From Pádraic Fogarty’s Whittled Away:
Probably common up to the mid-nineteenth century, there was a record of them breeding on the once extensive marshes around Dundalk, Co. Louth, in 1892.
I must confess I had not registered the spotted crake before reading this. Of course, I am very aware of the corncrake, which is fortunately not (quite) extinct in Ireland. From the RSPB fact sheet on the spotted crake:
The spotted crake is similar in size to a starling. Breeding adults have a brown back with dark streaks, a blue-grey face and an olive-brown breast – all covered with white flecks and spots. The under tail is a warm buff colour.
Spotted crakes tend to skulk in thick cover and walk with their body close to the ground and tail flicking. They swim with a jerky action like that of the moorhen. If surprised in the open, they run for cover or jump up and flutter away with legs dangling.
With a mere 28 British breeding pairs, the spotted crake is evidently under threat in Britain also. It is evident that it is a rather secretive bird, like the Water Rail, an inhabitant of my favourite habitat, reeds.
I also love the formal name – Porzana porzana. Wikipedia tells us that this is derived from Venetian terms for small rails.