Saturday, September 05, 2015
Moorhens on the Ashton Canal
Last week I showed you some Geese on the Ashton Canal. The geese are common but a little further along I came across this perfect habitat for moorhens. I almost didn't spot them at first.
The Moorhen (Gallinula clioropus) is a member of the family of crakes and rails. It is a poor flier and prefers to go into hiding when danger threatens. Its name is a form of mere-hen. Seldom seen in flocks it spends all its time on shallow water near dense undergrowth in which it can hide. It can sink when danger threatens leaving just its bill above water. When it does take to the air it patters off across the water flying low and dangling its legs. The Moorhen has partially webbed, very long toes, to aid its passage across floating vegetation. As it swims it jerks its head and pecks up food, including slugs, snails, worms, insects, seeds and vegetation, which float on the surface of the water or amongst bankside vegetation. Its nest is built near the water, often in a bush or low branches. It will aggressively defend the nest against all comers. The hen lays 5 to 11 eggs between March and July. They hatch after 21 days and the young leave the nest after 2-3 days.
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