This was a Life-list bird for me, and I found it while slogging around one of the drainage ponds off of the McCormick Ranch golf courses. I first spotted the slight movements and dark coloration in the water weeds and stood by, waiting for a cowbird or blackbird to emerge. To my surprise, it was some sort of Rail that eventually flushed, and then disappeared into some cattails on the other side of the pond. After several more minutes of tedious positioning, I managed to maneuver behind the Sora and get some photos to help with identification. Since it's a life bird and I'm rather proud of myself for finding it, I've presented them here as well.
I don't know if I'll see another Sora since they're pretty secretive and I try not to get my shoes wet, so maybe I'll have to make my peace with these photos in the long run too. Trying to shoot through reeds is never ideal, and I was also in a hurry since I expected the Sora to take off any second. There are many things I'd do differently if given another chance.
The white-ish face and underbelly indicate that this Sora is just a bit immature. The striping on the sides isn't visible yet, but the brown and black back with speckled white, along with the yellow beak and red eye, all confirm the species.
Since there is black on the top of the head and a bit in front of the eyes, but little filling in on the throat, I'm thinking this is a female.
Here the yellow beak is clearly visible, which eliminated any possibility that this was a Black Rail, the only other possibility for this region, given the size.
You can just see the ventral stripes coming in.