I’m very pleased that posting of some some readers’ photographs has inspired others to send me their nature photos. If you’ve got good ones, send them along, but I reserve the right to choose which ones to publish.
This one clearly made the cut. Reader John Chardine, a professional bird photographer, sent me a picture of a shy North American bird, the Virginia rail (Rallus limicola), adding this note:
I’m a bird photographer- yes they do exist- so thought I would send this calling Virginia Rail to you. They are incredibly secretive birds, sticking to the marsh, but at this time of year you can coax them out with a little song fro your iPhone.
Of course I had to ask John about the iPhone app and how it worked, and he replied:
The iPhone app is called “Birdtunes” and offers up songs and calls for all North American bird species. Lang Elliot- the recordist- provides several different songs and calls for each species. The app is one of several available but I like this one. The idea of course is to play the call of a male of a certain species and have a nearby territory holder react by approaching and calling back. In a sense this is like sending a message directly to the brain of the bird in question so one has to be careful and not over-use the technique. Usually a short burst of sound is enough to bring a territory holder into view. At this time of year these birds are doing this all the time with real territory holders around them, so the additive effect of a recording being played is minimal, again so long as it is done judiciously. Once the bird is in view I then use my professional Canon camera equipment to make the images.
Finally, do not confuse the Virginia rail with the Virginia reel: