Thursday, 26 March 2015

The very angry Moorhen

The lake in my local park is now divided up in two Moorhen territories. One pair has the island - now with a nest high in a willow well under construction, possibly already with eggs, the other has the opposite end of the pond, a more disturbed area which only has two patches of marginal vegetation near a path as potential nesting site. One of the island Moorhens climbed the willow tree with some nest material and passed it delicately to its partner sitting on the nest. Both males and females carry out nest building and are virtually indistinguishable by plumage, although males are a bit larger. After a while I saw the moorhen approaching some vegetable refuse that some passer by had dumped on the grass. The moorhen then spied either the other territory owner which was about 5 m away, or the coot that was standing nearby, and carried out the most wonderful display. With the bill quite low and the tail as high as she could keep it, it erected its white tail feathers, and half opened its wings, strutting while showing its bottom to the rival moorhen (which appeared quite indifferent). The view of the rival moorhen approaches the photo at the top. And the front and side views of the displaying moorhen are below.

 You can watch a clip of the behaviour here.

You can also watch the moorhen strutting to a potential predator, a stoat, which I filmed recently here.

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful picture. The meaning of this mooning is mysterious. Is having a large spread of white tail feathers a sign of good health and reproductive fitness? Does displaying to predators signify 'You won't catch me because I can run like the wind, and fly too'? Do the white patches actually frighten stoats by resembling owl eyes to their rather poor vision?