Pity the poor bird who fails to fly south as its comrades take wing. Lack of foresight has been the undoing of many a migrant that misses the proverbial boat. Sure, global warming may instigate some pretty mild winters but just as surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, snow and ice will hit Rochester. Often, it will hit hard!

The bird who deserves your deepest sympathy, if not outright pity, is a Virginia Rail that has found itself caught out as it were at Mendon Ponds. With temperatures well below freezing, this bird of little brain has been reduced to haunting the only open water in the park, a stream beneath a small footbridge. But the rail’s misfortune is our gain because it has been a lot more visible in the last few days than rallids tend to be in warmer seasons. Since I’ve never observed Rallus limicola, I rallied the troops for a rail review. Were Laura, Seth, and I successful? I’ll let my photos tell the tale:

I may abhor winter but I adore winter photography. The light is soft and the birds desperate! Not only did Seth manage to coax a chickadee to his hand but I was accosted by an aggressive titmouse, whose scaly little claws came as quite a surprise as it tried presumably to foil a Red-breasted Nuthatch photo shoot. The diversity at Mendon Ponds was brilliant; all the expected winter birds were there along with a few I haven’t seen in a while like Golden-crowned Kinglet and White-throated Sparrow. But that rail, poor thing, was the real prize!

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Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.