Monday, 4 August 2014

About moorhens

The moorhen's nest is a wonderful construction. Given a stubby beak and two enormous feet, she has built out of iris leaves, sticks and lengths of hop bine a platform nearly 50cm high, roofed, with separate entrance and exit. She and her chicks roost here, safe from predators.


The iris got quite a hammering this year!

The chicks are growing well and remarkably cute.

Was that my cue?
And ... preen
Right, I'm ready. Chorus line and beginners, please!

Last week the mother bird performed an act of startling bravery. The chicks were peeping in alarm, she was shrilling as loud as a moorhen can. Something long, low and reddish-grey was moving under the opposite bank, partially screened by overhanging vegetation. I'm still not sure what it was - my first thought was that it was a young fox, then that it was some kind of mustelid, a stone martin or a stoat. Clearly moorhen chick was to be the main course. The adult suddenly rushed up the bank at the creature, and the next thing I saw was the predator retreating backwards up the bank with the moorhen's wings in its jaws. I gave an involuntary yell and shot downstairs. I know you're not meant to interfere with nature, but this was Myrtle. From the bridge, there was no sign of either of them and all was calm.

Whether those raking claws and sharp beak were too much for the predator, or my intervention scared it, it must have let go. Myrtle is still chugging to and fro with reinforcement for the nest, seemingly unharmed.


3 comments:

Jean said...

A narrow escape for the youngsters and for Myrtle.
I know you shouldn't get too sentimentally attached to wildlife but it does seem that Myrtle has had more than her fair share of trouble this year, so she really deserves to survive and see her youngsters grow up.
Well done you for quick thinking and averting disaster, too.

Amelia Frenchgarden said...

Myrtle does seem a survivor, it would be nice to think your intervention played in her favour. The chicks are so cute. Amelia

Amelia Frenchgarden said...

Myrtle does seem a survivor, it would be nice to think your intervention played in her favour. The chicks are so cute. Amelia