Wednesday, 7 May 2014

We're terribly worried about Myrtle...

It was all going so well... the lovely new home, in a popular location well worth fighting for...

Nest 19/04/2014
...construction progressing nicely...

Nest 21.04.2014
...the bashful bride...

Female moorhen leaving the nest
On 23rd April the first egg appeared.

23/04/2014 the first egg
...proud husband at her side...

Egg being rearranged
...quick to lend a helping hand...

Building continues

Sitting

All's well with the world

The following day, the egg was still there, or possibly this is another egg.

24/04 (at 6:45 am, hence the poor quality) another egg

All covered and secure
...And then everything changed.

By 28th April, we had realised that we were seeing only the female moorhen, and only occasionally, at that. The male has disappeared.

28/04 a thatching of fresh grass, but no birds

04/05 the nest is withstanding the rising water - but no birds

The female swims past from time to time, in silence. No more quiet "Puk-Puk-Puk" contact calls, she is totally alone. She pulls at an iris leaf, or flicks a bit of twig onto the nest, but with no great purpose. She seems bereft, with no idea what she is meant to do. Her instincts cannot cope with this situation.

We have no idea what has happened to the male. Possibly the big dog fox I saw at the weekend got him, or a pike in the deeper stretch of the bief by the walnut tree. Or maybe the mallard drake killed him - the mallards' nest on the bank is only a couple of metres away, and he is very aggressive with other drakes. To be continued - maybe.

5 comments:

Jean said...

Oh dear, that's terrible.
I hope the female is able to cope by herself and her eggs become chicks and survive.
This is presumably her one chance to produce offspring until next year. Are there other males in the area that might oblige?
Poor thing. A single mother before she's really had a chance to become a mother.

Amelia Frenchgarden said...

Moorhens are so beautiful but you must be very stealthy to get such great photographs. I never knew that birds would cover their eggs to camouflage them. Well at least I've learnt something. Amelia

Tim said...

Amelia...
the photographs are taken from our wonderful "hide"....
the bedroom window!!

But with the moorhens you do have to put your head above the parapet [windowsill] very, very slowly...
go anywhere outside and they're gone...
actually, Pauline and I think that they are afraid of their own shadows...
we've seen them panick off down the millstream when there was only them and some strong sunlight around.

With the fight-club shots on "Mighty Moorhens"...
I don't think stealth would have been needed...
they were too pre-occupied!!

Quite a lot of ground nesters...
those that leave the nest from time to time, that is...
cover the eggs.

We may have difficulty seeing them...
but viewed from above by a crow/jay/scavenger (kite, buzzard]....
they are otherwise on full display.

Tim said...

Jean, this will be her third year as a mature gal...
the average life is four years...
next year may well be the last chance!
That is if she's still attractive at "75" to pick up a new, virile toy-boy!!

Pollygarter said...

I think she's one of Pinknose's offspring, born in this spot a year or two ago. This was definitely where she wanted to be. Ever since the iris started to show green above the water, she was trying to fold the leaves together, but at the end of March they were too short and soft. She kept on trying, and he kept on showing her other possible nest sites.
It's great to live in a hide... but sometimes sad things happen.