Early this year, news reached me through a Ceylon Bird Club source about a Ruddy-breasted Crake near the Lunawa Lagoon at Ratmalana. Crakes are secretive birds that are usually difficult to see either due to their rarity or because of their skulky nature. So the bird watchers have a special liking for them because of the challenge they present.
I visited this site one balmy afternoon with my trusty tuktuk companion Sarath. Directions were provided over the phone by my friend Namal Kamalgoda, who had been there earlier to check the site but not seen the bird. After reaching the site I was further guided by the owner of the house in front as to where I should stand exactly if I want to see the bird!
And, after heeding his advice, this, was what greeted my eyes—a sewage canal.
Not a pleasant sight! But crakes are indifferent to such insalubrious sites. So, here, I waited.
The man was dead right; I hardly had to wait for 2 minutes before I set my eyes on a Ruddy-breasted Crake wading in the sewage water. It was easily my best view of this scarce bird.
The resident populations of Ruddy-breasted Crake are boosted by migrants during the winter; therefore, its status ought to be described as “scarce resident and migrant”.
I had my second Ruddy-breasted Crake for the 2008/2009 bird watching season, from a safari jeep, while guiding Andreas Prevodnik (in February 2009) at Bundala National Park.
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