Theler’s Virginia Rails

If you want to spot Northern Harriers, Eagles, or Osprey at Theler Wetlands, you have to keep your eyes on the sky overhead. If you want to spot a Virginia Rail, you have to just the opposite — look down into the reeds that line the river bank and mud flats.

More often than not you hear them long before you see them. In fact, you probably hear them twice as often as you actually spot them. Often you will sense they are in the reeds, subconsciously noticing a slight movement in the reeds — a shadow moving through shadows.

If you’re lucky, and quick enough, you see them as they skirt the reeds,

scat through a thin stretch,

or poke their beak out into the sunshine for a particularly delicious snack.

My, What Big Eyes You Have

Even on a slow day, I can usually manage a picture or two that I like from a day’s walk at Theler. Considering how many Osprey I’ve seen this year, it seems appropriate on a recent visit that I got this shot of the resident flying overhead with a sole in its talons.

It was even considerate enough to wait for us on our return to the car

and seemed more than willing to pose for us.

I don’t think I’ve ever got a straight-on shot of an Osprey before. The size of those eyes must explain why it is so successful at spotting fish while hovering high in the sky.