Sora (Columbia Bottom C.A.)

May 19, 2015

I rolled into Columbia Bottom Conservation Area extra early to find a nice spot to make a stand in one of the interior mudflats. Is was still dark as I donned my waders and collected my gear, including my beloved turkey hunting chair. I headed out to one of my favorite pools, right in the middle of the area, but found it dried up. Disheartened, I headed back to the 4Runner, loaded everything back up, and set out for Plan B.

Upon arrival to the south side of the area, I found the peripheral pools to be dry, but suspected I might find water farther inland. My hunch was correct and after walking around in circles in knee deep water, I eventually found a shallow spot in the mud to unfold my chair. I plopped down in the seat, basically a camo beach chair, and began scanning the pool in front of me for ducks, shorebirds, coyotes, and other critters — maybe even a badger, if I was lucky.

It wasn’t long before I sensed movement right next to me and carefully turned my head to the left, assuming I would eventually see a swamp sparrow. Instead, I saw a sora not more than three feet away, feeding under at least a couple layers of cover. I watched it for another 30 minutes and never once saw it come out for a shot. It was so close, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because my 500 mm lens will not focus at a distance of less than 15 feet.

After about an hour, I saw another sora, and then another. The second one was about 15 feet out so I knew I had a chance. I swung my lens on the location of the bird and tracked its activity for another 15 minutes or so, hoping it might poke its head out for a second so I could get a shot. It seemed like forever, but the busy little rail finally stuck its head up from the dense vegetation long enough for me to click the shutter a couple times. The featured image is the best of the two captures.

Although the sora is the most abundant rail in North America, this was the first time I even came close to photographing one of these secretive birds. I was pleased to have captured it in its preferred habitat of deep cover. I was lucky to get a clear shooting lane to the bird’s eye as it raised its head. A bonus was the decent view of the bird’s upright tail, a signature of the species.

I continue to be amazed at the opportunities I find to capture images of new species almost every time I go out with my camera. In my opinion, the great diversity of Missouri’s wildlife is a product, in large part, of the efforts of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Thanks for looking,


Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com


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