Last weekend I was down in Dare County, NC with Jeff Pippen and a group of Duke graduate students when we saw this bird in the pond at the Bodie Island lighthouse.
Definitely a large rail...either a King or a Clapper, but which one? If watch the video with your volume up, you can hear us trying to figure it out.
Of course the harsh back-light makes the bird look like a silhouette in the video, but through binoculars field marks were discernible. And with heavy cropping and brightness enhancement, they even come out in the photos.
But the more I have shared these photos, the more different reactions I have received.
Please post your opinions in the comments below or email them to me (scott dot winton at gmail dot com). Hopefully we can all learn something!
*If you would call it a 'Cling Rail,' please be specific about what you mean. The term 'Cling Rail' gets used in two ways: 1) To refer to rails that we can't ID beyond Clapper/King because we don't have enough information (essentially, 'I can't tell from your crappy photos'); and 2) to refer to Clapper X King hybrids, which have been documented along the Gulf Coast, though I'm not sure how well we understand the frequency and extent of hybridization.