Friday, December 6, 2019

Rail Good Time in Malacca


Sungai Rambai (borders two States namely Malacca and Johor) and Batang Tiga are well-known for their birdlife particularly waterbirds such as ducks, rails, snipes and waders like the Wood Sandpiper. I had the rare Sunday afternoon to spare in looking out for some of these. The Slaty-breasted Rail was the last waterbird sighted in Malacca. Slaty-breasted Rail was also spotted before in Sungai Rambai, when Wild Bird Club Malaysia made a trip to Malacca back in 2016. More about this trip can be read HERE. I've also seen the White-browed Crake in Sungai Rambai, and this crake was smaller than the White-breasted Waterhen. Both crake and waterhen occupied the same ditch, with the latter chasing the smaller crake away from its territory.  
 Seeing this Slaty-breasted Rail reminded me of the Okinawa Rail (illustration above is sourced from IUCN website, with Copyright under Del Hoyo), which unlike the former, has a much gloomier future in terms of its survival. The Okinawa Rail (Gallirallus Okinawae) is categorized as an Endangered Species under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) List. The Okinawa Rail is described as below in eBird portal, with calls that are termed as "terrifying":-
A candy-red bill, curving white head stripe, and lacey black-and-white striping make this a unique and attractive species. Found only in and around the Yanbaru Forest on Okinawa Island, where it forages on the forest floor, often in pairs or small flocks. Most frequently seen as it crosses roads, trails, and clearings. Gives a variety of different calls, typically given during dusk, dawn, or nighttime hours. All are somewhat terrifying, a medley of shrill yelps, high-pitched squeals, and a laughter-like clattering.
More information about this endemic Rail species of Okinawa is available HERE. The Yanbaru forest of Okinawa Island in Japan, is home to this special Rail. This Okinawa Rail, known locally as "Agashi" prefers to roost in gently sloping branches of forest trees. A total of 111 bird species including the endemics such as this Rail, Okinawa Woodpecker, Amami Woodcock are described in a pamphlet on Birds of Yanbaru Forest, Okinawa. It is currently one of my bedtime reading material, with the hope that all 111 birds will appear in my dreams. Visiting Japan and the Yanbaru forests of Okinawa to see these birds would definitely be a dream come true for me.  



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