Sunday, 23 March 2014

Mighty Moorhen

This is obviously an area where moorhens gallinula chloropus (gallinules poules d'eau) breed successfully, the bridge over the bief being a prime feature in the best territory. We have blogged about these confiding birds several times, for example here.

For the past couple of weeks we have been hearing "pip..pip..pip" noises from the waterside, which signal the presence of a pair of moorhens, walking or swimming along the water's edge, and periodically stopping to view a choice piece of real estate where they can build a nest. Today the inevitable happened - two couples met, competing for the same territory. One male (probably) was up on the top of the bank.

Who, me?

The other male (almost certainly) rushed up the bank at him.

Yes, you!

Chaos ensued....

'
All hell broke loose

They hit the bief in a great fountain of water, squawking loudly, leaning backward to kick with their long finned toes, while the females (presumably) took cover. The Marquess of Queensbury's rules forbidding biting, kicking or gouging clearly did not apply, while pecking and water boarding were the order of the day. After about 30 seconds of punishment handed out by both sides, one bird eventually fled (flew! how often do you see that?) downstream, leaving the victor in possession - until the next encounter.

These punch-ups were repeated at intervals of about two hours throughout the day. They are, as I write this shortly before midnight, at it again. Tim has threatened to get some logs out of the chaufferie to bung at them if they keep it up all night.

To the victor the spoils

In spite of the beating the birds give to each other, nobody was seriously hurt and the females were duly impressed, which is what it's all about, really.

4 comments:

Jean said...

Sounds like Chesterfield town centre on a Thursday night.
(Thursday night being hunting night, Friday night's for trapping and Saturdays's for ........ )

Pollygarter said...

Well, tonight it was definitely the girls that were fighting! And not just hair-pulling and swiping with handbags. The boys were dodging to and fro trying to get a good view. Do they do that in Chesterfield?

Amelia Frenchgarden said...

I hope at least one pair stays and decides to get on with it. Amelia

Tim said...

Amelia...
things have quietened down a bit....
hardly a 'pip'...
Pauline's noticed that one female keeps returning to the iris patch and hanging about...
waiting for it to grow probably...
but, for the second year in a row, it looks like it will be hollow.
If I have time, I might well make the beginnings of a "pad" for them to build on....
just willow branches roughly woven together into a coarse basket, with others linking across....
and that can be placed in the empty middle of the clump.

I will probably let it float there... and give it a long anchor rope and weight....
better chance that their own effort in April 2012 that was woven to the bottom and got swamped for the first brood!