Moorhens fighting – all is not as it seems.

Moorhen fights

moorhen {Gallinula chloropus}, North Devon. April (Toby Gibson)
Two female moorhens Fighting, North Devon. April. Nikon D800, Nikon 500mm + 1.4x converter, ISO 1400, f8.0, 1/1000 sec (Copyright Toby Gibson photography)

These two moorhens Gallinula chloropus are fighting over a mate, but it is more likely to be two females fighting over a male than the other way round. The male is more likely to be seen passively sitting on the nest. This behaviour typically occurs around April at the start of the breeding season.

Moorhens are very commonly found on ponds and lakes around the UK. The adults have a distinctive red beak with yellow tip. When swimming, they often flick their tails, giving a flash of white.

These birds belong to the rails family, which also includes coots and water rails.

More information:

Water birds gallery – Toby Gibson portfolio website.
Video showing this behaviour on the BBC website

More photographs of Moorhens:


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