Today's main goal was to find King rail. Very early this morning, I searched around Bear Island WMA where I found a total of 3 rails. The first two were sunning themselves at the marsh edge, and while I was watching them a third swam out into the channel. Had I not been shooting through reeds, the shot of the swimming bird could have been a real winner. As it is, it is a servicable shot of what I believe to be a King rail. There is some overlap in plumage characteristics between King Rail and Clapper rail, and, in frequent instances without a really good look and listen, birders must be content with tallying confusing birds as "Cling" rails. Based much on the fact that I head only King-like calls this morning, and that this is a known spot for King rail (it is brackish), I am learning towards King rail on all of these birds despite the somewhat dull plumage. I think the beak looks really long on these birds (particularly the front bird in the pair shot) which favors King as well. As I have tried to emphasize, I am NOT the best birder in the world so If you fancy yourself a rail expert and want to weight in please do so. I have solicited some opinions from people way more knowledgable than myself, and if they agree with my synopsis, I will count King rail as #186. If not I will spend time looking for this bird further south.
I was also hoping to find Sedge wren, but despite pushing and squeaking endlessly, I was not able to get a clear enough view of one to definitively count this bird. I will certainly have more chances for this bird in the next few weeks if not months.
Bear Island at sunrise
Possible King rails (long beak!)
What I think is a King rail
The afternoon was spent kicking around Donnelly WMA near Green Pond, SC. This area is interesting for a number of reasons, but the imminent attempts to reintroduce Red-cockaded woodpeckers might lead to list. It will be interesting to see how this goes over the next few years. I here found my first house wren of the year (#186). Not terribly exciting, but at least there was no doubt on the ID! I ended up in Port Royal, SC for the night. I rode ~47 miles today, and I will do roughly the same tomorrow to reach Savannah.