One of the nation’s most elusive wading birds has been confirmed to be breeding at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Red Moss of Netherley reserve near Stonehaven after images of juvenile water rails were captured on camera.
Reserve Wardens Nick Littlewood and Rose Toney captured images of both adult and juvenile rails on several areas of the reserve over the summer using a remote camera and a box baited with mealworms.
Nick Littlewood said: “Water rails are far more often heard than seen. They have been heard calling at the reserve for some years but until now there was no concrete evidence they were breeding. We set up a box baited with meal worms with a remote wildlife camera. Over the summer rails were frequent visitors to our camera, including a number of black, fluffy chicks which started to visit from early July. We think that there were at least two breeding pairs.”
Water rails are a common but incredibly secretive wading bird that lives on freshwater wetlands. Just 130 breeding pairs were recorded in the UK in 2014, but the true population is likely to be much higher.
Red Moss of Netherley Wildlife Reserve is a mosaic of fen, marsh and woodland habitats, and one of the best examples of a raised bog in North East Scotland.