Nop Paothong likes a challenge even when it involves extreme heat and mud. He wanted to photograph the king rail, a bird rarely seen. Rails hang out in thick marsh grasses and smartweed. Their rusty-colored feathers and stripes along their sides help them blend in to their surroundings.
When Nop learned that rails were calling at B.K. Leach Conservation Area in Lincoln County, he grabbed his electronic calls and camera and headed for the Mississippi River marsh.
After several days of hiding in smartweed, he heard a response to his calls: “kek, kek, kek, jupe, jupe, jupe.” Unfortunately, the sound was behind him. As he slowly turned, he saw two rails pecking his camera bag. They ran away before he could take a shot.
Now Nop knew where the birds lived. The next time he was ready when a rail came to his calls. As long as he didn’t make sudden movements, the bird stayed close by. When Nop slid through the mud or adjusted his camera, the rail scurried into the grass, but came right back to have its picture taken.
“Many days I spent 12 hours under the hot sun and under constant attack by mosquitoes and ticks,” Nop says. “I got some unique pictures and, for a wildlife photographer, there’s no better reward.”
To see more rail photos, go to www.xplormo.org/node/4576.
Nichole LeClair Terrill