Rallus aquaticus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 262 (1766) ; Naum. ix. p. 472, Taf. 235 ; Hewitson, ii. p. 322, pl. xc. fig. 2 ; Gould, B. of E. iv. pl. 339 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. iv. pl. lxxxvi. ; Dresser, vii. p. 257, pl. 495 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xxiii. p. 20 ; Blanford, F. Brit. Ind. iv. p. 160 ; Saunders, p. 515 ; Lilford, iv. p. 139, pl. 60.
Rale d’eau, French ; Frango d’agua, Portug. ; Rascon, Span. ; Porciglione, Ital. ; Wasserralle, German ; Watterval, Dutch ; Keldusvin, Icel. ; Vandrixe, Dan. and Norweg. ; Vattenralle, Swed. ; Rantakana, Finn. ; Vodjanoi-Pastuschok, Russ.
Male ad. (England). Crown, nape, and hind neck blackish, marked with fulvous brown ; upper parts warm olive-brown blotched with blackish ; quills olivaceous brown ; tail darker, the feathers margined with olivaceous brown ; lores sooty blackish ; sides of head, throat, neck, breast, and upper abdomen deep slaty blue ; lower abdomen and flanks black barred with white ; middle of lower abdomen brownish buff ; a white patch on the under tail-coverts ; bill dark brown, the base of the lower edge of upper mandible red ; legs fleshy brown ; iris red. Culmen 1.62, wing 4.6, tail 2.12, tarsus 1.72 inch. Female similar but rather duller.
Hab. Europe generally, north to Trondhjem Fjord ; Britain ; resident in Iceland ; North Africa in winter ; Asia Minor and Asia east to Yarkand and Cabul ; N.W. India in winter, hut rare.
Frequents low swampy localities in or near woods, overgrown ditches, &c., and is shy and secretive in its habits. It seldom flies far when flushed, but is able to take extended flights, and swims and even dives with ease. It feeds on worms and aquatic insects, rarely on vegetable substances. Its call-note is a clear creek, usually uttered when on the wing, and its cry is loud and peculiar. It breeds in damp, swampy localities, and conceals its nest with care ; this is a rather large, loose structure of dry leaves of aquatic plants, and is placed on the ground. The eggs, 8 to 10 in number, are usually deposited in April, and are pale whitish stone-buff, marked with pale purplish shell-spots and dark red surface-blotches and spots, and measure about 1.39 by 1.4.
984. Rallus aquaticus