Swinhoe’s Rail in Shanghai

by Craig Brelsford
Founder, shanghaibirding.com

The rarities just keep on coming here in Shanghai. The latest is Swinhoe’s Rail, seen at the Magic Parking Lot at Cape Nanhui on Sat. 29 Oct. by a trio of Shanghai bird photographers. The photo above was taken by one of the three, Chén Qí (陈骐).

This amazing find comes on the heels of Shanghai’s first record of Crow-billed Drongo on 11 Oct. and Pomarine Skua on 19 Oct. What a month October was in Earth’s largest city!

Swinhoe's Rail
Swinhoe’s Rail Coturnicops exquisitus, Magic Parking Lot (30.884898, 121.968229), Nanhui, 29 Oct. Photographed by Shanghai photographer Chén Qí (陈骐; net name 上海爷胡子). © Chén Qí.

I got the news about the rail from Chén Qí’s wife, Wāng Yàjīng (汪亚菁). Near dark, as I was returning home after my own eventful day at Nanhui, Wāng Yàjīng called me to report that she had just seen a strange bird. The bird, Yàjīng said, popped its head out of the bushes at the well-known photographers’ setup at the edge of the lot. It showed half its body and disappeared. The episode lasted a few seconds, Yàjīng said.

One look at the photo Yàjīng sent me, and there was no doubt: Swinhoe’s Rail.

The smallest rail in the world, Swinhoe’s Rail is also one of the least-known. The IUCN lists it as vulnerable.

On Sun. 30 Oct. 2016, photographers maintaining a long vigil saw the rail again.

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