Gosforth Park nature reserve on the north side of Newcastle the other day and this obliging water rail put in an appearance and kept me entertained for a good five minutes - probably the longest water rail show I've seen. They have always seemed slightly absurd to me - made up of random bits shoved together like one of those kid's card games. Yet given a prolonged decent view like this they are surprisingly attractive in a subtle kind of way. (For much better photos than I could manage zoomed on a compact digital in rubbish light, I recommend the last two shots on this post from JR and Sue's blog.)
Mostly, this one did what it says in the books and crept in and crept out again, but every now and then it had a spell of mania, leaping vertically and flapping wildly, before jumping about from side to side. Then, as if coming to its senses, it got a grip and flipped back into skulk mode. I wonder what that was all about?
That there is more to water rails than first meets the eye is illustrated in a great series of photos of two birds having a real ding-dong of a fight on the Bird Guides web site