THE LIAPPER RAIL, or Salt Water Marsh Hen, is a chicken-like bird with strong legs and a long
The Secretive Clapper Rails
BY BILL FAVF.R
One of ihe mosi sccrclive of birds moves almost
motionless through the marsh grasses. The Clapper
Rail, or Salt Water Marsh Hen, is a
chicken-like bird from 14-16 inch
es long. It is grayish-brown in col
or, hen-like in appearance, and has
strong legs and a long bill. A white
patch may be seen under its short
tail, if you see the bird at all!
Underparts are slightly brown.
Often the only evidence of this
bird in the marsh is its loud "cac,
cac, cac" heard late in the evening
or when the bird is disturbed dur
ing the day. Birds are also noisy just before a storm.
One bird can set off a chorus of others as the sound
carries across the marsh.
Clapper Rails live in marshes from Connecticut to
South Rorida and on the West Coast. They nest on the
ground in a clump of vegetation, usually at the highest
part of the marsh. Nests can be a simple depression
made of grass or a more elaborate construction using
spartina leaves stuck in the mud and a runway leading
up to the nest itself. Usually 9-12 buffy eggs with
brown spots arc laid.
Rails live and nest at the mercy of the high tides
and storms. A high spring tide can easily destroy a
nest if the bird has miscalculated and eggs will float
away and nests fall apart. Ground living also makes
them very vulnerable to predators such as raccoons,
opossums and cats. Hunters also value the marsh hen
as a game bird.
Clapper Rails feed at low tide on the mud flats,
looking for fiddler crabs, other crustaceans, mussels,
snails and worms. They have been seen to shake a
male Tiddler crab until the long pinchcr claw falls off
and then to consume it. Their habit of moving secre
tively between the clumps of marsh grass has helped
give meaning to the phrase "thin as a rail."
These rails may be seen as they arc forced into
view by high tides or as they dart across mud flats
from one grass clump to another. They will look at
you with surprise and then go on about their business
as if nothing had happened. You will be surprised
when all at once a "cac, cac, cac" will sound and other
birds will join in to remind you that you arc not alone
in the marsh, but share it with many other creatures.
PO Traffic Ruins Quiet Neiphborhood
To the editor:
I have read with interest the many
articles and editorials concerning the
new post office. There is one other
fact about the new post office which
no one has seemed to notice except
the residents and property owners of
Seaside North. If you live in a pri
vate residential development, you
better watch out because this can al
so happen in your community.
Seaside North is located directly
behind the post office. The develop
ers of this nice, quiet, private com
munity asked all the owners to
please sign a release so several lots
could be used by the post office.
This release clearly stated no access
to the post office would be made
from inside the development; all ac
cesses would be made from High
way 904. Many owners signed this
agreement and others decided not to
sign. Regardless of what we were
told, we no longer have a nice quiet
The only access to the the post of
fice, for the employees and the mail
trucks, is if they use the first road in
Seaside North (Gate One, S.W.). I
live on that road. I am expected to
pay street maintenance fees for the
upkeep of that road and 1 am ex
No longer can children play in
our development without parents
worrying about them gelling run
over. It's no longer safe to ride
bikes, walk or skate like we have all
enjoyed doing in the past. Now we
are awakened at all hours of the
morning with trucks making mail
deliveries and with the postal em
ployees speeding up and down the
street on their way to work and
home again. Our property value has
decreased because no one else wants
to deal with the traffic and the noise
either. However, if someone does
want to live in this area, ride through
Seaside North. You'll find lots of
homes and lots for sale.
I personally asked the postmaster,
Frank Bringoli, to see if the trucks
and employees would please enter
the post office by turning onto Gate
One, S.W., from the Food Lion end.
There is only one mobile home on
that end and at this point no one is
living in it. I told him I was just try
ing to make a bad situation a little
easier to handle. Mr. Bringoli acted
like I was asking for something to
tally outrageous and said a few cars
and trucks shouldn't bother anyone.
I doubt he would feel that way if the
cars and trucks were driving up and
down his street.
I am asking the postal employees
and anyone else who wants to drive
down Gate One, S.W., consider the
residents, slow down and if at all
possible please enter and exit from
behind the Food Lion. Remember,
this could be your neighborhood.
Sheilah M. HarTcll
To the editor:
I was delighted to read Marjorie
Megivern's column in the May 7
Beacon. I'm encouraged that some
one else has the same thoughts 1
have when driving from Bolivia to
She expressed almost every
thought I've had-except more po
litely. 1 have a list of names 1 say to
people, wishing they could hear. I
even think of putting a loudspeaker
in my car so they will know what
I'm saying about or to them.
