Delighted by this glamorous display, I first thought it was a new bird. Then I recognised the face: it was the Buff Banded Rail (Galliralus phillippenis) that I often see scurrying across the patch of grass below my window.
As it lowered its backlit wings a little, I could see I was right, but why was it holding those usually hidden wings out like that? I have since found it’s sunbathing, but at the time I wondered if it might fly.
I have never seen it do anything but scurry, flicking its tail up and down.
Apparently Rails can fly, if weakly.
When it turned sideways, I was dazzled by those strikingly patterned wings, now glimpsed from above. I thought of pheasants.
My bird books all comment on it as being secretive, sneaky, or skulking. I am now adding ‘secret show-off’ to those epithets. As it returned to its less dramatic daily dress and demeanour, this Rail certainly looked like it was checking that nobody saw its display; it could not know I was watching from on high…