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  • Writer's pictureLeonardo Merçon

Mirror, mirror on the wall... the Rail

Early in the morning, as I woke up in the accommodation at Pedra Azul State Park, I walked out onto the balcony, still unable to fully open my eyes, and noticed movement in a disused pool, where a large concentration of aquatic plants formed a beautiful scene.

It was a Slaty-breasted Wood Rail (Aramides saracura) walking slowly, hunting for its breakfast. The scene was beautiful, with the water smooth and the vegetation providing a colorful backdrop. With a curious gaze, the bird observed its own reflection on the surface of the water.

Slaty-breasted Wood Rails are medium-sized aquatic birds and can be found in various wet habitats, such as swamps, marshes, and riverbanks. Their plumage is dark and inconspicuous, allowing them to easily blend in with the vegetation.

Despite their shy appearance (except when they decide to sing their duets), Slaty-breasted Wood Rails play an important role in the ecosystem. As part of the food chain, they feed on small aquatic invertebrates and also serve as prey for various predator species.

For me, as a nature photographer, capturing moments like this is a mixture of happiness and satisfaction. Observing animals in their natural habitat without disturbing them is an art that requires patience and dedication. It is the ability to capture a unique moment in the lives of these incredible beings that makes nature photography such a powerful way to connect people with the natural world.

Through the observation and documentation of these fascinating creatures, we can learn more about the complexity and interdependence of life on our planet. And, like the Slaty-breasted Wood Rail, we can draw inspiration from the small things in the natural world, such as a reflection, to value and protect these fragile ecosystems that are essential for the survival of all forms of life.

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Leonardo Merçon has been a nature photographer/documentarian for almost 20 years, focused on nature protection. He studied graphic design at the Federal University of Espírito Santo and photography for publications at the Academy of Media and Arts in Germany, with a full scholarship from DAAD, and currently pursuing a professional master's degree in Biodiversity Conservation at IPÊ/ESCAS. He is the founder/volunteer director of Instituto Últimos Refúgios (a nonprofit environmental organization). He has dozens of printed books and video documentaries published. He works to help tell stories through images in national and international media, such as BBC London and National Geographic Brazil, among others. In 2015, he gave a TEDx Talk in Vitória-ES. He believes in and works on environmental awareness activities (especially with children) and promotes nature-related tourism as a way to inspire people and promote change.


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