Thursday, 19 February 2015

Rallus Aquaticus

Now wouldn’t it be good if all scientific names were as easy as this one to remember?

As promised, some images taken at WWT Caerlaverock of the Water Rail plus some interesting facts.

The Water Rail was first described by Carl Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae in 1758 under its current scientific name, Rallus aquaticus.

The oldest known fossil of an ancestral Water Rail are bones from Carpathia dated to the Pliocene period…5.3-1.8 million years ago.

The Water Rail’s main and well known call is known as sharming

Ooh, yeah! All right!
We're sharmin':
I wanna sharm it wid you.
We're sharmin', sharmin',
And I hope you like sharmin', too.

With apologies to Bob Marley

When researchers played recordings of the Reed Warbler at night to attract that species for trapping, they found Water Rails and other wetland birds were also grounded, despite a lack of suitable habitat, suggesting that the rails and other nocturnal migrants recognised the warbler’s song and associated it with the marshy habitat in which it is usually found.

 The Icelandic population of water rail, R. a. hibernans, became extinct around 1965, as a result of loss of habitat through the draining of wetlands, and predation by the introduced American mink.

Water rails have been eaten by humans for thousands of years.  They were eaten by the Romans, and depicted in wall paintings at Pompeii.  Now that’s interesting, as I have visited Pompeii and didn’t see these wall paintings.  I did see many other wall paintings, some of the graffiti type of a rather rude nature (naughty folk these Romans), but the details are perhaps best left for another blog!

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