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Moorhens fighting – all is not as it seems.

Moorhen fights

Moorhens fight during the breeding season. Water and feathers fly. (Gallinula chloropus). North Devon. April

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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Little Egret visits my garden

Little Egret – an Unusual Visitor

This photograph was taken from my kitchen window. It’s a little egret –  Egretta garzetta – which visited for the few days in January when there was snow on the ground. Curiously it only appeared when there was lying snow, and disappeared as soon as it had thawed. Hopefully it will be back soon, as it makes a welcome change to the Canada Goose which terrorises the pond in the summer months.

No (r)egrets

Although uncommonly seen in gardens, the Little Egret is becoming an ever more common sight in Devon. It belongs to the same family as the herons and bitterns, but its all-white plumage makes it unmistakeable. The feet are also very striking, looking a bit like human fingers, as they are flesh coloured.

More information and photos

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The photos were taken over a series of days when the snow was lying on the ground. The little egret (I assume it was the same one each time!) has a very deliberate looking walk, and a real dead-eye stare into the water, presumably looking for fish. There are a few eels in the ponds, which will hopefully attract other regular visitors such as grey herons and kingfishers – neither of which have been spotted this year.

More information on the little egret can be found on the RSPB website

The Little Egret Egretta garzetta is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Redlist.

Some great photographs and more information can be found on the Arkive Website.