watched the Rails with me. After they went out of view, she told me that she had seen them two days earlier along with six chicks that she described as “fuzzy black peanuts on stilts.” She said she watched them gather around one of the parents and lie down to rest, and was able to observe them in that position for an extended period of time. The chicks were likely very close by but out of sight as we watched the parents this morning as well. Very exciting sightings of a bird that is much more often heard than seen.

– Ron Payne