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June 13th, 2012


More on the Moorhens

I walked late(out at 8.pm for about half an hour and it was fine and still and dry. The pond was a perfect mirror until the few ducks started to swim. There was no wind,not even a suspicion of a breeze....beautiful calm evening with a serene stillness broken only by the distant yap of a dog, bleat of a sheep and the very distant almost muted calling of a wood pigeon.

I was concerned about the Moorhens. They had fledged three chicks from their island nest, but on last time out the island was under water and the nest was gone. I knew they had another nest above the high water line because they had built that before the water driopped to uncover the island....but of the chicks there was no sign, and only one adult bird uncharacteristically wandering apparently aimlessly round the pond. When they are out on the water they always strike me as being so business like and purposeful.

Tonight the geese were on the bank, a pair of mallard mooched in the edges and these were joined by a third emerging from the shade of the bank. As I prepared to go a Moorhen with two chicks in tow appeared as if from nowhere.
It was wonderful to see the two little shadows of the adult bird perfectly in unison with the head movements, with the head going backwards and forwards as they were swimming.

Then they were at the side with the second adult and for a time they did parallel walking in the shallows and had a peck at each other. They swum off together, two youngsters in tow
and more pecking took place. I really don't know if youngster number three is somewhere safe or is lost. Last year they raised all six of their young successfully despite a nest swreck and a flooding out then. Nor do I know enough about the courtship rituals of the moorhen to know whether what I saw tonight was a prelude to brood number two.