Matt was so startled that he stopped his camera and looked up. A Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, usually found in mangrove swamps from Mexico to northern South America, had just walked across his camera display. There had never been any previous sightings of a Rufous-necked Wood-Rail in the ABA area. The sighting was initially posted as unconfirmed on the ABA blog. Later that evening, when the video was posted, the situation began to heat up in New Mexico.
Birders began arriving at Bosque del Apache on Sunday afternoon. The rail was remarkably cooperative. It had thoughtfully chosen an area that was near a parking lot and that was even handicap-accessible, allowing a maximum number of birders to get good looks at the bird.
I was able to get to the refuge on Monday morning. Unbelievably, I was able to walk right out onto the boardwalk and see the bird immediately.
|Rufous-necked Wood-Rail foraging|
|Bosque Wood-Rail watchers|
|Wood-Rail fan club|
Even New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich came out to the refuge to see the Wood-Rail.
|ABA President Jeffrey Gordon and NM Sen. Martin Heinrich scan the area for the Wood-Rail (photo courtesy of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge)|
And what of the Least Bittern that started this? It is still there, foraging in the marshy areas.
This is not the first unexpected sighting of a rare bird at Bosque del Apache. In 2008 a Sungrebe was seen there.
As of this writing the Wood-Rail is still present. Come to New Mexico to see it!