I'm one of those who wish I could
instantly "wish" myself someplace
and be there instantly, and can't un
derstand people who drive slower by
10 to 15 miles per hour than the
posted speed limit.
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Campaign To Free Peltier Is Vicious
To the editor:
As chairman of the N. C. Chapter
of the Society of Former Special
Agents of the FBI, I wish to call at
tention to the strident, biased, and
inaccurate reports being used to at
tempt a serious miscarriage of jus
tice. These efforts arc part of a con
tinuing campaign to free Leonard
Peltier, convicted executioner of two
badly wounded and incapacitated
On June 26, 1975, shortly before
noon. Special Agents Ron Williams
and Jack Coler were on the Pine
Ridge, South Dakota, Indian
Reservation attempting to serve a
felony arrest warrant on a federal
fugitive. They were lured into a sc
cluded area of the reservation by
The evidence at the trial estab
lished conclusively that Peltier knew
who the agents were and incorrectly
believed that they were there to ar
rest him on an outstanding warrant
for attempted murder. Driving his
red Chevrolet Suburban, he stopped
his vehicle about 2(X) yards ahead of
the agents, got out, and opened fire.
Peltier was soon joined by several of
his associates. Between them, they
riddled the agents and their vehicles
with over 125 bullet holes. Both
were critically injured by long-range
fire. Peltier has admitted his partici
pation in this gunfire on nationwide
The wounded agents were quickly
surrounded and overwhelmed. Wit
nesses and circumstantial evidence
established that the helpless agents
surrendered. They were then ap
proached by Peltier and two of his
helpers. While pleading for mercy,
both agents were executed at close
range by one of the three using
Peltier's rifle. According to the ap
peals court summary of testimony:
(Williams was shielding his face
with his hands). .."The murderer
placed the barrel of his gun against
Williams' hand and fired. The bullet
ripped through Williams' hand, into
his face and carried away the back
of his head. He was lulled instant
ly... The murderer shot Coler, who
was unconscious, across the top of
his head. The bullet carried away a
part of his forehead at the hairline.
The shot was not fatal, however.
The murderer then lowered his rifle
a few inches and shot Coler through
the jaw. The shell exploded inside
his head, killing him instantly."
Peltier fled to Canada with his
trophy of the day's events. Special
Agent Colcr's service revolver.
Peltier was tried, convicted and
sentenced to serve two consecutive
life sentences for murder in 1977.
His sentences were appealed to the
8th Circuit Court of Appeals. His
convictions were unanimously up
held by the Court of Appeals. He
then attempted to appeal to the
United States Supreme Court but his
appeal was refused.
In 1982, Peltier brought a motion
for new trial, alleging numerous
charges of irregularities in his trial.
Again Peltier was denied relief by
the district court stating "....the
record of the case as it presently ex
ists conclusively shows Peltier is en
titled to no relief." This order was
then again appealed to the 8th
Circuit Court of Appeals. That court
again unanimously affirmed the dis
trict court. The United States
Supreme Court again refused to to
accept an appeal. Recently, Peltier's
attorney on April 8, 1992, filed a
motion in this case on the basis that
he should have been tried as "aide
and abettor." The U. S. Attorney's
Office in Fargo filed its response
brief on April 23, 1992, contending,
"It is time to put this case to rest"
In April 1989, a CBS news show,
"West 57th," featured Peltier as a
"political prisoner" and showed
scenes from a Moscow Red Square
Rally for Peltier. On Sept. 22, 1991,
the widely viewed CBS show, "6<)
Minutes," ran a segment, "The Last
Sioux Biavc," that portrayed Peltier
as convicted on trumped-up cvi
dcncc. Both programs treated Peltier
as a hero and celebrity. In protest to
the "60 Minutes" program, FB!
Director William Sessions cited both
the fairness of the trial convicting
Peltier and the fact that the two mur
dered agents were legitimately dis
charging their duties when "...their
deaths came execution style at
Actor Robert Rcdford is now
leading a major Hollywood charge
to free Peltier from prison. He has
cxccutivc-produccd and narrated a
documentary, "Incident at Oglala,"
which is scheduled for release this
month. Rcdford has commented
( People magazine. May 4, 1992, is
sue), "This documentary is my ere
alive effort for (Peltier's) cause."
The vicious campaign to free
Peltier and make him a martyr cruel
ly desecrates the memories of these
two fine young men and agonizes
their families and friends. It also
does a serious disservice to legiti
mate Indian causes and the real
Indian heroes of this country, both
past and present.
20 Yrs. Experience
Licensed Contractor J
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Above is his new 13 1/2x22 1/2 signed and numbered print of the Holden Beach
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